CFUnited 2009 - What an Amazing Event This Year

Oh my. This has to have been the best CFUnited I've been to - Bar None. Liz, Nafisa, Cara, and the rest of the Stellr team did a phenomenal job. The sessions completely blew my mind. And the speakers, awe-inspiring. Every attendee and speaker I conversed with were not only friendly and talkative, but they were all just as happy about the overall event as I was.

And the location... one word, unparalleled. I mean, this place was a gem waiting to be discovered. I'm going to reserve the majority of this blog post just to talk about the conference center / hotel. Not that the sessions don't deserve more attention (they were beyond my expectations), but after all the previous CFUnited conferences I've been to (which were great), I never realized how much better an event can be just with subtle improvements at an event location.

What can I say? The amazing staff, delicious foods, the atmosphere... look, Ive been to many conferences over the past few years. This has to have been the best experience I've had so far (very good choice Stellr team!).

Let's roll back the clock to day 1 of the conference. I was about to give a session and they were still working out a few kinks. I was having a couple audio issues and within seconds staff members were on-hand hooking me up to the P.A. system and making sure my audio and internet connection were all set. They really knew their stuff and were extremely friendly. They made sure I was up-and-rolling in time before my session began. In my head I was giving them their first rating star (1 out of 5), so far so good.

Now we move a bit later in the evening to 11:30pm. Okay, this wasn't exactly "event-related", but bare with me. Many of us were outside at the fit pit. We were celebrating a great first day and having a few drinks (okay more than a few) and we were being quite boisterous. There had to have been more than 30 people outside (probably 50+, I wasn't counting). Everyone was having a good time and rehashing the knowledge gain from day 1. Around 11:30-ish these two burly security-looking guys come out from the back of the hotel and made a B-Line for our group. Uh oh, party's over. I gave one of the guys a sheepish look and said, "Are we being too loud?" (implying, "Time to pack it up?"). The guy smiled and said "Nope, we just wanted to see if guys were having a good time. Is there anything you need?" I couldn't believe it. Really? Aren't we being too loud? Liz talked to some of the staff and mentioned that the bar had closed. Can you believe this, they hooked her up with more beer and smores for the fire pit. *bing* (now 2 out of 5 stars).

The food.... where do I begin on the food? Let's start with the hallways outside the sessions. The hotel staff made sure that we were always stocked with plenty of drinks and snacks... from soda pop, to coffee, juice (orange, apple, grapefruit, etc), milk, coffee, bottled water, and on and on. And LOTS of it. This is not something we've been accustomed to in the past. Heck, even in the mornings I could come down and grab a bowl of cereal, bagel, yogurt, or fresh pastry. Other snacks included granola bars, healthier snack bars, cookies, brownies (keep in mind that this was throughout the entire day, not just designated 15 minute breaks). The list goes on, but the point is they made sure we were always fully stocked. *bing* (3 out of 5 stars).

At previous conferences it was a challenge to grab a quick snack or drink between sessions before the quantity ran out or the timer ran out (and the staff would pull the items as you were reaching for them (this actually happened last year)). However, this year we were always stocked. You never saw people hovering around food/snack stations trying to get "something" before it was gone. Instead you'd find attendees with vendors or socializing with each other between sessions. *bing* (4 out of 5 stars)

One last thing I'll comment here regarding the snack areas: I'm not much of a soda drinker, but I know a lot of people who have this "thing" for diet soda (it's like a religion :)). On the first day I was in one of that halls where they stocked snacks (there were several snack areas throughout) and saw a few attendees standing nearby (who apparently wanted diet soda). A staff member asked one of them "Is everything okay?" One attendee politely said, "Oh, this place is great. I was just hoping for a diet soda". The staff member didn't flinch. His response was simply, "You bet" and 60 seconds later he had an employee wheeling in a large cart of diet sodas. For the remainder of the conference I noticed that all snack areas were fully stocked with diet sodas. This is not the type of service I've had in the past at conferences. Top notch! *bing* (5 out of 5 stars)

The food, part 2... The meals (lunch). Wow. Simply, wow. I'm not sure words can really describe the succulent meals we had each day and the wonderful wait staff (although Eric took some really cool pics. I'll post a link to them here once I get it form him). We were treated so well I was wondering if they thought we were someone really important (like heads-of-state or famous rich people or something). Even on the repeat-sessions day (Sat) I was surprised. I knew ahead of time we'd only be having a sandwich buffet that day (rather than the wonderful meals we'd been having all week), so I went in expecting something bland and figured I'd just go somewhere else for lunch. Boy was I in for a surprise. Let's just say I had no problem going back for seconds. Yum. The staff made sure each day that we were all taken care of. They would clear our finished plates as soon as we were done to allow us time to enjoy a social interaction with our peers. I had expected the buffet lines to be very long and time consuming (like in past conferences). They seemed to be one step ahead there too. We'd all get out of session and to lunch at the same time (imagine several hundred people all going for the food lines at once). The lines would start off extremely long. But unexpectedly we were through the lines within a couple minutes with our food. Again, not what I expected at all. *bing* (6 out of 5 stars).

Wait, what?! 6 out of 5 stars? Sorry, looking back I just can't pick any one item to take a star away from. We'll just have to go unbalanced and give it a 120% success rating :)

Overall, a great week. I know this blog post concentrated mostly on the location. Believe me when I say the conference sessions, materials, speakers, attendees, and Stellr staff members were all amazing. They truly were. Even the vendor locations were great (I felt that by putting them in the hallways like that right outside the session rooms made sure they got really good exposure). I think I'm just so happy about this place because in the past we've had mediocre service when compared to this place. I'm not complaining about the past locations (I think they were all great). I just didn't know what I was missing until now. I *so* hope the Stellr team considers the Lansdowne Resort again for next year.

Great job Stellr team. And thanks everyone (speakers, attendees, vendors, and hotel/conference staff) for a wonderful event. I'm going to have to take a few days off just to digest all the knowledge from the full week.

From a Gary Larson cartoon I saw many years ago: [Jeff] raises his hand in class and says to the teacher, "Mr. Osborne, may I be excused? My brain is full."

CFUnited 2009 Presentation: PDF Documents and Forms in ColdFusion 9

I just finished my PDF presentation and CFUnited 2009 (titled: PDF Documents and Forms in ColdFusion 9) and thought I'd share it on my blog for anyone before I forget (see the download link associated with this blog post or refer to the enclosure file (for you RSS readers out there :) ).

In the zip file is the presentation itself (saved as a PDF) and the example test files.

A special thanks to Josh Adams for an earlier version of this preso from last year. Although I've changed most of it since then, it was his earlier preso that helped guide me in the right direction early on.

64-bit Support in ColdFusion 9 Standard

I was very excited to read last week that the upcoming release of ColdFusion 9 Standard will offer 64-bit support (currently with CF 8.01 you must purchase CF Enterprise in order to get 64-bit support).

I have many medium to large-scale client websites that consistently run out of RAM (a common problem with sophisticated CF frameworks and their successful caching implementations). However, none of the sites have required (nor have purchased) CF Enterprise.

The thing is, when it comes to hardware on a server RAM is cheap (unless you're using something like a paid VPS solution - somehow most of these hosting solutions get away with charging you more per month than it cost them to purchase the RAM on the server for a one-time fee).

Currently the RAM limitation in CF Standard (32-bit) is approximately 2GB (a limitation having to do with 32-bit java). However, "the emergence of the 64-bit architecture effectively increases the memory ceiling to 264 addresses, equivalent to approximately 17.2 billion gigabytes, 16.8 million terabytes, or 16 exabytes of RAM" (Wikipedia).

FarCry 5.1 Official Release

FarCry Core LogoThis news is actually a month old, but I haven't seen anyone else talk about it yet.

Daemon has once again outdone themselves with the release of FarCry Core 5.1. This new version comes with a very large assortment of new features and bug fixes when compared to the previous release of FarCry 5.0 from last June.

With over 200 documented bug fixes and new features, FarCry 5.1 is definitely an upgrade not to be missed. Below are a few I felt deserved mentioning:

  • Faster Startup Time: FarCry starts up much faster now (as well as application scope updates) for people using JVM 1.5 or better (if you have CF8, you should be all set). Because CF's createUUID() method is so slow, Rob Rohan replaced it with a third-party java class that creates UUIDs in a fraction of the time.
  • Friendly URL Engine Rebuilt: Friendly URLs no longer require a prefix of "/go/" and they are easier to manage. (see the docs for more details on the new Friendly URLs in FarCry 5.1).
  • New Admin Toolbar: When logged in and browsing the site, the admin toolbar now sits out of the way at the bottom of the screen. It has better information regarding the primary content on the screen and it even lets you edit content in a modal window while never leaving the page (New!). Consuming very little space it sits in an iframe rather than using javascript to modify the contents of the page. This was important because the previous admin toolbar (which floated on the left of the screen) sometimes made working on a website difficult - not only could you not validate your (x)HTML, but if you had javascript errors on the page you sometimes didn't know if it was because of your code or possibly a conflict with the the admin menu (logging out of FarCry was the only way to get by this issue).
  • New Developer API. A new developer API allows developers to access a single object with a library of common methods often used by developers. No longer does a developer have to dig around to find out how to do a custom getDescendants() method or find the default image path or file path. This is still a work in progress and is being updated with new methods, but is a great starting point for developers to look for common actions often needed.
  • New Ajax Features in Formtools: When using formtools on the frontend of your website, you can now do things like ajax form submission. Personally I don't like using formtools on the frontend (I like to pick and choose which js libraries to use and customize my own code), but I think a lot of people will find these features useful - just write a couple lines of code and FarCry will build out all of your forms and ajax for you.
  • New Pagination Functionality: Okay, this probably shouldn't really be on a list of big features. But I find myself using it more and more on projects because it allows me to conform easily to standards-compliant lists fairly easily with very little code.
  • Better Railo and OpenBD Support: Although FarCry's primary concern is to make sure it works on Adobe ColdFusion, support for Railo and OpenBD is an ongoing process. Daemon works with both companies to help make sure that both third-party engines can run as smoothly as possible with new features of FarCry as they come out. Every now and then something will break with a new feature or bug fix, but luckily the community is there to assist in pointing out the error and helping to bug fix.
  • New Blog Engine (Plugin): Although it hasn't been officially released as of yet, the current beta of the FarCry Blog plugin is pretty stable and currently is designed for FarCry 5.1+. It technically hasn't changed much since it's first beta release several months ago (with cool features like switching skins in a single click and easy content management), but it's something I strongly suggest checking out if you're in need for a blog engine. You can grab the version built for FarCry 5.1 on the FarCry builds download page (look for the file named

Daemon is already hard at work on the next release of FarCry Core 5.1.1 which promises to take care of a list of items that were pushed aside temporarily so that version 5.1 could get out the door. Already there have been many updates put into SVN and it looks like we may see a lot more jQuery functionality in the next release (I'm a huge fan of jQuery, so this only makes me happier). I can't wait to see what Daemon has in store for us next.

FarCry 5.1 Public Beta Released

FarCry Core LogoDaemon has announced the first public beta release of FarCry 5.1.  Along with a plethora of bug fixes, FarCry 5.1 introduces a new Friendly URL sub-system (no more need for /go/) as well as a faster engine under the hood. i18n has been brought back on the scene after a hiatus of a year or so and the new webskin caching system and list views things even easier than before.

One of the most notable features is better OpenBD and Railo support.  Although I don't personally use either (except for testing), I've been hearing great things about them.  Deamon is asking for more community testing with FarCry 5.1 beta on OpenBD and Railo.  So if you have a moment to give it a test run, let them know how it goes.

A new blog engine is planned to be released with FarCry 5.1 when it comes out (you can download the first release candidate of NearCry on Daemon's builds download page).

I am personally running the current beta of FarCry 5.1 in production on a few websites and intranets and it's running quite well. If you get a chance, download the latest bundle (currently titled "") from the download builds page and let Daemon know what you think.

New CF8 Exam Buster Released

Centrasoft recently released their new version of the CF8 Exam Buster to help those interested in studying for the Adobe ColdFusion 8 Certification.

Personally I no desire to take the exam (see my previous post from a couple years ago or Ray Camden's recent comments on the test), but Brian (Centrasoft) always does such an excellent job with his CF Exam Buster that I'd like to compare his product with that of the actual exam (Maybe Adobe should hire him in the future to write their CF exams :) ). So I've got myself a copy of the CF8 Exam Buster and as soon as I have a chance, I'm going to run through it.

Below is a copy of the press release Brian has posted. If you're looking to study for the CF8 exam, definitely consider his product (note: only runs on Windows. I installed it in VMWare Win2k3-64 and it runs great).

CF8 Exam Buster from CentraSoft (

CF8 Exam Buster is the ultimate testing tool specifically designed to help ColdFusion developers earn their Adobe ColdFusion 8 Certification through the Adobe Certified Professional Program.

CF8 Exam Buster has 384 questions designed to help you prepare for all aspects of the actual ColdFusion 8 certification exam. CF8 Exam Buster allows you to take six different tests, 11 topic tests for your weak areas, and the ability to create random tests.

All 384 questions have explanations and reference URLs to further aid your studies and build your ColdFusion knowledge.

During your test you can save your test in progress, submit comments, bookmark questions, pause your test, and much more. You can control the look and feel of the CF8 Exam Buster application, by setting the fonts, colors, and appearance of many controls, to create a studying environment with which you are comfortable. After your test is scored, you will be shown a comprehensive breakdown of your test results.

There is a DEMO version on the Centrasoft website (, which allows you to check out all the features of the program, plus one whole test.

Read what people are saying about the Exam Buster product on our testimonials page (some early CF8 comments are already on there):

Check out CF8 Exam Buster today! Thanks, Brian Simmons The ultimate Adobe ColdFusion 8 Certification testing tool: Check out CF8 Exam Buster at:

ColdFusion, and Adobe are registered trademarks of Adobe Corporation. Adobe Corporation in no way endorses or is affiliated with Centrasoft Corporation.

New FarCry Plugin: jcFarcryFlvPlayer

The jcFarcryFlvPlayer plugin for FarCry gives you a flash-based video player for your website.

The plugin takes advantage of the JW FLV Media Player (a flash-based audio/video player) to offer your website/web-application users playback of your video and audio content (FLV, MP3, H264, SWF, JPG, PNG and GIF).


Listing Page (teasers)

Example screenshot taken from:

Video Player/Details Page

Example screenshot taken from:

I wrote the original version of this code about a year ago for another client. As more clients needed the feature (I'm now using it on 3 different FarCry websites) the need for converting it to a reusable plugin was evident. I finished the plugin for mass consumption by January, but never got around to releasing it (due to inadequate documentation :) ).

There are two version of the plugin (v1.0.x for FarCry 4, and v1.1.x for FarCry 5). Both currently have the same functionality (they are just designed for different versions of FarCry).

Find more information and detailed documentation on the docs/wiki page.

FarCry 5.0 Beta Released

Early this morning Daemon released a packaged beta of FarCry 5.0 (code-named Fortress). This is an early beta and has known bugs, however I've been running it and so far it is pretty stable (IMO).

FarCry 5.0 has a very large feature set. The new installer is great (see image below) and the upgrader does an amazing job (currently only updates from FarCry 4.0).

FarCry 5.0 InstallerNew FarCry 5.0 Installer

Of the many new features in FarCry, the one I'm really digging is the new skeleton functionality. In essence when you create a skeleton you take a snapshot of your current project (configs, plugin connections,... even data) and you can redeploy it in other installations (this is all managed from an easy user interface).

Another feature that a lot of people will be excited about is that FarCry can now run from the webroot (allowing you to deploy it on a shared hosting environment).

You can find more about FarCry 5.0 in the online wiki.

Here is a list of some of the many of the features being released in FarCry 5.0:

  • New Security Model (it's type-based now)
  • New Workflow Engine
  • New Formtool Enhancements
    • Ability to Create Formtools without a Persistent Object (providing a construct for using formtools without the need for a content type in the background)
  • FarCry now Uses Application.cfc
  • ExtJs 2.0 Integration (a new tag library that concentrates on panels and accordions)
  • New Webskin Security Model
  • New Skeleton Functionality (for solution distributions)
  • New Skeleton Explorer (allowing you to export your existing project into a skeleton)
  • New Webskin Security (example: You can secure any view)
  • Type-Based Webskins (the ability to run a new webskin on a collection of objects of the same type)
  • New Inline Documentation Functionality in the Webtop
  • Categories are Now Content Types (No need to create custom category types anymore)
  • The Config has been Normalized (allowing plugins to have their own config)
  • New Installer
  • And Much More!...

There are so many more features. Even small ones... like date fields for example (Thanks Mat). While editing in a form (in the webtop) and modifying a data field... sure you can use the date icon and click through the dates. But you can also just type into the date box in any format (and the date will automatically be converted to your locale). Example: You can type the string "+ 2 weeks" or "+2 months" and you will instantly see the resulting date.

Daemon has put a lot of work into this release and deserve all the credit we can throw at them :). They are asking for people to beta test and report bugs in the public Bug Tracker and/or in the FarCry-Beta Mailing Lists.

Speaking at cf.Objective() 2008

The sessions and speaker lists were published tonight on the cf.Objective() conference website. The topics listed there are amazing and I'm excited to once again be a part of it.

This will be my third year speaking at the conference and I couldn't be more excited. I'll be speaking on one topic: Introduction to FarCry 4.1. The new version of FarCry, estimated to be released in early next spring (northern hemisphere :) ), promises to be an exciting release with great features. It is rumored that the final release version will be renumbered to 5.0 (instead of 4.1) due to it's major build modifications.

Running ColdFusion 8 on Leopard

Okay, this really isn't as difficult as many are making it out to be. It took me 5 minutes (once I knew what to do). Essentially all you need to do is replace one file (


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