Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Digging Deeper Into the Java Underpinnings of Open BlueDragon

There's been a lot of discussion on the Open BlueDragon Google Group recently (and I get similar questions emailed/IMd to me as well) concerning how CFML developers can start making sense of Open BlueDragon in the context of its deployment on a Java application server.

CFML developers as a whole aren't typically used to deploying a CFML runtime engine directly to a Java server such as Tomcat or Jetty because, particularly in the case of Adobe ColdFusion, the Java bits are more or less hidden from view. For many people that's OK, which is why we've created a ready-to-run configuration of OpenBD on Jetty, and as I mentioned previously Jordan Michaels has created an installer for OpenBD that will be very familiar to Adobe ColdFusion and commercial BlueDragon users.

Once things are up and running, many people seem to be finding themselves intrigued enough with the Java side of things that they're wanting to dig deeper. For those unfamiliar with Java, however, this can be a bit daunting, particularly because of all the moving parts of the Java web application standard that are (potentially) suddenly staring us in the face when they were more hidden before.

If you want to get a good handle on how Java web applications are laid out, the various types of Java objects involved with something like loading a CFML runtime engine as a Java application, and particularly if you want to make sense of the all-important web.xml file that controls the behavior of the Java web application, I'd like to recommend picking up a copy of O'Reilly's Head First Servlets and JSP.

Within the first few chapters you'll have a great high-level understanding of how Java web applications are put together, and the web.xml file that controls OpenBD will no longer be a mystery. And as with all the Head First books, it's really a joy to read and it's written in such a way that you will feel like the knowledge is getting injected directly into your brain.

None of this is to say that you have to mess with any of this stuff to use OpenBD of course; as we've shown and discussed before it really is dead simple to deploy OpenBD on a Java server of your choice, or you can download the revamped Jetty version that will be a bit more familiar to CFML developers.

For those of you who want to dig deeper, however, and maybe even start doing some Java backend development while you're at it, Head First Servlets and JSP is a great place to start.

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