ColdFusion Testing Woes With Java Objects

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My team is currently working on a Flex-based mapping application. I’m working on the backend using ColdFusion to grab the data from our SQL server, package it in a Java based data transfer object (DTO), and send it to the requesting Flex app. My teammate wrote a great blog entry about the tech stack entitled “Flex, ColdFusion, Java, and BlazeDS: with JSON?“.

One minor glitch showed up while trying to test the ColdFusion method calls. I wrote a simple ColdFusion template to call the methods in the ColdFusion service component. All I wanted to do was simply check the methods were working before I tried calling them from the Flex application. I called the function and used the <cfdump> tag to see what was in the object:

...
<cfset obj = CreateObject("component",
      "components.lampo.mapping.service.MapToolWebServiceImpl") />
<cfset myobj = obj.getPostalCodePolygon(objUser, "37128") />
<cfdump var="#myobj#">
...

Sadly all the <cfdump> tag showed was the names of the methods and properties of the object. I.e. it did not show the property values!

I did a little bit of research and was unable to locate an elegant solution. One possibility would be to simply add a method to each DTO that dumps the current state of the object. But we have over a dozen DTOs and I didn’t really want to pollute them with a debugging method. So I wrote a simple function to display the property values of any object:

<cffunction name="dumpJObj" output="false" returntype="struct" access="public">
       <cfargument name="obj" type="any" required="yes" />
       <cfargument name="depth" type="numeric" required="no" default="1" />

       <cfset var stcRet = StructNew() />
       <cfset var ary = StructKeyArray(obj) />
       <cfloop index="i" from="1" to="#ArrayLen(ary)#">
              <cfif IsDefined("obj.#ary[i]#")>
                     <cfset value = Evaluate("obj.#ary[i]#") />
                     <cfif IsObject(value) AND depth GT 0>
                           <cfset stcRet[ary[i]] = dumpJObj(value, depth - 1) />
                     <cfelseif IsObject(value)>
                           <cfset stcRet[ary[i]] = "depth limit reached" />
                     <cfelse>
                           <cfset stcRet[ary[i]] = Evaluate("obj.#ary[i]#") />
                     </cfif>
              <cfelse>
                     <cfset stcRet[ary[i]] = "" />
             </cfif>
       </cfloop>
      <cfreturn stcRet />
</cffunction>

I wrote the function specifically for the Java based DTOs we are passing. My first thought was to write it using Java reflection but I was able to write it completely in ColdFusion. So I guess it should work for ColdFusion objects as well.

My first version did not handle nested objects so in the next version I added in some recursion. This opened the possibility of an infinite loop if the class has itself as a nested object. I simply added a depth count to prevent this from happening. The depth defaults to 1 so the function will display the values of the top level object and the values of the objects it contains.

To make the function available where I needed it, I made it a part of the service class.

...
<cfset obj = CreateObject("component",
      "components.lampo.mapping.service.MapToolWebServiceImpl") />
<cfset myobj = obj.getPostalCodePolygon(objUser, "37128") />
<cfdump var="#dumpJObj(myobj)#">
...
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