The Lowdown on Coldfusion
By Erik Rodriguez
This article provides an overview of the coldfusion programming language.
I've been involved in web design since I was 16. Almost a decade later, I've seen several versions of Perl, PHP, IIS, and Apache. While all of them have grown into robust and feature-rich languages and products, there are some others that deserve some credit as well.
Coldfusion is a web language that was originally a product of Allaire Corporation of Cambridge. Sometime around 2000 or 2001, Allaire was bought out by Macromedia. Therefore, it is now called Macromedia Coldfusion.
Coldfusion vs. Cold Fusion
Don't mistake coldfusion for cold fusion. The difference being, the space between the two words. You see, cold fusion is a name for any nuclear fusion reaction that occurs well below the temperature required for thermonuclear reactions (which occur at millions of degrees Celsius). If you tell someone you are trying to perfect cold fusion, you might have the CTU or FBI outside your door the moment you turn around.
Coldfusion has strength in some areas that other languages don't. First, it is very similar to HTML. Coldfusion is a scripting language. It uses tags just like HTML, so you don't need a background in C or Java to learn it. Second, it runs on Windows, Linux and UNIX. I've written CF scripts that were portable from platform to platform. Third, coldfusion was designed with database integration in mind. It's calls to DB tables work nicely and despite the hoopla, they query pretty quickly.
There is one problem with portability. CFML (coldfusion markup language) just like HTML has depreciated tags from version to version. This can be a problem if you are design an app on version 7, and try to port it over to a server running version 5. The opposite is also true. If you have a more complex CFML app, developed on an old version, it may run a little quirky on the newest CF server.
I think that coldfusion is often overlooked by programmers for several reasons. First, most web developers have their language of choice, and don't have the time to learn a new one. Second, CF is EXPENSIVE. You're looking at dropping a few grand on top of any other costs associated with your non-cf enabled web server. Third, there really isn't much awareness about coldfusion. Most of us in the IT field have heard of it, know that it's a server side web scripting language, but that's about as far as it goes. You might see some coldfusion books at the local book store, or see some sites with .cfm page extensions.
Concluding this article, I think that coldfusion is a very competitive option for server side coding and development. It is powerful and effective for nearly every application you could need it for. If you take even an hour or two to check it out, I promise you'll be surprised how easy it is to do things with coldfusion.