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Introducing ColdFusion

Chapter Description

Before diving into ColdFusion and web-based applications, start with this introduction and see what lies behind this powerful language.

What Is ColdFusion?

Initially, developing highly interactive and data-rich sites was a difficult process. Writing custom Web-based applications was a job for experienced programmers only. A good working knowledge of Unix was a prerequisite, and experience with traditional development or scripting languages was a must.

But all that has changed. Macromedia's ColdFusion enables you to create sites every bit as powerful and capable as those listed earlier, without a long and painful learning curve. In fact, rather than being painful, the process is actually fun!

So, what exactly is ColdFusion? Simply put, ColdFusion is an application server—one of the very best out there (as well as the very first one out there; ColdFusion actually created the Application Server category back in 1995).

ColdFusion does not require coding in traditional programming languages, although traditional programming constructs and techniques are fully supported. Instead, you create applications by extending your standard HTML files with high-level formatting functions, conditional operators, and database commands. These commands are instructions to the ColdFusion processor and form the building blocks on which to build industrial-strength applications.

This method of creating Web applications has significant advantages over conventional application development. Advantages include

  • COLDFUSION APPLICATIONS CAN BE DEVELOPED RAPIDLY BECAUSE NO CODING, OTHER THAN USE OF SIMPLE HTML STYLE TAGS, IS REQUIRED.

  • COLDFUSION APPLICATIONS ARE EASY TO TEST AND ROLL OUT.

  • THE COLDFUSION LANGUAGE CONTAINS ALL THE PROCESSING AND FORMATTING FUNCTIONS YOU'LL NEED (AND THE CAPABILITY TO CREATE YOUR OWN FUNCTIONS IF YOU REALLY RUN INTO A DEAD END).

  • COLDFUSION APPLICATIONS ARE EASY TO MAINTAIN BECAUSE NO COMPILATION OR LINKING STEP IS REQUIRED (FILES ACTUALLY ARE COMPILED, BUT THAT HAPPENS TRANSPARENTLY AS I'LL EXPLAIN SHORTLY). THE FILES YOU CREATE ARE THE FILES USED BY COLDFUSION.

  • COLDFUSION PROVIDES ALL THE TOOLS YOU NEED TO TROUBLESHOOT AND DEBUG APPLICATIONS, INCLUDING A POWERFUL DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT AND DEBUGGER.

  • COLDFUSION COMES WITH ALL THE HOOKS NECESSARY TO LINK TO ALMOST ANY DATABASE APPLICATION AND ANY OTHER EXTERNAL SYSTEM.

  • COLDFUSION IS FAST, THANKS TO ITS SCALABLE, MULTITHREADED, SERVICE-BASED ARCHITECTURE.

  • COLDFUSION IS BUILT ON INDUSTRY STANDARD JAVA ARCHITECTURE, AND SUPPORTS ALL MAJOR STANDARDS AND INITIATIVES.

ColdFusion and Your Intranet or Extranet

Although we've been discussing Internet sites, the benefits of ColdFusion apply to intranets and extranets, too.

Most companies have masses of information stored in various systems. Users often don't know what information is available or even how to access it.

ColdFusion bridges the gap between existing and legacy applications and your employees. It empowers employees with the tools to work more efficiently.

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