This article, the first of two parts, explains how to use ColdFusion 6.1 in conjunction with Dreamweaver MX 2004 to build dynamic web sites. It is excerpted from chapter one of the book ColdFusion Web Development with Dreamweaver MX 2004, written by Jen and Peter deHaan et al. (Apress, 2004; ISBN: 1590592379).
BECAUSE YOU HAVE PICKED UP this book, you’re probably interested in planning and developing dynamic web sites using ColdFusion MX and Dreamweaver MX (latest versions—ColdFusion 6.1 and Dreamweaver MX 2004). Luckily, using ColdFusion MX 6.1 together with Dreamweaver MX 2004 has never been easier! ColdFusion MX 6.1 is aimed at developers who want to make dynamic web sites or applications by introducing interactivity between the user and a server.
ColdFusion MX 6.1 is a powerful server-side technology that essentially combines an application server and a specialized scripting language called ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML). ColdFusion MX 6.1 Application Server has its own web server, but it can work with a wide range of web servers. When the end-user requests a ColdFusion MX 6.1 page, the server processes the page and returns it to the user. Because the code executes on the server, the users cannot see the source code, and the server-side code works the same way regardless of what browser the end-user employs.
CFML is perhaps the easiest server-side scripting language to learn. Despite ColdFusion MX 6.1’s simplicity, it can be used to create large-scale enterprise applications on its own, or it can be integrated with JavaServer Pages (JSP). You can use it to create anything from a content management system to a fully featured e-commerce site!
A Brief History of ColdFusion
At the time of writing, the ColdFusion Application Server has been with us for nearly eight years. In fact, ColdFusion was the first web application server released. Since its early days, there have been some remarkable changes in how the software works and how developers use it to develop content-rich and interactive web sites. Let’s look at the history of ColdFusion.
In early 1995, Jeremy and J. J. Allaire formed Allaire Corporation. Only a couple of months later, ColdFusion 1.0 was launched. In 1996, ColdFusion 1.5 was released, by which time it had already generated a sizeable following.
In March 1997, Allaire bought HomeSite from Bradbury Software. (HomeSite is a popular HTML editor now bundled with Dreamweaver MX 2004, and is currently known as HomeSite+.) Three months later, ColdFusion 3.0 started shipping to a user-base of 30,000 developers.
ColdFusion 3.1 was introduced in January 1998, with greater support for Windows NT and Solaris platforms. This version was released with ColdFusion Studio, an enhanced version of HomeSite with specific tools to aid the development of dynamic ColdFusion applications.
In November 1998, Allaire shipped HomeSite 4 and ColdFusion 4.0, and exactly one year later they announced the launch of ColdFusion 4.5. In 1999, Allaire acquired Live Software’s JRun engine, and for some time the two were completely separate standalone products. This would not be the case forever.
Much later, in March 2001, Macromedia announced the completion of a merger between it and Allaire Corporation. Just three months later, Macromedia ColdFusion Server 5 was launched and made available to developers. Though this release of ColdFusion did not leverage much of the power of JRun, certain features and functionality that shipped with the server made use of an underlying feature-limited JRun engine.
In May 2002, Macromedia ColdFusion MX was released to the public. It was included in the Macromedia MX family of products, and the Developer version was also bundled with the Windows version of Macromedia Studio MX. ColdFusion MX was the most significant release of ColdFusion to date, because it was a complete rewrite of the server code. Completely rewritten in Java, it featured a more significant integration across a broad spectrum of technologies, including Macromedia Flash and Dreamweaver, and introduced many significant features to the CFML language and the server’s underlying engine. ColdFusion MX, being a complete rewrite, was essentially a version 1 release—it just happened to have a history of predecessors. In fall 2003, Macromedia released ColdFusion MX 6.1 as a free upgrade dot-release for anyone with a CFMX license. MX 6.1 addressed the vast majority of reported bugs and server behavior “issues,” including an amazing compiler performance improvement. For lack of a better way to put it, MX 6.1 has been the most significant and flat-out best version of ColdFusion released to date.