|By Robert Diamond||
|July 14, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
The name on everyone's lips these days is Blackstone, the current code name for the next release of ColdFusion, which is coming in early 2005. Look for beta testing to start later in 2004, with info on Macromedia's site when that becomes available.
Folks around the country have been getting a sneak peek at many of the features from Ben Forta, who's been on a whirlwind user group tour that just wrapped up. How he travels so much, I don't know, but thankfully for those of us bound to the homefront, he's put a report online at www.macromedia.com/devnet/mx/coldfusion/articles/blackstone.html. Check it out for details on some of the new features of Blackstone, along with some general updates on the "State of the CF Union."
I couldn't let this month's editorial go by without sharing a few of these exciting highlights. For me, the most interesting new features include improvements to data entry, because these have always been among the most time-consuming parts of development. Forms are generally a nightmare, plain and simple, and even when you're at a point when for the most part you're reusing existing code, they're still a pain. The new set of CFForm and related tags will generate XML XForms that can then be skinned using XSL, something that'll greatly open up form reuse across applications, simplifying many of these common tasks. Saying that I can't wait for that would be an understatement.
Another addition is one I've been hoping for for awhile now: Flash-based versions of some of those old Java tags like CFTree and CFGrid, which were long overdue for a good overhaul. These have always been useful on the admin end, and a new interface should make them both useful and usable.
Also included in Blackstone, and worth highlighting, are some new features of printing and reporting, two of the things that ColdFusion has always needed a bit more help with. There's a new tag, CFDocument, that you can wrap around content to render printable versions of it. It has a slew of options, including PDF and Macromedia's new FlashPaper technology as output types. For reporting, the CFReport tag has been given an update, with a new report type known as a "CFR." A CFR is an XML-defined, banded report with everything you could want, making it much easier to manipulate and use.
There are tons of other features also, and definitely "something for everyone," so I urge you to go take a look at the original DevNet article to learn more about them and which ones will apply the most to you. All developers are of course different, and this release, probably more so than many in the past (as the underlying Java platform has stabilized), is a direct result of customer requests and feedback. Overall, Blackstone helps to reaffirm Macromedia's continuing commitment to the world of ColdFusion development. They're in it for the long run, and as CF nears its 10th birthday, that's a very good sign. The best - as they say - is yet to come!
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