Hot skills: Productivity gains make the case for Coldfusion

Development environment offers web services boost

Development environment offers web services boost

What is it?

Coldfusion is a development environment for building and deploying web applications and web services. Now part of the Adobe/Macromedia family, and integrated with products such as Flash, Dreamweaver and Acrobat, Coldfusion has been criticised for its high cost compared with Active Server Pages (ASP) and open source systems. However, the boost it gives to productivity is said to quickly recoup the cost.

Microsoft offers inducements to Coldfusion developers to switch to Coldfusion’s champions recommend the reverse migration, claiming that, architecturally, and Coldfusion MX are not that different.

Where did it originate?

First released by Allaire in 1995, Coldfusion is one of the best established web application tools, pre-dating Java Server Pages (JSP), Microsoft’s ASP and scripting languages such as PHP.

Macromedia’s Ben Forta said, “Before acquiring Aspect Software, Microsoft approached Allaire about buying Coldfusion.”

The original company’s founder, Jeremy Allaire, joined Macromedia after the takeover in 2001 and oversaw the re-engineering of Coldfusion to a Java-based architecture. Macromedia merged with Adobe in 2005.

What is it for?

Coldfusion has its own tag-based server-scripting language, Coldfusion Markup Language (CFML), with a syntax that closely resembles HTML and XML. Developers can use the Dreamweaver integrated development environment, and the Macromedia Flex presentation server.

Coldfusion applications can be integrated with .net and Java applications, with support for JSP and Enterprise Java Beans. Macromedia’s JRun J2EE server is included.

What makes it special?

Coldfusion includes its own structured business reporting. Web content can be transformed into print-quality PDF or Flashpaper format. Applications can interface with SMS-enabled phones using an SMS gateway. It includes a version of Verity search technology.

How difficult is it to master?

Coldfusion uses a variety of visual tools to simplify development. It enables developers to take advantage of Java application servers without having to get to grips with technologies such as JSP.

According to Ben Forta, it has “the shortest learning curve of any language in this space”.

Rates of pay

Salaries range from £25,000 for juniors to £35,000-plus with two years’ experience. Contractors complain that many firms are still using the pre-Macromedia-MX version 5.


For training materials, see the Adobe website, where you can download a trial version of Coldfusion Enterprise Edition and continue to use it as the Developer Edition. See also the Coldfusion community sites and the Coldfusion Developers Journal.


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