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

ColdFusion: Article

CFDJ: The Fifth Year

CFDJ: The Fifth Year

Four years is a generation in Internet time; in the life of ColdFusion Developer's Journal and ColdFusion itself, it marks an epoch. As we celebrate the new year and the beginning of CFDJ's fifth, here's a look at where we've been and where we may be going.

We'll focus on some of the CF milestones in that time, and recall some instances perhaps best forgotten. We'll also highlight key resources that have matured. Overall, we hope this retrospective can serve as a checkpoint to put the past in perspective and bring the present into focus.

This marks my 33rd article in CFDJ; looking back through the previous 32 provides a ColdFusion timeline of sorts. My first article appeared in the second issue, and I've been a "regular" ever since. CFDJ has attracted many fine contributors over the years, among them, Ben Forta and Hal Helms, who have written even more articles than I have.

Four Years Ago This Month
What were you doing four years ago? Some of us had been using ColdFusion for a couple of years or more, while others were just getting started with HTML. Some hadn't even used the Web yet, while others were still in school. Perhaps some were programming in other languages like Visual Basic, PowerBuilder, Java, or even on the mainframe.

ColdFusion was already going strong by January 1999. Indeed, we were celebrating the recent release of ColdFusion 4 in the first issue, with Richard Schulze's "What's Different About ColdFusion's Version 4.0" (www.sys-con.com/coldfusion/article.cfm?id=4).

Perhaps the most significant aspect of version 4 was its focus on enterprise performance and scalability, with the introduction of native database drivers, load balancing and failover, server sandbox security, CORBA support, and more. These were all elements of the new "Enterprise Edition" of ColdFusion.

Gone was the "Workgroup Edition," though users of the "Professional Edition" would also gain scalability features (trusted cache, query caching, the ability to store client variables in data sources or cookies rather than the registry, enhanced multithreading, and more) as well as enhanced security in the form of the new Basic and Advanced Security models.

At the time, Jeremy Allaire, in an interview with SYS-CON Radio, said, "With this offering we were able to support dozens of large dot-com customers handling millions or tens of millions per day, and had a couple of the top 10 holiday e-commerce sites deployed."

I continued the discussion of the new release in my follow-up to Richard's article in the second issue, "ColdFusion 4.0: More on Developer Enhancements" (www.sys-con.com/coldfusion/article.cfm?id=22). Other new features that debuted were structures, exception handling tags, WDDX, switch/case processing, CFSCRIPTing, a syntax checker, and lots more.

ColdFusion Studio also received a major upgrade in its version 4 released about the same time. Some of us lauded the new interactive debugger and benefited from it for years, while others never seemed able to get it to work for them. It also introduced one-step deployment, the codesweeper tool, style editor, and more.

Before you conclude that Versions 4.5 and 5 were the only changes of import until MX, note that 4.01 of CF and Studio soon followed and introduced additional features that many may have missed. See my "Hidden Gems in 4.0.1 - What You Might Have Missed," at www.sys-con.com/coldfusion/article.cfm?id=81.

Version 4 marked another turning point: it was no longer to be referred to as "Cold Fusion Application Server," but simply ColdFusion. No space, no "application server." Many today still seem not to have gotten the memo (there really was a document explaining this) and continue to slip into calling it CFAS. Sadly, it wouldn't be long before we'd also say goodbye to the classic ColdFusion "fist" logo that many of us loved so much.

All this was part of another momentous occasion that took place in January 1999: Allaire completed its initial public offering. Of course, Macromedia would acquire the company exactly two years later. If you're curious about what sort of things happened in Allaire's history leading up to that point, you can see a timeline of Allaire milestones at www.macromedia.com/v1/company/milestones.cfm.

Reaction to the merger has been mixed and varied in the two years since. Like so many things, some see it as a win while others decry it as having compromised some essence of their memory of "the Allaire days." Frankly, I prefer to just move forward and appreciate the many good things that have come about since the merger.

Speaking of mergers and acquisitions, another one took place that year that may have barely registered a blip on the radar screens of most CF developers. It was in June of 1999 that Allaire acquired Live Software and "some product called JRun" that could "run JSPs and servlets." Little did we realize that this acquisition would mark the beginning of the transition of ColdFusion to a Java platform.

With ColdFusion releases 4.5 and 5 in the meantime, we benefited from continued refinement and extension to the platform, tag set, and functionality. But clearly no release was as momentous as CFMX.

The Techniques, the Articles
CFDJ has been there through it all, with articles explaining seemingly every facet and technique of ColdFusion development. Some of the many frequently discussed topics have included (see Table1):

And much more. Of course, all the current hot topics in CFMX have been covered this year, including:

  • Web services
  • Components
  • Flash integration
  • XML processing
  • Java integration
Interestingly, those last three topics (and some others) that are now tightly integrated in CFMX have been available for some time, and there are articles going back to Volume 1.

This is a good point for us to recall some of the highlights of the four years of articles. Of course, no such retrospective could do justice to all the fine contributors and great topics that have been covered.

We can't start with anyone other than Ben Forta, Macromedia's senior evangelist, who's written more articles in the magazine than anyone else (46), sometimes more than one per issue. Indeed, he's missed only a single issue, in April of this year, which was probably at the height of publication of his three Reality ColdFusion books, or the update to his CF Web App Construction Kit, or the Advanced CFMX App Dev book. Clearly, Ben's a busy guy, and we're glad to have him on the team.

Hal Helms comes in a very close second, with 40 articles. As a leader in the Fusebox community, most of his articles have covered facets of that, but many readers will also recall his adroit use of classic quotes and erudite references to Mark Twain, Aristotle, Zen Buddhism, the Screwtape Letters, his father's ministerial influence, his past in carpentry, Tipping Points, and so much more. Whether you care to learn about Fusebox, you'll almost always learn something about life from Hal.

I'd like to single out a couple of other writers who've put together some multipart series that delved into valuable details for readers who s