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
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
A critical component of any IoT project is the back-end systems that capture data from remote IoT devices and structure it in a way to answer useful questions. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle large data sets, but they are not well suited to many IoT-scale products and the need for real-time insights. At Fuze, we have developed a backend platform as part of our mobility-oriented cloud service that uses Big Data-based approache...
trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vice president of product management, IoT solutions at GlobalSign, will teach IoT developers how t...
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, 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. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
The demand for organizations to expand their infrastructure to multiple IT environments like the cloud, on-premise, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. As this hybrid infrastructure increases, the challenge to monitor the security of these systems increases in volume and complexity. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, will show how properly configured and managed security architecture can...
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.