What You'll Learn
Originally created to enable a non-programmer to easily create an interactive web application, ColdFusion continues to be an in-demand enterprise platform in Adobe's software suite.
In this article, you'll learn about the fascinating history of ColdFusion and what it's currently used for. And we'll look at major features and updates.
You'll receive guidance on how to pick the right ColdFusion version for your project.
And I'll share some top resources for learning ColdFusion and connecting with other users in the ColdFusion community.
You'll learn what to look for in a ColdFusion host.
I'll also share a few of my personal recommendations for ColdFusion hosts, based on my experience as a software engineer.
What Is ColdFusion?
"The Adobe ColdFusion application server offers you a single platform for building and deploying web and mobile applications." - Adobe.
ColdFusion is a rapid web application development platform that's known for its superb efficiency.
It is used in the development of web and mobile applications, as well as generating remote services, such as RESTful web services, Flash Remoting, web sockets, and SOAP-based web services. This makes ColdFusion a key provision for many web hosting customers.
ColdFusion is an expressive and powerful platform that allows you to work at a high level — you can certainly take advantage of the granular control offered by ColdFusion, but you do not have to dig into the Java source code or bytecode at any point if you do not want to.
History of ColdFusion
Development on ColdFusion began in 1995. Two brothers, Jeremy Allaire and JJ Allaire, released the software under their brand name, Allaire Corporation.
Originally, the pair wanted a simpler way to put a database on the web — the overall goal of the project was to connect simple HTML pages to a database — and they developed ColdFusion as a scripting language that worked with HTML.
The Allaire brothers discuss their founding goal of creating a software tool that would make it "incredibly easy" for anyone to build an interactive web app.
Within a year, ColdFusion had been developed beyond its original remit. It is now used as a rapid web application development platform to handle databases, forms, feeds, reports and file conversion. Developers love it because it is cheap and powerful.
From day one, ColdFusion has been one of the web's notable success stories. Under the ownership of Allaire Corporation, ColdFusion increased its annual revenue from $1 million to $120 million within four years.
Macromedia purchased ColdFusion in March 2001 for $360 million. It was a deal which also resulted in Jeremy Allaire being made chief technology officer at Macromedia.
Adobe then purchased Macromedia in 2005, bringing ColdFusion under its brand name.
Today, Adobe continues to ship ColdFusion updates and offers a variety of training options including events for developers.
ColdFusion still has strong support for Flash, although with Flash being deprecated, this is less of a benefit for developers than it once was.
ColdFusion also supports FlashPaper, a virtual printer that can create Flash or PDF 'printouts'. This is a legacy product, but it proves just how close the two technologies have been.
Basic Introduction to Using ColdFusion
Originally, ColdFusion only ran on Windows servers as it was written in Visual C++. After the Macromedia acquisition, ColdFusion Server was redeveloped in Java EE and had its own runtime environment (JRE).
This transition occurred around 2002 and lead to 'MX' being added to its name (note, however, that the only MX-labeled products were ColdFusion MX 6 and ColdFusion MX 7).
ColdFusion is deployed using Tomcat. However, when working in ColdFusion, you do not have to worry about any of these specifics (such as working with Java or Tomcat).
You don't need any prior programming experience to start using ColdFusion. This video will give you a bird's eye view of the software.
Today, you can run ColdFusion on the operating system of your choice, including Windows, macOS, and several different Linux distributions.
ColdFusion projects consist of two primary file types:
- Objects, which are saved with the .cfc extension. Objects are either COM or CORBA in type, and can be associated with properties, methods, and nested objects
- Pages, which are saved with the .cfm extension. Pages hold objects, HTML code, and other items.
ColdFusion also understands CFScript, Actionscript, and some other languages.
Why Use ColdFusion?
ColdFusion uses ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML), and its learning curve is not as steep as those for other popular languages used for web development, such as Java, PHP, and Ruby.
You do not have to worry about the complexity introduced by object-oriented languages. The application server comes with a graphical user interface, so you are not stuck using the command line.
Many developers prefer ColdFusion over Java because ColdFusion enables you to bring your ideas to the web much quicker.
Its close relationship with Flash and ease of use with databases has also helped it gain traction as a development tool.
Find The Best ColdFusion Hosting For You
Note that there are two versions of ColdFusion used in production hosting environments: Standard and Enterprise.
Enterprise is the more expensive of the two, but it offers users better monitoring and security. Enterprise is the preferable version.
There is also the Builder version, which allows you to build and deploy web and mobile applications.
Builder is lighter than Standard and Enterprise, and it allows you to develop and deploy faster.
However, Builder does not come with some key features, such as the API Manager that comes with the more fully-loaded versions of ColdFusion.
Finally, if you are interested in using ColdFusion in conjunction with Amazon Web Services, Adobe offers a product designed to make set up, configuration, and deployment easier.
Can I Get a Free Trial of ColdFusion?
If you are interested in a free trial of ColdFusion, there are two options available to you:
- The Developer Edition is a free, fully functional version of ColdFusion that you can use in your local environment to develop applications you will deploy on standard or enterprise servers. Such applications can be simultaneously accessed from no more than two remote IP addresses.
- The Express Edition, however, is a rapid deployment option that allows to you to set up a development instance of ColdFusion without running the full installer. This is ideally used by those who need ColdFusion for testing and debugging reasons.
Here's What Your ColdFusion Hosting Needs To Offer
ColdFusion is a platform for developing web and mobile applications. It has a number of advantages over other platforms like PHP. In general, it is easier to learn and more can be done with less code. ColdFusion is a commercial product, however. You will generally need to find a hosting company that is a ColdFusion partner. A good choice for ColdFusion hosting is HostGator.
ColdFusion Features and Updates
The most recent releases of ColdFusion reflect the changes in the technology industry.
In addition to enhancements, such as better security, performance, scalability, and language support, you get the all-new API Manager.
Here are some of the features of a ColdFusion environment:
- API manager
- Client-Side Database Integration
- HTML to PDF Conversion
The API Manager is a new standalone server component that provides you with the ability to monitor, measure, secure, and monetize your ColdFusion-based APIs (either RESTful or SOAP-based).
It is technology agnostic, and when you are using API Manager, all requests will be routed through the API Manager before the final endpoints.
You can also set up the API Manager to share the same JVM with ColdFusion in instances where you are expecting lighter loads to optimize your API's performance.
The API Manager also allows you to manage APIs across their life cycles, from the drafting process to publishing to deprecation and retirement. Other API-related features you will get include rate limiting, throttling, and a developer portal.
Client-Side Database Integration
Rather than hooking your app up to the back-end database, ColdFusion allows you to integrate with a client-side database.
This allows you to work more productively since you don't have to attach callback handlers (as you would if you were working with back-end databases).
Furthermore, object-relational mapping means automatic saving to the database.
However, if you ever need server-side access, you can easily access the necessary logic without creating a proxy or passing complex URLs back and forth.
Get a quick, high-level overview of what's new in the latest version of Adobe ColdFusion.
HTML to PDF Conversion
One of the highlights of ColdFusion is its powerful HTML to PDF conversion feature.
The conversion engine generates PDFs, which are easily shared, printed, and worked with, from HTML pages.
ColdFusion allows your app to parse the CSS and apply the CSS settings so that the content in your PDF looks and behaves (as much as possible) the way it does on your website.
Your PDF retains your webpage's formatting, layout, and hyperlinks. Furthermore, you can up your PDF game with Document Description XML (DDX). This allows you to manipulate your PDFs and perform tasks such as adding comments, bookmarks, file attachments, headers, and footers.
You can also customize the appearance of your generated PDF files by setting the page margins, size, and rotation.
If necessary, you can easily secure your PDF files with electronic signatures.
You can also redact and sanitize PDFs in order to protect sensitive content.
What are Some Key Features of ColdFusion Enterprise?
For those who are utilizing the Enterprise version of ColdFusion, you will get additional features designed to support the (potentially) large-scale apps you plan to build.
- External storage
- Robust caching
- API caching
- Email management tools
External storage for session scope allows you to relax concerns about memory constraints when storing data about a particular session.
Robust caching means that your pages, especially those portions that are updated infrequently, are more performant that they otherwise would be, both in terms of page load times and lightened load against the back-end server,
Scalability means you can grow your app as your audience does.
API caching is used to eliminate calls that are not essential to your APIs.
Email management tools
These tools allow you to send emails, use callback handlers to get delivery notifications, and so on.
Developers and users of ColdFusion reflect on the reasons for the popularity and longevity of the framework. Reasons cited include a shorter dev cycle and related cost savings.
ColdFusion vs. Other Web Development Frameworks
ColdFusion is not the only web development framework available, so how does it compare to other popular options?
- ColdFusion vs. ASP.NET
- ColdFusion vs. PHP
ColdFusion vs. ASP.NET
Architecturally, ColdFusion and ASP.NET are fundamentally different.
The former is Java-based and takes full advantage of the Java environment (including compilation into Java source code and, finally, bytecode).
The latter is based on Microsoft's .NET framework and compiled to a .NET-compatible language, such as Visual Basic .NET or C#.
Developers will notice more superficial differences before they ever get to the differences in underlying architecture.
ColdFusion follows the same development and page execution model commonly used with similar Web-scripting languages.
ASP.NET, however, is strongly-typed, object-oriented, and event-based. This contrasts sharply with the linear and page-oriented nature of ColdFusion.
Finally, ASP.NET is quite complex. ColdFusion's use of CFML means that programmers face fewer stumbling blocks when attempting to get their websites and apps up, whereas ASP.NET is complicated and can be overwhelming, especially if the project is smaller in scope.
ColdFusion vs. PHP
Comparing ColdFusion to PHP is somewhat like comparing an apple to an orange, but when it comes to developing applications for the web, we can still make useful judgments between the two.
PHP is essentially a programming language used server-side that comes with built-in web development capabilities, while ColdFusion is more like a web application development environment that allows you to use a simplified markdown language (CFML) in an IDE-like environment to craft your products, including mobile apps.
PHP, however, is somewhat limited in its support for mobile apps, though PHP developers can make use of tools and libraries to streamline the development process (this is the case for pretty much any need that is not covered by vanilla PHP, not just mobile apps).
In the long run, ColdFusion apps are easier to maintain than PHP apps. This is because ColdFusion enables programmers to create websites without writing any additional code.
Finally, PHP is open source and free to use, while ColdFusion is a pay-to-use product.
At ColdFusion summits, you can enjoy a community atmosphere while learning from experts and peers.
In the end, the option that you choose depends on the needs of your project.
You might even choose your tools based on the developers that are available for hire. The pool for ColdFusion developers differs from the pool of ASP.NET developers, which in turn differs from the pool of PHP developers.
You may simply end up hiring the best development team you can find, regardless of the technology stack with which they are familiar.
ColdFusion is supplied on web hosting plans across all service categories, from shared through to dedicated.However, it does pay to look for specialized hosting if you plan to develop extensively in ColdFusion.
Realistically, a common ColdFusion application will need 2 GB of RAM or more, which means venturing into virtual private server (VPS) territory eventually.
You can certainly attempt to host your ColdFusion applications on a shared plan that offers unlimited resources (including unlimited disk space and bandwidth), but many hosts add the caveat to their contracts that your usage match what a VPS plan or a dedicated server provides. ColdFusion applications might well be considered something that falls into this category.
More specifically, you will want the following resources at a minimum to ensure optimal performance:
- For Windows servers: 1.5 GB RAM (3 GB recommended) and 3 GB of free hard disk space for installation purposes
- For Linux servers: Red Hat, SUSE, Ubuntu, or CentOS as your distribution, 1.5 GB RAM (3 GB recommended), and 3 GB of free hard disk space for installation purposes
In the likely event that you find yourself using macOS on your server, you must use either version 10.10 or 10.11 and have 1.5 GB RAM (3 GB recommended) and 3 GB of free hard disk space for installation purposes
Specialized hosts will normally isolate ColdFusion and may not install other common applications and technologies, such as PHP.
This helps to keep the servers speedy since they're tasked with just one thing. Beware of any company that crams too many customers onto its servers, since ColdFusion needs adequate resources and can be slowed by over-use.
Web hosts normally offer the most recent version of ColdFusion Enterprise, although they may be willing to deploy a different version if you ask.
Many developers go on to get certified in ColdFusion in order to prove their abilities. Often, when shopping for web hosting, you will find that some staff are ColdFusion certified too.
This is a bonus if you are new to the platform, and such specialized support is invaluable in the event that you need more dedicated help if there are issues with your application or website.
Choosing a ColdFusion Web Host Company
There are many things you will need to take into consideration, in addition to resource allocation, when choosing a ColdFusion hosting plan and web host company.
These include administrative accessibility and support for the products you need to serve your website, as well as customer service.
Furthermore, if you are a reseller host planning on supporting ColdFusion apps, you may find it difficult to find a plan that supports this.
Serving up a ColdFusion app is slightly more complex than serving up HTML pages for a more basic website.
Serving ColdFusion Apps: From CFML to HTML
Whenever a user requests a ColdFusion page (or any file that utilizes the .cfm extension), the browser sends a request to the web server, which is then passed on to the ColdFusion server (this may or may not be a separate server instance depending on your ColdFusion hosting plan).
The ColdFusion server then reads the client data, processes the CFML used on the page, grabs the data it needs from the database, and generates the HTML.
This HTML is then returned to the original web server, which in turn sends it to the requesting browser.
ColdFusion and Virtual Hosts
If you plan on running multiple ColdFusion apps on a single server, make you'll want to make sure that your web host allows the use of the virtual hosts you will need.
Do I Need Specialized ColdFusion Hosting?
As you can see, there are additional steps taken and increased overhead when it comes to serving up ColdFusion-based web pages (this is one of the reasons why ColdFusion hosting might command a premium over its more generic competitors).
To prevent such overhead from offsetting any performance gains garnered by the use of ColdFusion, specialized hosting gets you tools and features that optimize your environment. Typically, use of and control over such tools require a VPS or dedicated environment.
Can I Use Shared Hosting for ColdFusion?
You will find it difficult to find a shared hosting plan capable of supporting your ColdFusion website or application, which means that you are pretty much required to spring for a VPS plan or a dedicated server.
If you search around, you'll find that many web host companies, such as GoDaddy, explicitly state that you cannot use their shared plans for ColdFusion.
What are the Benefits of Specialized ColdFusion Hosting?
Some web host providers, such as Hostek offer specialized ColdFusion hosting plans.
Not only do these options come with ColdFusion pre-installed, everything on the server has been designed and optimized for use with your ColdFusion products.
You can also expect the providers of such options to have, on hand, staff familiar with the ColdFusion environment.
While you may rarely (or never) need support, you might consider working with your hosting provider for consulting services. Without such staff, these options are not options for you.
What are the Downsides to Specialized ColdFusion Hosting?
The downside to opting for a specialized plan is that you are limited in the number of providers from which you can choose.
If you choose a generic hosting plan, you have a wider range of providers from which you can choose.
The downside to such choice, however, is that you might very well be the person responsible for getting your specialized environment up and running.
Your host might not even be able to answer your questions, especially if it does not employ someone with knowledge of ColdFusion.
What are the Bandwidth Requirements for ColdFusion?
It almost goes without saying that bandwidth is a concern, especially if you are serving up things like web services and other developer-facing offerings that will be receiving a large number of calls repeatedly.
Check to see that your ColdFusion plan supports the traffic you plan on receiving.
You will occasionally see shared plans offering unlimited bandwidth, but given the needs of ColdFusion, you are more likely to spring for a VPS plan or a dedicated server.
As such, you will need a more solid estimate of your bandwidth usage.
If, however, the prospect of making this estimate seems daunting, you might consider taking advantage of a cloud-based hosting plan. Such options typically allow you to scale up and down as necessary, since your website is not limited to a single, physical web server.
Infrastructure Considerations: Location and Latency
What does the physical infrastructure of the web host in which you are interested look like? Are the components used for your application, database, and web server located in far-flung location?
Location matters, especially when it comes to the performance of your apps and websites.
It does not matter how capable the physical infrastructure is if there are major latency and lag issues as the various components of your physical network attempt to communicate with one another.
With that said, we do not want to make it sound like the physical components of your infrastructure do not matter because they do.
Like any other web hosting decision, you will want to be sure that your apps are hosted on the equipment that best fits your needs at a price that you can afford.
Application Administration: Make it Easy with a GUI
Because shared plans are designed to be as easy to use as possible, they typically come with a GUI-based control panel.
However, you should check to make sure that this is definitely the case, especially since such options typically come with shared plans (which we've already mentioned to be ill-suited for use with ColdFusion-related tasks).
If you opt for a more premium web hosting option, you most likely will be stuck with command-line management unless you spring for a GUI-based control panel.
This will add a bit to your monthly hosting fees, but having such a tool will make your day-to-day website management easier.
Support from ColdFusion-Certified Professionals
As we mentioned above, some ColdFusion hosting is administered by ColdFusion-certified professionals, which is invaluable if you want support to provide a second set of eyes on any problems you might have.
The hosting provider you choose might provide otherwise wonderful support, but if it does not have any technicians on staff that can help you diagnose a ColdFusion-specific problem, then you might be on your own.
Sure, many a hosting company expect owners with VPS and dedicated servers (which is most likely the option you will use with your ColdFusion website) to manage their own websites, but many providers do offer consulting services for issues outside the scope of support.
ColdFusion support, whether included or extra, might be invaluable down the line when your production environment is malfunctioning.
Direct Access: Databases
One thing that might be useful is to see if you have direct access to the database backend.
For example, if you plan allows you to use Microsoft's SQL Server, see if your web host provider will allow you to use SQL Server Management Studio (or other database management suite) to access your tables without going through some type of proxy.
In some cases, web hosts do not allow its customers direct access to databases unless they have the appropriate hosting plan or type.
What are Key Security Features to Look For?
Using ColdFusion grants you granular control over security — you can apply changes at the user, server, and data levels.
This means that you can assign users individual logins (which is a common enough practice), as well as set limitations based on individual data records.
Look for Sandbox security or Resource security. This feature lets you ring-fence ColdFusion resources to prevent unauthorized access.
You can apply the restrictions to:
- Data sources
- ColdFusion tags
- ColdFusion functions
- Servers, including specific ports
This feature is not enabled by default, so check that your host will provide it once you have paid for your hosting plan.
Finally, ColdFusion ships with a security analyzer, which will scan through your ColdFusion code and flag potential security issues.
This will not pick up on any security issues related to your web hosting set up, but it can be used to augment analyses of your hosting environment when it comes to security.
Third-Party ColdFusion Solutions
Adobe has built ColdFusion to support multiple third-party integrations. Such partner integrations are designed to levy the power of the ColdFusion environment.
For example, Web Power Box (an all-in-one inbound digital marketing and sales platform), CF Shopkart, and the Fusion line of products (including a server monitor tool, analytics suite, and debugger) are some options put out by ColdFusion partners that are designed to work well in conjunction with your application/website.
Some third-party solutions from partner providers that you might be interested in include:
- Web Power Box: all-in-one inbound digital marketing and sales platform
- FusionReactor: server monitor
- FusionAnalytics: application and server analysis tool
- Fusion Debug: interactive, step-by-step debugger
- FuseGuard: web application firewall
- Vertabase: easy to use and scalable project management suite
- Prosis: general business operations management, including budgets, program and project planning, and supply chain management
FusionReactor provides advanced monitoring and crash protection for ColdFusion apps.
What Content Management Systems are Available For ColdFusion?
If you are interested in the power and flexibility of ColdFusion, but you want the support and structure of a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla, consider using ShareDox, FarCryCore, ShadoCMS, Savvy Content Manager, Slatwall, or SiteExecutive.
If you are using any of these options, or you are planning on one of these integrations, check that your web host will support the use of such products (though VPS/dedicated environments probably will not run into restrictions against the use of these products).
How to Install ColdFusion
When it comes time to install ColdFusion on to your server, you will perform the following steps, generally speaking:
- Review all necessary release notes, documentation, and installation considerations (such as minimum hardware requirements)
- Start up your web server
- Close out/exit from any programs that are currently running on your web server
- Insert the installation DVD or launch the downloaded installer
- Run the installation wizard (or launch the installer from the command line)
- Configure the web server using the ColdFusion Administrator tool
- Install any integrated technologies you need
- Configure your system
Obviously, this process is not as easy as something like setting up WordPress (which can be done on some servers with one-click installers) and requires some degree of comfort with technology and server system administration.
In some ways, ColdFusion is similar to content management systems, such as WordPress, but due to ColdFusion's much more powerful setup, you will be responsible for much more work in getting it online and then maintaining it so that it stays online.
What are the Pros and Cons of Using ColdFusion?
- Apps and websites built using a ColdFusion environment tend to be performant.
- ColdFusion utilizes its own markup language (ColdFusion Markup Language, or CFML), which is easy for programmers to read and write, so you can streamline and expedite the development process.
- ColdFusion leverages several Java/Oracle-based technologies, yet you do not have to interact with these lower-level tiers — you simply have to work with the ColdFusion layers of your application environment.
- There are several excellent hosting options available to users of ColdFusion — you do not have to set up a generic environment on your own if you do not want to.
- The amount of resources needed to host ColdFusion apps means that you cannot opt for an inexpensive shared hosting plan if you also want your apps to perform well.
- Plans capable of supporting ColdFusion can be on the expensive side.
- Setting up a hosting environment that supports ColdFusion requires a fair amount of work by someone who is comfortable with Adobe and Java-based technologies.
- As a less-commonly used framework, ColdFusion lacks the robust developer communities other products (such as ASP.NET or PHP) enjoy.
- ColdFusion is not free, so you have to pay to use it, as well as for the web hosting you will need
My Picks: 3 Top ColdFusion Hosts
If you are using ColdFusion, the hosting providers available to you as viable options are slimmer than it would be if you used something like PHP, especially if you are looking for a shared hosting plan.
You can certainly choose any provider that offers a VPS or dedicated option, but we recommend that you begin your search with hosts offering specialized ColdFusion options.
This will make it easier for you to get your site up and running.
|Provider||Overall Ease of Use||Plan Options Available||Support|
|Amazon Web Services||Okay||Excellent||Excellent|
AWS - Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services: Amazon is a relatively new player in the web hosting arena. It offers powerful web hosting capable of supporting your ColdFusion apps, services, and sites.
However, since it was designed for developers, non-developers may find there is a steep learning curve when it comes to getting your website up and running.
Amazon Web Services is an inexpensive way to get up and running if you are new to shipping ColdFusion products.
You can get started using Amazon Web Services' ColdFusion server for as little as $0.15 US per hour ($0.45 US per hour if you include the underlying platform cost). You pay for only what you use.
We have mentioned the complexity associated with installing ColdFusion, but Amazon Web Services makes it easy for you to install ColdFusion on your cloud environment using images you can apply directly.
Then, as you grow, you can easily scale your Amazon Web Services instance, so you never have to worry about running out of resources for your website.
If you seek out support, you may or may not be able to speak to someone with ColdFusion experience. However, Amazon as a whole offers excellent customer service, so the company will certainly work with you to resolve any issues that might arise.
The biggest downside with Amazon Web Services is the lack of refunds. You may cancel at any time, but Amazon Web Services does not offer any refunds for purchases you have made.
Amazon Web Services' pay-per-use model, makes this hosting option a good deal financially.
Amazon maintains excellent integration with ColdFusion, minimizing the amount of work you need to do to get up and running.
Hostek: Hostek is a full-service web hosting provider that offers products and solutions designed to meet all of your web hosting needs, no matter how niche they may be.
In addition to options you would find with your typical web host, Hostek offers ColdFusion Server Hosting.
Hostek's ColdFusion hosting options are similar to its more generic options, which include features like worry-free migration, local to cloud website management, and robust resources allocation with all of the plans offered.
However, the ColdFusion plans(which are essentially specialized VPS hosting plans) come with additional features designed to make getting your ColdFusion products up and running with as little hassle as possible.
These plans are also somewhat pricey, but all (except for the entry-level option) come with managed support.
This offering reduces the amount of work you have to do to manage your website, as well as indicates that there are trained staff members with CloudFusion experience who can help you if you ever run into issues with your application or website.
Hostek offers a partial 30-day money back guarantee, so cancellations during this period mean that you will get back your account setup fee and any unused hosting credits.
HostGator is a popular web hosting provider that offers a wide variety of options.
Please note, however, that if you want ColdFusion support, you will need to opt for a virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated hosting package — ColdFusion is not supported on shared packages.
HostGator's VPS and dedicated hosting packages are definitely budget-friendly. They offer a robust allocation of resources, are reliable, and the VPS plans can be scaled up as needed.
The flip side, however, is that you are responsible for setup, configuration, and maintenance. HostGator does not offer any specific tools to help you manage your ColdFusion instances — the provider merely supports this technology, and you are expected to do the heavy-lifting.
Despite the fact that ColdFusion is neither as popular nor as commonly used as PHP or ASP.NET, there are still a sizable number of websites and applications that rely on ColdFusion as a web development framework.
Its ability to facilitate rapid commercial web development means that it allows developers to get their projects up and running faster (especially given the readability and ease of use of ColdFusion Markup Language, the primary language used with ColdFusion).
ColdFusion hosting for your applications, websites, e-commerce site, or web services can be an expensive proposition, due to the resource-intensive nature of apps and websites built using this environment.
However, we have covered the considerations you should take when deciding on a ColdFusion hosting package, so hopefully, you will find it easier to narrow down your options when it comes time to spring for a new hosting plan.
- Adobe, the company behind ColdFusion, maintains a regularly-updated blog
- ColdFusion Builder is a dedicated IDE for ColdFusion development that includes the features you would typically expect from an IDE (such as testing tools) plus server management functionality. It offers you a bit more than, say, using an Eclipse plug-in or similar.
- If you are curious as to what Adobe has in mind for the future of ColdFusion, check out the public-facing roadmap
- Visit the ColdFusion Community Forums to interact with other ColdFusion developers
ColdFusion Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
What is ColdFusion?
ColdFusion is a rapid web application development platform developed and sold by Adobe.
What language is used for writing ColdFusion applications?
Can other languages be used for writing ColdFusion apps?
What type of applications can ColdFusion be used to build?
ColdFusion is a general purpose web application platform, so it can be used to build any sort of app. It is most often used for building data-driven websites and organizational intranets. It is also frequently deployed for running SOAP APIs or other web services. It can be used to provide server-side support to internet-connected desktop application platforms, like Apache Flex or AdobeAIR.
What are some of the major features of ColdFusion?
There are many. Here are just a few:
- Database abstraction
- Cache management for client and server
- Code generation for client side widgets and forms
- HTML to PDF format conversion
- Data import and parsing for a wide variety of applications
- File indexing and search service
- Full support for XML
- Server clustering
- Crontab style scheduling.
What server operating systems can ColdFusion be run on?
ColdFusion works on MS Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Solaris.
What web servers support ColdFusion applications?
Most of the major web servers can support ColdFusion, including Apache, IIS, and IBM HTTP Server.
What databases does ColdFusion support?
It supports most relational database systems, including MySQL, MS SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, and PostgreSQL.
Is ColdFusion really cross-platform?
Yes. ColdFusion runtime environment is built in Java and runs on the Java EE platform. This makes it completely compatible with any machine running that platform.
Can I use ColdFusion in conjunction with .NET?
Yes. ColdFusion has access to the .NET framework and can run .NET modules as part of an application.
Can I use Java in conjunction with ColdFusion?
Yes. ColdFusion boasts "tight and bidirectional integration with Java." Java can be called from ColdFusion and ColdFusioncan can be called from Java.
Are there any web hosting companies that specifically support ColdFusion?
Yes. Use our webhosting compare tool to find webhosts that support it.
Are there any alternatives to ColdFusion?
Alternatives to ColdFusion can be grouped into two categories: alternative processors for CFML (essentially, replacements for ColdFusion), and entirely different application platforms.
CFML, ColdFusion Markup Language, is an open specification. Anybody can build a new application engine that runs apps written in CFML, and several groups of developers have. If you are looking for an open-source alternative, the best option right now is Lucee. Lucee was forked from the popular Railo project, and now has the bulk of the original Railo development team. Another option is BlueDragon, which has an open-source Java version and a proprietary .NET version.
There are a number of alternative development platforms that can achieve similar results to ColdFusion. Both Java and .NET can be used alone, without ColdFusion, to build web applications. .NET has many specific tools for web development already included. Java web development can be greatly sped up with any number of Java Web Development Frameworks, such as Takes, Vaadin, and Grails (among many others).
How does ColdFusion compare to Ruby on Rails, PHP, and Node.js?
As always, that depends on what you are trying to accomplish. For a "straight-forward" content-heavy website or ecommerce platform that is not dependent on an existing application database or enterprise system, a PHP Content Management System (Drupal, Joomla, WordPress) is probably the best option. It is certainly the easiest option. For content focused web apps that do not require a lot of real-time interaction, Ruby on Rails is the industry standard. For interactive web apps that require multiple users interacting simultaneously, Node.js is often a good fit, but a more mature platform like Java might be called for.
ColdFusion works best when any of these situations also call for connection to an existing Enterprise server, or when SOAP (as opposed to RESTful) web services are required.