Adobe ColdFusion 8 Beta Goes Public

Adobe releases a public beta of the latest version of its ColdFusion Web development system, ColdFusion 8.

Adobe Systems has announced the public beta of the latest version of its ColdFusion Web development system, Adobe ColdFusion 8.

The San Jose, Calif., company announced the release of the public beta on May 30, and company officials said commercial release of the technology is scheduled for mid to late summer. The public beta of ColdFusion 8 is available on the Adobe Labs site or through Adobes hosting partner.

ColdFusion 8 is designed for developers building dynamic Web sites and Internet applications and addresses day-to-day challenges to increase developer productivity, said Tim Buntel, Adobes senior product marketing manager for ColdFusion. The product also integrates with complex enterprise environments, and delivers rich application experiences for users, he said. Moreover, the ColdFusion 8 public beta is a feature-complete preview, allowing developers to immediately experience increased efficiency and simplicity when building Internet applications, Buntel claimed.

ColdFusion 8 leverages Adobes Flex technology and AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML)-based components to enable developers to design and deploy rich applications. It also features Eclipse-based wizards and debugging to enable developers to build applications and identify and fix problems easier than in previous versions, Buntel said. Also, the ColdFusion 8 Server Monitor allows developers to identify bottlenecks and tune the server for better performance.

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Buntel said ColdFusion 8 integrates with a broad range of platforms and systems, including .Net assemblies, Microsoft Windows Vista and new Java Enterprise Edition application servers, including JBoss, to support the development of enterprise applications. ColdFusion 8 also shows performance gains over ColdFusion MX 7 and earlier versions of the product, Buntel said. And ColdFusion 8 applications interact with Adobe PDF documents and forms for a printable, portable way to intelligently capture information, Buntel said.

The interoperability options and support for .Net and Java "are important for keeping ColdFusion as the Swiss army knife of application development tools," Buntel said.

"Were calling it a public beta, but the product is pretty close to a shipping version," Buntel said. "Its referred to as a beta, but this is not early technology."

This is the first release of ColdFusion since Adobe acquired Macromedia—which itself acquired the technology in its acquisition of Allaire in 2001. Adobe acquired Macromedia in 2005.

"A lot of the new features are around bringing some of Adobes DNA into the product," Buntel said.

"From what I can tell, theres been a good degree of Adobe-izing here—e.g., the PDF forms integration," said Michael Cote, an analyst with RedMonk LLC.

"ColdFusion 8 is the most significant release since the platform moved to a Java back end and includes significant improvements for both the front and back ends of applications," said Sam Farmer, director of engineering at Washington-based Interfolio, an early user of the technology. "We have rebuilt our product on ColdFusion 8, and the capabilities of the language have sped up our development and allowed us to provide functionality we would not have included had we been working with an earlier version.

"The new AJAX functionality has allowed us to make our user interface both richer and more responsive," Farmer said. "[What is] great about the ColdFusion AJAX implementation is it can either complement your JavaScript skills or you can get great functionality without writing a line of JavaScript.

"One issue with AJAX or Flex applications is that debugging what is happening on the server can be very difficult," Farmer said. "But with ColdFusion 8 I can use the new ColdFusion debugger in Eclipse, the JavaScript debugger in my browser or the extended capabilities of cfdump to get a real-time informative view of what is going on."

"I have to say Im reasonably impressed with the new version," said another early user, Wayne Graham, emerging technology coordinator at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. "For me, moving to Java 6 is a great improvement in itself, but the fact that theyve built in abstractions for AJAX and RSS makes it even better. Ive got some very narrow criticisms, but I have to say I love the new tag set."

RedMonks Cote said ColdFusion adds an alternative in Adobes stable of tools for Web development. "While Flex and Apollo have received much attention in Adobes developer world of late for Rich Internet application [RIA] development, this release of ColdFusion 8 updates Adobes platform for those developers who want a more traditional, non-RIA method of delivering Web applications," Cote said.

"My sense is that Adobes stable of back-end technologies and layers now work together, but that there could be more consolidation among them, if only conceptually," he said. "Adobe seems to be favoring a component-based back end, where developers choose which application server to run Adobe components in rather than using whatever run-time Adobe may choose as The One True Back End. I feel like this consolidation strategy could actually work in Adobes favor as their strengths are closer to the front-end layers rather than the back-end layers."

Indeed, Adobe said customers of all sizes have actively participated in the ColdFusion early beta process and found that the solution offers many reasons to upgrade. "ColdFusion 8 delivers several enhancements that boost day-to-day productivity," said Brian Rinaldi, ColdFusion developer for the Distributed Computing Group at Sun Life Financial, in a statement. "Features such as debugging and server monitoring accelerate routine development and maintenance—and can really make a difference when it comes to keeping service levels high and applications running smoothly."

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