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What Is ColdFusion, and Why Use It?

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Why choose ColdFusion for creating dynamic Web applications? In this article, Eben Hewitt runs down what this language has to offer.
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When people talk about ColdFusion, they could be referring to a couple of things. They could mean the ColdFusion Markup Language, a tag-based language that you can use to create data-driven Web sites. But it's also the ColdFusion Application Server, which translates the tags, talks to the database, and returns HTML to the Web browser.

Internally, ColdFusion works similarly to other hypertext preprocessors. The application server recognizes ColdFusion markup, denoted by <cf, processes this code, and performs any necessary operations. Then it returns the result in HTML. There are, of course, a number of technologies that do this, such as PHP, ASP, CGI, JSP, and so forth. If you're familiar with these languages, there are a number of reasons to choose ColdFusion for making dynamic Web applications.

ColdFusion Is Easy to Learn

For one thing, ColdFusion is an easy language to learn. Because it is tag-based, like HTML, it will be familiar to newer programmers. ColdFusion also comes with its own Web-based administration system that makes it convenient to manage your sites. This system, known as the ColdFusion Administrator, is a Web application itself written in ColdFusion. From within the administrator, you can perform a number of tasks that help make deployment and maintenance of your applications easy. Here are just some of the things that you can do in a few mouse clicks:

  • Create searchable document directories that are instantly available to your ColdFusion applications. Search Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, HTML, XML and PDF documents, and more with the built-in Verity K2 engine.

  • Manage all of your ODBC and OLEDB datasources. Verify connections, update usernames and passwords, and connect string attributes.

  • Ease server monitoring with MIB support and sophisticated log-file filtering. New with ColdFusion 5, you can create and deploy server probes to monitor the health of your server.

  • Create ColdFusion Archive (CAR) files to wrap entire applications for easy backup and deployment.

  • Manage server access with sandbox security, allowing for multiple developers to coexist in protected environments on the same ColdFusion server.

No other Web programming language comes with such a tool.

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