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Setting Up ColdFusion and Defining a Datasource

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Charles Mohnike answers the age-old question: should you buy and run ColdFusion on your own server or use a remote provider? Find out what's required to meet your business needs.

Now that you've examined the basic components of a ColdFusion application, it's time either to install the software or to get set up with a remote ColdFusion provider so that you can start working miracles with your own templates. If you're not already the proud owner of ColdFusion Server, you have a few decisions to make at this point. This section will help you decide whether you need to shell out the dollars for your own copy, or whether you'd be better served—pardon the bad pun—by hosting your CF documents on someone else's server. I'll also cover:

  • Issues to consider when choosing a remote provider
  • Web servers compatible with ColdFusion Server
  • The three varieties of ColdFusion Server
  • Installing ColdFusion Server
  • Verifying ColdFusion Server installation
  • Understanding ColdFusion Administrator
  • Defining a ColdFusion datasource
  • Starting and stopping ColdFusion service

If you're one of the few, the proud, who host their own Web servers, you might skip the following sections and move to "Exploring ColdFusion Server Varieties," which looks at the two types of ColdFusion Servers and helps you decide which one you'll need.

If you're among us folk who can't afford our own T-1 Net connection, read on. I'll look at some important issues in choosing an outside Web provider and help you decide whether you need to run your own copy of ColdFusion for testing purposes.

Deciding What to Buy or Not to Buy

If you've made your decision to host your ColdFusion site with a remote provider, you face a dilemma. Because ColdFusion works only in conjunction with a Web server, you can't simply preview CF templates in your browser as you can with standard HTML pages. You'd really like the ability to try out templates on your computer before uploading them to your provider's server, but for all its benefits, ColdFusion Server is a pretty pricey purchase if you're using it just to test templates.

Macromedia provides a solution with a special development package for Windows users, called ColdFusion Studio. It sells for a fraction of the price of the full-blown ColdFusion Server application, and it comes with a special single-user server. This mini-ColdFusion server runs just fine alongside the freebie Microsoft Personal Web Server that comes bundled with several Microsoft products, such as FrontPage and the various Windows incarnations. It provides a full-featured and relatively inexpensive way to test CF templates on your local computer before uploading them to a remote Web host.

The package also includes a copy of Macromedia's ColdFusion Studio, a semi-graphic interface for building Web pages. It provides graphic shortcuts for HTML and ColdFusion tags and includes timesaving features such as tag checking and query-building aids. We'll take a closer look at ColdFusion Studio in Day 8, "Understanding ColdFusion Studio."

TIP

ColdFusion Studio is often called a semi-graphic interface because it enables developers to work with HTML and CFM files as text pages, but includes graphic shortcuts that aid in the coding process. By contrast, programs such as Adobe PageMill and Microsoft FrontPage are considered graphic interfaces because the developer most often sees a page as it will appear in a browser, rather than working directly on the HTML text.

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