Scotch on the Rocks 2013

By: Kevin Roche

Tags:

  • coldfusion
  • conferences
Edinburgh Castle overlooks the Venue

Last week the Hilton Hotel in Grosvenor Street Edinburgh was host to this year's unusually named Scotch on the Rocks ColdFusion conference. The 2 day conference was attended by ColdFusion developers from all over the world.

As the only attendee from Global Personals the main difficulty was deciding which of the three tracks to go to as they all had something really interesting to offer.

I'll briefly cover the sessions I attended in roughly the order they were given.

Day One

Keynote - Tridib Roy Chowdhury on ColdFusion

The conference opened with a keynote which detailed some of the plans that are being made for the next version of ColdFusion known as Splendour.

Tridib explained that the number of mobile devices is growing faster than expected. Morgan Stanley predicted in 2008 that by 2014 mobile devices would outnumber desktop and laptops, but that has already happened.

Revenue from the sales of software is growing at 6% but the sales of software on mobile devices is growing at 40% and is now $20bn worldwide. A lot of this is not being driven by corporates but by personal users. In some cases, especially in BRIC countries, employees bringing their own devices to work (BYOD) is driving corporates to invest.

Adobe have been surveying the market and their research shows that 44% of companies already embrace BYOD. In the enterprise market enterprises want employee facing apps and 66% of enterprises want to see business apps on personal devices.

Mobile tool revenues will grow from $1bn to $4bn in the next 4 years, but support for testing on mobile is very limited. Most is browser based and does a limited job.

Adobe wants to develop a tool to allow you to develop, debug, test and deploy mobile applications from within the next version of ColdFusion (codenamed Splendour). Their plan is to Integrate PhoneGap with CF and allow users to create mobile apps in CF Builder. It will also allow developers to test and debug using CF Builder by connecting directly to a wide range of devices.

Security Enhancements

Another focus for the new version will be security. Attacks increased by 42% in 2012 and increasingly small businesses that provide online services are being targeted as a way to attack larger businesses. Today 61% of all sites with Malware are legitimate sites that have been compromised. Adobe are putting money into promoting security and planning to make lock down a default.

Recent Developments

Tridib announced the CF Conference

To encourage the use of CF for new projects Adobe have created a new community portal which allows solution partners to promote products written in CF. There is also a new user groups site with a 'CF YouTube Channel', all built using CF10 and Mura CMS.

Adobe are also planning a CF conference in the USA in October.

Mark Lassoff on HTML5 Mobile App Development with PhoneGap

Mark Lassoff gave an interesting demonstration of using PhoneGap and HTML5 as an alternative to traditional mobile development. He showed how to create an application using HTML5, CSS, Javascript and the PhoneGap library.

Personally I thought it still looked like there is room for improvement here and so room for Adobe to create a killer development environment even if they are a little late.

Mark Drew on Railo

Mark gave an impassioned presentation of 10 things that Railo does better than ColdFusion.

Railo is an Open Source alternative to Adobe's ColdFusion and has recently been responsible for pushing the development of the language, with Adobe following the Railo lead. It certainly shows that CFML is a growing language with new features and options available for the language.

Mark's list included caching and debugging improvements and the ability to run CFML scripts from the command line to create useful utilities.

One interesting feature was the ability to create parallel loops where several threads work to process the loop and data is magically combined at the end.

Ray Camden on indexedDB

Ray stays calm under a deluge of data

indexedDB is a client-side (JavaScript-based) technology that allows for "significant" storage of data on the client-side, it is an alternative to cookies or local storage and the now defunct WebSQL. He showed us some examples of how the technology could improve the speed of operations that displayed larger quantities of data. In one case a map based application was significantly faster with the local database.

While the support at present for indexedDB is limited, the number of browsers offering this web standard is growing. Ray explained how to provide fallback in those cases where the browser doesn't support the standard.

Elishia Dvorak on Web Sockets

ColdFusion 10 supports web sockets so it was interesting to see them in use when Elishia Dvorak of Adobe spoke about them. The websocket protocol is a new HTML5 technology allowing real time data communication between servers and clients for the first time. ColdFusion 10 has made the implementation of websockets very easy and straightforward, saving time and increasing productivity for developers.

Bruce Lawson on How To Destroy The Web

This was easily the funniest presentation of the day and outlined various worrying trends which could cause problems on the internet. Bruce detailed how various governments, companies and special interest groups are working to damage the way the web works in order to promote their own interests. The importance of standards was emphasised and he called us all to work towards maintaining the open operation of our most valuable resource.

Day 2

Ray Camden on Brackets

Ray explains

Brackets is an HTML editor built on web standards using HTML5. Its distributed free under an MIT licence and available from GitHub. Installers are also available for Windows, OSX and the community are working on a version for Linux. Recently Brackets has added many new features which make it really usable by developers but there is no code completion yet for ColdFusion or other programming languages. One of the delegates announced that he was working on support for CF and it would be available within a few days.

Rob Bookes-Billson on EHCache

Rob outlined the various ways you can make use of the caching features of ColdFusion. It has EHCache built in and there are easy ways to use it to make applications faster and able to handle more users.

Mike Henke on Testing and Continuous Integration

The advantages of unit testing and continuous integration (CI) are huge but nobody has the time to write tests on legacy code while still being productive. This session explained the advantages of the approach, showed how to setup Jenkins and run the most basic unit test ever -- does your ColdFusion code compile. Mike went on to show an easy to install way to get started and begin using CI to improve application delivery.

Luis Majano on Mocking with MockBox

This session explained the importance of mock and stub objects for testing, development and continuous integration. Luis explained that mocking and stubbing are core techniques for testing ColdFusion object oriented applications. This session covered the concepts of mocking, and what we should test, including how to improve test isolation and techniques.

Steve Withington on Mura CMS

Since Mura CMS was launched as an open source product at cf.Objective() 2008, it has seen huge improvements and tremendous growth. In this session, Steve provided an overview of the latest (and greatest!) version of Mura, and showed you how Mura CMS can make life easier for both end-users and developers.

Mura CMS has a growing user base and a huge feature list. The new version 6.1 is due out soon and will feature approval chains which allow site changes to be reviewed before publishing.

There will also be a hosted version for those who don't want to run it on their own hardware.

Closing thoughts.

I was very impressed by the way that ColdFusion continues to answer the needs of developers and the plans that Adobe have for Mobile Application development. Mura is also worth watching as it is beginning to make a big impact and beating some major PHP based systems in the CMS market. Finally I am planning to spend some time investigating the testing tools that were described by Mike Henke and Luis Majano.

Thank you to Global Personals for sponsoring my attendance.

If you're an experienced ColdFusion developer, you could join us. We have openings in both our Windsor and London offices. We will also happily consider remote positions for the right candidates. So get in touch.

About the Author

Kevin Roche