CF Conf Central
August 30th - September 1st, 2003
Las Vegas, NV

Fusion Authority on Fusebox 2003 Conference

Fusebox Conference 2003 Compiled by James Husum and Mike Brunt

This year's Fusebox conference was held at the Rio Hotel and Casino on Sunday, August 31st and Monday, September 1st in beautiful and very warm Las Vegas; temperatures topped 100 degrees every day. Ninety-three people from all over the globe attended, including folks from Britain and Australia. There were eleven ladies signed up for the conference. According to Sandra Clark, a speaker at the conference, this is the highest ratio of women attending ever in the history of Fusebox. Other notable firsts at the 2003 conference were the launch of Fusebox 4.0 for procedural programming and Mach-II for 'OO' development. Charlie Areheart, CTO of New Atlanta, also announced the impending launch of NewAtlanta's Blue Dragon server 3.1 for running CFML pages.

The conference commenced with a reception and registration on Saturday night including the now legendary Fusebox Fuseball contest. Conference packets were distributed that contained handouts for the presentations, a demo copy of Adalon 2.6 from Synthis, a sheet for the CF tag game, and a really cool FB beer glass (sadly there were no free samples to test the glasses!). Steve Nelson, from SecretAgents.com, was showing off two tools he has developed - the improved Prototype Toolkit and the Fusedoc Validator. The evening also hosted the annual Fuseball tournament (full report further on).

Day 1: Fusebox 4.0

On Sunday, things started off early at 8:00 AM and finally wrapped up at 10:00 PM. This was a marathon session featuring a number of good presentations and a Fusebox Panel finale that included Sean Corfield from Macromedia. Many noted Corfield's presence as a good thing for Fusebox and he made the point of asking for more Fusebox and Mach-II contributions for DevNet. Michael Smith of TeraTech handled the welcoming duties and the general Master of Ceremonies tasks. TeraTech has been a major sponsor of Fusebox events for several years. You can find conference details at http://www.cfconf.org/fusebox2003/.

Hal Helms kicked off the day with an introduction to Fusebox 4, which helped bring everyone up to speed on the new framework. FB4 uses the power of XML to great effect to configure, amongst other things, the application level settings. Since XML is language neutral, these same files can be used to control your app in ColdFusion, PHP, JSP and other languages. More information on Fusebox 4.0 can be found at Fusebox.org.

John Quarto-vonTividar presented a session on a powerful new feature in FB4 - plugins. Plugins allow you to extend the functionality of the FB4 core files without having to change the core itself. They can also handle things such as security or error handling for an app. Multiple plugins can be used within the same application without conflicting with each other.
Sean Corfield
Sean Corfield
Michael Smith
Michael Smith

Sandy Clark
Sandy Clark
The presentation by Sandra Clark went over how FB4 gets away from the nested layouts used in FB3 and gives you greater flexibility in creating your own layouts. She demonstrated how nested layouts and the resulting nested HTML Tables can cause issues in some browsers. (FB3 nested layouts can be done with FB4 if you really want to do so.) She also demonstrated how using tables to format your design can cause problems with speech readers and other devices. Using CSS and the content component variables in FB4 present a much better alternative for accessibility, design, and ultimately, maintenance of your site.

Jeff Peters' session on Fusedocs covered the XML-based documentation standard for Fusebox. Jeff went over the benefits of using Fusedocs, such as having an easy way of knowing what the fuse is meant to do and what variables it handles. He also showed how Fusedocs provide a good way of documenting what your thought process was in case you have to revisit your code six months later for maintenance.  Steve Nelson has already used Fusedocs very effectively for his ongoing Fusecoder project.

Michael Smith came back for a presentation on Real World FLiP (Fusebox Lifecycle Process.) In the session he went over some of the problems developers encounter while using FLiP. He then departed from the usual format and broke the audience up to form teams. Each team took one of the problems and brainstormed possible solutions. At the end, each team presented their solutions for peer review.

Picasso would have been proud of some of the drawings!


Fusebox Panel To end the first day, Michael Smith, Sandy Clark, Steve Nelson and Sean Corfield sat on the Fusebox Panel and fielded questions from the audience. One nice piece of information came from Corfield. He said that while Macromedia was optimizing the CF 6.1 code, several Fusebox apps were used to help optimize and tweak performance. This involved testing Fusebox 3.0, Fusebox 4.0 and Mach-II (formerly Fusebox MX) applications to ensure that the new XML-driven FB apps also ran faster under ColdFusion MX 6.1! He also mentioned that Macromedia was using Mach-II to build some internal web applications and shared some amazing metrics for the number of hits the MM web sites get in a typical day.

Day 2: Mach-II

The second day focused entirely on the Mach-II framework, which is based on object-oriented principles and uses ColdFusion Components as an integral part of its design. Mach-II was developed by Ben Edwards and Hal Helms. Helms explained that 'mach' represents breaking the procedural barrier, and 'II' stands for the implicit invocation architecture, on which the framework is based.  Sean Corfield is likely to be a major contributor to the Mach-II effort, and mentioned he was already working on some enhancements. In fact, since the conference, he has built a whole section of his blog to cover Mach-II topics: http://www.corfield.org/index.php?fuseaction=machii.main.

The first presentation focused on object-oriented principles and how they apply to coding web applications. Helms listed the three essential aspects of object-oriented (OO) programming as Polymorphism, Inheritance and Encapsulation. He stressed the long-term need for us all to start grasping OO principles. We have a golden opportunity to do so, thanks to ColdFusion MX. Head First Java by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates, published by O'Reilly, was recommended as a good reference for ColdFusion developers wanting to get up to speed on Java and OO. 

The next segment went into more of the architecture and configuration of a Mach-II app. Configuration of the app is done using XML. The system is event-based. A component of the system broadcasts an event. Other procedures in the system are set to listen for the broadcasted event. When they 'hear' the event their own methods are invoked and run. There are sample apps along with the Mach-II framework available from the Mach-II web site (http://www.mach-ii.com).

Hal Helms Ben Edwards
Hal Helms and Ben Edwards

The last segment provided further detail on the workings of Mach-II, such as how events are defined and examples of how to create listeners and event filters.

View from Starship Fuseballprise! Where's Stan Cox?

ALFJust before the drawings for the door prizes started there was an appearance by TV personality ALF, standing in for the legendary Stan Cox. It seems that Stan is now living on ALF's home world (Melmac) and enjoying having every fantasy fulfilled, courtesy of Mach-II! (It couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy than Stan.)

Finally, the winners of this year's Fuseball tournament were Devin Holloway and John Vachalek. On their way to glory they had a really hard-fought, tight game against Rey Muradaz and Steve Nelson. For their efforts, they won nicely laminated posters proclaiming them Fuseball Champions for 2003. Congratulations, guys, and better luck to everyone else next year.

Rey Muradaz and Steve Nelson tussle it out befor losing

We talked with many attendees after the conference. Overall, most attendees had a positive experience with the conference and thought it was worthwhile. Kathryn Butterly said, "I liked it very much. FB4 has a lot of things we need, such as layouts and security." But the whole conference was probably best summed up by Chris Phillips, who said, "It was just so awesome!"

Source Courtesy of Fusion Authority


If you have any questions, contact michael@teratech.com