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

Hidden Gems in 4.0.1

Hidden Gems in 4.0.1

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:

  • Failover clustering support in NT
  • Support for advanced security in Solaris
  • New native database drivers for Informix and DB/2
  • New UNIX support for HP/UX
  • European currency support

    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:

  • CFAPPLICATION must now specify a NAME attribute.
  • CFABORT no longer stops compilation/interpretation of a template, so if the code following it gets an error, it will now do so even though code isn't executed.
  • If you use a session variable named "sessionid", you'll have conflicts with the new automatically created 4.0.1 session variable of the same name. Allaire documented most of these changes and enhancements, but they were spread among several release notes and Web documents. I've scoured the Allaire site for information on this subject and have come across still more undocumented new features. Speaking of documentation, there were new additions to the Allaire manuals as well as substantive changes. For example:

  • Using ColdFusion Studio took a lot of information from the Developing Web Applications manual and also expanded on important Studio subjects.
  • A Quick Reference serves as a handy listing of CF tags, functions and variables.
  • The Getting Started and Administering ColdFusion Server manuals have been revised.
  • The Advanced ColdFusion Development manual was discontinued and its contents folded into the other manuals. Just a Few More There are so many other new features, but I'll just name a few more of the most significant ones.
  • There is now an option to cause "stack trace" tracking in exception handling, controllable in the Administrator and with a new cfcatch.tagcontext variable.
  • There is also an option to control the display of a template's path on a CF error screen.
  • You can now perform authentication using certificates.
  • You can now "write to" Form and URL variables,* setting them with CFSET and CFPARAM. The benefit: being able to create data for a CFINSERT/CFUPDATE on a form action page rather than solely on the form.
  • A new "type=readonly" attribute was added to CFLOCK so you don't always have to perform an exclusive CFLOCK.
  • The DateCompare now has a third "datepart" parameter to allow comparison on less than the complete date and time.
  • ListValueCount counts the number of instances of a value in a list.
  • StructKeyList lists the key names (elements) in a structure.
  • Improvements were made to custom tags (passing structures) and exception handling (user- defined exceptions).
  • There's a new "type" parm for CFPARAM (any, array, boolean, date, numeric, query, string, struct, UUID, variable name).
  • There's a new IsProtected function.
  • They've added support for x.509 certificates.
  • Administrator pages no longer show debugging info, even if debugging is turned on.

    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:

  • You can create, rename and delete folders in remote connections (both FTP and RDS).
  • Pressing Ctrl-Shift double-click will select that tag, its end tag and elements within it.*
  • There's an option to turn on an outline bar around the current line selected (in options>settings>outline current line).
  • You can specify that Netscape Navigator should be used as the internal browser for CF Studio and HomeSite, if you have the experimental NGLayout (Gecko) engine from mozilla.org installed (probably not worth the trouble since then you'd be browsing with a version that your users likely wouldn't have. Use the "external browser" feature instead).
  • There are new and improved tag editors.
  • There's now a warning when you try to use Design mode on a cfm file.
  • A remote connection to an FTP server can designate the remote directory as being relative to either the Web root or a server-specified user directory.
  • There's support for the third-party link verification tool Linkbot 4.0.
  • The Table Sizer (Quick Table) control on the Table tab can now expand to the limit of the screen. The problem is that there are more than nine documents - if you can find them - on the Allaire site that describe all the changes. Even if you read the most significant documents, you could have missed dozens of other changes since no single document pulls it all together. Many smaller features, not as well documented - what I consider truly hidden gems - introduce important new functionality that might thrill the day-to-day CF programmer or Studio user who missed them:
  • Onrequestend.cfm, the corollary to application.cfm that executes at a template's conclusion

  • Onrequestend.cfm, the corollary to application.cfm that executes at a template's conclusion
  • Short-circuit evaluation where, for instance, you can now say <cfif isdefined("form.size") and form.size is not "small"> without receiving an error when form.size doesn't exist
  • A new ListQualify function that can take a list of string values and place quotes around them, which is particularly important for use with a SELECT ... IN clause, for example
  • A new PASSTHROUGH attribute for CFFORM, CFINPUT and CFSELECT that allows you to specify style sheet and other HTML attributes that Allaire hadn't thought to include in those tags
  • Cached database connections, which can be released on demand or via an optional timeout (to allow updates to locked Access files without having to restart the server or play games with causing SQL error to unlock a file)
  • A date/time stamp request feature* that makes CFINSERT and CFUPDATE mark the date/time of the insert/update rather than the time the form was sent to the browser; it uses a hidden form field with the name of the intended column and a value of Currentdate()
  • The ability to use an ODBC data source for advanced security authentication - a boon for those unable or unwilling to use an operating system security domain or LDAP server for authentication
  • The ability to use Oracle and LDAP databases for storage of advanced security configuration There are still more than 50 other new features in CF Server. And there are quite a few useful changes in CF Studio too, including but not limited to the following:
  • Pressing F1 while the cursor is on a function or tag will open that function's Help page.

  • The Help system's "find" feature now leverages a Verity index, making searches much faster.
  • You can wrap selected text in pound signs using CTRL+3 (which makes sense, if you notice that 3 has the pound sign above it).

    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:
    www.allaire.com/handlers/index.cfm?ID=10719&method=full&LocationID=324
    2. Server 4.0.1 Release Notes:
    www.allaire.com/handlers/index.cfm?ID=10735&Method=Full
    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:
    www.allaire.com/products/coldfusion/faqs/401updatefaq.cfm
    5. Documentation Updates for ColdFusion 4.0.1:
    www.allaire.com/handlers/index.cfm?ID=10429&method=full

    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.

  • More Stories By Charlie Arehart

    A veteran ColdFusion developer since 1997, Charlie Arehart is a long-time contributor to the community and a recognized Adobe Community Expert. He's a certified Advanced CF Developer and Instructor for CF 4/5/6/7 and served as tech editor of CFDJ until 2003. Now an independent contractor (carehart.org) living in Alpharetta, GA, Charlie provides high-level troubleshooting/tuning assistance and training/mentoring for CF teams. He helps run the Online ColdFusion Meetup (coldfusionmeetup.com, an online CF user group), is a contributor to the CF8 WACK books by Ben Forta, and is frequently invited to speak at developer conferences and user groups worldwide.

    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
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
    The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, will posit that disruption is inevitable for c...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
    Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
    The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, 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 buyers...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that SD Times | BZ Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and commercial UAV markets.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, 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.
    In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
    "I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
    Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
    DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
    What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, will discuss the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information,