You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

What's an Object? An Introduction to OOP

An introduction to object-oriented programming for ColdFusion developers

On New Year's Eve, 2004 I declared 2005 to be the "year of object-oriented programming for ColdFusion developers," and since the year is approaching its final quarter it's a good time to focus our attention on OOP in ColdFusion and see how we're doing.

Based on talking with developers both in person and virtually, reading blogs, and looking at some of the newer ColdFusion code that people have been sending my way over the last few months, I'm really excited about the increase in interest and use of OOP in ColdFusion. The ability to even do object-oriented programming in ColdFusion is a relatively new addition to the technology, so it's not surprising that it's taken a bit of time to catch on. From what I'm seeing these days the tide is definitely turning, so this is great to see.

What I also see occurring, however, is an increasing gap between the ColdFusion developers who are embracing OOP wholeheartedly and those who want to dive into OOP but don't quite know how to go about doing so, or have gotten started but get frustrated or discouraged and go back to their old ways of doing things. This is lamentable but understandable. Coming from the procedural mindset that many ColdFusion developers have, making the move to OOP is not something that will happen instantly, and in many cases developers are under deadlines and just can't afford to ditch their tried-and-true methods for OOP if they don't yet have a comfort level with it.

With that in mind, this article is designed to give ColdFusion developers an extremely gentle introduction to some OOP fundamentals. In working with other developers I've found that these concepts have helped many of them make the transition from ColdFusion 5-style procedural coding into OOP in CFMX 6.1 and 7. This is a transition that in my opinion ColdFusion developers can't afford not to make. Object-oriented programming has been around since the 1960s, all modern languages support OOP to varying degrees, and the ubiquity of OOP is not accidental; it really is a better way to build applications. I hope by the end of this article you'll agree with me and start to see the OO light.

ColdFusion's OO Conundrum
If you're reading this chances are I don't need to convince you of the tremendous strengths of ColdFusion: ease of use, huge feature set, rapid development, integration with Java.... These are all great things, and ColdFusion 7 made things even better with the addition of the cfdocument tag, Flash forms and XForms, event gateways, and a great deal of other new features that help us build better applications more quickly and easily.

With all that having been said, and I don't want to scare anyone, I truly believe that if ColdFusion - and by extension ColdFusion developers - is going to survive over the long haul, we absolutely must get with the times and start down the path of truly understanding OOP and using it as the default way we do ColdFusion development. Every other major Web application development platform is fully OO or rapidly getting there, so the days for excuses are over. OOP has become king of the software development world for a reason, and I promise that once you truly understand it you'll wonder how you ever got along without it. It's quite simply a better way to solve real-world problems through programming.

First and perhaps foremost, I think it's quite unfortunate that most of the ColdFusion literature dives right into CFML syntax and spends a great deal of time illustrating how to build entirely page-based, procedural applications, only discussing ColdFusion Components (CFCs) and OOP as an afterthought. Since OOP wasn't really even possible prior to the introduction of CFCs in CFMX, and even then a lot of the huge quirks weren't worked out until CFMX 6.1, I suppose this situation shouldn't be surprising.

However let's consider where we are today. CFMX 6.1 is now the "old" version and we have a fantastic new release with ColdFusion 7, so it's high time that we start using the tools available to us to their full potential. I only hope that the ColdFusion literature begins to reflect this mode of thinking as well, and I think that will happen given the huge upswing in interest in OOP I've seen over the last few months.

As a bit of an aside, I'm going to forgo the "Is ColdFusion/Are CFCs fully OO?" argument because I think it's largely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. While it is true that CFCs lack certain characteristics of objects in fully-OO languages such as Java, that's certainly not a reason to not use them to do OOP in ColdFusion. First we all need to understand what OO is and start using CFCs to do OO programming in ColdFusion, then we can talk about how CFCs differ from something like a Java object and address any limitations, tricks, and traps related to these issues.

If you pick up any good Java book (I'll have a few good recommendations at the end of this article) it will start with a discussion of objects and basic OOP concepts before you even see much Java code. Better still, there are a couple of good language-agnostic OO books that can provide a solid grounding in OO concepts before you even start writing any code. With OOP it's extremely important that you have a firm foundation in the fundamental concepts before you jump right into development, especially if you have a completely procedural programming background.

At the outset, thinking in objects is in my estimation far more important than understanding how to implement these concepts in code. In the first Java class I took at Sun Microsystems we didn't write a single line of code, we just spent an entire week talking about objects and approaching problem solving in an object-oriented fashion. This was all rather abstract and didn't involve a single line of Java code, but it's still the best Java class I ever took.

While ColdFusion's audience is admittedly a bit bifurcated when compared to Java's, I still believe it's of the utmost importance both for us as developers and for the reputation of ColdFusion as a technology that we make OOP the de facto way we develop applications in ColdFusion. One of ColdFusion's biggest strengths is that it's easy to learn and allows even non-programmers to get results very quickly. This is also one of its biggest weaknesses. The challenge, then, is to somehow keep the ease of use/rapid development reputation while strengthening the notion that CF is an extremely capable development platform that can be used to build enterprise-level applications using the same methodologies as the two giants of the Web application development world, namely Java and .NET. I don't have a solution for this conundrum yet, but I do believe that making OOP an inextricable part of CF development is a big step in the right direction.

As I climb off my soapbox, try to put your mind in a place that might be new to some of you. Imagine if you will a world where there is no procedural programming. In this world all software is built with objects, and a software application is nothing more than objects communicating with one another. (I'll focus more on the distinctions between procedural programming and OOP in a future article.) At the heart of this style of development of course is the concept of what an object is, so let's address that question before we go any deeper.

What's an Object?
I'm glad you asked that question! I've talked with a lot of ColdFusion developers who are intrigued by the idea of objects and OOP, but they just don't even know where to begin. To quote Maria von Trapp, "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start." The beginning of object-oriented programming is of course the concept of the object. To be completely truthful there is a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation between the concept of a class and the concept of an object. For the moment let's simply focus on explaining what an object is, not only because they don't call it "Class-Oriented Programming," but because I think you'll find it easier to understand the concept of a class if you first understand what an object is.

More Stories By Matthew Woodward

Matt Woodward is Principal Information Technology Specialist with the Office of the Sergeant at Arms at the United States Senate. He was until recently a Web application developer for i2 Technologies in Dallas, Texas. A Macromedia Certified ColdFusion Developer and a member of Team Macromedia, he has been using ColdFusion since 1996. In addition to his ColdFusion work, Matt also develops in Java and PHP.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...