Welcome!

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, Adobe Flex

ColdFusion: Article

What I Love About ColdFusion

When ColdFusion was first released there was one main feature, more than any other feature, that made it very popular very fast

Last month CFDJ held a contest in which I asked readers to write an essay about how ColdFusion MX 7 has made them a hero in the office.

You can read the winning entries and find out about our next contest in this month's issue. Deciding on the contest topic and reading the contest submissions made me reflect on my own experiences with CF over the past decade. What is it about ColdFusion that's kept me hooked for so long?

When ColdFusion was first released there was one main feature, more than any other feature, that made it very popular very fast: ColdFusion makes it ridiculously easy to create Web pages that can talk to databases and display database information. Now, almost 11 years later, this is still one of ColdFusion's primary strengths and most popular features.

Making it easy to talk to databases may be useful and popular, but it is certainly not enough to stay on top for over 10 years. A rapidly growing development community, global technological innovations, customer demand, and competing products require that new features are added to the ColdFusion server every so often. Thinking back over the years I remember the introduction of what seemed like several hundred functions and the ability to write simpler expressions, loop, etc., when CF 2 was released. I remember how great it was to have custom tags in ColdFusion 3. In versions 4, 4.01, and 4.5 we saw the addition of many more functions, server security features, and tags aimed at making the existing functionality more robust as well as many tags for leveraging external resources. It was at this point that the server clearly began addressing enterprise needs. Version 5 introduced charting, user-defined functions, the ability to access most memory scopes as structures, and Query of Queries...and then we had MX.

I remember so clearly just how overwhelming ColdFusion MX was and how much fun I had with it. SOAP support, XML support, J2EE deployment, and ColdFusion Components to name a few - this was not only a rewrite from the ground up, it was a serious feature release in its own right. Then, just over one year ago, ColdFusion MX 7 was officially released. I thought nothing could outdo the features introduced in ColdFusion MX - I was wrong. Flash Forms and Flash Paper, PDF generation, a killer new reporting engine and report builder, the Administrator API, and Event Gateways...dare I not forget event gateways...this was by far the most feature-packed release of ColdFusion to date.

What has made ColdFusion successful over all these years is the commitment that both Allaire and Macromedia had to making CF full of more features that are easier to use than anything else on the Web. I am confident that Adobe shares this commitment and cannot wait to see what comes next. In the interim before ColdFusion 8, we are getting a sneak peek at how Adobe is making ColdFusion better over at Adobe Labs, where the "Mystic" beta is adding a new remoting gateway and Flex/CF integration to the server.

Getting back to my original thought: What has kept me hooked on ColdFusion for so long? I can answer this with a single word - fun. It is fun building applications with ColdFusion. It hides complexity by making trivial that which it can. This leaves me to concentrate on the things that I want to focus on, all the while letting the server do its "dirty work" behind the scenes. I can develop extremely robust complex business logic - and in an object-oriented manner. I can talk to over a dozen different types of databases. I can deliver content in any one of several slick document formats in addition to HTML. I can create charts and graphs and Flash Paper and PDFs, and I can do intelligent text searching not only of database content but of file content in over 30 different document formats as well. I can talk to other servers and let other servers leverage the ColdFusion code that I write via SOAP. I can create files, generate reports, parse XML, and secure directories. I can talk to cell phones and instant messengers, Java devices and server ports. In other words, there isn't much I can't do. And I can do it all much faster than developers in any other language or on any other platform. My applications are secure, they scale, they are feature rich, and I have fun building them. I can look any client in the eye and honestly tell them that I will exceed their every expectation. Yes, it will be on time and under budget, and the application will be modern and full of great features that take advantage of the latest technologies.

What's so great about ColdFusion is that none of the above is difficult to do, none of it. CF can do all of that and so much more right out of the box, often times with a single call to a tag. In this day and age in which technology is rapidly changing and companies value the ability to quickly change with it, it's a breath of fresh air to work with such an agile product.

For me, the fact that ColdFusion makes many tasks trivial is not just about rapid development, it's about resource allocation. Because I don't have to spend 10 hours figuring out how to create a PDF document from an HTML string, maybe I can spend more time learning Java, or studying design patterns, or learning Flex, or doing anything else I choose. For me, ColdFusion's ease of use enables me to spend more time evaluating and mastering other technologies and industry trends, and allows me to spend more time concentrating on those aspects of CFML development that I prefer to focus on. It's easy to become complacent with one's CF skills though, and every time a new feature-rich version of ColdFusion is released, it's important to stop everything and take time to master those new features. I wonder how many CF developers, even those who claim to really know CF 7, have actually really learned the ins and outs of the report generator, or XML forms, or using the Asynchronous Gateway? There are roughly 50 new features in ColdFusion MX 7 - so very few of us have actually mastered them all. My advice to all of our readers is a bit of advice I frequently give newbie students.

There's a lot in CFML and you can't expect to learn it all overnight. Pick one new tag, one new feature, or one new category of functions each week from the CF documentation and spend an hour or two each day mastering it. You'll be shocked how much you learn in a reasonably short amount of time. In the case of ColdFusion MX 7, even if you were completely fluent in CF MX 6.1 prior to its release, I expect that if you follow my advice you'll find that it'll take between six months and a year to learn everything that's new or changed in 7.

One feature introduced in ColdFusion MX and improved in CFMX 7 that I didn't mention earlier is the support for Flash Remoting. The significance of this feature wasn't fully realized by most developers initially, but Flex 2 is poised to change that. In extremely simple terms, Flex 2 is aimed at doing for Flash programming what ColdFusion has done for traditional server-side Web development - make it faster and easier to build better applications. So far it's living up to this promise, and I have no doubt that soon we'll see many CF applications getting "UI facelifts" and delivering better experiences than ever before. In this age of smart clients, Flex offers compelling advantages over all of its competitors, and Adobe has made sure that integrating Flex applications with ColdFusion is seamless, fast, and easy. I've said this before in recent editorials and I'll say it once more - there has never been a better time to be a ColdFusion developer.

More Stories By Simon Horwith

Simon Horwith is the CIO at AboutWeb, LLC, a Washington, DC based company specializing in staff augmentation, consulting, and training. Simon is a Macromedia Certified Master Instructor and is a member of Team Macromedia. He has been using ColdFusion since version 1.5 and specializes in ColdFusion application architecture, including architecting applications that integrate with Java, Flash, Flex, and a myriad of other technologies. In addition to presenting at CFUGs and conferences around the world, he has also been a contributing author of several books and technical papers.

Comments (4) View Comments

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.


Most Recent Comments
CFDJ News Desk 07/20/06 02:02:30 PM EDT

When ColdFusion was first released there was one main feature, more than any other feature, that made it very popular very fast: ColdFusion makes it ridiculously easy to create Web pages that can talk to databases and display database information. Now, almost 11 years later, this is still one of ColdFusion's primary strengths and most popular features.

CFDJ News Desk 07/19/06 07:30:53 PM EDT

When ColdFusion was first released there was one main feature, more than any other feature, that made it very popular very fast: ColdFusion makes it ridiculously easy to create Web pages that can talk to databases and display database information. Now, almost 11 years later, this is still one of ColdFusion's primary strengths and most popular features.

SYS-CON Australia News Desk 06/02/06 05:25:39 PM EDT

When ColdFusion was first released there was one main feature, more than any other feature, that made it very popular very fast: ColdFusion makes it ridiculously easy to create Web pages that can talk to databases and display database information. Now, almost 11 years later, this is still one of ColdFusion's primary strengths and most popular features.

ColdFusion News Desk 06/02/06 04:59:53 PM EDT

When ColdFusion was first released there was one main feature, more than any other feature, that made it very popular very fast: ColdFusion makes it ridiculously easy to create Web pages that can talk to databases and display database information. Now, almost 11 years later, this is still one of ColdFusion's primary strengths and most popular features.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
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...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...