Web server for online occasions

Coldfusion may sound like it's from the nuclear age, but it is a hot skill for e-business, writes Nick Langley

Coldfusion may sound like it's from the nuclear age, but it is a hot skill for e-business, writes Nick Langley

What is it?

Allaire's Coldfusion is a cross-platform Web application server for developing and delivering scalable e-business sites and other Internet, intranet and extranet applications. It has its own integrated development environment, Coldfusion Studio, which includes visual programming, database, and debugging tools. It's one of the most in-demand e-business skills.

Where did it originate?

It was first released in 1995, making it one of the longest established and most widely used Web application servers.

What's it for?

Web applications are developed using Coldfusion Markup Language (CFML), a server-side scripting language that integrates with HTML, XML, and other Web languages. Coldfusion Studio includes project management and source control functionality for team developments.

Coldfusion Server, the deployment foundation of the Coldfusion Web application server, provides a runtime environment, database connectivity, Internet protocol integration, state management, security, and open integration with other Web servers. It's designed to work with other popular Web development tools, including Macromedia Dreamweaver and Netobjects Fusion.

Coldfusion is part of the Allaire Internet Business Platform, which includes JRun, Spectra and Homesite. Spectra is a packaged system for content management, e-commerce and personalisation.

Why is it special?

As well as offering a complete solution in their own right, the Allaire tools have open integration with other generic and third-party Web technologies.

Is it difficult to master?

Interactive developers build components that interact with data stored in Allaire's Contentobject database, external SQL databases, or in systems accessed through object middleware using DCom, Corba, or Java. Once the interactive developer has built a library of Contentobjects, they hand them over to site designers who assemble the Web sites. The designers use a three-tier development model that separates data, logic, and presentation. Designers must be familiar with HTML layout and design. They use tag-based components to drop Contentobjects into pages. Once the designer has assembled the Contentobjects into sections and page templates, the site becomes a self-managed system.

Where is it used?

Coldfusion users tend to be large enterprises, although the company has partners in the systems integration and services sector, who build sites for customers.

Not to be compared

With cold reality, codfish'n' chips, jazz fusion.

What systems it runs on

Windows NT, Solaris, HP-UX and Linux.

Not many people know

Cold fusion was proposed as an astonishingly cheap, non-polluting way of producing heat and light, an alternative to nuclear fission. By contrast, the Internet is an astonishingly expensive way of producing a great deal of heat, but very little light.

What's coming up?

Allaire and Adobe recently developed a Coldfusion Extension to Adobe's Golive 5.0, so that Web developers not familiar with CFML can create Coldfusion applications using the Golive visual development environment.

Rates of pay

With a year's Coldfusion, you could be looking at £30,000 to £35,000. Several City firms have recently been offering £48,000 to £60,000 for those with Coldfusion among other Web skills. There are also plenty of advertisers offering training in Coldfusion to otherwise suitably qualified candidates.


Allaire has a large number of training partners. Highlander (020-7515 9100) offer Fast track to Coldfusion, a three-day course at £1,250. Alternatively, you can get a Coldfusion interactive training CD from greymatter.co.uk at £226.

Read more on Web software