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Essential ColdFusion 5 for Web Professionals, 2nd Edition

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Essential ColdFusion 5 for Web Professionals, 2nd Edition

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  • Copyright 2002
  • Edition: 2nd
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  • ISBN-10: 0-13-035651-4
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-035651-2

With Allaire ColdFusion 5, you can build dynamic Web applications with incredible speed, power, and performance. Now, learn ColdFusion 5 from professional Web developers, through real-world, step-by-step projects. Start with the basics, such as querying databases and working with global templates. Then master every element of a robust ColdFusion solution, from ColdFusion Windows and Linux installation through advanced site customization and administration. Every project's code, database, and images are downloadable from the Companion Website. Fully updated for ColdFusion 5's hottest new features, Essential ColdFusion 5 for Web Professionals, Second Edition is the quickest, easiest way to gain the ColdFusion skills you need right now!

You'll learn all this and much more—hands on!

  • Database access and integration
  • Building online catalogs, step-by-step
  • Automatically sending and retrieving email
  • Providing site search with ColdFusion 5's built-in Verity search engine
  • Troubleshooting using error checking and logging
  • Creating powerful custom tags and user-defined functions
  • Using "Query of Queries" to integrate data from multiple sources seamlessly
  • Delivering dynamic charts for on-the-fly visual reporting
  • Taking control of ColdFusion 5's new administrative tools
  • Using WAP and Web Clipping technology to build advanced Palm and phone applications



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Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

Essential ColdFusion: Database Basics

Table of Contents


Database Basics.

A Look at Relational Databases. Introduction to SQL. To Quote or Not to Quote? Project I: Creating an Access Database File. Setting Up an ODBC Connection. Project II: Retrieving Data. Query of Queries. Dynamic Datasources. SQL Builder. Recap.

ColdFusion Basics.

Commenting Your Code. Using Quotes. Passing Variables. Scope. Project I-Passing Variables. Project II: Countdown. Project III: Date Display. Recap. Advanced Project.

Global Templates.

Defining the Application File (application.cfm). Project I: Setting Global Values. Project II: Defining Header and Footer Files. Recap. Advanced Project.

Building an Online Catalog.

Building an Administration Screen. Setting Up the Administration Screen. Project I-Viewing Items in Your Database. Project II-Uploading Files. Project III-Adding New Records. Project IV-Editing an Existing Record. Project V-Processing the Information. Project VI-Creating User Pages. Recap. Advanced Project.

Error Checking and Logging.

Trapping Your Errors with <CFERROR>. "Catching" Your Errors. Project II: Using <CFTRY>, <CFCATCH>, and <CFTHROW>. Snooping Through Your Logs. Recap.

Sending E-Mail.

<CFMAIL>. <CFFORM>. <CFINPUT>. Project I-Sign Up! <CFPOP>. Project II-Retrieving Your E-mail from a POP Server. Recap. Advanced Project.

Searching the Site.

PreserveSingleQuotes. <CFTABLE> and <CFCOL>. Project I-Search Engines 'R' Us. Using Verity with ColdFusion. Project II-Collection Management. Project III-Searching with Verity. Recap. Advanced Project.

Knowing Who's Who.

Security Basics. Project I: Protecting Your Management Templates. C Is for Cookie. Project II: Enhanced Functionality with <CFCOOKIE>. Recap. Advanced Project.

Customizing Your Applications.

Introduction to Custom Tags. The Ins and Outs of Custom Tags. Using Custom Tags. User-Defined Functions. Project I: Counting Your Hits. Project II: Creating a Random Product Custom Tag. Other Functions Used in This Project. Project III: User-Defined Functions (UDF). Recap. Advanced Project.

ColdFusion and Wireless.

What Is WAP, and How Is It Useful? MIME Types. Project I: WAP-Enabled Product List. Wireless Palm(tm) OS Devices (Web-Clipping). Project II: Palm(tm) Handheld-Enabled Product List. Building and Installing the Palm(tm) Query Application. Recap. Advanced Project.

Miscellaneous Tags.

<CFGRAPH> and <CFGRAPHDATA>. <CFGRAPH> Pie Chart. <CFGRAPH> Line Chart. <CFGRAPH> Bar or HorizontalBar Chart. <CFGRAPHDATA>. Project I: Bar Chart. Project II: Pie Chart Using a Query. <CFDUMP>. <CFLOCK>. Coding With <CFLOCK>.

ColdFusion 5 Server Installation.

System Requirements. Windows. Linux. Solaris. HP-UX. Installing ColdFusion 5 Server on Windows Platforms. Installing ColdFusion 5 Server on Linux Platforms. Forget Your ColdFusion Server 5 Administrator Password?

Creating Forms.

ColdFusion Reference.

ColdFusion 5 Tags and Functions.




In the beginning, creating web sites using static pages was enough until people started to realize that updating content on their pages was a tedious chore. People also realized that they had huge amounts of constantly changing information in databases that they wanted to list on their web sites.

Also needed was the ability to add logic to web sites, allowing users to search through products, buy products online, or perform a number of other functions, turning it into one giant web application or a series of small web applications. If a user comes to the web site and performs a search, or navigates a certain way through the site, developers would like to have pages dynamically built for a user to accommodate where the user is in the site. Suddenly, several languages appeared that allowed the web developer to do all of these things and more. Each had its strengths and weaknesses, such as learning curves and cost, but for the most part, many of these languages allowed developers to create the same types of applications.

Languages Used for Web Application Development

Several types of languages are used for web development, with new ones popping up frequently. These are the better-known ones being used today:

ColdFusion ASP-Active Server Pages
Drumbeat Lasso
JSP-Java Server Pages (Servlets) Perl
PHP Tango

How Does ColdFusion Work?

You don't need a high level of knowledge in programming or server-side scripting to get started in developing some pretty powerful applications in ColdFusion. Written in a way that resembles HTML syntax, CFML (ColdFusion Markup Language) consists of tags and attributes that transform static web pages into a truly dynamic and customizable experience for every user. CFML consists of a series of tags, functions, and formatting options that perform different functions:

<CFOUTPUT>Today's date is: #DateFormat(Now(), "DDDD, MMMM DD, YYYY")#</CFOUTPUT>
Today's date is: Saturday, July 21, 2001

The ColdFusion application server runs behind your existing web server, parsing the .cfm file (.cfm is the extension with which all ColdFusion pages are saved) that was passed and converting it into plain HTML, which is then presented to the viewer. The user never sees the actual CFML coding that takes place.

About ColdFusion

ColdFusion Application Server Requirements

With the introduction of ColdFusion Server 5, ColdFusion Application Server now runs on several operating systems, including Windows 2000/NT, Linux, Solaris, and HP-UX. The recommended requirements are:

Enterprise Server
ColdFusion 5 for Windows
Window NT SP4 / Windows 2000
350 MB hard disk space
256 MB RAM (512 recommended)
ColdFusion 5 for Linux
Red Hat Linux 6.2, 7.0 / SuSE 7.0 / Cobalt Qube, RaQ 3, 4, XTR
350 MB hard disk space
256 MB RAM (512 recommended)
ColdFusion 5 for UNIX
SPARC Solaris 2.6, 7.8 / HP-UX 11.0
350 MB hard disk space
512 MB RAM (1 GB recommended)
Professional Server
ColdFusion 5 for Windows
Window NT SP4 / Windows 95/98/2000
350 MB hard disk space
256 MB RAM (512 recommended)
ColdFusion 5 for Linux
Red Hat Linux 6.2, 7.0 / SuSE 7.0 / Cobalt Qube, RaQ 3, 4, XTR
350 MB hard disk space
256 MB RAM (512 recommended)

Downloading ColdFusion 5

You can download a fully featured 30-day trial version of ColdFusion from Allaire's web site (http://www.allaire.com) to install on your machine. After the 30-day trial, the server software will still work but only one IP address will be able to access it.

What's the Difference?

As mentioned before, ColdFusion Server 5 comes in two different flavors, Professional and Enterprise.

Both versions are identical with two exceptions. The Enterprise edition is quite a bit more costly and you can use it to administer a clustered ColdFusion server environment to deal with failover (one system receives too many requests and an additional system assists in handling the traffic). If you are planning on using a clustered environment in your server architecture, then the additional cost is definitely worth the investment.

ColdFusion Studio

Although ColdFusion Studio is not required in order to create ColdFusion pages, its wizards and built-in tools will make your life easier by creating your pages more quickly than if you were using a regular text editor.

ColdFusion Studio 5 has the following minimum requirements:

  • Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT
  • 35 MB of disk space
  • 32 MB RAM (Windows 2000 systems should have a minimum of 96 MB of RAM.)

New Features in ColdFusion 5

With the release of ColdFusion Server 5, several new features and tags were rolled in. Although we don't cover all of them in this book, we cover the major new features:

User Defined Functions (UDF):

You have the ability to define your own functions to use throughout your site.

Query of Queries:

Developers can "re-query" an existing dataset already compiled from a procedure call.

Dynamic Charts:

Now you can dynamically build a variety of charts from either static or dynamic values on the fly with <CFGRAPH> and <CFGRAPHDATA>. This is a great visual reporting tool that is built using JPEG, PNG, or Flash formats.

Custom Logging:

With <CFLOG>, you can now write custom messages to either the standard log file or custom log files.

Several existing tags have also been updated as well, giving you additional flexibility. And finally, the ColdFusion Server 5 administrator has been totally redesigned with a new interface and additional controls, making configuration much easier to manage.

Who This Book Is Written for and What Is Assumed

This book is written for anyone who wants to learn how to build dynamically driven database sites. You should already understand how to use HTML and HTML forms. If you are unfamiliar with HTML forms or need a quick tutorial, check out Appendix B.

You should also have an understanding of Microsoft Access and Structured Query Language (SQL). All of the Access databases we use in this book will be on the companion web site, as well as all the code. In Chapter 1, we will also cover creating the shelleyCatalog Access database that you will use in several chapters.

Finding Online Support and Documentation

Several web sites have communities of ColdFusion programmers who openly share their knowledge and expertise. One of the best places is the Allaire web site with support forums for all of Allaire's products:


You may also want to check out the Allaire Knowledge Base from time to time to find answers to frequently asked questions:


ColdFusion Server 5 also comes with online documentation that is installed on your hard drive during the installation process. This can be found at:

NOTE is used throughout this book to refer to your local machine (the loopback IP address). The name localhost will work as well, or you may use the IP address assigned to your machine.

During installation, you can choose to install the example applications that come with ColdFusion Server. This is good for poking around and learning some already functional applications. Additional references are listed in Appendix B.

Sites Using ColdFusion

These sites now use ColdFusion:

Ablecommerce http://www.ablecommerce.com
Autobytel http://www.autobytel.com
Bigstar http://www.bigstar.com
PolarisMan.com http://www.polarisman.com
OnVia http://www.onvia.com
E-ThePeople http://www.e-thepeople.com
Computer Acquisition Guide http://computer.pwgsc.gc.ca
Wireless Advisor http://www.wirelessadvisor.com

How This Book Is Laid Out

To demonstrate a wide range of functionality and practicality, a fictitious company (Shelley Biotechnologies) will be used to showcase a product line.

As we build this site, we teach you the different components that go into creating different types of applications with ColdFusion.

The projects in each chapter are designed to build on the new functionality you are learning and apply it toward an application you would use in a real-life situation. At the end of each chapter, you will be asked to complete a more advanced project based on what you have just learned. The answer or possible solution will be on the companion web site.

We teach you how to use some of the most common ColdFusion tags and functions, but there are still plenty of other tags and functions that this book does not cover. They can be found in the documentation that comes with ColdFusion.


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