posted under category: General on October 13, 2021 by Nathan
A blog series in which I confess to accidentally having written my own poor version of a solved problem or popular framework
It was 1999. I worked at a small agency in Alaska, and I just learned to program in ColdFusion. I drank Mountain Dew and exclusively ate from Taco Bell. A guy at work, probably 15 years my senior and trying to escape code, told me about how to arrange an application, recommending that I make a “fusebox” - a big switch statement that would control what gets called and shown. I started piecing it together.
So I set up a switch statement with the expression being
url.action (the action property in the query string). The switch cases are includes to individual view files, or database calls with a redirect back to another
Really this isn’t too different from modern-day frameworks - a router, views, and room for back-end activities.
What did I learn?
It was nice to have a central place to apply security and global request filters. With all the requests coming in through this one file, it was the central hub of the application. That also opened it up to trouble. One coding mistake on the switch meant that the whole application was broken. I made a lot of coding mistakes back then, so things broke frequently.
I used an include for the HTML header and footer, so those just got included right on the switch page. Easy way to make a layout, even if it’s rather lame by today’s standards.
I initially had all the database communication right there in the switch. That really doesn’t scale since that flux capacitor there is now doing literally everything for the whole application. Pretty yucky but I didn’t know better.
Also, this being one of my first professional projects ever, I quickly realized the need for better organization by filename taxonomy.
The first version of Fusebox was merely a word, a convention of organization, which was really not much different than what I had built as a teenager. I’m sure it was at least a little more formal than that, but the internet was young and we didn’t exactly google for information – you had to know someone.
The second version of Fusebox had some official files - some amount of hard matter for the framework. Fusebox 3 actually set you up with structure and files and sub-folders of switches - a real framework finally.
Fuesbox eventually became the gold standard for frameworks in the world of ColdFusion. It was a short-lived title, in those years when XML was cool, before object-oriented features were added.
Have you built your own framework like me?