Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Manipulating CFC Properties through getMetaData

I started toying with the idea of creating a generic utility that would populate a cfc with ‘property’ as in cfproperty data and I have something work now – (this would make the compatibility between flex and the model that much better and more ‘well defined’)

Would this be of benefit to us – i.e. running our model through it which would then create all cfproperty tags for a given object based on the getter methods w/in the object – and determine datatype of string, numeric etc – based on the getter methods data etc –

What sort of things do I have to be careful of ??

Order of the cfproperty tags counts right – and Case sensitivity of the names obviously ??

So the process would either do it alpha – or by order that was returned by getMetaData on the object –

An interesting thing happens however when I’m doing this – I could actually build this into coldspring likely where these properties are autogenerated on the fly and never actually have to exist w/in the cfc (written back to the cfc)

The strange thing happened was this:

Once I do a create object on a cfc – I can dump it and it shows that there are NO properties defined in the meta data – which is good

So I run it through my process where I’m introspecting the cfc and create this ‘properties’ key and append the array to this key.

This works well and now a side by side before and after shows the left object with NO properties and the right with Properties – great.

However the next time I run it – the left side also shows that the object now HAS properties –

This is strange – b/c cfproperty tags don’t actually exist in the cfc – but yet I’m able to fake cf (caching likely) into thinking / assigning these properties to the object.

For Example:

Here my Job Object has NO cfproperty tags:

I’m going to make ColdFusion ‘think’ it has these properties defined on it by manipulating the metadata about the object.

Simple App/UI

There are No properties on the left – On the right below, shows the ‘manipulated’ meta data based on the getter methods in the object.

Now after I run this again – you see both left and right are identical (cached metadata about the object)

The left side ‘thinks’ that the object now has these properties available to it- which if called or introspected by Flex, they should be available.

This feels a bit like cheating, but if it doesn’t work – we can always complete this thought by having the process ‘write’ the cfproperty tags back to the object.

Interesting huh?

Monday, November 10, 2008

JRun4 wsconfig Error Loading jvm.dll

Recently I attempted to patch our JRun4 servers with updater 7. Unfortunately after the fact, I found out that there is no 64 bit installer for it on windows. "64-bit Support – JRun4 Updater 7 provides 64-bit support on Solaris-SPARC. Other 64-bit operating systems including Windows 64-bit and Solaris-x86 64-bit are not supported."

So after a quick panic attack and reverting to the backed up copy (yes I did back up some recommended things) I felt that I was out of the woods. Twas not the case.

The next time I went to add a site to the Coldfusion instance through wsconfig command line - I received a dreaded "Error Loading jvm.dll". So I could no longer add sites and associate them to the webserver etc.

Here was the old version:
wsconfig.exe -ws IIS -site "jobs-jobs.com" -coldfusion -server "cfcluster" -v -ws64 -norestart
(Error Loading jvm.dll)

The new version of this has be using another technique using a java properties file instead. :
java -jar wsconfig.jar -f c:\j2w_IISconfig\jrun.properties

This called a jrun.properties file that had the arguments that i was executing directly to the wsconfig.exe prior

The Properties looks somehing like this:


Bingo - Hope this helps some other soul out there - as it stopped me in my tracks for a bit.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Separating the JVM config files - A Cluster Conversation

I had an interesting discussion with a fellow who was looking to solidify his stand with his boss on jvm configuration separation and the need for it. Below is the IM conversation the ensued - I think it helps to show some of the various points that could be made arguing FOR having the separation of the config files per logical JVM (names changed to protect the innocent and guilty)

[09:20] cluster_help: Hello, i was just talkin to Jared about some jvm clustering stuff and he said you were way smarter than him on that stuff
[09:20] kpenny: sure ok -
[09:20] cluster_help: we're setting up a few clustered instances for a large app on a single vmware box
[09:21] kpenny: cool - 32 bit?
[09:21] cluster_help: i know i should have each instance running its own jvm config so we (yeah, 32) can lower the max heap etc so all the instances aren't trying to use ALL the available memory
[09:22] cluster_help: i can find lots of posts and articles on HOW. Do you know of any that mention WHY?
[09:22] cluster_help: need to help my infrastructure guy convince his boss
[09:22] kpenny: so 'why' separate the instances?
[09:22] cluster_help: load balance and failover
[09:23] cluster_help: its a custom installation of our main app for a large, high traffic customer
[09:23] cluster_help: we're isolating them from all our "regular" customers
[09:23] kpenny: yup - both excellent reasons - keep the app UP -
[09:24] kpenny: so you'll have x vm's
[09:24] cluster_help: yea
[09:24] cluster_help: and a gig of RAM to allocate among them
[09:25] kpenny: i also recommend if you have say 8 processor box - not to give each vm virtual procs that add up t o 8
[09:25] kpenny: as the ESX host for example would need cpu 2
[09:25] cluster_help: right, it is an ESX host
[09:25] kpenny: k - we noticed that when we dedicated 2 cores per vm
[09:25] kpenny: we were cpu strapped -
[09:26] kpenny: also you have to think about memory utilization - if you have 4g ram on each vm
[09:26] kpenny: and only a single jvm - likely the jvm max is 1.2G -
[09:26] kpenny: and the os isn't going to use 2.8g ram
[09:26] cluster_help: u know of anything published anywhere that describes WHY its a good idea to lower the max (allocate memory judiciously) across each instance
[09:26] kpenny: so you're also leveraging your hardware better
[09:26] cluster_help: right
[09:27] kpenny: describe - lower the max -
[09:27] cluster_help: when you create new instances, they all use the same jvm.config, so they all get allocated whatever the default is
[09:27] kpenny: right - separating them gives you more control that's all
[09:28] kpenny: and also allows you to do custom class paths
[09:28] kpenny: etc, as your apps grow -
[09:28] cluster_help: so you create a sep jvm.config for each instance, and lower the max heap size, so they all aren't trying to use all the available
[09:28] kpenny: and/or as you allocate resources - you have more granular control
[09:28] kpenny: well even though you're using the same jvm.config
[09:28] kpenny: its still a separate unique jvm
[09:28] kpenny: that they are running w/in -
[09:28] kpenny: which can be a misconception -
[09:29] kpenny: the jvm.config just configures the values for each of the individual jvms in use -
[09:29] kpenny: by separating out the configs, then you're able to have more control over 1 jvm out of the 4 say
[09:29] kpenny: vs. one change in one file for 'all' jvms
[09:30] cluster_help: roger that. but other than the obvious, if you have 8 instances and 8 x maxheap ends up being more than the available memory on the host, don't you risk having a problem?
[09:31] kpenny: yes
[09:31] kpenny: that's when you'd need either 64 bit - or multiple machines - etc -
[09:31] kpenny: but yeah you never wanna allocate 2 much
[09:31] cluster_help: so why my infrastructure guy's boss is looking for is a technote or a blog post or something that says you SHOULD lower the max in the .config
[09:31] kpenny: but with separation of the configs you can control that -
[09:32] kpenny: well really the max should be determined by the app
[09:32] cluster_help: yeah. Like I told my boss, I know HOW to do it. (I did it yesterday on my laptop!)
[09:32] kpenny: so if you have large mem requirements -
[09:32] kpenny: then it should be higher - i guess i'd say there's no set rule - just
[09:32] kpenny: that depending on performance tsting what's best for the app at a given time -
[09:33] kpenny: i.e. if you have multiple applications using frameworks and cs etc -
[09:34] cluster_help: here's the background on my company - the dev manager and the infrastructure manager constantly bicker and fight little political battles. the infrastucture guy and me have about 10 years of exp in each of our areas of expertise
[09:34] cluster_help: but both our bosses want us to prove via external sources what we recommend
[09:34] kpenny: ok -
[09:35] cluster_help: and I am saying, and my infrastructure guy concurs, that we need sep config files for each instance in the cluster, (for granular control) of the max memory allocations
[09:35] kpenny: whats your max set to now - ? and is there a memory problem i.e. using 2 much memory
[09:35] cluster_help: but we need to show them WHY we recommend that
[09:35] cluster_help: the cluster isn't even in production yet, this is a first time set up
[09:35] cluster_help: we're actually clustering the staging env first for load testing
[09:36] cluster_help: then we'll do it in production
[09:36] cluster_help: we've never clustered or had very good front end load balancing here
[09:36] kpenny: i guess one more good point to throw in the mix is this
[09:37] kpenny: some apps perform better on different jvm versions - heck even sun vs. ibm etc -
[09:37] kpenny: so - with that - w/o granular control you're stuck using the same version that all other apps are using
[09:37] kpenny: in a single config -
[09:37] kpenny: vs what we went through were were we had an app that uses coldspringn and
[09:37] cluster_help: right
[09:38] kpenny: benefited from the bug fix in 1.6.v10
[09:38] kpenny: so we were able to just change that config and run the app
[09:38] kpenny: others can use stock or whatever
[09:38] cluster_help: this is going to be 3 or 4 instances of a single app deployed as an .ear
[09:38] kpenny: so 3 jvm's
[09:38] kpenny: clustered?
[09:39] kpenny: i guess i'd argue for it having the separation b/c it's easier to do it from the start -
[09:39] kpenny: and you really can't predict how things will be configured 5 months from now -
[09:39] kpenny: it's not a big deal to separate them -
[09:39] kpenny: and you can always do it at a later date if needed 2
[09:40] cluster_help: yeah
[09:40] cluster_help: but as far as you know, there isn't anything out there in a kb article or a tech note that says WHY you should do it that way, its just kind of a common knowledge/common sense thing?
[09:41] kpenny: well i know for dev its essential
[09:41] kpenny: for reasons like control over debugging ports
[09:41] kpenny: and you're likely working with multiple applications each with their own requirements
[09:42] kpenny: so for dev i'ts a no brainer - but if you have production separated out where x apps are all on y vm's etc.
[09:42] kpenny: and the other ones are on separate ones and they never cross over
[09:42] kpenny: then you can likely get away with stock setup
[09:42] kpenny: however -
[09:42] kpenny: we have some 'maintenance' things that happen with the app
[09:42] kpenny: and we found it most beneficial to have this as a separate instace - even though tis the same app -
[09:43] kpenny: but run schedules through it -
[09:43] kpenny: for batch processes etc - off on it's own - which
[09:43] kpenny: has it's own requirements for mem etc -
[09:43] kpenny: and we benefited from having them separate configs
[09:43] kpenny: also -
[09:43] kpenny: if you wanted to setup a scheduler 'instance' where all it did is kick off
[09:43] kpenny: cf schedules to your app
[09:43] kpenny: you don't wanna allocate 512 mb ram for that guy
[09:44] kpenny: likely small 128 via config
[09:44] kpenny: and run it alongside or whatever -
[09:44] kpenny: so there are many use cases - and they all depend on your preference
[09:44] kpenny: debugging locally with multiple instances w/o having separate jvm configs is impossible
[09:44] kpenny: so that's #1 reason I started doing it -
[09:45] kpenny: then after that i noticed all these other possibilities
[09:45] cluster_help: right, but if we're doing the multiple instances so we can have load balance and failover, each instance should be set to the max we can afford given the machines total available RAM and taking into account the OS's needs and stuff like that?
[09:45] cluster_help: in a production environment?
[09:46] kpenny: if you're app performs best with the max at that level -
[09:46] kpenny: some apps won't -
[09:46] kpenny: and typically if you allocate over what 1.8gb?
[09:46] kpenny: the service won't start?
[09:46] cluster_help: so really the load testing we're going to do will let us know if the settings will work
[09:46] kpenny: yup
[09:46] cluster_help: i think its 1.2gb.
[09:46] kpenny: right ok -
[09:47] kpenny: yeah try it at various levels -
[09:47] cluster_help: cool - hey, thanks for the info man, it really helps
[09:47] kpenny: np - ! best of luck -
[09:47] cluster_help: thanks, i appreciate it

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lowering the Number of Verity Threads on Servers with Large Number of Collections

With our 55+ collections - we have some suggested ways to better manage the amount of threads that Verity has to manage. Below is the suggestion direct form Adobe Tier 3 ColdFusion/Jrun support consultants.

So, the suggested workaround to prevent the issue of collectionnames being ‘switched’ is to lower the number of threads assigned to each collection in Verity. Verity support had indicated this is an issue they are familiar with. They see it when the ratio of (total number of threads/CPU) gets high. Your total threads is about 165 now (55 collections * 3 threads). They suggest lowering the threads per collection to 2. Note, it is generally not recommended you use less than 2 threads per collection. One thread per collection may work for collections that are not heavily used.

You can update the threads per collection by running Verity RCAdmin. I have pasted below the output from my updating a “linuxarchive” collection. You will run the rcadmin from your verity_root\k2\_nt40\bin directory in a DOS window.
1. type in rcadmin
2. at rcadmin prompt type in indexattach
3. type in collectionname for index alias
4. enter ‘c’ for collection
5. enter the search server alias (ColdFusionK2_server1)
6. modify type is update = 0
7. index state is online = 2
8. Threads is the update you are making. All collections have 3 threads currently, which you should change to 2.
9. save changes=y
You should do this for each of your collections. Once you have updated all the collections you will need to stop and restart the Verity search service.

I have recently done this on our beta environment and the numbers fell from about 270 threads (task manager - Processes - view - Select columns - thread count) to 210 or so. We'll see how this effects overall management of the collections. This is not necessary on servers with lower number of managed collections.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

64 Bit Microsoft Windows ODBC Drivers (Excel)

If you've moved from a 32 bit environment to a 64 bit one and are using the Microsoft ODBC drivers for things like Excel (reading a worksheet) and Access, I'm afraid you're out of luck (this includes even text files etc).

I just found out the hard way that code written to pull data using the 'jdbc:odbc:Driver={Microsoft Excel Driver (*.xls)}' no longer works in Windows Server 64 bit edition. Microsoft apparently feels that they don't need to provide 64 bit drivers at all for Office connectivity. Which I guess means that we as developers and software designers should no longer support Office, which is OK by me.

I've hated working with Excel to import/export data to / from, and have had nothing but trouble either direct to the Database with OPENDATASOURCE and having to move uploaded files to the database server, or simply on the server through a jdbc odbc call.

I'm fine with Eliminating Excel as a valid import option - I just need to find / create a fast alternative that will do CSV or other formats (not using CF to do the heavy work with those files as they can be large). There is one ray of hope - in an opencsv format found here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Generic ColdSpring Gateway Service Code

I've been digging into ColdFusion's Gateway's of late and created a simple generic Gateway that works great with coldspring (GatewayService.cfc). The beauty is the simplicity. With this process, you can send any 'message' to the gateway and have the application run it asynchronously. The message you send will be any unit of work in your coldspring model. For example if you have an XmlManager object that has a method of 'generateRSSFeeds', you can pass it a Structure of data as an argumentcollection, as well as the object name and method name and have coldspring execute that for you w/in your Gateway.

<cffunction name="onIncomingMessage" output="false" access="public" returntype="void" hint="Generic Method that will execute any method on the Service Factory - Struct: beanname (coldspring Bean to call), methodname (method to call on cs bean), argumentcollection (data passed as argument collection to the method)">
<cfargument name="CFEvent" type="struct" required="yes">

<cfset var data = arguments.CFEvent.data/>
<cfset var errorMessage = ''/>

<cfif not structkeyexists(data,"args")>
<cfset data.args = StructNew()>

args: argumentcollection

<cfinvoke component="#application.serviceFactory.getBean(data.beanname)#"
<cfcatch type="any">
<cfset errorMessage = cfcatch.Message/>
<cfif structkeyexists(data.args,"debug")>
<cflog application="true" file="cfmlgateway" text="CF Gateway Called: bean: #data.beanname# method: #data.methodname# data: #structKeylist(data.args)# #errorMessage#">

<cfreturn />

There is also a 'server.init.cfm' feature that sets up this gateway through the ColdFusion Admin API and makes sure that it exists in the server that's running your application - and any changes to the gateway it will determine and recreate it when needed. The gateway is a CFML gateway and is given a name that uniquely identifies it (just like a DSN). Note: You must call the login method of the cfide.adminapi.administrator before you are allowed access to do this.

<cfset Local.gatewaypath = expandpath('.') & '\model\gateway\GatewayService.cfc'/>
<cfset Local.eventGateway = createObject( "component", "cfide.adminapi.eventgateway")/>
<cfset Local.gatewayFound = false/>

<!--- query the gateway Instances to find a match and if not create it --->
<cfset Local.tmpArray = Local.eventGateway.getGatewayInstances()/>

<cfloop from="1" to="#arraylen(Local.tmpArray)#" index="Local.i">
<cfif Local.tmpArray[Local.i].gatewayid eq 'mygatewayname'>
<cfset Local.gatewayFound = true/>

<!--- check and see if the cfcpath is the same- if not delete it and recreate it --->
<cfif Local.tmpArray[Local.i].cfcpaths[1] neq Local.gatewaypath>
<cfset Local.eventGateway.deleteGatewayInstance(Local.tmpArray[Local.i].gatewayid)>
<cfset Local.gatewayFound = false/>

<cfif not Local.gatewayFound>

<!--- Create gateway instance --->
<cfset Local.tmpArray = ArrayNew(1) />
<cfset Local.tmpArray[1] = Local.gatewaypath/>

<cfset Local.eventGateway.setGatewayInstance('mygatewayname','CFML',Local.tmpArray,'','auto') />
<cfset Local.eventGateway.startGatewayService() />

<cfset Local.eventGateway.startGatewayInstance('mygatewayname') />
<cflog log="Application" text="Gateway mygatewayname Created" type="information"/>

There is also a 'gatewaymanager.cfc' that simply is the API to all your gateway service calls, in which you can add on other things like debugging and error handling etc if needed.

<cffunction name="sendMessage" output="false" access="public" returntype="boolean" hint="Returns true of false if the message was successfully sent to the gateway">
<cfargument name="beanname" type="string" required="true"/>
<cfargument name="methodname" type="string" required="true"/>
<cfargument name="args" type="struct" required="false" default="#StructNew()#"/>

<cfset var boolReturn = SendGatewayMessage('mygatewayname',arguments)>

<cfreturn boolReturn />

With great power come great responsibility - please use wisely!

Object Refactoring into Structures for Performance

Lately I've been tasked with refactoring some of our batch processes that are taking entirely too long to run - especially with large datasets (10-25K records). I've noticed one thing in common with each procedure that I've had to rewrite - they have heavy reliance on objects to do the work for them i.e. I'm doing some work on a 'job' object, for each job i'll call 'getJobById' which returns a populated job bean from the db in which I manipulate it and then call the 'save' method on it - and repeat 10-25 thousand times. With cf8.01 we're seeing heap size of the JVM being used up after a period of time crunching through these methods. They become slow to the point of unresponsive and ultimately bring the jvm down or cause the heap size to become too large and the process halted.

Here are some of the highlights that I've done in refactoring these processes:
1.) Only query for the data I need (i.e. NOT selecting all records when all i need are the id field and a location field)
2.) Verity that all local variables are var scoped.
3.) remove any calls to 'getJobById' in favor of a simple reusable JobStructure.
4.) populate the job Structure from the query directly and then pass this simplified structure into an alternate method that accepts the structure and does any massaging it needs to with the data (returning it by reference).
5.) Create a specific 'update' method in my DAO that accepts this Structure and saves ONLY the data that is needed vs. the entire bean object.

The Results??? Extremely fast execution and stable memory throughout the entire process - regardless of how long the entire process may take. We went from roofing the JVM to maintaining a stable memory footprint on these executions, while also staying true to good programming techniques - and even 'introspecting' a single Object before the run and exposing it's internal 'metadata' to the job Structure as a base for the operation - and then proceeding from there - Appending data and overwriting the Structure each time through the loop.
i.e. StructAppend(jobStruct,newStruct,'true')

We have all our instance data in a 'variables.instance' structure w/in the object. We also create a 'getInstance' method which returns that structure. That means we can use this structure of the objects data instead of using a new object each time - NOR using the bean each time. We're still able to change/modify the Bean metadata and still have that available to the other calling methods that require it.

I.e. We can call the 'getBeanConfig()' method on the job object which returns a structure of metadata (structure of structures) about things like field size, and nullability etc. of each field in our bean.

<cffunction name="getBeanconfig" output="false" access="public" returntype="Struct" hint="returns the entire bean config structure">
<cfreturn variables.beanconfig />

<cffunction name="setBeanConfig" access="private" returntype="void" output="false" displayname="category config" hint="I setup the configuration for the bean category.">
variables.beanconfig = structnew();
variables.beanconfig.title = StructNew();
variables.beanconfig.title.maxlength = 95;

When working with thousands of beans in a process - originally it was a lot easier to get the thing working by just calling 'getBeanById()' and then manipulating it and calling 'Save()' on it. Over time I've learned that it's not sustainable and may need to be refactored. As long as you're being careful to var scope all your local variables in your cfcs and use a lowest common denominator approach to large long running batch requests, you will see a large performance gain by extracting your object structure data and working with a single copy of it vs. populating your entire bean each time through a loop and saving the entire bean once you're done with it. That plus leveraging the CFML Gateway to thread your executions, you'll be off the ground flying once again!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Learn Java with Video Tutorials

Excellent reference for all ColdFusion Developers to extend their knowledge base.

Learn Java with Video Tutorials (free)

Free video screencam tutorials for Eclipse and Java. Includes "Eclipse and Java for Total Beginners", "Using the Eclipse Workbench", "Introducing Persistence", and "Using the Debugger". Intended for beginning and intermediate users and programmer

Learn the Eclipse IDE for Java with Video Tutorials showing the features of the language and IDE together in a very clear and concise manner from Mark Dexter.

Enjoy - thank you Mark!


Friday, October 3, 2008

ColdFusion Gateway Data passed by Reference?

At our company tech summit just held the past few days (where all us remote developers get together and discuss all things technical) I had the opportunity to show off some of the cool new CFML Gateways functionality that ships with CF 8. I had created a generic object that could be called at any point in the application that would allow asynchronous threading of method executions where we needed it. I would execute

SendGatewayMessage(gatewayid, structure)

call which would then go through the cfml gateway and exeute the method that ColdSpring new about (code to come).

This was all great and fun, but what I wanted to know is this:

'What if I have an object that has it's data changed from inside the gateway. Will the calling page know about that change, and does the calling page still have reference to the object?'.

Objects and Structures are passed by 'reference' in ColdFusion. But what if that object is being manipulated in an Asynchronous process that is executing in a CFML Event Gateway in a separate thread from the original? That was my 'Poll the audience' question in which I asked our developers to think about and come up with their answer -

A - The Object would Change
B - The Object would not Chanage

I put together a CFC and Gateway call that tested this theory.

1.) Create an Object and assign a value through an accessor method i.e. setTitle('Bank Foreclosure Professional')

2.) Append that object to the data 'structure' that I am passing to the 'SendGateWayMessage(gatewayid, structure)

3.) Dump Data of the Object to a cfm page

4.) Call the Gateway and pass the structure containing the object

5.) Within the gateway call, do a thread sleep for 2.5 seconds and then call a setTitle('I have changed') on the Object.

6.) Meanwhile back on the .cfm page, right after my call to the 'sendgatewaymessage' function i will dump the value of the object again to the page (as this dump will happen immediately after the sendgatewaymessage call is executed asynchronously)

7.) On the .cfm page I will do a thread sleep for 5 seconds to make sure the gateway has enough time to change the value of the object.

8.) Finally, once I feel I've waited long enough, I'll dump the results of the Original Object to the page....

The Results????

You may be surprised at the results - and in the room of 9 people, we split the room in half with 'No Change' and 'Change' votes - the tie breaker coming from our Project Manager who (like myself) guessed 'NO Change' (i.e. there is no reference to the original object once it get's passed into the gateway and executes).

Who was right?? Please provide your comments and I'll let you know what I found out and who won the Poll (I'll post the code for those who want to see it and prove it on their own)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Verity HotFix Received from Adobe

We have received Tier 3 support from Adobe and they have gotten us a patch for our Verity Collection documented in prior posts. The one thing that shocked me as they they took a look at our case and stated that "Ideally, Verity will run without incident efficiently on about 12 collections (especially if they are using CATEGORIES)." 12 collections? I've never seen this documented anywhere - (as of 9.21.2008) and I've read about everything there is to read on the subject.

So there may be a hotfix for this and other Verity issues coming out soon from Adobe - The entire process took a month to resolve but we're excited to implement the fix and I'll be sure to blog the results of the patch/hotfix.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Verity - Internal collection mappings

This is in response to my origional POST about verity returning incorrect data.

This seems to confirm that there is something WRONG with Verity’s internal mapping of collections – as this is what I had executed prior to restarting the verity service. (listing 1.0)

Listing 1.0

2008-08-27 09:55:25 Status: OdkWrk1 service worker thread [0] executing request K2IdxCollOpen
2008-08-27 09:55:25 Error: [VDKCB ws=cf_jrpp-1383_workspace] Error E0-0401 (Vdb): Couldn't find vdb descriptor d:\CFusionMX\verity\collections\ameriprise\assists\00000002.wld
2008-08-27 09:55:25 Status: OdkWrk1 service worker thread [0] executing request K2IdxCollSubmitBif
2008-08-27 09:55:26 Status: [VDKCB ws=cf_jrpp-1383_workspace] Bulk insert operation into d:/CFusionMX/verity/collections/ameriprise (7) from d:/CFusionMX/verity/Data/services/ColdFusionK2_indexserver1/tmp/cf_jrpp-1383_workspace_BIF (0, 0)
2008-08-27 09:55:26 Status: [VDKCB ws=cf_jrpp-1383_workspace] Initializing dataset 00000007.ddd, index 00000007.did
2008-08-27 09:55:27 Status: [VDKCB ws=cf_jrpp-1383_workspace] Totals (154 documents): 770 para 3336 sent 88918 word (1392 Kb used)
2008-08-27 09:55:27 Status: [VDKCB ws=cf_jrpp-1383_workspace] Optimizing database layout
2008-08-27 09:55:27 Status: [VDKCB ws=cf_jrpp-1383_workspace] (1734 ms) Indexed 154 docs into d:/CFusionMX/verity/collections/ameriprise/parts/00000007
2008-08-27 09:55:27 Status: [VDKCB ws=cf_jrpp-1383_workspace] Writing partition index data
2008-08-27 09:55:28 Error: [VDKCB ws=cf_jrpp-1383_workspace] Error E0-0401 (Vdb): Couldn't find vdb descriptor d:\CFusionMX\verity\collections\ameriprise\assists\00000002.wld

Note that you can see the correct data 154 records being added to the collection – this is also likely why in the cfadministrator, it’s listed this collection as having 154 records.
However, as we know, when we ask for this collection, it seems to be returning

It’s interesting that each client was ‘one off’ according to this CollRef listing in D:\CFusionMX\verity\Data\host\admin\adminX.xml.
As in – ask for ‘ameriprise’, you’ll get ‘cingular’.

<CollRef alias="aigretirement" status="online" threads="3"/>
<CollRef alias="ameriprise" status="online" threads="3"/>
<CollRef alias="cingular" status="online" threads="3"/>

ColdFusion 64 Bit on ESX Virtual Server running Windows Server 2003 64Bit

We've successfully migrated our jobs2web application from 32 bit cf7 to 64 Bit ColdFusion 8!

We still have Verity separated out onto a separate server but with the new ColdFusion 8 installation I hope it solves some of the offline index issues we've seen in the past (turns out it wasn't even 12 hours into it before we saw verity handing back data from other collections again - VERITY!! arg)

We also have a separate instance that just handles maintenance/batch job requests that we have setup through the ColdFusion scheduler. This will mean that any issues with a long running batch will not bring down the production client sites.

On top of a major application update to lower our memory footprint with the application, we're running smooth as ice.

I'll discuss the application update in a separate blog post.

Yeah Team!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dynamic cfapplication name - Don't do it!

What happens if you use a dynamic name for your cfapplication tag
name=X, is especially if you are using frameworks of any kind, the
more sites you load on top, the memory needs increase X fold. i.e.
coldspring's memory needs + fusebox memory needs + others = Mass
Memory when you have lots of these apps running. Simple right -

It wasn't until we started piling apps on it that this came to life -
the good news is the fix is not complex and doesn't have to mean HIGH
impact changes to your application.

1.) change your cfapplication name value to something static i.e. 'sitex'
2.) I created my site Object that holds the invividual settings for
each client (that was previously stored as it's own application data
object) and used coldspring to wire up that to a siteFactory object
that gives me site Beans based on the domain.
3.) on application start, the siteFactory creates a large structure of
all active site objects 1 time only. Then when the app asks for say
application.site.getName() - it will call the siteFactory, the site
factory gets the data by the domain matching the current domain, and
returns the site object.

With this in place - there was ZERO code changes in the application and the memory requirements have gone WAY down.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Verity - Collections Taken Offline

In doing some more digging into what makes Verity tick (the stand alone version that can be installed separately from the ColdFusion application sever on a separate physical/virtual machine) I uncovered yet another clue into collections being taken 'offline' at various times. We have multiple collections registered through Verity for our clients, and almost monthly now we'll notice that one or more indexes just decides to stop responding to requests (and looks like it's disappeared as it's not listed in the cfadmin).

The directory and files to look at are here: \{verityroot}\verity\Data\host\admin.
Here you will find 2 files -
admin.dat - This file looks like it tells you the 'ID' of the adminX.xml file that its currently using as it's data store
adminX.xml - where X is the value from admin.dat file.

AdminX.xml is a file which has all configuration settings for the K2 Index engine, including names of collections, ports, paths, memory data etc.

You will also find an interesting area near the bottom of the file:

<CollRef alias="col1" status="online" threads="2"/>
<CollRef alias="col2" status="online" threads="3"/>
<CollRef alias="col3" status="offline" threads="3"/>

Here you may find your missing indexes - as they have been turned 'offline' for some reason (there is little logging going on to determine why an index get's taken offline).

This may help you in debugging, as next time this happens, I will be going straight to this file and turning any indexes back 'online' and noting any ones that are marked as offline.

To be continued....

Friday, August 8, 2008

ColdFusion Debugger - Separate JVM Files Per Instance - Don't forget the PORT!

In attempting to have another instance of our application up and running during local development for 'back end' processing (fire off a request to a second Instance and have it process it) I made sure I separated the jvm config settings per instance as normal.

However, I had forgotten that the 'address' port in the jvm config was the same as the original, which would make the one service NOT want to start up if the other service was already running (due to port conflics).

Remember to go into your cfadmin (Debugging & Logging -> Debugger Settings -> Allow Line Debugging checked - and copy jvm config data to your jvm config) and get the address setting and specify it in the jvm configured to that instance. The port must be unique across all your instances

-Xdebug -Xrunjdwp:transport=dt_socket,server=y,suspend=n,address=xxxx (then restart service)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Verity - Ask for a Collection and Ye Shall not Receive

Today is another one of those days that 'I hate Verity' (that is shipped with coldfusion).

Every few months we have a disaster occur in production where we have 50+ verity collections on a separate server (separate server install of the Verity version that is shipped with cf 7). Seems like randomly after a service restart of the Instance that mostly calls the Verity collections through cfsearch cfcollection and cfindex, Verity will simply return a resultset from a random collection.

So we'll send a
<cfsearch collection="CollectionA">
and we'll get back results from CollectionB, for no good reason.

Restarting the ColdFusion MX 7 Search Service on the other machine 're-aligns' things and once again the application resumes normal processing.

This has occurred so many times, that I've decided to log a Bug with Adobe about the product.

We separated out the Verity Search service onto a separate machine as this was happening very more frequently when on the same machine (we'd ask for data from one collection, return data from another collection). It still happens now, although less frequent, but with our current dependency on Verity to do much of the work for string comparisons and categorization, when Verity goes, so does the application.

If anyone else has experienced this please post your response. I've even logged to a cflog exactly what we're passing cfsearch when this issue is occurring, and all the data is correct.

It's like the connection between the 2 machines get's severed and resuming that connection the collection mapping get's thrown off, and incorrect data is the result.

Arg - Can't wait for Lucene Integration in cf9, but I'm afraid it will be too late by then (Summer 2009)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

psexec remote batch file execution trailing slash problem solved

I've been working with a batch file that will execute an xcopy to transfer files to another server, then i execute a 'psexec' call to fire off a batch file located on the remote server.

Here are a list just some of the problems/solutions I ran accross:

NT Scheduled Task Wouldn't complete -
Created a domain user that had access to both machines to execute the batch file

Working Directory was OFF when calling the remote batch file
Specify -w or the absolute path on the remote server that this batch file is located in and should run/execute in.

Error = [Microsoft][SQL Native Client]Unable to open BCP host data-file
Path was still not being rendered correct.
Change the order of the -w argument to be after the remote computer but before the remote command
i.e. psexec \\xxx.xxx.xxxx -w "C:\mypath\pathtobatch" "c:\mypath\pathtobatch\batchfile.bat" (GOOD)
psexec \\xxx.xxx.xxxx "c:\mypath\pathtobatch\batchfile.bat" -w "C:\mypath\pathtobatch"(BAD)

There seemed to be a path problem even after a working directory was specified
Remove the trailing '\' Slash mark in the path
i.e. psexec \\xxx.xxx.xxxx -w "C:\mypath\pathtobatch" (good)
psexec \\xxx.xxx.xxxx -w "C:\mypath\pathtobatch\" (bad)

With persistence, it will work!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

ColdSpring - Using the Parent attribute to specify configuration settings like DSN

I am doing a bit of re factoring in our product, and starting to do a cleaner job of having configuration settings available to each Manager object that needs it (in the typical Manager/Gateway/DAO scenario).

I am looking at the undocumented (at this point) 'parent' attribute that can be specified on a Bean, which will then have the configuration settings injected into it, without the need to explicitly specify the config dependency. Here's an example as I've implemented it:

coldspring.xml definitions...

<!-- Regular Bean in need of some config settings (and specifies the
configGateway as the parent) -->
<bean id="regularBean" class="com.regularBean" parent="configGateway">

<property name="configSettings">
<ref bean="configSettings">
<!-- Configuration Bean which holds config settings -->
<bean id="configSettings" class="com.configSettings">
<constructor-arg name="dsn">
<bean id="nextBean" class="com.nextBean">
<property name="configSettings">
<ref bean="configSettings">

Then in my 'RegularBean' I need the methods for configSettings i.e.:
<!--- Author: penny - Date: 7/30/2008 --->
<!--- getter and setter for configSettings --->
<cffunction name="getconfigSettings" access="public" output="false" returntype="com.configSettings">
<cffunction name="setconfigSettings" access="public" output="false" returntype="void">
<cfargument name="configSettings" type="com.configSettings" required="true">
<cfset configsettings="arguments.configSettings/">

When calling Regular Bean -

This technique still requires the 'stubbed' getter/setter for the configSettings bean, but is less xml in the coldspring xml file. Here is an example of the alternative:

coldspring.xml file

<property name="configSettings">
<ref bean="configSettings">
<!-- Configuration Bean which holds config settings -->
<bean id="configSettings" class="com.configSettings">
<constructor-arg name="dsn">
<bean id="nextBean" class="com.nextBean">
</bean> <property name="configSettings">
<ref bean="configSettings">

.. etc.

This will be very nice to use, and extend when new configuration settings are needed to be added to the application like 'verityroot' 'rootdirectory' or 'write_dsn' or 'read_dsn' or whatever other application configuration settings are needed for your application.

They say the documentation of this should be out soon at the coldspringframework.org/docs documentation site, so stay tuned for that.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Verity Separate Server Install Collections Fail to Create

Verity sucks some days, and today is one of those days.

We had another episode with Verity where we had a collection disappear. I am not sure where or why, but I was tasked with getting it back online. This is not the first time this has happened, but the solution should be easy: Re-Create the Index, however this is where things got UGLY.

I looked in the CFadmin to see if the collection was listed, which it was not. So I proceeded to attempt to create it and received:

Unable to create collection companyX.
An error occurred while creating the collection: com.verity.api.administration.ConfigurationException: Index exists. Cannot insert entry. (-6065)

So it isn't listing the collection, and yet it says it exists?? OK, so that's problem one.

Problem 2 is that when i execute a 'reindex' which does a
<cfcollection action="create" ..>
I received no errors from the application (things looked like they were successful)

However when I look into CFADMIN again, in Verity Collections, the collection was once again not listed.

Here's what I did to fix it:

In our installation we have the Verity Installer (ColdFusion 7) installed on a separate box from the web server. I told the web1 to use the Verity K2Server at the web1 address, instead of the web2 address that it was using. Then I recreated and populated the collection using the same server the application was using (Verity was installed on both servers, but is typically not running on web1). Once done, I specified the web2 IP address again in cfadmin and copied the collection directory of the collection that I wanted from the web1 to web2.

When I go into cfadmin I should NOT see the collection listed - but after I executed a <cfcollection action="create"> with that collection name, something behind the scenes worked that time, and the collection showed up in cfadmin WITH the correct amount of data in it.

This is strange for a number of reasons, but I had to repeat this process for another collection just after this, so I know this process works. Executing a 'action="create"' typically kills any data that is in the collection, which didn't happen when I used this approach.

Anyway, hope this helps, and I know it will help me again the next time it happens....because it WILL!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

XML - XSL Stylesheet references another URL Access Denied

I just ran accross an interesting issue.

When generating an XML file in ColdFusion with an associated xsl style sheet reference in the xml head -= in Internet Explorer 7 I was getting this Error:
<link href="http://careers.jobs2web.com/view/xsl/job.xsl" type="text/xsl" rel="stylesheet">

The XML page cannot be displayed

Cannot view XML input using XSL style sheet. Please correct the error and then click the Refresh button, or try again later.

Access is denied.

The href attribute was pointing to a generic URL that was not the same URL as the file was being served up from. IE did not like this.

Once I changed this to be cgi.server_name instead - it worked as expected.

Firefox didn't care one way or the other - it rendered the file just fine, regardless of whether the xsl was on a different URL that the XML file was being served up on.

Wonder if this is deemed as some security breach?? Strange indeed.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Overlooked Techniques

We're all creatures of habit, and forming good ones is key to a long and productive career. I want to post at least a few of my favorite techniques that I believe are 'highly' overlooked in almost every application I look at/code I review.

1.) ColdFusion HTMLEDITFORMAT on HTML form field values

First off, let me give an example of what can happen if you don't use HTMLEDITFORMAT on your data that is either redisplayed from the user, or directly from a database.

<input type="text" value=""/>I am now Writing directly to this page and can do whatever I want, including relocate a person to another website using javascript etc. "/>

Trusting user input is not only unsafe but can lead to strange formatting issues when someone has quotation marks in their text (and you are using quotation marks in your html input attributes)
Rule of thumb - always use it to Wrap all cfusion dynamic data in html inputs
<input type="text" value="#htmleditformat(variables.dbData)#"/>

2.) ColdFusion 'output=false' on cfcomponent tag and all cffunction tags within a component

Trying to debug this issue can be a nightmare, so just always set
Your cfcomponent and cffunction tags both have the 'output' attribute and should be set to 'false' if you're not returning data to the page (which you should limit the display from cfc method anyway)
If you're like us and use Eclipse/cfeclipse, then have this in your snippet for the creation of functions, and you will never have to try and hunt down a single space issue in your application again.

3.) JavaScript escape() function for url data

When you append data to the url in a javascript string, the characters you are appending need to be url safe. The escape() function does exactly this.

document.location.href="index.cfm?page=x.y&firstname=" + escape(x)

Special characters and spaces etc will need special treatment and not unlike the urlencodedformat() in coldfusion, javascript data needs to be treated with the same respect through the url.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Internet Explorer Firefox Form Posting differences

I ran into one I haven't in a while or forgot about: the differences between the major browsers in how it posts form data.

Regardless of whether it's a method="post" or method="get" in your form, if you submit a form using 'Enter' (the Enter key on your keyboard) vs. if you click the submit button to submit your form, you will get different values passed in the different browsers.

I'm lumping FireFox and Safari together on this one as they act the same, Internet Explorer 7 being the odd man out.

Firefox/Safari will pass the 'First' submit button along with your form (first in the DOM or on page) when you hit the 'Enter' button to submit the form (like in a simple search box etc.)
Internet Explorer on the other hand will NOT pass any submit buttons if you don't click on them explicitly.

This could be looked at as a good thing, in the event that you have multiple submit buttons and are doing different things based on the value of the submit button etc.

Regardless of which process I believe is correct or not, the Internet Explorer interpretation of this data was unexpected for me as I test in Firefox all the time. My solution was to simply put a hidden form field that is named the same as my submit button which I knew will get passed through the form regardless of what browser they are using. This fixed the problem for me (there are other solutions like disabling the 'enter' button to be pressed in a given box etc)


<form method="get">
<input name="txtBox" value="" type="text">
<input name="otherstuff" value="x" type="hidden">
<input name="btnSubmit" value="Submit" onclick="return true;" type="submit">
<input name="btnSubmit" value="Submit" type="hidden">

Comparing two ColdFusion Objects (object comparison)

The problem I am trying to figure out is if there was a great way in ColdFusion 8 to compare 2 objects just like you would compare 2 strings using a 'Compare' function
For example:

I found no such function and so the hunt begun to find a suitable solution.

I tried looking into some under the hood java functionality to help, but settled on another approach that seems to work pretty well, here's how it goes.

Our 'Beans' are all structured where their 'instance' data is in a variable structure i.e. etc.

I also have a generic method in my beans called 'getInstance' which returns a Structure containing all the instance data, it's a simple but powerful method that helps in debugging what data is contained in the Bean at a glance

...cffunction methog="getInstance" returntype="struct"

..cfreturn variables.instance

So I added a 'compareObject' method to my bean where I can pass in a bean of the same type and compare the 2 objects by introspecting the data from the 'getInstance' call on each of them and then simply looping through the structure keys and comparing them -
So regardless of whether the data is a date, numeric or string, the
<!--- Author: penny - Date: 6/9/2008 --->
<cffunction name="compareObject" output="false" access="public" returntype="boolean" hint="Compares 2 objects that have a getInstance Interface defined for them - ">
<cfargument name="ruleBean" type="ruleBean" required="true"/>

<!--- first compare the Structure Keys if that's the same (which they should be if they're the same object so let's ignore) --->
<!--- Next for each key in the Structure, compare the values - if there is one that is a non-match, then return a false and exit --->
<cfset var item = ''/>
<cfset var returnValue = true/>
<cfset var tmpObj =arguments.ruleBean.getInstance() />
<cfloop collection="#variables.instance#" item="item">
<cfif isSimpleValue(variables.instance[item])>
<cfif variables.instance[item] neq tmpObj[item]>
<cfset returnValue = false/>

<cfreturn returnValue />

Note: this is calling 'isSimpleValue' to compare only numerics, boolean, datetime, strings and not Structures and Arrays, which simplifies the comparison scope, but may likely solve the 90% rule while leaving it up to you to implement or extend this method to do comparison accross your complex instance data.

So calling this is as simple as instantiating the bean, and calling the compareObject method on it, and passing in the bean you want to compare it to..

<cfset rule = createObject( "component", "ruleBean").init(1)/>
<cfset rule2 = createObject( "component", "ruleBean").init(2)/>
<cfset x =rule.compareObject(rule2) />
<cfdump var="#x#"/>

Returns 'false' as they are not equal (instance data in one object is '1' while the other is '2'.

Until we have a true 'compareObject' function to compare 2 objects, this will have to work for now.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Not your average Yo

Thanks Yo for the blog post linking here.

Yo's a good friend who's got lots of great posts relating to ColdFusion as well.

Check him out at JustAnAverageYo.com. He also runs the Southern Minnesota ColdFusion user group sponsored by my employer at BitterColdFusion.com.

Oh yeah and he's a fan of trance music as well ;)

Thanks again!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Merging 2 + XML Documents with different Encoding Types

I have the task of merging 2 XML documents together that differ in their encoding types. One is declared as a UTF-8 (8bit UCS Transformation format) doc, the other the ISO-8859-1 format type (Latin Alpha No. 1). I wanted to do it w/o parsing the xml as well, as that's an expensive operation and with large documents can be problematic. Well, I figured, this is easy! I'll do the following:
  • Create a String Buffer to hold the new Large XML
  • Strip the Root Nodes and any xml header (doctype/?xml etc)
  • Write each xml doc to the String Buffer
  • Append the Root Node Back to the Main String
  • Close the String Buffer
  • Have a snack
XML Doc 1:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<jobtitle>Job 1</jobtitle> ...
XML Doc 2:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>
<jobtitle>Job 2</jobtitle> ...

Turns out, that only works well if the XML documents you're attempting to merge are of the same encoding type. Any ideas on a work around?

What I did, is I specified an encoding type for a FileWriter object, and followed the same process, but had to write the file to disk specifying a unified encoding type, then read the file back.

This worked ok, but I am looking at alternatives like going to Binary and back to String again, but for now, this is my best available option.

ToScript or not ToScript

Nice little function in CF 7 that I totally overlooked: ToScript

Creates a JavaScript or ActionScript expression that assigns the value of a ColdFusion variable to a JavaScript or ActionScript variable. This function can convert ColdFusion strings, numbers, arrays, structures, and queries to JavaScript or ActionScript syntax that defines equivalent variables and values.


A string that contains a JavaScript or ActionScript variable definition corresponding to the specified ColdFusion variable value.

This can contain one of the following:
  • String
  • Number
  • Array
  • Structure
  • Query
Very useful when assigning cf data to javascript - nice to know now?!


Why the name? Well it's a bit of a play on the BASIC acronym but I thought it would apply fairly well with how I feel about what ColdFusion technology allows us to accomplish.

I'm a Canadian citizen/US Permanent resident alien from Swift Current, SK living in Mpls. An Application Developer of 10 years running currently employed at Jobs2Web, Inc, a great small start up out of Minnetonka MN. I've been with them from the start and have developed such applications like hotgigs.com and the jobs2web.com platform.

I dabble in ColdSpring, Fusebox, XML and Databases while listening the best and latest in Trance Music and Progressive by the likes of Armin van Buuren, and George Acosta, Markus Schulz and Paul Oakenfold.

I'm going to use this platform to divulge in all sorts of strange encounters and endevors through my working days with the latest technologies.

Blog ya later