Words about stuff, and things related to stuff

How to use the CFEclipse Scribble Pad as a fast and easy ColdFusion sandbox

Like most developers I know, I'm always checking functions, testing little changes and trying to find just the right syntax for certain bits and blocks of code. Every project usually ends up with a 'test.cfm' file, which gets written and overwritten with all sorts of little snippets, queries, and other scribbly things, then deleted. To use the test file, I open it like any file in my editor, make changes, then load that page's local url in the browser, refresh, repeat... not bad, it works... but I just discovered something much better!

Thanks to Mark Esher's MX Unit blog post about the CFEclipse Scribble Pad , I've now got a one-click (or one key, F8) instant sandbox to scribble whatever I like, across all projects in my Eclipse workspace. Launching the CFEclipse scribble now (F8) causes 2 things to happen automatically: my 'scribble.cfm' file (stored in a _temp project in my workspace) opens for editing, and the Eclipse browser view (which I seldom use otherwise but is perfect for viewing little bits, cfdumps and snippets) pops up, showing me the rendered output. Very nice.

It isn't just saving the clicks, but saving the thought process. While coding, the distraction of stopping, making a temp file, going to that file in the browser.. every step takes my mind further off of the super-intensive outrageously-important totally-impressive thing I was doing when I decided I needed to scribble in the first place.

Setting it up was easy - just follow the directions : http://blog.mxunit.org/2009/04/timesavers-cfeclipse-scribble-pad.html . This is another perfect example of the powerful, practical tools and timesavers that hide behind a previously-unnoticed menu option or toolbar icon - and though one of the simplest, I have no doubt this will be among my most-used commands when working in Eclipse!


Show open workspace name in Eclipse title bar

In Eclipse, I can switch worskpaces by going to File > Switch Workspace ... but it doesn't give any indication of which workspace I have open at the time.... until now!

The -showLocation parameter causes Eclipse to show the current workspace name in the title bar of the application window (as well as the perspective name for the open perspective).

To add this to your Eclipse configuration (in Windows) is very easy:
Just right-click the shortcut you use to open Eclipse, and select 'properties'.
Then, add "-showLocation" (without the quotes) to the end of the "Target" line.

My shortcut target was: C:\ECLIPSE35\eclipse\eclipse.exe 3.5
Now it looks like this: C:\ECLIPSE35\eclipse\eclipse.exe 3.5 -showLocation

ColdFusion Meetup

Today I attended my first ColdFusion Meetup. I've been watching and/or listening to the previous meetups now and then, but today I clicked through and there was one in progress so I jumped in. What a neat system this is. If you are a ColdFusion user and want to learn more about the CF world in general, it is obvious this is a good thing to be part of.

The whole platform takes a bit of reckoning - the Adobe Connect viewer seems to handle itself once installed, but there's some stuff happening on the screen once you log in... you've got somebody's video - whoever is in control at the moment - showing a live screencast,  the voice of the host and/or current speaker as the audio channel, and a scrolling chat window with all sorts of things including notes from the presenters, questions from the audience, and various interjections.

Connecting live and having my own typed questions answered on the realtime voice track was fun... though listening to the recordings can be educational and thought-provoking, being there 'with' all the other CF-folks in realtime is definitely the way to go... I plan to be back at more CF meetups soon!

The CF Meetup site is here: http://www.meetup.com/coldfusionmeetup/

The one I participated in today, "Leveraging Eclipse for ColdFusion Development", with Mike Henke", is here: http://www.meetup.com/coldfusionmeetup/calendar/10900365/

( Thanks to the host Charlie Arehart and to Mike for the info about CFeclipse - I learned several useful things today and look forward to what's coming next! )


Setting up Eclipse 3.5 w/ CFeclipse 1.34 & Aptana 1.5

A new version of Eclipse (version 3.5 aka 'Galileo') was just released, along with a well-timed new version of CFeclipse (version 1.34), the Eclipse-based ColdFusion editor, and a new version (1.5) of the incredibly versatile Aptana Studio eclipse plugn.

I've been using Eclipse for a while now, but my installation was done as a total noob and it is unclear to me what is part of native Eclipse, what came with my current version of the CFeclipse plugin, and what's provided as part of the wonderful Aptana code editor, another must-have plugin for my daily Eclipse use.

In an effort to trace my steps this time around, I'm attempting to make notes as I go. Your mileage may vary (I'm on Windows, not sure if it varies for Mac, for example), but here's what I did: .


Things I miss from Dreamweaver (in Eclipse / CFeclipse / Aptana)

yes there are a few...  I've been DW-free  and 100% eclipse-coding for about a year now I think... and I still find myself wishing for just a few of the features that were in DW. Maybe they'll be in 'ColdFusion Builder' ... maybe they already exist in eclipse and I'm not looking at it correctly.

My workspace is currently Eclipse 3.4 w/ CFeclipse plugins and Aptana code editor. The perspective I work in is largely Aptana's default w/ some stuff moved around.

Anyway, here's my short list of things I wish I had in my daily IDE : 

- Highlighted Tag Matching. Yes there is a bit of that in my eclipse/cfeclipse build, i.e. 'jump to matching tag', but in DW I could hit a key combo that would highlight the tag and its contents, and with another keystroke, jump to the parent matching tag, expanding outward. Then I could collapse that section - or any section I want - among other things. I miss that.

- (smarter) Tag Completion: In eclipse, I can type <p> and it puts the closing </p> right after. That's great. But in DW, I could type <p> then a big long sentence and then simple ' </  ' ... and it would know to put the closing 'p>' in there for me. Same for /div>, whatever. That was cool.

- Last Modified Dates /. 2-part FTP Panel: I love eclipse's "project" view, where i can have any number of projects in a single scrolling pane without flipping back and forth like DW's 'sites' system. Awesome. And the built-in FTP w/ Aptana is much faster and more reliable for me than DW ever was (this was the main reason i finally forced myself to become friendly w/ eclipse after years as a die-hard DW user). But sometimes I really miss the expanded FTP view from DW, where i could see files on the local server as well as the remote, with last-modified dates and everything. I still suspect this lurks in eclipse but have not found the right 'view' as of yet.

- User Defined Keyboard Shortcuts: this is a BIG one. Snippet shortcuts are awesome, but still not quite the same as being able to set my own key combos on any menu or window item.


No chance I'll be going back to DW any time soon (or ever) - there's too much in Eclipse that I would not only miss but become less productive if I did not have. For the most part I have a great, stable (and free!) web coding system in place, but these are the main features I find myself missing. My hands get tired after 12-hour coding days - every little auto-completed key-shortcutable item counts! - and when going between windows and views, I wish I didn't have to use the mouse so much.

I'm curious to hear from other DW-to Eclipse converts... what's your wish list for Eclipse?


Quick Tip: explore folders in Windows Explorer from Eclipse "project" view

One of the (very few) things I missed when switching from Dreamweaver to Eclipse was the ability to right click on a folder in the file directory view ('Project' view in Eclipse) and choose 'explore' to open the directory directly in Windows Explorer.

While I haven't found a direct right-click option in Eclipse, the workaround is just as quick and easy. I have my Quick Launch bar at the bottom of my main monitor (happens to be the one where Eclipse is usually open) , containing tiny icons for all of my most-used programs. To explore the files in any folder from Eclipse's 'Project' view, I can simply click and drag the folder name from the 'Project' view onto the Internet Explorer quick launch icon, and voila, it opens directly in Windows Explorer, just like the old DW "explore" option.

( Note: I am using the Aptana plugin for Eclipse, as well as CFeclipse ... your Eclipse views may be different, but I am pretty sure the concept still applies )

CFeclipse with Eclipse Ganymede (3.4) - yes it does!

After about 6 months with Eclipse, I think I am having the average experience of a previously-DreamWeaver-using CF coder who makes the same move... I love it, I don't understand a lot of it, I keep discovering new and exciting things that I could never be without, and I keep finding things that I wish I had more authority or confidence with (and yes a very small list of things I wish I still had from DW-land... c'mon Bolt!... but, more on that later).

After much fragmented research (bits and pieces in various places that eventually formed a 'big picture' view, albeit still leaving many blank spots in my understanding), I decided the route for me was Eclipse with Aptana and CFeclipse.

To get set up, I studiously followed the instructions on the CFeclipse wiki http://trac.cfeclipse.org/cfeclipse/wiki/InstallingCfeclipse - at the time, and today, the wiki still says not to use 3.4 Ganymede. So, I stuck with the older "Europa", and sure enough, it all worked fine.


Eclipse / Aptana - upload with key combination!

I have seen a gazillion people in various stages of the Dreamweaver to Eclipse migration complaining, like i have been, about the inability to upload files using a keyboard shortcut. Well my friends, complain no more! 

Fellow developer Edward Beckett has posted a very simple solution here

The main thing i was missing before was the fact that Aptana has a built-in default upload combination , Ctrl+Shift+U, just like Dreamweaver. The key, as Edward so kindly and simply explains, is to remove any other Eclipse key bindings using those combinations (in his post he uses Ctrl+U and Ctrl+D, but my default is with the 'shift' added in).

As a side note, for people like me who aren't satisified with a tiny percentage meter in the footer of the window, showing the "Console" view will display the FTP transactions as-they-happen. Oh what a relief this is for me... and my hands and wrists!

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