Change in debugging with CFCs in ColdFusion 9

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Just a quick little post here. A reader contacted me a few days ago with an observation about a change to debugging in ColdFusion 9. In earlier versions of ColdFusion, if debugging was turned on and you ran a CFC (for example, making an AJAX call to a CFC method), debugging text was returned along with your result. This was almost always a bad thing as it tended to break AJAX applications. However, this reader actually used the debugging information to check how well their CFC was performing. Also - tools like ColdFire could make use of this data.

Well, in ColdFusion 9, debugging information is always going to be disabled for CFC calls. To be clear, I'm talking about the request to the CFC directly. If you write a CFM that calls the CFC, then debugging information will correctly include any activity within the CFC methods call. (And in fact, this is what the reader is doing to now.)

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Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Mark Mandel posted on 7/1/2011 at 4:28 AM

Ah yep - I've seen this in mxUnit, and always wondered why.

If you click on a specific test, it goes directly to the CFC, so you never get the debugging. At least now I know I'm not totally crazy :) Thanks for the confirmation Ray!

Comment 2 by Raymond Camden posted on 7/1/2011 at 4:29 AM

No problem, and I should clarify, I went to Adobe (heh, that's me soon ;) to verify this was intended. It wasn't accidental.

Comment 3 by Adam Cameron posted on 7/1/2011 at 3:29 PM

Ah! This had me thinking I was going loopy!

It's annoying.

Is there any way to make it work as per before? It's handy to have it on when running MXUnit tests sometimes, and I believe it should be MY decision as to whether I have debugging switched on or not: I'm a big enough boy to switch debugging on and off as and when necessary. It's annoying to have that freedom taken away from me.

I have to say that with this and the CFABORT/CFLOCATION bug that has bitten me on the bum this week, I am not finding myself particularly happy with your new employers, Ray.



Comment 4 by Raymond Camden posted on 7/1/2011 at 3:38 PM

I honestly think it was a matter of 900 people fussing their Ajax was broken (even when it was their fault) versus 2 people who actually liked this. Now - that being said - you are the second person to mention using it via mxunit. Best I can suggest is file an ER for it and get folks to vote it up. Maybe the logic can be if cfsetting showdebugoutput=true is on in the CFC, it works. That way you would have to go out of your way a bit, but it would work.

Comment 5 by Raymond Camden posted on 7/1/2011 at 3:45 PM

As an experiment, I wrote an onRequestEnd that did this:

<cfinclude template="/WEB-INF/debug/classic.cfm">

and this fails here:

<cfset qEvents = cfdebugger.getDebugger().getData()>

Because getDebugger() returned null. So it looks like Adobe killed the access at a real low level. Now I'm curious if this broke debugging in CFB as well.

Comment 6 by Raymond Camden posted on 7/1/2011 at 3:50 PM

Nah, CFB debugging works fine. That was kind of a dumb test I guess. :)

Comment 7 by Pritesh posted on 7/1/2011 at 5:03 PM

Ah, This is what I usually do to check performance of CFC. Created test page which parse CFC's ajax request URL and called it based on passed arguments in URL.

Comment 8 by Raymond Camden posted on 7/1/2011 at 5:07 PM

This change should not - afaik - impact the Server Monitor too. So if you have slow queries in your CFCs - they should still show up.

Comment 9 by Landon (WolffenTCI) posted on 7/1/2011 at 7:57 PM

Thank you for looking into this Ray. Interesting to see Adobe went to such a low level to kill the access.

Comment 10 by Landon (WolffenTCI) posted on 7/2/2011 at 12:07 AM

Btw, I've added this as Bug/ER 86966 if anyone else wants to vote for this. (Hopefully I filled everything in right. Never submitted and ER to Adobe before).

Comment 11 by Adam Cameron posted on 7/2/2011 at 4:02 PM

I've voted for the bug:

Ray, I know what you mean about 900 people getting confused and only two people "liking" it, but that's specious for a coupla reasons:
* that debugging output on CFC requests was not "a problem", the problem was that the people getting confused by it are muppets. It's not for Adobe to fix that.
* people who use this functionality as it was will not email Adobe and go "hey, cool, that still works as expected: thanks for that". So it's a meaningless metric to mention the 900 vs 2 people. I know you did not mean to suggest it was a statistically sound or meaningful analysis, but it probably actually *was* Adobe's rationale for "fixing" it.

Basically this was a stupid way of dealing with a non-problem.

And it should be backed out.


Comment 12 by Raymond Camden posted on 7/2/2011 at 4:23 PM

Fair enough point Adam. And it's getting my vote too.

Comment 13 by Paul Connell posted on 7/4/2011 at 1:53 PM

At my workplace AJAX call data has comments (START-END) around the data, and the content is stripped from between them by the javascript, nobody realised you could cfcontent reset and showdebug=no with a cfabort if required. I can see both sides but I'd much prefer to decide myself, so voted for this.

Comment 14 by Tomas Sancio posted on 11/11/2011 at 9:09 PM

Thanks Ray for all your work supporting ColdFusion developers.

As a newcomer to ColdFusion (started last year), I've only worked with CFCs directly from Flex. I guess this means that I'm going to have to write some debugging CFMs unless we're spoiled once more by the easy integration between Flex & CF.

Comment 15 by Tomas Sancio posted on 11/11/2011 at 9:35 PM

Actually you can debug the CFC without writing a CFM. Just open the CFC with a browser, select the method and enter the parameters in the URL. Gets messy for complex parameters.

Comment 16 by Landon (WolffenTCI) posted on 11/11/2011 at 9:39 PM

That works in CF8 and prior, but as of CF9, no debug information outputs when executing a CFC using the URL method (hence the reason I submitted the ER/bug). Are you running CF9?

Comment 17 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/11/2011 at 10:21 PM

@Tomas: Ditto Lando. The entire point of this entry is about that change. ;)

Comment 18 by Tomas posted on 11/13/2011 at 1:23 AM

Actually yes, it does work with CF9 through the URL as long as access="remote". For example, I type http://localhost:8500/QPMServerCF/CFAssetPropertyService.cfc?method=getPropertiesFromShipItemWithId&siteid=2&ruta=520&boxid=3539 and get a bunch of warbled text followed by the reports that Ray describes in his recent Adobe video, but without having to write the CFM.

Thanks to everybody

Comment 19 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/13/2011 at 1:32 AM

Maybe it's 901. Are you on 9.0? Obviously all of us can't be wrong here. ;)

Comment 20 by Tomas posted on 11/13/2011 at 1:53 AM

This is what I'm doing (QuickTime video): to debug my CF app.

Comment 21 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/13/2011 at 1:55 AM

That video doesn't show what version of CF you are running.

Comment 22 by Adam Cameron posted on 11/13/2011 at 2:09 AM

I'm pretty sure (80%, say) it came in with 9.0.1.


Comment 23 by Tomas posted on 11/13/2011 at 2:11 AM

Here's the info. Thanks

Debugging Information
ColdFusion Server Developer 9,0,0,251028
Template /QPMServerCF/CFAssetPropertyService.cfc
Time Stamp 12-Nov-11 04:20 PM
Locale English (US)
User Agent Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_5_8) AppleWebKit/534.50.2 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.6 Safari/533.22.3
Remote IP
Host Name localhost

Comment 24 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/13/2011 at 2:15 AM

That would be 9.0, not 9.0.1. :)

Comment 25 by Tomas posted on 11/13/2011 at 2:34 AM

Worth mentioning that my experience with ColdFusion so far has been great. Everything that could've gone wrong (this, for example) has gone right and the productivity achieved with this software (server + CF Builder) is incredible (as admitted by someone who sits next to me and works with php). We've already had one customer buy a server license and are expecting more down the road. Thanks again

Comment 26 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/13/2011 at 2:38 AM

Sweet. Love to hear people loving CF. Keep on - it just gets better!

p.s. I may be biased. Nah, I'm not.

Comment 27 by Bill Franklin posted on 6/18/2012 at 9:21 PM


who at Adobe confirmed that this was as of 9.0.1? I can't tell, by the release notes, that it was part of that release.

We use the SQL Query debug information all the time via Charles Proxy to determine what queries were run for a given AMF request....or we did, until we upgraded from 8 to 9.0.1...

Comment 28 by Raymond Camden posted on 6/19/2012 at 4:53 AM

Are you asking where it is documented? If so - I don't know. Unfortunately there is no way to toggle this off. It is what it is.

Comment 29 by Al Serize posted on 11/8/2012 at 12:19 AM

Ray - I'm trying to build a script that would dynamically change the getDebugTemplate value from false to true. what I currently have is not working as Coldfusion is telling me that I can't change the value of a function. Here is what I got:

<cfset dbObj.getDebugTemplate() = true>

What you run into this in the past? Any help would be appreciated

Comment 30 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/8/2012 at 12:24 AM

I do not see that API in CF10. I don't have CF9 anymore to test. In general though that's now how you use functions.

<cfset smething.somefunc(value)>

Comment 31 by Al Serize posted on 11/18/2012 at 12:22 AM

hey Ray - Thanks for the response and looking into this. I'm actually using CF10, basically what I'm trying to do is to dynamically change the robust error reporting based on IP address. I tried approaching it by setting up the Java object but got an error in CF. Have you tried anything like this before?

Comment 32 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/18/2012 at 12:58 AM

ColdFusion 10 added this.enableRobustException=true/false to the Application.cfc file. You could try logic like this in App.cfc:

if(some condition) this.enableRobustException=true;
else this.enableRobustException=false;

That may work. Don't forget too that if you are using proper error handling (ala onError), you can do if(somecondition) cfdump the error and get the exact same info.