Category Archives: ColdFusion

Developing Skills for Amazon Alexa with Adobe ColdFusion.

Topics include:

  • Creating Skills for Amazon Alexa
  • Using the Amazon Skills Kit (ASK)
  • Supporting Skill Cards
  • Developing Custom Skills
  • Developing Custom Intents
  • Defining Slots
  • Defining Utterances
  • Using Built-In Intents
  • Choosing the Invocation Name for a Custom Skill
  • Creating the ColdFusion Web Service to Handle Alexa Requests
  • Registering your Skill in the Developer Portal
  • Configuring your Endpoint
  • Testing the Skill


See the recorded presentation here:

Download the source code here:

If you’d like to have an Alexa skill designed and developed by Fig Leaf Software, please mail us at

ColdFusion and Node.JS – two great tastes that taste great together!

Fig Leaf Software recently delivered a hybrid ColdFusion – Node.js solution to one of our customers.

We decided to use a hybrid architecture for the following reasons:

  1. The customer expressed a preference for using ColdFusion to drive their CMS-based website.
  2. The website has several embedded, small AJAX applications that leverage data from an XML-based API that sits behind the customer’s firewall.
  3. Java-based app servers (ColdFusion) are particularly well-suited for dynamically assembling and serving web pages.
  4. Node.js servers are particularly good at implementing REST APIs and handling large volume, asynchronous data requests for non-cacheable dynamic data.
  5. The website/web apps do not require user authentication, therefore session sharing between different app server technologies was not an issue.
  6. Sharing the workload between CF and Node gives us more flexibility for scaling up the infrastructure in a more cost-effective manner with options for  potentially off-loading the Node service to cloud platforms such as Heroku.



CommonSpot Custom Field Crazyness!

We were recently tasked by the University of Wisconsin, Eau-Claire to produce a series of advanced custom elements to help their content contributors generate a Pinterest-style image grid.

There are three major components to the element:

  1. An image editor that allows contributors to upload an image and then pan/zoom/crop to a specific image size.
  2. An editor that allows contributors to overlay caption on top of the cropped image.
  3. Output of multiple cropped & captioned images into a responsive, pinterest-style display

Creating the Image Editor Custom Field

Starting from a codebase with limited pan/zoom cropping functionality (, we refactored the jQuery component to support fixed-sized crop areas as well as implement a bounding box and also tied in a slider component to enable easy-to-use zooming. We also added in the capability to transmit the scaling/cropping coordinates to an application server for server-side processing.

[Click here to play around with the proof-of-concept]

Adding Text Captioning by using a Draggable, Editable <h3> Element

For this project, we needed to give contributors the ability to place a text overlay on the image. The word “and” would need to be automatically converted to uppercase and have a style applied via CSS. To enable the users to choose a color, we used the spectrum plugin for jQuery which generally worked as advertised.

You can make editable <div> segments by simply adding a contenteditable attribute to a block element as illustrated below. The cropped image was simply placed behind the <h3> in the container

<div id="#fqfieldname#-container" style="width: #adjustedWidth#px; height: #adjustedHeight#px">
  <div id="#fqfieldname#-preview" style="border: 1px solid black">

	<h3 class="POAeditablelabel"
            id="edittext-#fqFieldName#" contenteditable

	<img id="#fqfieldname#-image"
	  height: #stParams.nHeight#px;"
 	 <cfif poaAttribs.src is not ""> src="#poaAttribs.src#"</cfif>


We then applied jQuery UI’s draggable plugin to enable the user to drag the editable heading within it’s container:

	jQuery('##edittext-#fqFieldName#').draggable({ containment: 'parent', axis: 'y' })
  	.click(function() {
	  jQuery(this).draggable({ disabled: false });
	}).dblclick(function() {
	  jQuery(this).draggable({ disabled: true });

Creating a Pinterest-Style Render Handler

Leveraging the jQuery isotope and jQuery lazyload plugins, Fig Leaf’s developers were able to devise an algorithm that would automatically resize images into a “pinterest”-style image grid in order to minimize the right margin space that typically results from implementing these types of layouts as well as work with the dyanamic text overlays required by the customer.

Every time the browser is resized, we dynamically rewrite the image CSS classes and then reinvoke the isotope plugin. The key javascript function, executed on browser resize, is illustrated here:


function generateStyles() {
 // get pointer to stylesheet			
 var ss = $("#POADynamicStyles"); 
 var container = $("#POAcontainer");
 var width = container.width();
// set minimum width of images to 160, maximum width to 201
 var minWidth = 160, maxWidth = 201, iWidth = 0;
 // figure out the optimal number of cols, given the available space
 for (var numCols=2; numCols<15; numCols++) {
   iWidth = Math.ceil(width / numCols);
   // console.log('cols', numCols, 'width', iWidth);
   if (iWidth <= maxWidth && iWidth >= minWidth) {
  if (numCols == 15) {
    numCols = 3;
    console.log('auto sizing failed');
  // 10px margin around images
  var w1 = Math.floor(width / numCols) - 10;

  var reducePercentage = w1/250;
  var fontSize = reducePercentage * 2.7125;
  var lineHeight = 1;
  var heightOffset = 0;

  heightOffset = (-0.13 * (100 - (reducePercentage * 100)));

  var styles = ''.concat(
	'.item.w2  {width : {1}px;} \n',
	'.item.h2 {height: {1}px;} \n',
	'.item {width : {0}px; height: {0}px;}\n',
	'.item h3 {font-size: {2}rem; line-height: {3}; transform : translate(0px,{4}px)}'
   initIsotope(w1 + 10);

[You can view an early proof-of- concept by clicking here].

Would you like to know more?

Contact Fig Leaf Software’s Professional Services group at to discover how we can help you achieve your CMS implementation goals.

Node.JS 101: Querying a Database and Outputting a Dynamic HTML Table with Express and Jade

Last night I gave a presentation about “What’s New in ColdFusion 11” to our ColdFusion meetup in DC. What’s new, of course, is that Adobe has put a lot of effort into making ColdFusion a lot more like JavaScript by significantly enhancing CFScript- an alternative to the ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML) that has syntax similar to JavaScript.

Of course, CFScript isn’t JavaScript. It’s not even similar to Microsoft’s jScript (shudder). And switching between CFScript programming and JavaScript programming is a little like switching between playing ping pong and playing tennis. They’re kinda similar, but playing a lot of ping pong is likely to screw up your tennis game, and vice-versa.

The fact of the matter is that if a CF developer really wants to program in Javascript, then they should just learn to stop worrying and take a close look at Node.JS. Node.js is a platform built on Chrome’s JavaScript runtime. It’s ridiculously fast and pretty straightforward to learn – assuming that you’re already familiar with basic JavaScript concepts.

For example, let’s take a look at a bit of Node code that queries a MySQL database table and subsequently transmits the results to a JADE template:

// create the connection 
var connection = mysql.createConnection({
  host: 'localhost',
  user: 'root',
  password: ''

var sql = 'SELECT firstName,lastName from NodeJSExamples.Person';

connection.query(sql, function(err, rows, fields) {
  if (err) throw err;
  res.render('users', { title: 'Users', rows: rows });


Pretty straightforward, right?

Now let’s take a look at the code that dumps out the rows into an HTML table via the Jade templating engine:

extends layout

block content
  h1= title
  p #{title} Listing

        th First Name
        th Last Name
      - each item in rows
          td= item.firstName
          td= item.lastName

Is this syntax superior (and even less verbose) than CFScript? You be the judge. And if you find yourself intrigued by the possibilities of Node.js, check out our new, no-nonsense, one-day instructor led course – Node.JS Fundamentals!

Simple barebones CF10/CF11 WebSocket Example

Here’s a bare-bones example of setting up an HTML5 WebSockets chat service using ColdFusion 10/11:

<!--- application.cfc --->
  <cfset = "Cf11Examples">
  <cfset this.wschannels = [{name="chat"}]>
<!--- index.cfm --->
<cfwebsocket name="webSocketObj"
<doctype html>
	<title>WebSocket Example</title>
	<script type="text/javascript">
		messageHandler =  function(aEvent,aToken) {
		  if ( {
           var txt=document.getElementById("msgArea"); 
           txt.innerHTML +=  +"<br />"; 
		openHandler = function() {
			alert("Connection is open");
		closeHandler= function() {
			alert("Connection Closed");
		errorHandler = function() {
		sendMessage = function() {
			var text = window.prompt("Enter some text","");
			if (text) {
				webSocketObj.publish("chat", text);
 	<div id="msgArea" />
 	<input type="button" value="Send Message" onClick="sendMessage()">

Accessing data posted from Ext JS/Sencha Touch in ColdFusion

Ext JS and Sencha Touch post data to the server via the HTTP Request Payload. In order to access this data from a ColdFusion Component, you need to use the following syntax:


   <cfset var requestData = deserializeJson(
   <!--- data is now available as requestData.fieldName --->
   <cfreturn serializeJson({success=true})>

Note that variables containing nulls will not be present in the requestData variable, so you might need to use isDefined to normalize the dataset:


   <cfset var requestData = deserializeJson(

   <!--- normalize foo if null --->
   <cfif not isdefined("")>
     <cfset = "">

   <!--- data is now available as requestData.fieldName --->

   <!--- return success=true as json --->
   <cfreturn serializeJson({success=true})>