Super-fast string handling in ColdFusion – Geekery
OK, getting VERY geeky here. You only want to read this post if:
- You program in ColdFusion. I’ve been using CF since the late 90s. It’s far and away my favorite programming language.
- You get happy tingly feelings when you make an application run 60-70% faster.
- You’re a nerd.
If you’re still here, this is a great tip for speeding up ColdFusion applications that handle really large strings:
Usually, in CF, you’d combine (concatenate) strings like this:
<CFSET string1 = “I”>
<CFSET string2 = ” am”>
<CFSET string3 = ” the nerdman!!! “>
<CFSET string1 = string1 & string2 & string3 & “mwahaha”>
Then this code:
would give you:
I am the nerdman!!! mwahahaha
But, if your strings get up to, say, 20,000 lines, this grinds to a halt. String concatenation can take 10 minutes instead of 10 seconds.
That’s ColdFusion’s way of telling you, “Enough already! Find a better way to put these variables together!”
And there is a better way.
The solution: Calling Java functions
ColdFusion is built on Java. So you can call some Java functions from within CF. Switch out the usual CFSET statements for a bit of Java code:
<cfset string1 = themap.concat(string1).concat(string2).concat(string3).concat(“mwahahaha”))>
concat is a Java string function. You can read about it until your eyes bleed here.
And the performance improvements will shock the hell out of you.
Real life example
I wrote an XML sitemap generator to go with Portent’s crawler. It worked brilliantly for 2000-3000 URLs. In about 10 seconds you’d have a nice, basic XML sitemap ready for deployment.
But we have some sites with hundreds of thousands of URLs. Any attempt to process a URL list that large using conventional ColdFusion failed. “Failed” is a bit of an understatement, actually. “Made our servers crank their fans up to maximum, caused lights across the globe to dim and nearly melted our server rack to slag” is a better description. The application would run and run, and even after 3-5 minutes, no result.
So, I used the concat function, plus CFSAVECONTENT.
The application now processes 120,000 URLs in under 10 seconds.
So this isn’t some tiny little performance tweak. This is a huge performance improvement that you can make with a couple of lines of code. ColdFusion geeks, rejoice!
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