Customizing the FDSE layout using Cold Fusion CFM
Overview and notes:
This article describes how the FDSE layout -- including the search tips page and the search results page -- can be rendered using Cold Fusion (CFM) pages. This is intended for advanced developers who want to integrate FDSE into a web site that uses consistent, CFM-based layout on all pages.
FDSE can already crawl, index, and search CFM pages. No special techniques are necessary for that.
The advanced techniques outlined in this help file are for advanced CFM developers who want to embed FDSE within a CFM page. Not every CFM-based site will need to use these advanced techniques.
When integrating with CFM, Perl must still be installed on the server and the *.pl web server mapping must still be enabled. Admin tasks still require direct access to the original "search.pl" file.
FDSE-CFM integration is supported in FDSE version 2.0.0.0071 and newer. This integration is "under development" -- interfaces may be changed with later releases, and support for integration may be removed in the future if there are too many platform dependency problems.
FDSE-CFM integration was developed and tested on Windows 2000 SP4 with Activestate Perl 5.8 build 806 and Cold Fusion MX 6.1.
Definition of areas:
The output of FDSE consists of the following four "areas":
Invisible HTTP headers (Perl-generated)
HTML header and optional left sidebar (template /search/searchdata/templates/header.htm)
Active area (Perl-generated)
HTML footer and optional right sidebar (template /search/searchdata/templates/footer.htm)
With CFM integration, all areas except the center active area are suppressed. The HTML for the active area is made available as the return value of a
Definition of self-reference:
FDSE contains many types of navigation, including the search form, the "search tips" link, and the "Prev / 1 / 2 / 3 / Next" links which appear when there are multiple pages of results.
Such navigation uses the automatically-detected URL of the search script to ensure that all requests continue to come back to the same script. This is called self-referencing navigation and it requires special treatment when a CFM script is layered above the Perl script.
Changes during integration:
When using CFM integration, FDSE chooses not to print the hidden HTTP headers, the HTML header, and the HTML footer. Instead, it creates only the active area. The HTML for the active area is made available within CFM as the
#FDSE_Output# variable, which is populated during a special
In addition, all self-referencing navigation is changed to the use the URL of the parent CFM page, rather than the URL of the Perl script which is being called "under the hood".
Steps to enable:
Follow these steps to embed FDSE within your CFM layout:
Install FDSE version 2.0.0.0071 or newer.
Once installed, visit the FDSE admin page via the normal Perl script ("search.pl?Mode=Admin"). Ensure that you can login. Create a search realm that contains test content.
Go to Admin Page => General Settings. At the very top of the page will be the version and path of Perl; it will read something like "Perl version is 5.008 (E:\perl\bin\perl.exe)". Take note of the path to Perl.
Visit the default search page "search.pl". Perform a test search to ensure that results are returned.
It is essential that you configure FDSE to work properly via the standard Perl interfaces first, before moving to CFM. It will be very difficult to debug problems in the CFM integration if the core Perl interfaces are failing.
In the same folder as "search.pl", create a file named "search.cfm" containing the following:
Request the file with your browser. If it doesn't print out "hello world", then there is no way that FDSE-CFM integration will work on your server. Quit now.
Next, modify your "search.cfm" file to contain:
Customize the four variables as needed:
search_script - this is the absolute path and filename of your Perl search script, such as:
search_script = "e:\webroot\www.xav.com\search\search.pl"
Do not use the URL path here.
echo_verbose - this is a Boolean flag for including extra tests and debug output. Leave at 1 at first. Set it to 0 once things work properly.
self_url - this is the URL of the CFM page. The default value
cgi.script_nameshould be sufficient in 99.99% of cases. If that dynamic auto-detect value doesn't work, you should enter the explicit URL, like "/search/search.cfm".
path_to_perl - enter the full Windows file system path to Perl, using single backslashes to separate folders. This value was found in step 3 above. Examples of valid values are "c:\perl\bin\perl.exe" and "e:\perl\bin\perl.exe".
Visit "search.cfm" again with your browser.
Now you should see some colored table cells for the various page areas. In the center table cell, you should see some red-highlighted debug output. If all goes well, below that you should see the default search form and search tips.
If you don't see the default search form and tips, then the red-highlighted debug output will probably contain an error message.
If the search form and search tips appear as expected, you should perform some test searches. Include at least one search that returns multiple pages of results, and click through the "Prev / 1 / 2 / 3 / Next" navigation links. Confirm that each request connects back with your custom CFM file.
If subsequent form submissions and links do not connect back to your custom CFM file, you should post to the Discussion Forum with full details.
Finally, once testing has been completed, edit the CFM file again and set "echo_verbose" to 0. Then add in all of your standard CFM header and footer code, so that the FDSE layout matches that of the rest of your site.
Note that if you host FDSE at http://www.mysite.tld/search/search.pl, and want the CFM file in your root folder like http://www.mysite.tld/search.cfm, then your CFM file will need to contain:
<cfmodule template="search/searchmods/integrate.cfm" ^^^^^^^
After setting up CFM integration, the "HTML Forms for Searching" found under FDSE Admin Page => User Interface will no longer be accurate. They will still point to the "search.pl" script. If you use the "HTML Forms" interface to get cut-n-pastable HTML for your other pages, you will need to manually replace the "search.pl" URL with your new "search.cfm" URL.
After setting up CFM integration, the feature described at Admin Page => User Interface => Handling Url Search Terms will no longer work. Automatic redirects to a URL require that FDSE modify the outgoing HTTP headers, but it is not able to do that when integrated with CFM.
The FDSE-CFM integration is very crude, based on a single system call that returns a single string. The only point of the integration is to allow CFM code within standard layout areas.
As such, CFM code is limited to the header, footer, and sidebar areas of the search output. CFM code cannot be used with FDSE directly, or within internal FDSE templates like "searchform.htm" and "line_listing.txt".
Also, the CFM script receives only a single HTML string back from FDSE, rather than a more granular array of individual line listing records. The CFM code is not able to make decisions based on the number of results found.
Finally, the prompting for search inputs and the reading of search parameters is handled entirely by FDSE. The CFM code is not able to access or influence search parameters.
There are no plans to change any of this to allow for a greater level of integration. Those who need CFM code tightly integrated with search functions should use a different search product which is written entirely in CFM.
"Customizing the FDSE layout using Cold Fusion CFM" http://www.xav.com/scripts/search/help/1195.html