Thursday, November 30, 2006

Using a https certificate in Vista

Quite often I find the need to develop locally for a site using https. You can do this with Self-Signed Certificates in IIS 7.0. You don't have to install anything, so it's much easier to set it up than it has been in the past.
  1. Open IIS
  2. Expand your local server
  3. Click on Server Certificates
  4. Select 'Create Self-Signed Certificate' on the right.
  5. Enter a name (ie - local)
  6. Click on Web Sites
  7. Right click on Default Web Site and select Bindings
  8. Add a new Web Site Binding for https and select your 'local' certificate
  9. Click ok and close.
  10. For whatever reason, a restart was required, but this may not be the case for everyone.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

ColdFusion Hosting at

I recently launched a new site that's being hosted on It's been quite some time since I've had a site that wasn't hosted in house and have to admit that using HostMySite was painless.

Model-Glue works with their setup out of the box, and they were extremely helpful as we got things setup for the first time. You have to love 24*7 tech support that's actually 'with it'.

My only complaint is that I didn't have access to restore or backup my database, so I had to rely on DTS, although they can do these things for you if you request it. I imagine this is an issue with most shared hosts as SQL Server security surrounding restore and backups isn't easy to hand out to everyone.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Password Manager XP on Vista - Part 2

So, the guys over at CP-Lab finally got their password manager working properly on Vista. You need version 2.2.365 which you should be able to find here or the beta location if it hasn't been posted yet (2.2.363 was the latest posted version at time of writing).

Make sure you right click on the install file and install it as an administrator, otherwise you will probably run into issues when the browser integration is installed.

Script Debugger for IE on Vista

Since upgrading to Vista I have really missed the script debugger, it comes in extremely handy when working through your JS issues on IE. If you've never used it, you are missing out. It's quite a bit more powerful than the standard syntax checker that comes with Firefox, but I assume there are is a similar plug-in for Firefox.

To start, go download it here. You need to save it locally, perform the install, then update your IE settings under tools --> internet options --> advanced --> uncheck 'disable script debugging...'. Once that's done, you might want to play it safe and restart your pc. At least that's what I had to do.

I want to stress the fact that you need to save it locally, and then install it, as 'running' it from the microsoft site does not kick off the install properly.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bold Text and Opacity Issue

Quite often I use opacity to control how certain items look. For example, I want inactive items to be appear lighter to reflect the fact that they are inactive or not as important. To do this, I use <div style="filter:alpha(opacity=50); -moz-opacity:.50; opacity:.50;">blah blah blah</div>.

One of the things I've experienced is that bolded text does not always display correctly. To get around this, you can set the background-color to white and this will get around the display oddities. So, after changing my code to the following, the opaqued text looks great.

<div style="filter:alpha(opacity=50); -moz-opacity:.50; opacity:.50; background-color: white;">blah blah blah</div>

Special thanks to a blog titled The Strange Zen of JavaScript for pointing me at this fix. I would highly recommend taking a look as he has quite a bit of good info on there.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Cross Browser Gradient from SlayerOffice

I recently ran into an interesting issue with the cross browser gradient background script from SlayerOffice, in conjunction with qForms and FireFox. I noticed that none of my forms were submitting in FireFox, and it almost appeared as if the form fields weren't there.

#1 - Issue with the gradient script:

On line 34 of gradient.js, for(i=0;i<objArray.length;i++) needs to look like for(var i=0;i<objArray.length;i++) because the variable i is also being used in getGradientObjects().

Oddly enough, this was only causing a problem in FireFox 2.0, and not IE 7. I've sent the updated code to Steve at SlayerOffice so you should probably be able to get the updated code straight from, but feel free to contact me if that's not the case.

#2 - Issue with qForms not loading:

Secondly, qForms was simply not working whatsoever. If someone else hadn't reported this problem, I would have reinstalled FireFox, that's how odd it seemed. On each page, I simply called qFormsInit() at the bottom of the page to kick off initializing qForms. This was occurring before the gradient background was applied, and therefore all of the form references in qForms were being blown away.

Instead, whenever code needs to be called upon page load, the following function seems flawless and works like a charm.


Check out the gradient script from SlayerOffice, it's fairly handy.

If you haven't heard of qForms, I would highly recommend checking out what Dan Switzer has developed, it's one of the best and most used JavaScript API's on the web.

Another ColdFusion Engine?

So, as of November 2nd, there is another free implementation of ColdFusion, called the 'smith project'.

It sounds like they have quite an uphill battle to get to the level where BlueDragon and Adobe's ColdFusion is. But regardless, this could be interesting if they change it to an open source model and let people run with it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Lightbox JS

I happened upon cfPicasa on RIAForge and was pretty impressed with Lightbox JS. Lightbox JS is used to overlay images on the screen, but in a very smooth and intelligent way. I normally used subModal to accomplish the same effect, but this is much more visually appealing, and apparently would be easier to implement as well.

Cairngorm Diagram Explorer

This flash move allows you to navigate through all the events, dispatches, commands, etc, of a Flex application built upon the Cairngorm framework. It definately presents the in's and out's of the Cairngorm framework in a very interesting way.

Is Cairngorm right for you and your next project? Find out here...

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Kingdom of Tonga just got bigger!

I like to sail, and have considered taking a trip to sail around the chain of islands that make up the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific near Fiji, so this particular story caught my eye.

Apparently, two boats left Figi and sailed through what looked like a sand dune of pumus rock. They then realized that a volcano was erupting not too far away from them. Rumor has it that they actually discovered a new island that was just forming.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Microsoft Junk E-mail Reporting Tool

A friend sent me a link for the Microsoft Junk E-mail Reporting Tool. I'm an Outlook user, and therefore will do anything to cut down on spam.

Download it here...

Here's a summary, it's actually pretty convenient, or at least as easy as deleting the message manually.

The Junk E-mail Reporting Tool submits e-mail to Microsoft when you explicitly choose to do so. If you receive a junk e-mail and want to report it to us for analysis, first select the e-mail in Outlook and then click the junk e-mail button on your tool bar. You will see a pop-up window asking whether you want to report the selected e-mail to Microsoft and its affiliates. When you click “Yes” to confirm that you’d like to report the selected e-mail as junk e-mail, the junk e-mail will be deleted from your Inbox and sent to FrontBridge, a Microsoft company, for analysis to help us improve the effectiveness of our junk e-mail filtering technologies.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Making your flex apps more responsive

Most of these tips come from a MAX presentation given by David George from Adobe. His topic was "Tips and Tricks for Delivering More Responsive Flex Applications" and during the creation of Flex 1.5/2, he apparently spent quite a bit of time tuning Flex from Adobe's side of things, these tips will help you tune Flex from your side of the equation.

Deferred Creation
- Delay object creation until it's needed
- Built into the Accordion, TabNavigator and ViewStack.
- Can be subclassed, but doing it with the ViewStack is the easiest.

Ordered Creation
- For container creation, such as a panel, use 'creationPolicy="queued". This won't actually make the application load faster, but you'll be able to see certain sections of your app first and the others will show up when they are ready. This is better than waiting until the ENTIRE app is loaded, and then showing everything at one time, which occurs by default.

Use <mx:repeater> Carefully
- You're better off using a List with itemRenderer instead of using a VBox with a Repeater. This one is huge, more or less the is a no no. The repeater scolls more smoothly, so this should be the deciding factor on how you implement this.

Measurement/Layout: Definition
- #1 - Reduce container nesting
- Try to use HBox and VBox instead of a Grid
- Avoid nesting VBox inside of a Panel or Application
- The root of an XMSL component doesn't need to be a container
- * Use Canvas with constraints - Biggest increase here
- Look for containers that have one item, these are normally unnecessary
- #2 - Avoid Redundant Measurement/Layout
- Prevent numerous screen layouts when fetching images
- Get data after application has loaded from web services
- Delay requests until creationComplete
- Limit changes when responses are received
- Stagger requests or queue responses

- Use control + e in the debugger to determine what sections of your application are being redrawn. This will help you cut down on useless processing.
- Use the cacheAsBitmap so that rendering occurs with an offscreen bitmap, this will limit the amount of redrawing that occurs.
- Another example is during a move event, the entire application could be created as a bitmap, so whatever you are dragging wouldn't force the app to constantly redraw.
- Don't use cached bitmaps when items are being resized often.
- Overall, only use cached bitmaps in particular situations where you can turn it on for a given time, and then turn it off when you're done moving objects, for examples.
- Use Resize.hideChildren when you're resizing regions.
- Filter and glow effects are very proccessing intensive, so use slowly.

Reducing Memory Usage
- Discard usused UI items. for example, use 'removeChild()' or 'removeEventListener()' when they are no longer needed. Event listeners can be very costly when not removed.
- Clear references to unused data such as 'myProperty = null;' or 'myWebService.blah.clearResult();'.

Setting Styles
- Changing a rule set is most expensive, such as StyleManager.styles.Button.setStyle('...').
- For inline styles, setStyle can be expensive if there are a lot of children.
- If a value will change at runtime, create a style for the button and make sure any buttons necessary are already listening for that style. You could also explititly set color information for any objects that will need to change.

DevNet Articles
Large Number of UI screens:
Large amounts of data:

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Building Killer Desktop RIA's

Luis Polanco gave a nice breeze seminar about Apollo with some nice examples of current web-based applications that convert very well to desktop apps such as customization tools and sales/enterprise related apps.

Personally, I'm floored and can't wait for this. Apollo will open the doors to so many different types of applications that were flat out never feasible or possible to do in the browser. Finally, a true desktop experience without all of the overhead and headache of developing an HTA application.

If you're pressed for time, at least check out the examples that he has...

Check it here...

Leveraging HTML and JavaScript in Apollo Applications

Session from 2006 Adobe Max developer conference. Mike Chambers graciously posted a session that Chris Brichford, an engineer on the Apollo team, has that discussed how you will be able to leverage HTML and Javascript from within Apollo.

Check it out on Google Video...

There are some interesting 'versioning' logic that is being implemented by Apollo, such as it won't need it's own Flash Player install, instead it will use whatever the 'system player' is currently. So, down the line, the Apollo runtime may leverage the Flash 11 Plugin.

Also, you will be able to specify a specific version of the WebKit runtime. So, let's say you build your app and only want to test it on a single HTML runtime engine, specify the number in your application and you'll never have to worry about new versions of Apollo having a negative impact on your application.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Password Manager XP on Vista

Ironically enough, Password Manager XP will not install nor run under Windows Vista. Under the hood, it uses EXECryptor.exe which isn't supported by Vista. They are hoping to have a new version up and running sometime in November.