Migrating Custom Tags and UDFs to Components in Java

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Migrating Custom Tags and UDFs to Components
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o far in this book, you ve seen entirely new ways of implementing reusable ColdFusion code, so by now, you re probably wondering which approach to take. The waters have also been muddied by misguided discussions on popular ColdFusion mailing lists that suggest things such as custom tags are obsolete now that components are here or you shouldn t implement collections of UDFs as included libraries but should always implement these as components instead. These statements are patently false. You have the following four primary means of implementing reusable code: Included templates Custom tags Included libraries of user-defined functions Components Each technique is perfectly valid in ColdFusion MX, but now that you have more options than before, more criteria are involved in making the most appropriate choice, and so the decision is a bit more difficult to make. If you follow our logic for choosing the most appropriate method for implementing reusable code, your applications use the most powerful principles of ColdFusion technology to their maximum benefit and yours.
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C H A P T E R
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In This
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Knowing when to implement reusable code as a custom tag, an included template, a UDF, or a component Migrating existing code to a components
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Choosing an Implementation Method
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Before you go through this decision process, stop and ask yourself, Do I really need to change anything that is already working You probably don t. The old adage If it ain t broke, don t fix it still rings true, but we would amend it a little by adding, If it doesn t need to do anything more than it already does, don t change it. If you suddenly need to make the output of a custom tag available to a remote .NET server, for example, a custom tag just doesn t do the trick anymore.
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Part IV ColdFusion MX Components, Web Services, and Flash Integration
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You may notice that, with few exceptions, we don t make definitive statements such as Always do this. Wherever an answer isn t clear-cut, we try to steer your decision in a direction. Visualize the decision process this way: Imagine a large circle where, at 90-degree intervals around the circumference, each of the four methods of reuse are placed in the same order as shown in the introduction to this chapter, and shown again in Figure 24-1.
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Included Templates
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4 Components
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Figure 24-1: Visualizing which reusable code technique to implement. For each reusable piece of code, walk to the center of the circle and ask yourself each of the qualifying questions in the following section. If your answer to a question results in a recommendation for a specific method, take a step toward that method the bigger the recommendation, the bigger the step. If an answer disqualifies a method, take no further steps toward it regardless of any further recommendations. After you answer all the questions in the following section, the method closest to you is the one that you should choose to implement that piece of code. Of course, this is an empirical process that is open to wide interpretation, but it really does help give you some initial guidance.
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Qualifying Questions
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For each piece of code that can potentially be reused, ask yourself the following questions: Does the code require parameters or arguments If so, you should formalize an interface that requires the necessary parameters or arguments to be passed into the code. This disqualifies included templates as an implementation method. If the code stands alone, is it a specialized routine If the code doesn t require any arguments or parameters and it produces specialized output, such as a list of current news items, it would work well as a included template containing all database calls and formatted output.
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24 Migrating Custom Tags and UDFs to Components
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Is the code closely bound to an entity or a clearly defined business process Welldesigned components encompass all the functionality required of the entities or business processes that they support, so if the code in question also falls under this category, it should most likely be included in the same component that declares the remaining functionality for that entity or process. If you don t include it, the component s functionality is incomplete. Does the code need to directly modify data local to the caller Be careful with your answer to this question. Directly modifying data local to the caller is done through a custom tag setting a value in the Caller scope, which either creates or overwrites a local variable in the calling template. This can almost always be replaced by returning data from a user-defined function to the caller and then locally setting values in the caller based on the data returned to it. If you have a compelling reason to directly modify data local to the caller, you must use a custom tag. Again, this is rare. Does the code simply return one or more data values A function can return one (and only one) value, but that value can be a complex variable such as a structure containing multiple key-value pairs. So in essence, you can return multiple data values this way. If you re returning only raw data to the caller, your code is a strong candidate for implementation as a user-defined function. Does the code produce formatted content You find a distinct difference between returning data and outputting formatted content. Returned data are granular items that can be rearranged, used in calculations, formatted, and repurposed in any way that you see fit. Formatted content is a cohesive chunk of visual information that acts as a single unit and is typically not used in calculations. If your code produces formatted output based on input parameters or arguments, it is a strong candidate for implementation as a custom tag. Does the code need to be completely isolated from the caller If you want to ensure that variables manipulated in the reusable code do not conflict with variables of the same names in their callers, you cannot use included templates to implement the code. How is the output of the code to be consumed If the code s output is to be consumed by a remote server or if the output is to be consumed by Flash MX applications via Flash Remoting, you must implement the reusable code as a component with Access= Remote . Must users be authorized to use the code If you must restrict access to the reusable code to a specific set of MX security roles, you either need to implement the code as a component or you need to wrap the custom tag s internal code with CFLOGIN and the necessary code to log the user in. Choose one of these methods. Are the data services portions of a custom tag closely bound to an entity or a clearly defined business process Just because a reusable piece of code has a display element to it doesn t mean that all of it must be relegated to a custom tag. Consider moving the portions of the custom tag that require data services (SELECT, UPDATE, and so on) to component functions and calling them from within the custom tag.
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