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FusionDebug review

Fusion Debug review

By George Murphy

This is my third year in a row attending CFUnited.  My name is George Murphy and I am a ColdFusion developer and contractor doing work for the Department of Energy through Technology & Management Services.  One of the things that I have come to enjoy most about attending CFUnited each year is being able to discover new software and little snippets of code which I can use throughout the year.  My first year was working with ColdFusion developer Selene Bainum to come up with functions to dynamically process form submissions.  This year it was discovering the usefulness and value of FusionDebug 2.0.1.  This plugin runs inside of CFEclipse and allows the user to set breakpoints and then have FusionDebug step through the code line by line.  The coolest aspect of the entire application is being able to see every variable that is being created from when you start running your application until the breakpoint and even after if you step through the code.

  • Installer – Complete IDE Environment

Another interesting feature of FusionDebug is that it comes bundled with Eclipse 3.2 and CFEclipse 1.3.  This is a handy feature if a developer is not running Eclipse on their machine.  You don't have to fool with downloading and installing Eclipse separately.  However, if you would like to install FusionDebug in your copy of Eclipse that option is available.


  • Server Configuration Wizard

There is also a Server Configuration wizard which is capable of updating the ColdFusion/JRun server configuration file in order to allow ColdFusion to accept connections from FusionDebug.

 

  • Source Code Lookups

Point to the exact project paths in Eclipse of the code that users need to debug on the ColdFusion server. This is part of the setup process for debugging. If you are having any issues this is the first place where you should look to make sure that your path information for your particular project is correct.

 

  • Debug Perspective

This is a window which contains all of the views needed to begin debugging your ColdFusion Applications.  The variables tab allows you to see all of the variables that are running in your application. The breakpoint tab lets you see all of the active breakpoints that are set in the application.  Finally the expressions tab allows you to monitor and settings that have been applied to any expressions.  It is nice to have all of this information in one area.


  • Inspect Expressions

FusionDebug allows you to create multiple expression watchers.  What this does is allow FusionDebug to evaluate those expressions.  To simplify it creates a window into your expressions to allow you to see the values going into and coming out of the expressions that you need to know.

 

Those are just a few of the many features available in this application. To learn more about these features see:

http://www.fusion-reactor.com/fusiondebug/features.html

I have never used a debugger before; but after sitting through Charlie Arehart's presentation about FusionDebug and the new debugger that comes bundled inside of ColdFusion 8, I immediately saw the potential value of the two applications.

After the presentation I decided to skip the next presentation and visit the Fusion team to get FusionDebug installed and running on my laptop.  The install process was very uneventful which made me quite happy. 

I commissioned FusionDebug to solve a nagging problem that I have not been able to solve for the past month.  I am in the process of building a LAN E-mail request application for the EERE (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy) division of DOE.  When users passwords are reset or new users are created I have a component which generates the password and stores it in the session scope.  I then read that session scope back to the Administrator who copies it and gives it to the user.  When the Administrator leaves the page I clear the session scope of the last variable that I created.  I was using the variable CGI.path_info to check for the existence of the page I was reading to.  And if the CGI.path_info was not equal to the page I was reading I cleared that session variable.  This worked flawlessly while I was on ColdFusion 6.1.  However when I ported the application to ColdFusion 7 or ColdFusion 8 the session variable was never available when I went to read it. 

Before I worked with FusionDebug I attempted the classic methods to try and figure out why it was not working.  I verified that the session was getting created and that CGI.path_info was available and equal to the page I wanted to read to.  Right after setting the session variable I did a cflocation back to page I was reading to.  I verified that CGI.path_info was available right before the redirect and right after.  So, it was a mystery as to why the session variable was not available right after the cflocation. Well FusionDebug helped me solve the problem because I was able to see the value of CGI.path_info during the cflocation and the value was an empty string.  That is why the session scope was getting cleared.  For the life of me I could not understand why I did not get this same behavior in ColdFusion 6.1.  So, with the discovery of this little bit of information I again turned to FusionDebug to try and help me solve the problem.

There are many different CGI variables which read the same thing.  FusionDebug showed me which ones where available during the cflocation and did not change.  I decided to use CGI.script_name and it is working flawlessly in ColdFusion 6.1, ColdFusion 7, and ColdFusion 8.  My point is that I was able to see and correct this problem in 15 minutes.  Without FusionDebug I would have chosen another method to correct the problem but not known for sure why I was having this issue.  So, I would like to take my hats off to the folks who developed FusionDebug.  It is great to have another great application in my tool chest to help me build better and more secure ColdFusion applications.  Since CFUnited FusionDebug has become an indispensable development tool for me and TMS is looking at additional purchases for other team members.  If you value saving time and working more efficiently then this is the tool for you.

To purchase or learn more about this application see:

http://www.fusion-reactor.com/fusiondebug/index.html

URL for July's meeting

The Acrobat Connect URL for tonight's meeting is:
http://adobechats.adobe.acrobat.com/mdcfug07102007/

We will begin at 6:30 PM EDT.

Topics:
6:30pm - "CFC's What are You Waiting For?" with George Murphy
8:00pm - "Building a CF Administrator Interface in Flex" with Theo Rushin Jr.

See you there!

Adobe Captivate 2 Displays Incredible User-Friendliness

When my boss first came to me and asked me to record several demos using Adobe Captivate 2, I was skeptical. Not only would I need to record the demos, but I envisioned myself spending hours just trying to figure out how to efficiently use all of the program’s tools. I immediately installed the program and began playing around with the different features. After a very short amount of time, I had already picked up most of the basic features of the program, and was able to put together short practice demos.

It takes very little effort and frustration to create a useful demo using this program. It has an incredible array of tools, allowing you to add audio, import and edit various media files, and easily edit separate frames after you are done. It captures every motion you make while recording, and you can even outline the area on the screen that you would like to be recorded if you do not wish the document the whole screen.

One of the best aspects of Captivate is what you can do with your storyboard after you are done recording. You can enhance each individual screen by adding text, audio, video, animation, and more. The program can be set so that with every mouse click, a new frame is automatically generated. This is very convenient, as the program automatically separates the frames into separate steps and allows for me to focus on the content of the demo without and having to stop each time I want to re-do a frame. For someone who has never used any program like this before, I felt as if I had been using the Captivate for a long time, after only a few hours of use. 

 - Daniel Rooner

URL for June's meeting

The URL for the June meeting is:
http://adobechats.adobe.acrobat.com/mdcfug061207/
We will begin at 6:30 PM EDT.

Topics:
"Exception handling", with David Lakein
"Scorpio: A preview of the next major release of ColdFusion" (ColdFusion 8) with Adam Lehman

URL for May's meeting

The URL for the May meeting is:
http://adobechats.adobe.acrobat.com/mdcfug050807/

We will begin at 6:30 PM EDT.
Topics are:
"BlueDragon 7.0 new features" with Josh Adams

"Selling ColdFusion to Clients" with Michael Smith

See you soon!

MDCFUG Meetings on Breeze / April's meeting was great!

As May's MDCFUG meeting is coming up tomorrow tonight, I want to be sure everyone knows that you can still revisit any meetings you may have missed over the past several months.  Since December 2006, we have been recording the MDCFUG meetings using Adobe Breeze, and those recordings are posted on the MDCFUG Past Meetings page, at http://www.mdcfug.com/meetings.cfm.

Last month, we heard from 2 fantastic speakers, and if you missed that meeting you can still catch it now!  Daniel Daugherty spoke on 'AJAX with CF and Java' , and Vanessa Howle spoke on 'What is new in Accessibility'.  They each referenced each other's experience during the presentations, to assure us that yes, even an AJAX site can be accessible!  Listen to these two speakers and learn how.

One note about the Breeze videos: sometimes the audio has been less consistent than the video, but we're getting better at it!  Both Daniel's and Vanessa's voices come through loud and clear.  You do have to wait a couple minutes at the beginning for the audio to kick in ... but be patient!  It's worth it.

Also note that you can come back to http://www.mdcfug.com/meetings.cfm about 48 hours after any MDCFUG meeting, to download the PowerPoint presentations and any provided files, as well as to view the recorded meeting.

Adobe After Effects 7.0 Review

Nafisa Sabu
Graphic Designer
05.03.07

Adobe After Effects 7.0 Review

 

New Interface

Adobe’s fully featured motion graphics and animation studio has a fresh and clean new look. After Effects 7.0 is better then ever with a sleek new interface where there is a more color to separate sections from blending into each other. Everything has rounded corners and can be composed to fill up the whole screen with as many features as you would need and still have enough room to work, making the interface very flexible and easy to work with.

The software itself is not easy to master for beginners such as myself, but with the help of the getting started manual, tutorials, and templates the possibilities are really endless. Creating motion graphics and special effects with this editor can be a lot of fun once you get the hang of it.

Adobe Integration

I have to say how I love it when I have multiple editors that know how to work with each other. Adobe certainly listened to its users this time because there are many ways After Effects cooperates with other software in the Adobe family. Here are some of the ones I noticed:

  • Premiere Pro 2.0; capturing video in AE that has been rendered in Premiere, drag and drop to and from after effects.
  • Flash; FLV output format option
  • Photoshop; import images from photoshop
  • Illustrator; import vectors and files that are preserved
  • Bridge; provides a way to browse animation that has come with the package or browse thru your own animation and graphics, also shows the animation preview

My favorite features

There seems to be a lot of different features in 7.0, there are many great tools that really spark creativity and enrich the experience of working with an editor like After Effects. These enhancements help support a better workflow and produce quality graphics. Some of my favorite features that I’ve come across so far include:

  • Animated presets; there are hundreds of presets that help create visual effect while saving you time.
  • Graphics Editor
  • OpenGL; produces faster results and quicker rendering, also produces real time previews.
  • HD color; High Dynamic color support with 32 bit gives crisp detail to videos and animation.
  • Auto-save; lets you be worry-free. You can set how often you would like your projects to be saved automatically.
  • Text tool; easy to use text tool lets you create and animate, text can also be applied from photoshop and created to animation presets.

Can it get any better?

After Effects is a great tool for the professional and beginner who is learning motion graphic & animation. My only improvement would be to include a better color correction tool for a future installment. Other than that, Adobe is certainly in the right direction with 7.0.

CFlive schedule and URL

CFlive is a weekly half hour technical talk from CFUNITED speakers. It is hosted by Raymond Camden and Charlie Arehart of the Meetup virtual CFUG. The current schedule is every Thursday at 12:30pm - 1pm EDT.

  • 5/10/07 Charlie Arehart New in CFMX 6&7: What Did You Miss?
  • 5/17/07 Simon Horwith - Architecting and Optimizing CF Applications for Performance and Scalability
  • 5/24/07 Rob Gonda Flex Intensive for ColdFusion Developers
  • 5/31/07 O─čuz Demirkap─▒ Multi Language Applications in CF in Theory and Practice
  • 6/7/07 Peter Bell "Practical Code Generation: By Example"
  • 6/14/07 Patrick Quinn UI design concepts
  • 6/21/07 Mark Drew "CFeclipse Plus!"
  • 6/28/07 Live from show
And you can sign up at:
http://experts.acrobat.com/cfmeetup

The talks are on Adobe Acrobat Connect so you can listen in remotely via your PC with sound via the internet. We are planning to record the talks and will provide URLs for later viewing after each event. Looking forward to seeing you there!

CFUNITED volunteers

We are looking for voluteers to help out prior to CFUnited. Gain the opportunity to attend CFUnited free. Inquire with Liz Frederick at liz (at) teratech.com

Vanessa Howle's Presentation Materials

We would like to let you know about files that Vanessa Howle will use in her presentation. You can download presentation materials via the following links.

- Accessible Web Applications
- Section 508 Standard
- The Guide to Completing the Section 508 Evaluation Template

Have Fun!

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