Object Oriented Coldfusion : 2 : Anatomy of an Object.cfc

Posted on August 23, 2007

We’ve covered how to write an Object.cfc, as well as how to create an instance of it. In order to understand how to use objects with Coldfusion, we have to first discuss what is and isn’t inside an object.

What’s in an object?

“That which we call a CFC, by any other name would encapsulate data or logic in a manner complementary to its task.”

Or something like that. Anyway.

Let’s look at that basic object again.

Object.cfc

<cfcomponent output="false" name="Object" hint="Simple CF Object">
  <cffunction name="init" access="public" output="false" returntype="Object" hint="constructor">
    <cfreturn this />
  </cffunction>
</cfcomponent>

The constructor returned this. So what exactly is this?

object_test.cfm

<cfset obj = createObject("component", "Object").init() />
<cfdump var="#obj#" />
component Object
INIT
function init
_Arguments:_none
_Return Type:_Object
_Roles:_
_Access:_public
_Output:_false

So far, we haven’t created any variables and we haven’t set any values. But this doesn’t mean that variables don’t exist already.

The variables scope

When working with a normal CFM page, any variable you create without specifying a scope is placed into the variables scope.

Simple variable on a CFM page

<cfset foo = 0 />

is the same as

<cfset variables.foo = 0 />

Let’s add a function that will return the variables scope from the object and see what’s in there.

Object.cfc

<cfcomponent output="false" name="Object" hint="Simple CF Object">

  <cffunction name="init" access="public" output="false" returntype="Object" hint="constructor">
    <cfreturn this />
  </cffunction>

  <cffunction name="getVariablesScope" access="public" output="false" returntype="struct">
    <cfreturn variables />
  </cffunction>

</cfcomponent>

object_test.cfm

<cfset variables.foo = 0 />
<cfset variables.obj = createObject("component", "Object").init() />
<cfdump var="#variables.object.getVariablesScope()#" />
Variables scope of Object.cfc - struct
GETVARIABLESSCOPE
function getVariablesScope
_Arguments:_none
_Return Type:_struct
_Roles:_
_Access:_public
_Output:_false
INIT
function init
_Arguments:_none
_Return Type:_Object
_Roles:_
_Access:_public
_Output:_false
THIS
component_testing.oocf.Object
GETVARIABLESSCOPE
function getVariablesScope
_Arguments:_none
_Return Type:_struct
_Roles:_
_Access:_public
_Output:_false
INIT
function init
_Arguments:_none
_Return Type:_Object
_Roles:_
_Access:_public
_Output:_false

About the object's _variables_ scope

  1. Just as with a normal CFM page, the variables scope is a struct
  2. Each function name is the name of a key in the struct
  3. this is in the variables scope of the component
  4. this contains an instance of the component itself

The most important thing to note here is that the variables scope of the CFM file and the variables scope of the CFC file _do not know about each other.

Shared scopes

So what about server, application and session variables?

Let’s dump the default session scope:

test.cfm

<cfdump var="#session#" label="Session Scope (CFM)" />
Session Scope (CFM) - struct  
cfid 1234
cftoken 56789012
sessionid FOO_1234_56789012
urltoken CFID=1234&CFTOKEN=56789012

Now we’ll add a function to Object.cfc to return the session scope:

Object.cfc

<cfcomponent name="Object.cfc" output="false" hint="A test Object">

  <cffunction name="init" access="public" output="false" returntype="Object" hint="constructor">
    <cfreturn this />
  </cffunction>

  <cffunction name="getSessionScope" access="public" output="false" returntype="struct" hint="Returns session scope">
    <cfreturn session />
  </cffunction>

  <cffunction name="getVariablesScope" access="public" output="false" returntype="struct" hint="Returns variables scope.">
    <cfreturn variables />
  </cffunction>

</cfcomponent>

So can the object read the session scope?

test.cfm

<cfset obj = createObject("component", "Object").init() />
<cfdump var="#obj.getSessionScope()#" label="Session scope from inside Object.cfc" />
Session scope from inside Object.cfc - struct  
cfid 1234
cftoken 56789012
sessionid FOO_1234_56789012
urltoken CFID=1234&CFTOKEN=56789012

Not only can an object read shared scope variables, an object can alter shared scope variables.

Object.cfc

<cfcomponent name="Object.cfc" output="false" hint="A test Object">
  <cffunction name="init" access="public" output="false" returntype="Object" hint="constructor">
    <cfreturn this />
  </cffunction>

  <cffunction name="changeSessionScope" access="public" output="false" returntype="void" hint="Changes the session scope.">
    <cfset session.rightNow = now() />
  </cffunction>
</cfcomponent>

test.cfm

<cfset obj = createObject("component", "cfc.Object").init() />
<cfdump var="#session#" label="Session scope" />
<hr />
<cfset obj.changeSessionScope() />
<cfdump var="#session#" label="Session scope after change" />
Session scope - struct  
cfid 1234
cftoken 56789012
sessionid FOO_1234_56789012
urltoken CFID=1234&CFTOKEN=56789012
Session scope after change - struct  
cfid 1234
cftoken 56789012
rightnow {ts ‘2007-08-20 22:15:23’}
sessionid FOO_1234_56789012
urltoken CFID=1234&CFTOKEN=56789012

This means that unlike the variables scope, changes to server, application and session variables made from a CFM file can directly affect a CFC file and vice-versa.

Should an object access shared scope variables?

The majority of objects _should not_ directly access shared scope variables.

Generally speaking, the only objects that shouldaccess shared scope variables are a Scope Facade or an Object Factory. In another post, I have an example of how my team used a Session Facade to solve a specific problem, but I’ll go further into these types of objects later in this Primer.

For most all other objects to use values from shared scope variables or any other external data, they have to get an injection.

About the Author
Adrian J. Moreno

Adrian is an enterprise solution architect and full stack developer. Which stack depends on which system is on fire at the time. More information