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31 January 2008

Ben Forta Lied to Me!

Not Really! Please don't hurt me!

No, he didn't.  Not really.  But I made you click!

I was using hyberbole when I said it in #coldfusion a little while ago, and I should've known better, because sometimes jokes don't travel well over the internet, particularly when you're referring to the much loved Ben Forta.  Hey, I go out of my way to see Ben when he comes to town too.

Here's what happened.

You all know there's a lot of confusion in the CF world regarding Flex Data Services.  Or Livecycle Data Services.  Or BlazeDS.  Might as well through in Flex Remoting too.

Well a week or so ago, Ben presented about Flex 3 and AIR at the Triangle User Experience group (ie, the local flex user group), and talked some about BlazeDS, the open source version of LCDS - with yet another name.

I asked whether or not I could install BlazeDS on a Coldfusion server, and Ben asked "Are you using CF8?"  I said that we were, and he said I didn't need BlazeDS because CF8 comes with a "full version" of LCDS.  This surprised me because I thought it came with some kind of limited version of LCDS.

Well, it's a full version only in the fact that it's exactly the same as the commercially licensed "full version" of Livecycle Data Services.   But it's the EXPRESS edition, which means you can only use it on a single CPU.  Legally.  Technically you can run it on a dual CPU machine - nothing will stop it - but you'd be in violation of the license agreement.

So it's really only a full version if you don't consider the licencing limitations.  And in the real world, aren't most people buying dual CPU machines for production purposes?

And actually, read this, from the Adobe web site:

LiveCycle Data Services ES Express is a free limited-production version of LiveCycle Data Services ES (formerly Flex Data Services 2) that allows the deployment of any single application on a single, nonclustered CPU.

If that's the same version that's included with CF, not only is it limited to a single CPU, but it can only be used to deploy a single application.

No, Ben didn't lie to me.  But the fact is, I cannot LEGALLY use the included version of LCDS without doing some very funky things to restrict the process to a single CPU, and I could only deploy a single application with it.

For clarity, here's how I understand things.

  • BlazeDS - unrestricted, open source version of LCDS that includes "remoting" and "messaging" components.  Suitable for connecting any Flex/AIR app to just about any back-end that it gets ported to.  For sure right now it supports Coldfusion and Java remote objects, maybe others.
  • LiveCycle Data Services - commercial product which includes remoting and messaging modules, as well as "Data Synchronization" and "Data Management" modules.  This was formerly known as Flex Data Services.  There are three editions/versions of LiveCycle Data Services:
    • Trial Edition - free, unrestricted, time-limited version. No technical limitations beyond the time limitation.
    • Express Edition - free, full-featured version that is limited by the licence agreement to a single CPU, and deployment of a single application.  It is a separate product that you can download free, and it is included as an optional product with Coldfusion 8.
    • Regular Edition (not titled such, it's just "LiveCycle Data Services ES") - unrestricted commercial version.  In the past there was a pricing model that allowed you to have 100 connections or unlimited connections.  I'm not sure if that pricing model still applies.

I hope that's right, someone feel free to correct me.

Posted by rickroot at 1:43 PM | Link | 0 comments
02 May 2007

End User Reporting with Sungard BSR Advance

So, I work for Duke University's Alumni and Development Systems group.  We provide and support technology infrastructure for fundraising across the entire university and health system.  While the Office of Information Technology (OIT) technically manages our mainframe in terms of performing backups, dealing with disaster recovery, etc, we support and train staff to use the systems, and provide customization, integration, and additional tools.

Our base system is an old version of BSR Advance (BSR is now SunGard Higher Education).  It's a mainframe only system for which we developed a windows GUI using ClientBuilder.

Many years ago, we also developed a visual basic application that allowed our development officers to generate reports very easily.  Nothing so complicated as Crystal Reports, where you would have to know things about table structure and field names and the like.  It was essentially a form application in which you entered criteria - mostly through the use of checkboxes - in order to generate a report.  For example, you could get a file drop of all the alumni who graduated from the Engineering School between 1990 and 1999, were active (ie, not deceased or no contact).  Or all the donors who gave at least $1000 to the art museum.

The reports themselves are generated from our reportin database, which one of the programmers on staff wrote a bunch of Cobol / JCL to generate delimited files on a nightly basis, which we import into SQL Server.

Apparently, this is a kind of tool that nobody else has.  My boss says many other universities using the BSR Advance system have "report writers" - staffers whose sole job it is to generate such reports on request, and most of these schools have several of these staffers - 4, 5, or even 6 full time staff dedicated to generating reports.

Thanks to this reporting application, we have one.  The vast majority of the reports that our development officers get are self-generated, and that's really cool.

We're actually in the process of re-inventing this reporting application using Adobe Flex technology and Coldfusion as a backend.  It will actually use the same database that the current Visual Basic application uses.  The advantage of the Flex-based application is that it won't require client installation.  This app gets installed in many departments across the university and health system, and in this day and age, most uses don't have the ability to install software on their desktops, so it becomes a logistical nightmare.  For that reason, we avoid doing releases unless absolutely necessary.  With the Flex app - being web-based - we can fix bugs and add features and have them immediately available to all users, with no new software installation required.

We'll be able to add many new features, too.  I'm actually very excited about it.

Posted by rickroot at 12:39 PM | Link | 0 comments
16 July 2006

I'm on nerd-cation! Learing Flex 2

Nerd-cation - n., similar to vacation, a nerd-cation involves spending time away from family and work to learn new technologies.  May also involve heavy gaming.

So my wife and daughter left for Michigan early Saturday morning, and bless their hears for letting me stay home this week.  I'm still gonna fly up there on Wednesday or Thursday to visit family and stuff, but I really didn't want to spend the whole week.

But I already had the week off.. what to do.. what to do.. I suppose I could just *NOT* take the time off and go to work.. but where would the fun in that be?

No, I've decided to sit at home - alone - and CODE.
Posted by rickroot at 4:48 PM | Link | 2 comments