I manage a lot of ColdFusion Enterprise application servers. When I'm working on new server deployments, accessing the various ColdFusion Administrator's, or troubleshooting issues, I often have ideas about ways Adobe can improve enterprise server management. Here are three of the ideas I've had recently.
Select all checkboxes in CAR builder
If you're responsible for managing a bunch of ColdFusion servers and/or you've worked with ColdFusion's packaging and deployment tools you should be familiar with CAR files. If not, ColdFusion archive files (*.car) are a great way to package ColdFusion administrator settings on one server and deploy them on additional servers in your infrastructure. The CAR builder in ColdFusion 8 works well but some user interface refinements would really make the tool easier to use. Take datasources for instance. You have to individually select each datasource in order to include them in your CAR file. If your server uses more than a few this process can be tedious. I'd like to see two new controls here, select all and deselect all.
Notes feature in scheduled tasks
Before talking about my idea for scheduled tasks let me briefly provide some background. I typically deploy purposeful ColdFusion servers. By purposeful I mean each server has a specific role and it doesn't deviate much from its main purpose in life. These roles are highly generalized like serving content for public Web sites, an intranet, or a back-end content management system. This example defines three different roles where separate ColdFusion servers would accommodate user requests.
Another common role is reporting. Applying this idea in the real world generally means all "heavy" ColdFusion tasks - like reporting - would run on one or more of the reporting servers. It's not uncommon for these servers to have dozens of scheduled tasks. Through the lifecycle of product development scheduled tasks are created, removed, edited, temporarily paused, and deleted. Managing these scheduled tasks and knowing the current state of each task is pretty cumbersome. Sure you can take notes in a tool like Evernote but I'd really like to see a notes feature in scheduled tasks. It could be as simple as a text area that allows you to type free form notes for any purpose you find necessary. If you have to temporarily change the schedule for a task you could write a note about why. If you had to pause a task for an indefinite period of time but you wanted to remember why later, you could note it in the notes field. You might need to alter a scheduled tasks URL or authentication parameters while you troubleshoot an issue. Using the notes feature you could jot down the original URL or authentication username/password. The ways this feature can be used to manage a server effectively are limitless.
Remote settings compare
I recently needed to compare ColdFusion Administrator settings across more than a dozen servers. Our application error tracking and reporting code started notifying us of issues with a few servers. It was unclear from stack traces where the root cause of the error was or even if the problem was with ColdFusion or the database cluster. Understanding why only a few of the servers were experiencing issues involved first ensuring all server settings were the same. To do this I copied all the text on the Settings Summary screen of each of the ColdFusion Administrator's and made a bunch of text files. I then used the wonderful Changes application on OS X to do a file comparison from server A to server B and server B to server C, etc. This worked okay but it was more time consuming than I'd like.
A better solution would be a settings comparison tool built into the CF admin that allowed you to remotely compare settings across all servers. The obvious place for this tool is the Enterprise Manager where additional ColdFusion instances are managed. Or, in the case of single-instances deployed across multiple physical (or virtual) servers Web Services could be used to tap into an Admin API feature for settings comparison. Imagine selecting all the servers you want to compare and getting a grid display showing you what settings are different across all the servers!
What do you, the ColdFusion community, think of these ideas? Am I crazy for thinking these things would be useful? What ColdFusion Administrator features would you like to see?
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This entry was posted by Aaron West on April 27, 2009 at 8:00 AM. It was filed in the following categories: ColdFusion. It has been viewed 3094 times and has 6 comments.