Learning Coldfusion in 2017

If you’re a young programmer like me, chances are you’ve never worked with ColdFusion before. As a 19 year old programmer in 2017, I have worked extensively with Python, and heard about many other popular programming languages such as C, C++, PHP, Java, JavaScript, R, C#, HTML, and Swift. But until I started interning at Matrix Group, ColdFusion was nowhere near my radar, and it felt random.

At my first look at ColdFusion code, it looked like a mess of colors, words, and symbols. After learning the basics of the language, I figured out how to output statements, set variables, create and evaluate functions, manipulate numeric values and strings. Yet, the code was still a mess that I could not make sense of.

In the midst of struggling with syntax and usage errors, what I found was lacking in ColdFusion was FAQs. It was difficult to find examples of code that caused or resolved errors, and there was not an expansive online community of users, like many of the other programming languages have, that would lend value and importance to the language. This was not a surprise considering its current use and absence of adoption.

However, the support that was available was remarkably clear and helpful! The ColdFusion documentation was easy to navigate and easy to understand as it documented changes through all its version updates – Adobe did a great job with that! There were even many blogs that aimed to teach ColdFusion from the basics.

I realize now that the greatest challenge was really in understanding the structure of the code I was working with. ColdFusion requires certain “setting” files and “main page” files that are integral to the functionality of the language – it brings the entire program together. This hierarchy can be tedious, and in my circumstance it was intense! But, it was also the key to finally recognizing the purpose of ColdFusion which further led to a deeper understanding of how it worked.

From its simple function as a scripting language, to the functions it offers as a programming language, to its ability to elegantly interpret a language similar to JavaScript in cfscript, ColdFusion is highly versatile; I can only appreciate it.

Anyone my age has probably never heard of ColdFusion. In fact, many people in the generation above mine have not heard of it. However, it was used when the internet was booming. It was the popular choice, and hence, there are many companies that have maintained their ColdFusion applications to this day. A few days ago, I was on NASA’s website. I happened to take a look at the URL and noticed that it ended with “.cfm”. HA! And right there and then I knew exactly how the site was running! It was a lightbulb moment.

At the end of this journey, I am grateful for the exposure to ColdFusion – I probably would not have had the opportunity, or realization of the language otherwise. As the language is a “fusion” of HTML and JavaScript, this was a perfect introduction and immersion in both.

As a suggestion to millennials in tech out there, don’t let ColdFusion get under your radar! The internet and technology has been, and will continue to be, a journey. The development and use of ColdFusion was an integral stepping stone as it integrated an easy way to connect HTML, databases, custom features, and other languages such as JavaScript. It helped me realize its influence during its origin in the 90’s and thus the need for such specifications in programming. Maybe you will discover another.

Did you recently learn to work with ColdFusion? What were your initial reactions?

Dave Hoernig

Director of Software Engineering

Farewell Google Site Search, Hello Google Custom Search Engine

Google wouldn’t be Google if it wasn’t shaking things up with its products and offerings. The latest shake up? Sunsetting the Google Site Search.

As you may have heard, over the course of the next year, Google Site Search will be discontinued, leaving in place Google’s Custom Search Engine (CSE), which will continue to be ad-supported. As of April 1, 2017 Google has stopped selling licenses and renewals for the Google Site Search, and will completely phase it out by April 1, 2018.

What are the differences between the old Site Search and the Custom Search Engine? The biggest, notable differences are that:

  • Ads are required. Google will, however, make exceptions for 501(c)(3) organizations.
  • Google branding is required with the new search version, and cannot be disabled, even for 501(c)(3) organizations.
  • There are monthly search query limits, so if you are running a high-traffic website there is a chance that the search will stop working once you hit your limit.

Wondering what this means for your organization and your website’s site search if you are a Google Site Search user?

Nothing, until your current Google Site Search license expires. You will continue to have access to the Google Site Search and your implementation and settings will stay the same until your license expires. At that time, Google will automatically convert your site search to the ads-supported CSE version and the changes mentioned above will take effect.

If you are a 501(c)(3), are okay with the Google branding on your site search, and have a relatively low site search usage on your website, the transition to CSE should continue to meet your needs. Once you are converted, you will simply need to disable the ads and should also be prepared to provide Google’s legal team with proof of your 501(c)(3) status, if requested. Pretty simple.

If you’re concerned that Google CSE won’t meet your needs, always keep in mind that there are other options on the market. For example, we’ve implemented the Searchblox and Solr site searches for our clients with excellent results. In fact, I recently spoke with CEO Joanna Pineda about why we love the SearchBlox site search so much. If you’re interested in what other options are available to you, please reach out! We’d love to work with you to find the perfect solution for you organization.

Have you been switched to the Custom Search Engine yet? What are your thoughts?

Kevin Tomko

Project Manager

Everything Is Going Live

periscopeDid you read about it in the newspaper? Already old news.

How about on Twitter? Soon to be old news.

All information, including news, entertainment, sports, concerts, interviews, etc., will eventually be accessible in real time on your mobile devices.

You can already see it happening. We watch live sporting events on phones and get up-to-the-second stats on smartwatches; we are able to get live streams on our phones to see what’s happening in our homes with security cameras.

When I heard about the wildfires in Canada, I thought I’d jump on Periscope to see if anyone was reporting anything. I watched thirty minutes of live coverage from a local news station showing the fire, people evacuating, etc. It was so interesting to see it live. As I was about to hop off, I saw a Scope that had 18,000 viewers, so I checked it out. I then began to watch the AC/DC concert live from Portugal with Axl Rose from the point of view of someone in the very front row. It was so cool.  I immediately Air Dropped it onto my TV and watched the last hour of the show. It was awesome!  Fire!

Needless to say, there are a lot of mundane Periscoping out there. Like high school kids geeking out about how many hearts their scope is getting or John Smith scoping his commute to work.

All of this got me thinking about what we do, what our clients do, and how can we best use this technology.

  • How are you using video now on your site?
  • How are you disseminating news?
  • What about your social media strategy?

Could you replace any of these with something as easy to use as Periscope or Facebook Live Video? Pretty much everyone of us is carrying a camera-equipped mobile device in our pockets – what’s stopping us from taking video right now?

Think about how powerful that could be during an annual conference! You could stream the keynote speech on Livestream. The staff could run their own live “Man (or Woman) on the Street” series between sessions and events. Attendees could share their Scopes with the same hashtag on your Twitter feed, and suddenly your event can have thousands of viewer hours.

Here are just some examples of live streaming outlets:

Can you imagine what else will be possible? I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to find out.  Hmmm?  Maybe I should have live streamed me typing up this blog about live streaming?  JK, no one wants to see stuff like that!

Are you using live-streaming video now? What platform are you using? Let us know in the comments!

Telerik Rolls Out New Translation Module in Sitefinity 8.1

Last week, a few members of the staff gathered together to learn about some of the enhancements in Sitefinity 8.1. The one that got many excited about is the new translation module. This will be available in the Enterprise edition.

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The translation module will allow you to provide multilingual content to your visitors, members and other constituents.

So, how does it work?

According to Telerik (the makers of Sitefinity), this module can integrate with your third-party translating service, or you can use the CMS’s default, which is integrated with Lionbridge Freeway, a translation management portal (via Clay Tablet). Once you have it set up, and depending on your third-party provider, you can:

  • Export content as XLIFF files to your translation agency and import the translated file
  • Integrate with a third party’s translation services directly or via its FTP.

In addition, you can also:

  • Review the status of translation content in the module
  • Manage revisions, errors, etc. along with the third-party agency, and
  • Preview content before pushing it live.

Why We Are Pumped About This:

In today’s global market, organizations need to provide multilingual content to their markets in multiple languages.

As Telerik’s Anton Hristov says, “…the Sitefinity translation management solution simplifies the translation management process by eliminating the parts that are tedious, time-consuming, inefficient and prone to human error. “

To learn more about this new enhancement, check out Sitefinity’s recent blog post
For a look inside other features check out this webinar

Sherrie Bakshi

Director of Marketing and Social Media

The Non-Techie Guide to Using Sitefinity

Over the last few years, we’ve implemented a number of websites in the Sitefinity content management system.  From a technology perspective, we love the system for its robust functionality, its ability to integrate with other systems, multiple widgets and its user-interface, but, why should you love it?

Whether it was posting a news item or updating the branding areas on the homepage, when it came to updating content on your website, you needed to have someone with coding skills do it for you. Not anymore!

While there are multiple content management systems out there for you to choose from (WordPress, Drupal are a few that come to mind), we wanted to share with you why we love Sitefinity.

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  • You don’t need to wait for someone to update and edit content. Once your website is launched, you can add content such as news items, blog posts, articles, and more without the help of a developer.
  • You can create dynamic mash-up pages using widgets. Let’s say, you’re posting a case study about a specific project. As part of that specific page, you may consider posting in a news widget that highlight news related, blog posts or events related to the project. You may even want to pull in video highlighting key accomplishments about the project.
  • It’s easy to manage title tags and metadata. In many cases, adding title tags and metadata requires help from a front end developer. Not in Sitefinity!  You can manage metadata and title tags for your pages by going to the page’s “Titles and Properties.” Once you’ve added them in the appropriate boxes, save it and go ahead and publish the page. Be mindful though that Sitefinity doesn’t allow you to use any symbols except a dash.

These are just a few things we like about Sitefinity. What about you?  What do you like about Sitefinity?