Friday, November 04, 2005

Yahoo Maps BETA : developed in Macromedia Flex (Flash Platform)

Yahoo Maps BETA was released recently. It was developed in Flex. This interface is so rich you just want to toy with it. I think the technology for Yahoo's map is better than Google's AJAX version, and I'm impressed. Particularly with the construction and traffic information that is integrated into the map. Browsing for restaurants, etc is very nicely implemented as well. The presentation layer of Flex makes my head spin it has so much potential.

I submitted one suggestion to Yahoo as feedback:
"...I'd like to be able to type in my start address.... then drag a marker on the "to" location my destination. ..."drag and drop"directions. Your algorithm would figure out the directions and the Flex/Flash interface would then display the directions.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Preferred Web Development Architecture

Recently I had a chance to spend time with the Alpha version of Macromedia's Flex 2 builder plugin inside of Eclipse. I am impressed with the capabilities and how it fits into the web development platform choices I prefer, and those I am pointing towards. I put together a summary of my preferred web development architecture at present, and the structure I am planning on using in the future. Obviously I am not using Flex 2 in any sort of a production environment currently, as it is only in the Alpha stage, but I've seen enough to believe in its capability for rich internet application development. One aspect I have always struggled with is, while Flash is a very powerful client-side presentation technology, the ability to maintain code in Flash and rapidly develop client side interfaces is not always there, at least from my understanding and experience. However, from what I've seen so far with Flex 2, I think Flex 2 working inside of the newly designated Flash "platform" goes a long way towards enabling developers to use it to more rapidly develop RIA's and I am excited to see what unfolds. In the meantime, I will be exploring the technology as I point towards using it inside of Eclipse to generate rich interfaces for web applications built on an architecture of ColdFusion, JRun4, and mySQL. The following is a description of these platform technologies together with a figure that shows a schematic of how they work together.

Click Figure Below for a Printable Form of this Dev Platform and Architecture Summary:

Web Development Platforms:

Through MXML and Actionscript developers can create rich, custom application portals. The ColdFusion Adapter enables data access for those who choose to remain solely in the FLEX platform.

Client-side technologies like MM's FLEX and FLASH enable the opportunity to control rich interfaces that are lightweight and limitless in terms of how they can be designed to interact with client machines and data sources.

ColdFusion components and server-side CFML code can be developed using the CFEclipse plugin, while the FLEX 2 builder can likewise be utilized in the open-sourse Eclipse IDE, which allows for robust interaction with datasources, as the capability to build unit testing into the application as it is being developed.

Any relational database can be used in conjunction with this development architecture, but the mySQL database is a very capable, and scalable open-source technology.

CVS integrated with Eclipse is an efficient choice for version control within this development architecture, tracking code and datasource progression.

Server-Side Architecture:

Macromedia's JRun4 application server is a capable application server which can handle a load demand for a large percentage of internet and intranet applications. Because ColdFusion is a fully compliant J2EE platform, it can be used interchangeably with other J2EE compliant web application servers such as IBM WebSphere and BEA Weblogic.

The ColdFusion 7.1 Administrator enables developers to perform load balancing and clustering for their ColdFusion applications using the JRun4 app server adminstration tools.

ColdFusion components can be converted into webservices by taking a ColdFusion component and setting it's access property to "remote". The ColdFusion MX Web Services platform is based off of Apache Axis SOAP -- an inherently robust implementation provided by virtue of the
ColdFusion platform.

Consumed by Servers and Clients:

The development platform choices described in this figure result in applications that are built on a rock solid foundation, are scalable, and have the capability to provide rich and intuitive user interfaces:

- ColdFusion compiles down into robust, secure, and efficient java byte code

- ColdFusion components can be readily converted into Web Services based off of the solid Apache Axis SOAP

- Interaction with datasources can be performed via secure ColdFusion CFC's or CFML code, inside and outside of the Flash platform through FLEX.

- the options for rapidly developing rich interfaces are improved while working with the FLEX 2 builder via the Eclipse IDE. Rather than developing customized Flash interfaces which may be time-consuming and at times difficult to maintain and trace throughout the development lifecycle, FLEX gives a developer or development team a client-side presentation technology that enables rapid rich interface development inside the Eclipse framework providing traceability.

- Besides rich interfaces, consumers in the form of end-user client pc's and servers consuming web-services are provided with more robust and maintainable applications via the development platform outlined.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Google Personalized Page : 1 minute setup tutorial

I have found Google's personalized page to be very useful, and a time saver. Wanted to pass it on to anyone interested along with a very easy to understand 1 minute movie tutorial.

Any topics of interest to you, whether they are from large organizations publishing news feeds or from individuals who syndicate blog content interested to you, can be organized on a single page while they are updated by Google's aggregator almost instantly. This is the beauty of Really Simple Syndication (RSS). If you're interested in Notre Dame football, simply find a feed and plug it in. Interested in golf, search for a feed and plug it in. Interested in photography, find a feed and plug it in. If you're interested in it, chances are there are 5 sites which syndicate related to your interest. Everyday you will receive the latest, greatest when you open up the page from those sites of interest that you define. You receive news from insiders, not just the publishing giants.

The following link below (just click on the picture) is a 1 minute Flash-based tutorial on how to configure your Google page to receive these syndicated feeds. Google has made their page so simple and painlesss. I hope you find it useful, and if you have any questions, just email me (

PS: I will still email one on one with my friends and am always happy to receive and trade emails. That being said, I will not be sending out any more general mass emails. Rather I will be posting the content to my blog. Since it's syndicated via RSS, if you are interested in these topics or what's going on with me, Coldfusion/ Database development, entrepreneurial endeavors, golf, sports, et al.... simply copy and paste this path into the 'Create a Section' text box on the Google page as shown in the tutorial, and you will see the blog postings update on your Google page as they become available:

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Patience is a virtue

I watched a NOVA program last night ...according to the broadcast, when Albert Einstein published his theories of Special Relativity (including the famous E=mc^2) linking energy and mass... he did not hear virtually any replies for a whole year. Max Planck, one of the most lauded Physicists of his time and all time, read and appreciated Einstein's work, and persuaded his colleagues to take his work seriously on its merits. For 4 years after that Einstein wrote letters, amid his study of the physical world, answering questions and explaining his theories to his colleagues in the world of physics.

The point is, nothing is built in a day, including some of the greatest physical theories in the past 150 years, and some would say in the history of physics. Einstein's theories obviously took ingenuity, creativity, and years of study and hard work to gain and understanding and then formulate. His work did not end with the well-formed theory, as it took persistence and confidence to see it through to the point where it was understood and appreciated by others.

I thought this was a great lesson related to a pursuit of any type or scale, and wanted to pass it on.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

mySQL Reference

This is a great article discussing how mySQL fits the bill for many web enterprise web apps.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Macromedia Studio 8 Released; "Sparkle" in Development

On the heels of the release of ColdFusion MX 7.1, Studio 8 was recently released by Macromedia. What I have seen and experimented with thus far, it appears to be another great step forward in the technology. I am particularly impressed with the video capabilities I have seen thus far in Flash, the added capabilities in Fireworks and can't wait to start jumping in on a couple projects.

Microsoft recently dubbed it's upstart technology, "Sparkle", as the "Flash Killer". It is very unlikely that Microsoft will ever "kill" Flash. Everyone that is actually involved in development knows this statement borders on ludicrous. It's a different platform, and Flash is a deeply entrenched and established technology that has fanatical user support and a support infrastructure of users, educators, etc. It has this positive support for a reason -- it's a phenomenal technology that continues to improve every year. In typical Microsoft fashion, they are arrogantly trying to leverage their position in Windows to push an inferior technology on developers. As an aside, I never understood Microsoft's strategy of flaunting they want to "kill" a technology that the industry embraces. To me, this just alienates the same customer base you are trying to attract. Regardless, this appears to be the strategy in Redmond with many products, including their professed intentions to "kill" Google.

Macromedia's releases the last two years in ColdFusion, Flash, Fireworks have been huge leaps ahead of Microsoft in terms of what they've given developers. Look at the capabilities in ColdFusion alone when compared to .NET. It truly isn't even in the same ballpark as a high-level web development platform. The fact that Macromedia embraces J2EE, Eclipse, and other cooperative/ open source technologies (and not just profess to 'one day' do so) is refreshing in a world of Microsoft. Microsoft is very paranoid these days, as they should be. They are falling farther behind in terms of the performance of their key technologies every year. Yes they have dominant market share with Windows, but even the long-term view on this is in doubt as more and more capable software moves to the web in an interconnected world.

While I have developed and occassionally still do develop in .NET and VB6, the last few years I have been moving away from these technologies at each opportunity towards ColdFusion and Flash because of the huge improvements in efficiency and their more robust infrastructure with the MX/ JRun4 platform. What I can create using Flash on the client side, and ColdFusion on the server side are applications that are more secure, more reliable, and give my users a rich and interactive experience. I can do it all for a price less than what I would spend to develop software using Microsoft's technologies. I am very thankful to have explored and discovered the enabling products that Macromedia continues to evolve and am looking forward to the exploring this latest release.

Mark Holton

Monday, September 12, 2005

JRun4 Overview Link by Drew Falkman

Linked below is a nice overview of JRun4, Macromedia's J2EE compliant application server. The link contains a high level overview of the technology plus some history written by Macromedia's Drew Falkman.

The detailing of the technology here also provides a great glimpse of a wise move on Macromedia's part to tap into the large section of the server market (small to medium organizations or corporate divisions) by providing a very capable application server across their key platforms that is scalable. As users of ColdFusion, Flash Remoting, etc become proficient in their trade, they also become familiar with the bundled JRun app server and gives Macromedia inroads to expanding this market as well.

As a developer, it feels great to be in effect "partnered" with a company like Macromedia. This is the feeling one gets when you are a consumer of their products. The company enables you to leverage their work in ways that greatly enhance your productivity, while also welcoming choice, working with open-source communites (CFEclipse), etc.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Flash Lite -- Mobile

...a link to someone's site citing one of the (many) moves of manufacturers to rich mobile capabilities using Flash Lite. In this case, Nokia is releasing several phones with Flash Lite capabilities in Q1 2006

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Reinventing the Operating System

Most software is going to be on the web in 20 years, if not sooner. The model makes far more sense that the model we have today. We will all rent software one day, coming full circle from the early days of computing. Always-on internet at high speeds is not far off, and technologically feasible...... yet 98% of computers are slaves to Bill Gates' OS? will be a longer term transition, but I believe eventually we will be securely connected to the net and "rent" software, and someone like Google will step in and reinvent the operating system for these reasons. It makes too much sense for the consumer and the developer.

Most computers are used for 2 things: 1. email + 2. finding info on the web. Long-term, I am hopeful and eager to see software make a big move towards mostly-on-the-web paradigm... i.e. seeing someone like Google work with an open source community like Linux to develop a scaled down operating system that was based upon: 1. security and 2. interacting with server software. I believe this will happen.

While Windows was a blessing at one time (not having to write software for multiple OS's) it is now overkill in most cases. When speeds get increased on the internet, application developers only need to write software for 1 thing --- the browser. Interfaces can take on many forms with the capability of FLASH (and AJAX) to richly customize the interface into any imaginable possibility, and interact with server-side code.

The potential merger of Google + ADBE + MACR could create a paradigm that will be positive for consumers & developers, and be revolutionary in the software world.

-Mark Holton

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Adobe/Macromedia vs. Microsoft

Microsoft is behind in search, as far as technology is concerned, they are behind in programming for the web. Macromedia's ColdFusion MX is so far ahead of .NET in terms of ease of use as a programmer.

It is my hope that Microsoft does not win this battle with Adobe/Macromedia over the long term, as Macromedia has shown they can make very user friendly and robust tools for the creating on the web. A healthy competition here would be great.

"Adobe System Inc.'s (ADBE) proposed merger with Macromedia Inc. (MACR) (MACR) appears
to be creating the potential for a new clash with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) (MSFT), CNet
reports. Microsoft's (MSFT) release last week of its Acrylic graphic-design software
and its demonstration of the new Metro document software could start a new turf
war between the two companies. Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia (MACR) and its popular
Flash software creates a big target for Microsoft (MSFT), reports. (MGB) http:

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


It would be a foolish political move to alienate the open source fanatics... and Google is not foolish. The media often times lacks a real clue -- they take the easy assumption that they're hiring browser guys to create a browser. No thought or knowledge goes into that assumption.

Since Google is not going to make any money on a free browser, why reinvent the wheel? This makes it a foolish business assumption on top of a foolish political move.

But if Google can PARTNER with a pool of fanatical and talented developers, then they have free labor and much more importantly MOMENTUM. Plus these FireFox guys admit to media they will be working for FireFox at the same time. All signs point to partnership.

While Microsoft has market dominance with IE, there is no way that Google would ever approach them with regards to partnership, as they are a clear competitor in search, albeit a VERY WEAK competitor in terms of the technology. Ironically, Microsoft just released its weak and very late search technology today. However inferior, Microsoft has substantial cash flow and means, and have proven they enjoy taking over ideas which are in their sphere of influence, and having browser market dominance gives them leverage Google wouldn't want. FireFox is the perfect choice because it has momentum and is frankly a superior browser technology. (If you haven't tried FireFox, download and try printing a webpage from both, as one of many examples... not to mention the tabbed format FireFox has, the many extensions, etc)

THEORY: It is my speculation and theory that Google is working with the FireFox experts to create a "Killer Extension". (replacing the Killer App) Now, what extension could Google charge a small fee for or a small % fee for that would make it ubiquitous and worth their while to pursue? A company with this wide of a scope doesn't look for niche applications, they look to change the world. What does Google do best -- search for text, products, and services, right? Perhaps they could team with FireFox and create a killer extension that had functionality similar to EBAY but was on everyone's browser? I'll coin the term "GBUY" to go along with their recent GMAIL naming convention. Since Google already dominates search, they could then continue leverage their search position to dominate the commerce through which many internet items were purchased. GBUY could provide a service to not only consumers, but also vendors making it easier to setup and transact all type of business over the web. They already have AdWords which accepts payments from Vendors on a per-click basis, and they already have AdSense which delivers payments to millions of website owners. The payment infrastructure is essentially there, and as everyone knows, the search dominance and capabilities continue to expand (see Google TV, Google Images, Froogle, et al).

Instictively, this might be the clue that shows Google going after such a market and that something is there. You heard it here first.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

FireFox Programmer Hired at Google

RavDeep and Rich,

I enjoyed reading your article. However, I personally think the
article's position is off the mark with regards to Google creating
their own browser. Just because something is relatively easy
(creating a browser, or buying out an open-source browser creating company), this doesn't mean that it should be done.

While Google's search engine will definitely clash with many of
Microsoft's markets, Google doesn't want to alienate Firefox users, or
that community. They want to work with FireFox to extend their search
technology's market share. Microsoft is a giant beaurocracy that
slows the pace of Google's innovation. To wait for IE is
innefficient. FireFox, on the other hand, is very agile given their
pool of passionate, open source developers. It also has a tremendous
amount of momentum. For Google to create a browser on their own would
be counterproductive, when they can partner with FireFox and both will

Mark Holton

Monday, January 24, 2005

Welcome and "Mobile Google" idea

I thought this was a better forum to air my thoughts that weren't apprpriate for emails, yet I had to unload. I'll hit the ground running and post one right now...

Mobile Google and Mobile Software Development thoughts

You know how Google's Adwords, and the "Google-bot" has reshaped the web (not to mention raised 1.2 billion in a recent IPO)? Besides the search engine's proficiency, this has also happened because of the success of AdWords, including the use of blogs which generate content, links, traffic... for display more ads.

Someone is going to step in within the next 3-5 years and do the same thing with wireless and mobile technology. For example... there will be a similar "Google-bot" spidering cell phone text messages the same way the bot automatically hits gmail messages... and based on one's SMS/text messages and the internet sites hit by someone's mobile phone a new company could serve up Cost-Per-Click ads that matched that user's interest. A company or the industry itself could dervive a way to determine if a cell phone hit a standard web, and or a mobile web page. It would not be intrusive, and would be anonymous, and would only point you to sites that you have "expressed" an interest in (i.e. by visiting, or through the text in your text messages). Only it will be on Mobile Technology such as cell phones, Pocket PC's, tablet PC's and PDA's (which will no doubt be connected to the web sooner rather than later.) Just like Google can now recommend restaurants, hotels, etc or at least point you towards one in your area, the mobile Search Engine will do the same. Eventually in 20+ years, they will converge, but there will be a time for a company to step in and dominate this market like Google did with their search engine. It might even be Google themself.

Mobile software development is the next big thing. Broadband internet users are increasing, memory is getting cheaper and better performing, processors are getting faster... all of this makes mobile devices increasingly more capable. There will be significant leaps in the amount of broadband users as government on the city and local level (in the US and elsewhere) invest in broadband technologies to stimulate their economies. Within 8 years, highspeed wireless internet will be ubiquitous, and cell phones, Pocket PC's, tablet PC's, all computers and most TV's will be wired (finally!). Software technologies like ColdFusion will make it increasingly easier for developers to make SECURE and ROBUST code on internet and mobile devices that share data in controlled formats with other mobilie devices and central servers. The opportunities lie in creative application development that fill various consumer and business market needs, and software development technologies that are enabling.

...that's just my opinion in 20 minutes or less.