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.


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>

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.

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