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Planning a ColdFusion Mail Client


  1. Client Overview
  2. Project Overview

Chapter Description

Follow along with FlashFusion, a fictional company tasked with outlining, developing, and deploying a web-based email client.

Project Overview

Since Simpleton already maintains a broad client base, it is imperative that clients have an easily accessible, user-friendly means of communication via email. FlashFusion has been hired to develop a unique, Web-based email client that mirrors some of the leading email software on the market today. The initial thought is to introduce Simpleton's clients to the Web and provide an interface that is similar to leading desktop email software. Simpleton understands the power of Web-based email systems, and its goal is to build an application that is user-friendly without having the look and feel of a basic Web program. FlashFusion is responsible for outlining the development process and demonstrating how application logic can be separated from the display (graphic elements).

By creating modular code and graphics, Simpleton will be able to develop applications in a timely manner and cut down on the overhead it takes to maintain them. This will save the company time, money, and frustration because it won't have to reinvent the wheel each time a redundant task is required.

The Simpleton CEO sent an internal memo to the development group to inform it of what will happen during the application-development process. Details follow.

Simpleton's Internet Initiative

To: Simpleton Development Group From: Steve Cohen, CEO Subject: Simpleton's Internet Initiative Greetings Simpleton Developers, I would like to take a minute and provide you with some details on what we'll be accomplishing within the next few months. Our plans are to start developing Web applications for our clients since many of them are in need of this service. This will increase our marketability as well as revenue and allow us to be a one-stop shop for technology solutions. The first project I want to have implemented in an email application that can be accessible from anywhere in the world through a Web browser. As part of our Internet initiative we have contracted with FlashFusion to handle our Web-based email client. FlashFusion will be responsible for outlining, developing, and deploying this application, and will guide you through each step of the process. The objective here is to understand and learn the FlashFusion development process. I use the term "FlashFusion development process" loosely, as many Web development teams implement a similar process. The goal is to give our development process a structure that will give us direction when building Web applications. FlashFusion is here to provide guidance and demonstrate how a top-notch development team handles a project from its initial stages all the way through implementation. Since FlashFusion has vast amounts of experience in this arena, it will be a great training resource in helping us streamline our development process. It is necessary to provide our clients with quality work at affordable rates. If there are flaws in the process, our clients will become discouraged, and ultimately we will lose money. Of course, there is always a learning curve when learning a new process— I understand this. The goal is to become a more efficient development team by taking the steps toward implementing this new process. I encourage you to review the meeting notes to get a feel for what we'll be doing in the near future. Regards, Steve Cohen

The Simpleton executives met with FlashFusion lead developers on Mon-day to discuss initial goals and what to expect during the development process. Simpleton representatives stressed some major concerns regarding server and application requirements. They also stressed the need for the application to be delivered in a timely manner.

Meeting Notes
Date: Monday, April 1
Present: Simpleton executives, FlashFusion executives, and
FlashFusion lead developers
To kick things off, Simpleton representatives stressed their initial
thoughts and concerns for the email project:
Server-Specific Concerns
  • That it can run on Simpleton's in-house servers running Linux OS.
  • That it can integrate seamlessly with Simpleton's existing mail server over POP.
  • It should be unnecessary to create new email accounts for existing clients.
  • Additional software should be affordable.
  • Additional software should be easy to maintain, with ample documentation.
  • Application-Specific Concerns
  • It should be accessible through most standard Web browsers.
  • Minimize the amount of code and logic necessary to display in different browsers.
  • Ability to display on different platforms (ie Windows, Macs, and Linux).
  • Ability to port the application to PDAs, smart phones, and Web-enabled devices.
  • For use in future situations for users who are mobile and wireless.
  • Not dependent on specific screen resolutions, and will display correctly across the board. The user can save emails for offline viewing (Simpleton was adamant about this, as most Web-based email clients don't offer this functionality).
  • User-friendly, with an intuitive graphical interface (similar to leading email software packages).
  • Emails download quickly with minimal waiting time.
  • Minimal plug-in download (if necessary).
  • User can manage emails by sorting them into different folders.
  • Users should be able to add and delete folders.
  • Saves user's log-in information to local machine for future log-ins.
  • Including email information and folder settings.
  • Can leverage code and components used in this application for future projects.
  • Extensive use of components will minimize future development time and debugging.
  • Developers will be able to pass components to designers and junior-level developers to work with.
  • Provides basic email functionality (send, receive, reply, forward, and delete email messages). Given this thorough list, FlashFusion assured Simpleton that both the server and application requirements are obtainable. Extensive research will be performed and presented before a final decision on technology is made. Technology pros and cons will be presented and discussed. Once a decision has been made, the design, development, and integration process will be put into action. Next will come testing and debugging to correct any flaws in the application. This is one of the most important steps in the process before releasing the application to a production environment. Upon satisfaction of the testing phase, the application will be deployed to Simpleton's production server where clients will be able to log in and start accessing their email. Figure III-1.1 displays an overview of the application-development process.
  • Figure III-1.1Figure III-1.1 The Application Development Process

    Overall, the process is straightforward and simple enough to follow. Implementing any such process will keep the development group on the same page. This will provide a means for developers to work in conjunction with each other. Each step of the process is extremely important and considered a prerequisite for the next. The project-overview phase is complete, and it's time to move on to the research and development phase.

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