|Java menu knowledge base|
Cold fusion and dynamic menus
Contributed by: Ray Rogers, President
- Resource Management Systems, Cold Fusion specialists.
This article shows you how to use the Cold Fusion programming language to dynamically populate an IMINT index file.
I normally use the dynamic index file for 2 purposes:
An online demo of the system used for this article is available at
- feel free to login using the access information at the site.
Add some equipment and see how the entries are instantly added to the dynamic menu.
Please report any bugs (there must be a few in there) to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will sort them.
- to generate a dynamic menu;
- to provide a security system by displaying menu sections or items, based on login criteria.
- A web server running Cold Fusion, in a Windows environment.
- A datasource established on the server and registered with the Cold Fusion administrator.
I have used a MSAccess database for this demonstration, but most ODBC-compliant databases can
be used with Cold Fusion.
- The scripts accompanying this article - click here to download.
- An IMINT applet that allows you to specify the name of the index file, which is usually done with the menufile parameter. Trial versions as well as release versions of most applets can be used in this way, so you can practice database retrieval with the applets before buying.
- An understanding of IMINT's XIXL eXtensible IndeXing Language.
- An understanding of the Cold Fusion application language.
In any applet-database retrieval system for IMINT applets, whether you use
Cold Fusion or any other language, there are basically three elements involved.
Demonstration Project Scenario
- The datasource: located on the server and registered with the system.
- The datasource retrieval script: on the server, that collects data from your datasource and
creates an index file with dynamic components each time it is called. You will need to write this yourself,
for example, by borrowing the scripts from this article and adapting them to your needs. It is here that you
can customise in features such as permissions and conditional information retrieval.
- The applet: this is on the client and uses the retrieval
script to create a menu and clothe it in an attractive and user-friendly interface.
shows a local Fire Department system
for managing equipment and personnel.
There are 3 levels of security - administrator, personnel or operations. The administrator can access all features, where personnel and operations are limited to their own specific areas. Initial display is created without any security structure. The menu items shown are “public”. Once you login to the system the menu items will change to reflect the security level assigned to that login. The demo website gives you a list of different users and their login information to test this process.
As an operations manager you can add equipment to the database. As new equipment is added it is instantly reflected in the menu system.
Extra dynamic coding
- The database: the sample MSAccess database is here.
You will need to register the DSN with the system either through
the ODBC routine in Windows or the Cold Fusion administrator. The DSN I have used is
menudemo, but of course you can name yours anything you like as long as you change the
DSN reference in the sample queries. To make this easy I have included an application.cfm
file that specifies an application.dsn variable and assigns it the name menudemo. To change
the DSN for the entire application you will only need to make a change to this variable.
- The retrieval scripts:
the 14 sample CFML scripts from the demo are here.
Take a careful look at the commented source
code of the menu.cfm file here
- this is the file which contains the real
basics of building a dynamic menu system using CFML.
I have built in some very complex routines to achieve the results I was after.
The effect was a very effective, powerful, scalable and cost-effective navigation system.
The comments in the source code should enable you to see how this
works and adapt it for your own purposes.
- The applet: the applet used for this demonstration is
X-Bar Powerbar I and you can
download the trial version required to run the demo here.
You must add the CLASS, CAB and JAR files to the CFM, HTML, CSS and MDB files for
the demo to work.
The applet can access the database retrieval script
at different times during its operation, depending on your needs.
- When it first starts. Use the menufile parameter (or with some
applets, a different parameter - see instructions) like this:
<PARAM NAME=menufile VALUE=menu.cfm>
- During operation when the user clicks a specific menu item and triggers
a new index load. Use the DRILL command like this:
"TEXT:menu item" "1" "" "DRILL:menu.cfm" "(Load new menu)"
a new index load (if the applet supports this). Use the drill() method like this:
In the demonstration above we have concentrated on the
information processed and passed TO the applet. However when you click
on a menu item in the applet, the applet naturally then passes a URL
request BACK to the server. If you are using CFML, many of the documents
which the applet navigates through may themselves be dynamic. You can
pass dynamic information THROUGH the applet BACK to the server using
query strings as in this example of a section of a XIXL menu item code:
will pass a dynamically generated variable (#personnelID#) in a
query string, to the dsp_PersonnelEdit.cfm script. The ID number
can be used to retrieve the personnel data for the specific person
you selected from the menu list.
If you set up everything in the way described and find it doesn't work, you
will find it difficult to track down the cause if you just look at the applet
on your screen. Probably the applet will just show "error 4", which means
it couldn't find any menu, or it may show one of the error codes for an
incorrectly formatted index.
To make things easier for yourself, you should check the database
retrieval script during development by entering the URL used by the
applet directly into the browser address bar. If your database
retrieval script is written correctly, then a simple text file
output should appear in the browser which is identical to a typical
XIXL index file. This way you can check the formatting of the