Sorcerer's Tower

Welcome to the Tower, my programming and web development blog. Here you will find articles relating primarily to CFML and regex, plus assorted other technologies, techniques, and ideas.

If you are interested in more than just programming, you can visit my aggregated blog, where you will also find entries on my photography and other interests.

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QueryParam Scanner 0.8 Release Candidate

The release candidate for the next version of QueryParam Scanner is available on GitHub.

So what's changed?

Well it now runs on FW/1 rather than Fusebox, and the UI has a new theme - the previous gold/beige is gone, and in its place is a theme based on a "new" logo which I've actually had sitting around for several years. There's CSS used that will require a modern browser - FF4 and IE9 both work, but no guarantees for anything older.

Functionality-wise there's a couple of fixes: an error is now thrown when a directory doesn't exist (previous behaviour was to return 0 matches in 0 files), and the IDs returned in data structures are now content-based hashes (previously they were ever-changing UUIDs). Oh, and the IDs are now displayed with the HTML results, in preparation for future functionality that'll potentially use them.

A new experimental (i.e. buggy) feature has been added to seperate the query code into SELECT/FROM/WHERE/etc parts, when returning data structures. This may help with post-processing the data, but has known flaws so use with care. (The existing ORDER BY functionality has also been marked as experimental to similarly indicate that it's not perfect.)

There's a minor change in that relative paths are officially not supported - the UI always stated absolute paths or mappings were required, but there was ugly code in place to try and make relative paths work too - that code has been removed. If you used relative paths before, you need to resolve them before passing to qpscanner.

In summary:

Changed:  Switched to FW/1 and removed unnecessary files.
Changed:  New logo and front-end UI.
Removed:  Dropped unofficial relative path support.
Added:    Experimental ability to separate query code into segments
Fixed:    IDs now use content-based SHA hashes, not random UUIDs.
Fixed:    Throw error when path does not exist, instead of zero results.
Supports: ColdFusion 9/10 and Railo 3.3/4.0/4.1

That's it for now. There are several new features planned to make qpscanner faster, more flexible and more useful, but you'll have to wait for a future release for those.

As ever, if you have any feedback, feature requests, or find any bugs, then please go ahead and get in touch via the GitHub issue tracker.

Speaking at Scotch on the Rocks 2013

I will be speaking at this year's Scotch on the Rocks conference. My presentation is on the subject of getting help when you are stuck and how to describe your issue in a way that makes it easier for others to help you.

All developers have times when they need help, but it's not always easy to ask for (particularly when all you want is to get past a tricky problem, not have long tangental discussions). Having spent a lot of time both seeking and offering help, I hope to shed some light on the quickest ways to find solutions and effective methods for framing your issues so that fellow developers can understand what you need.

The talk will be aimed at developers of any level who want help with getting help.

Scotch on the Rocks is Europe's longest running conference catering for CFML developers, having been held most years since 2005. This year it takes place on the 6th and 7th of June at the Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor hotel and covers a wide variety of topics on different aspects of web development - so whether you're looking to learn new techniques and technologies or you want to network and socialise with other programmers, Scotch on the Rocks is the conference for you.

Hurry up and book your tickets before they sell out!

QueryParam Scanner v0.7.5 Released

Earlier this week I promoted the release candidate for 0.7.5 of QueryParam Scanner to full release.

For anyone unaware, QueryParam Scanner is a simple tool for identifying unparameterised variables in CFML queries (which may indicate a potential SQL injection risk).

This version has a handful of bug fixes and code cleanups, resulting in faster more accurate scanning than previous versions, plus the addition of JSON output format, giving a more lightweight option if used in scripted processes.

For further details on these, see the previous RC article; other than a couple of trivial fixes and a new readme, nothing has changed since that.

To download the latest version, you can either clone the git repo, or grab it as a zip archive from the GitHub tags page.

For any feedback, problems, or questions, please use the issue tracker.

Apache, cPanel and ErrorDocument

If you're using a cPanel-powered Apache server, there's a chance it may not be setup in the best way.

The same issue might manifest itself in two ways: confusing error messages and ignored htaccess directives.

In both cases, the solution is to use the ErrorDocument directive.

Find out more.

Happy Regex Day 2012!

Today was the 1st June, and that means it's Regex Day again!

This annual event was started four years ago by Ben Nadel to celebrate this wonderful (yet often misunderstood) technology, and as usual Ben is running a fun regex competition, with prizes, on his blog.

If that's not enough regex goodness for you, here's a couple of projects you should know about.

First up, there's XRegExp, a library by Steven Levithan which augments JavaScript's native regex functionality with new functionality, and ensures cross-browser compatibility.

For CFML developers, there's cfRegex a replacement regex implemenation providing more power and functionality than CFML's native functions, whilst being easier to work with.

Whatever your level of regex skill, both of these tools are definitely worth checking out.