|By Charlie Arehart||
|January 27, 2000 12:00 AM EST||
Given that most people are now introducing and installing ColdFusion version 4.5, Allaire's latest release of the server and studio software, it may seem strange to read an article on 4.0.1.
Isn't 4.0.1 old news? And anyway, wasn't it just a maintenance fix?
There were new features introduced in the release. While the Allaire Release Notes and Web highlight pages mentioned several of the more prominent features, there were still more - far more - than you would expect in a mere maintenance release.
I've counted more than 60 new features or changes, and many of them aren't well documented, if at all. I'll discuss some of the most important ones here. I'll also provide links to the Allaire 4.0.1 documents.
Why This Is an Important Subject, Even at the Dawn of 4.5
Even if you think you know what was new in 4.0.1, you owe it to yourself, your organization and your associates to review this article to be sure you haven't missed out on anything. Many of them are features or improvements that, if you don't know they're there, you might never be able to take advantage of them. They're not all that obvious.
For those who may be skipping from 4.0 to 4.5 because they just didn't notice 4.0.1, I hope this serves an even more vital role. If you only read about the new features in 4.5, you might miss out on the many important new ones that came in 4.0.1. In some instances you may encounter errors due to changes that were introduced in 4.0.1 but may not be documented as "changed" in the 4.5 release notes (since they're really not new to 4.5).
More Than a Maintenance Fix
Maintenance releases are just supposed to fix things that are broken, and even in announcing the pending 4.51 release Allaire has said that it won't introduce new features.
Version 4.0.1, released as a free update to all 4.0 customers in April 1999, offered a virtual cavalcade of new features. Many of them were quite important, strategic, enterprise-level enhancements.
Here are a few that were highlighted in the Allaire release notes:
Some of the new features are changes in behavior. If you aren't aware of them, they can cause failures in applications that aren't modified. They're also important for those skipping from 4.0 to 4.5:
The new release fixed a couple of rather severe security issues, including limiting the sample application "expression evaluator" to respond to page requests only from the machine on which it's installed. And in Studio?
There are several other new features in Studio 4.0.1, in addition to those mentioned above. For example:
Sometimes It's the Little Things
One subtle change you might not notice will mean a lot to keyboard mavens: if during file>open and save dialogs you press the enter key while selecting a directory, Studio will now open that directory and display its files. In 4.0 it would attempt to open or save the file instead. Those who know the frustration of this nonstandard behavior have leaped (or will leap) at the discovery.
Sometimes it really is the little things!
Along the same lines, if you change the width of columns in the resource tab (such as the date/time or file size columns), they'll be saved when Studio is closed. It didn't do that previously, so many developers simply stopped trying to arrange these columns. There is also a new "view" option when you right-click on this area, to choose whether to even list the date modified, document type, size, and so on. Suffer no more!
Still more that may be trivial to some but a godsend to others: you can change the default behavior of File>Save As so that it (more logically) places its new file into the same directory from which the source file was opened. Otherwise, the default (to many, illogical) behavior is to store it instead in the directory currently pointed to in the resource tab. The setting is in options>settings>general under the perhaps paradoxically named "display current local folder in file dialogs."* By "current local folder" it means the one pointed to by the resource tab, not the "current" directory in which the source file was located. To clarify, you'll probably want to "deselect" that option to get what I've referred to as the "more logical" behavior. But some like the other approach, and so as not to confuse folks used to the "default" behavior, it remains an option that you can control and must change manually.
One last thing about Studio 4.0.1. It's not a benefit but rather an odd bug. Sometimes, for reasons that Allaire has not been able to pin down, you may find that on exiting the application you receive Windows "access violation" errors. This has been addressed with a replacement version discussed in Allaire Knowledge Base article 11868.
Whither the Documentation
Where can you learn more? Well, of course, you can read the Allaire documentation, such as the CFML Language Reference and Developing Web Applications in ColdFusion. These certainly document the features but don't really identify what things have changed. For that you can find more in the 4.0.1 Release Notes and several Web documents that highlight many of the new features, such as:
1. 4.0.1 Update Summary:
2. Server 4.0.1 Release Notes:
3. Studio 4.0.1 Release Notes:
www.allaire.com/Handlers/index.cfm?ID=10025&Method=Full&Cache=Off and www.allaire.com/handlers/index.cfm?ID=10734&Method=Full (seems a duplicate)
4. Studio 4.0.1 Update FAQ:
5. Documentation Updates for ColdFusion 4.0.1:
There You Have It!
As I hope these lists have demonstrated, 4.0.1 was much more than just a maintenance release. There were so many new features that ranged from the relatively minor to some fairly significant ones. Again, it's really important that you become familiar with most if not all of them. They'll almost certainly make you more productive, leaving more time for...learning about 4.5.
* Testing revealed that four of the items listed in the 4.0.1 documents as new were in fact present in 4.0. Perhaps they had not been documented in 4.0. Even so, they are interesting and easily missed, so we have kept them here.
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