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

CFEclipse: The Developer's IDE, Eclipse For ColdFusion

CFEclipse (CFE) is a plug-in developed to integrate into the open platform created by the Eclipse Foundation

Many paths lead developers to ColdFusion. In the past ColdFusion was often viewed as an entry-level language enabling designers and other nonprogrammers to build dynamic sites. Since the release of CFMX it has become more recognized among developers familiar with languages such as Java and PHP.

This is partly due to language enhancements such as CFCs, and partly because it now runs as a Web application on top of a J2EE servlet container, thus allowing it to be used to develop the presentation layer for complex J2EE applications. For both types of developers there are requirements that an IDE must support. Many Web development tools are geared toward the first type of users mentioned above. They include features such as WYSIWYG Design Mode and image mapping functionality. For many developers falling into the second category, the WYSIWYG tools are lacking in the features that they are used to in other IDEs, and the non-WYSIWYG tools are either aging or not geared specifically to ColdFusion development. The goal of the CFEclipse project is to provide a tool for this second type of developer.

CFEclipse (CFE) is a plug-in developed to integrate into the open platform created by the Eclipse Foundation. Eclipse is designed specifically to be flexible enough to be used as a base for an IDE, a simple text editor, Web browser, e-mail client, or practically any other user application you care to mention. Eclipse is often perceived as a Java IDE, but in fact the Java development features are provided by nothing more than a plug-in much the same as (albeit much more mature than) CFEclipse. Eclipse itself is written in Java and runs on just about any platform that has a JVM version 1.4 or later.

Although other ColdFusion IDEs are also under development for use within the Eclipse platform, CFE is set apart by one main difference: the CFE project is an open source development project. The benefits of open source development are beyond the scope of this article; however, it is fundamental to the success of this IDE. Anyone can download the source code for CFE, and with that code add any feature he or she desires. Although this task may seem daunting for some beginners, it is also a very liberating experience. In preparation for this article we polled the CFEclipse users' mailing list (http://cfeclipse.tigris.org/servlets/ProjectMailingListList) to learn which features were other users favorites. One of the features mentioned most was the amazing release cycle. Users really appreciate that their suggestions are taken seriously and implemented quickly. This is due to the nature of open source software; anyone can contribute to the code base, which allows for features to be added quickly.

The concept of synergy is an amazing thing. The idea is that the sum of the contributions of the group exceeds those of individual developers. Think of just a few of the people you know who are passionate about technological advances and the things they can accomplish. Now imagine those people working together under a common banner to achieve a common goal. This is what open source development is about. Closed source development is hard to do without strong financial backing. We are all individuals and don't want to be at the mercy of an independent financial backer. There is also a lot of satisfaction in creating the tool you use to do the majority of your day-to-day work.

So now that you are familiar with the "why" and the "how," let's focus on the "what." CFEclipse is built as a developer's CF tool. CFE includes features that every person who writes CF code needs on a daily basis. All of the standard features you would expect are included. CFE supports syntax highlighting of CF code, CF tag, function insight, and project-based development. Here are some features you'll find in CFE that you won't find in contending tools:

  • Bracket matching: When writing functions or script, it is very easy to get lost in your nested elements. If you place your cursor next to a character that supports matching brackets ( ( ) { } [ ] ), CFE will highlight both the character you are near and its matching character. Never again get lost inside a dateAdd() inside a dateFormat() function!
  • Code folding: Available in CF Studio and Homesite, this feature has been resurrected in CFE and has had some bells and whistles added to it. When working in large files it is often convienent to be able to highlight a section of code and collapse it. This feature adds an icon to the right margin allowing you to expand and collapse this bit of code as you need it. Not only does CFE allow you to add your own collapsed sections, but it can automatically add them to many block-level CFML constructs. By default, when you open a file it will collapse CFML and HTML comments and cffunction blocks that span more than three lines. It will also add folding markers in the right margin for cfquery, cfscript, cfloop, cfif, cfswitch, and cfcase, and blocks that span more than three lines, but these will not be collapsed automatically. These defaults can be customized in the preferences area. A very handy organization feature!
  • Methods view: Since the addition of ColdFusion Components in CFMX, many developers have been wooed by the benefits they provide. When working in CFE you can open a CFC, file, and in the Methods View see a summary of the cffunction tags in your document. You can filter your functions based on type of access (private, package, public, remote) and you can sort them alphabetically. Double-clicking on a method name will move the cursor to that method in the document and expand the method if it is currently collapsed.
  • Outline view: The Methods view is convenient for files such as CFCs, which are mostly made up of cffunction tags. Sometimes it's also nice to have an overview of the structure of normal CFML files. The Outline view is designed to do exactly this. The real benefit is that when working in large files, you can filter your view based on the type of tag. You can filter on the currently selected element, or on a list of predefined tags such as cfmodule, cfset, cfquery, cfinclude, and cfcase. This makes working with long documents much more manageable (see Figure 1).
  • Versioning integration: Although not a ColdFusion-specific feature, the integration with Versioning Systems via other Eclipse plug-ins is incredible. Beyond being able to utilize all the features of CVS and SVN repositories, Eclipse also has a local history. The local history allows you to compare against the versions of the file that Eclipse has kept locally on your computer. So where normally you would need to go to the versioning server to compare previous versions, Eclipse allows you to do this very easily with every saved version of the file. By default Eclipse maintains seven days worth of changes locally.
  • Integrated browser: Many Web-centric IDEs will allow you to launch the page you are currently working on into an external browser. CFEclipse allows you to open a browser window inside the IDE itself. This is very similar to what you get in both DreamWeaver and Homesite. The difference in CFE is that you can specify a single root URL for a project and always have that URL loaded when you fire up the browser. CFE also allows you to have two tabbed browsers active. This allows you to review the page you are working on, as well as keep the Macromedia Livedocs or any other Web site at your fingertips. And all inside the IDE!
  • Scribble pad: At one point or another pretty much every Web developer has created a tmp.cfm file, or something similar, to test some small snippet of code outside the existing project. CFEclipse allows you to designate a file within any project that will act as a "scribble" file. While working in CFE you can activate the scribble pad via a keyboard shortcut. This will open the scribble file and load it into the integrated browser, allowing you to quickly test short snippets of code without having to hunt around in the file system for the last file you used. Using the same keyboard shortcut again will save the scribble file and refresh the integrated browser.
  • Snippets: Reminiscent of the snippets of Homesite , snippets allow you to create blocks of code that can be entered into your document by double-clicking the snippet from the snippet view. A text trigger can also be assigned to a snippet, allowing you to type the text trigger followed by a keyboard shortcut to add the snippet to your document. This approach literally gives you an unlimited number of snippets that can be inserted using only triggers and the keyboard shortcut. The snippets implementation also allows you to use Homesite-style snippet variables of the form $${variable:default} within the snippets. When you insert a snippet of this type you are prompted for the values you would like to use. This is very convenient for creating snippets that contain skeleton code for constructs like CFC getter and setter function pairs.
  • Right-click to open/create file from cfinclude: cfinclude offers many benefits to developers. CFE allows you to right-click on the template attribute of a cfinclude tag and choose the file to include. If the file does not exist, CFEclipse will attempt to create the file in the location you specify.
  • File Explorer: One of the most frequent complaints I have heard of Eclipse-based plug-ins is that there is no way to edit a file that is not part of a project. The File Explorer solves this problem by allowing you to explore your computer and open any file. Another benefit of the File Explorer is that it uses the same split-view approach that Homesite uses, with folders on top and files below. The File Explorer view also allows you to browse FTP sites and edit the files as if they were local, again in the same manner as Homesite (see Figure 2).
  • TODO tasks: Another popular feature is the ability of the IDE to track comments containing TODO items. Any comment that contains the string "TODO:" is tracked globally and can be viewed in the tasks view. When looking at the tasks view you can double-click on a task and the relevant file will be opened with the cursor on the line where the TODO: marker is located. The overview ruler in the right margin also allows you to quickly scan all the TODO tasks for the current document and jump directly to any one of them.
  • Framework support: Currently under development are many enhancements to the CFEclipse IDE that allow specialized functionality based on frameworks such as Mach-ii, Fusebox 3, and Fusebox 4.
  • Problems view: CFEclipse also includes a parser that checks for syntax errors in your ColdFusion document. When problems are found, they are compiled into a list that is tracked globally in the same way as the TODO tasks. In the latest development versions of CFEclipse, parser problems are also underlined in the text of the document. This makes it much easier to see exactly where the parser found a problem and it is usually relatively easy to spot the cause, such as an extra </cfif> tag in a nested set of if statements.

More Stories By Simeon Bateman

Simeon Bateman is director of development for Business Transitions LLC of Portland, OR. Simeon is a Certified Macromedia Coldfusion developer and has been utilizing Macromedia Coldfusion daily for the last 5 years.

More Stories By Stephen (Spike) Milligan

Spike has been working with ColdFusion since 1998, and has worked on some of the largest ColdFusion projects in Europe and Australasia. He is a Macromedia Certified Instructor and member of Team Macromedia for ColdFusion. Originally from Ireland, he has lived and worked in many countries in Europe and traveled the globe in search of new and interesting challenges. He moved to the Pacific Northwest in December 2003, and is currently the lead developer for the CFEclipse project.

Comments (3) 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
MXDJ News Desk 08/03/05 10:07:19 AM EDT

CFEclipse: The Developer's IDE, Eclipse For ColdFusion. Many paths lead developers to ColdFusion. In the past ColdFusion was often viewed as an entry-level language enabling designers and other nonprogrammers to build dynamic sites. Since the release of CFMX it has become more recognized among developers familiar with languages such as Java and PHP.

Enterprise Open Source Magazine 08/03/05 08:44:57 AM EDT

CFEclipse: The Developer's IDE, Eclipse For ColdFusion. Many paths lead developers to ColdFusion. In the past ColdFusion was often viewed as an entry-level language enabling designers and other nonprogrammers to build dynamic sites. Since the release of CFMX it has become more recognized among developers familiar with languages such as Java and PHP.

cf 02/23/05 05:09:29 AM EST

gREAT ARTICLE. thank you

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...
18th Cloud Expo, taking place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some...
SYS-CON Events announced today Object Management Group® has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that EastBanc Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EastBanc Technologies has been working at the frontier of technology since 1999. Today, the firm provides full-lifecycle software development delivering flexible technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing systems – whether on premise or cloud. EastBanc Technologies partners with p...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
"What we see what happens when you have a completely networked society and the potential to now drive the value creation and the collaboration and the ecosystems that are possible when you start to be able to connect people and industries together in ways that have never been possible before," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP of Marketing Enterprise & Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
Customer experience has become a competitive differentiator for companies, and it’s imperative that brands seamlessly connect the customer journey across all platforms. With the continued explosion of IoT, join us for a look at how to build a winning digital foundation in the connected era – today and in the future. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Nguyen, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how to successfully leverage mobile, rapidly deploy content, capture real-time d...
What a difference a year makes. Organizations aren’t just talking about IoT possibilities, it is now baked into their core business strategy. With IoT, billions of devices generating data from different companies on different networks around the globe need to interact. From efficiency to better customer insights to completely new business models, IoT will turn traditional business models upside down. In the new customer-centric age, the key to success is delivering critical services and apps wit...
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 200 develope...
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...