I heart Spry

I’m a bit late to the party, but I finally took some time to check out the Spry framework, Adobe’s answer to the AJAX craze. I haven’t been that impressed with AJAX. I mean, it’s useful, yes. Very useful. But it’s also kind of old and so it isn’t really new to me. I’ve been thinking about learning a bit of AJAX for use in the back end of BlogCFC. I took some time early this morning to look at Spry.

Wow.

I mean, seriously, Adobe, could you make this a bit simpler? I think it was harder to put my shoes on this morning. Consider the following simple example (and this is not 100% complete, but it gives you an idea of how short the code is):

<script type="text/javascript" src="includes/xpath.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript" src="includes/SpryData.js"></script> <!-- load the xml, notice the xpath support --> <script type="text/javascript"> var dsHatches = new Spry.Data.XMLDataSet("dharma.xml", "hatches/hatch"); </script>

<!– now bind it to an html table –> <div id=”Hatches_DIV” spryregion=”dsHatches”> <!–Display the data in a table–> <table> <tr> <th>Hatch</th> <th>Icon</th> <th>Active</th> </tr> <tr spryrepeat=”dsHatches”> <td>{hatch}</td> <td><img src=”/images/dharma/{icon}”></td> <td>{active}</td> </tr> </table> </div> </code>

So the first line loads the data set from XML. It uses XPath to translate this into a data set. I can then bind it to a table by using the spryregion and spryrepeat tags. Notice the use of bound variables inside.

For a more complete demo, check out the Spry front end version of BlogCFC. Make sure you view source on that.

I did run into one interesting problem. I knew that I needed XML, so I knew I couldn’t just use my blog’s main CFC. I wrote a new CFC that would handle the few methods I needed and return them as XML. (This was rather boring, but I did make two cool little functions you may like, arrayToXML and queryToXML. Both of these already exist on CFLib I think, but I wrote my own for the heck of it.)

I thought that was all I needed, but it wasn’t loading. Then I tried making the same request Spry was, and I found out what it was. ColdFusion was wrapping my response in WDDX. So what could I do? (I wish CFC’s had an option to NOT wrap the result in WDDX and just return it “bare”.) I wrote another file, this time a CFM. It simply acted as a proxy to call my other proxy CFC. It then returned the XML correctly.

I think I spent more time in ColdFusion then I did in JavaScript. That to me is a good thing. It means Adobe really did a darn good job with this framework. This is exactly the kind of thing I can see using in real world applications.

I definitely recommend my readers to take a few minutes and download the framework. I think you will find it worth your while.

Raymond Camden's Picture

About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a developer advocate for Extend by Auth0. He focuses on serverless and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support.

Lafayette, LA https://www.raymondcamden.com

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