Although other application servers get most of the limelight in Web application development, Macromedia Inc.s ColdFusion is one application server that—through many changes large and small—still commands a loyal following of developers and site authors.
With the previous release, ColdFusion MX, Macromedia completely overhauled the application, uprooting it from its unique-format past, moving it to Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition and making it essentially an application server within an application server. However, although the server and the development engine moved to Java, site developers were still able to take advantage of ColdFusions excellent CFML (ColdFusion Markup Language), which remains the easiest-to-use Web scripting language that eWEEK Labs has seen.
ColdFusion MX 6.1
The newest edition of Macromedias popular application server improves on what was already a very good choice for building Web applications. Although Version 6.1 wont scale with the biggest enterprise application servers, it is one of the easiest to use and the quickest for which to develop. ColdFusion MX 6.1, priced at $1,299 for the Standard edition and $5,999 for the Enterprise package, is more expensive than the previous versions and cant underprice open-source app servers, but its far less expensive than other proprietary servers on the market.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
With the release of ColdFusion MX 6.1 this month, Macromedia has taken much smaller, but welcome, steps to further enhance the popular application server. The performance improvements in ColdFusion MX 6.1 are some of the biggest changes: In eWEEK Labs tests, Version 6.1 outperformed the previous version at all load levels.
Prices for ColdFusion MX 6.1 Standard start at $1,299, with upgrades available for $649. ColdFusion MX Enterprise, which we tested, starts at $5,999, with upgrades available for $2,999. These prices are higher than those of previous versions, but they are very low when compared with most enterprise application servers (although not when compared with free open-source servers).
ColdFusion MX 6.1 runs on Linux, Windows and Unix servers and supports most databases.
For developers, ColdFusion MX 6.1 continues the move into object-oriented-style development that began in the previous version. With ColdFusion Components, we created reusable code that we could easily integrate and invoke from our application scripts.
XML support has also been improved and now acts as a CFML data type. This made it very simple to work with XML within our applications and to dynamically create XML documents.
Along with XML support, ColdFusion MX 6.1 does a good job of dealing with Web services. We could easily invoke Web services from within our ColdFusion applications or create our own Web services from inside of ColdFusion.
As one would expect, ColdFusion MX 6.1 has increased integration with Macromedia Flash, allowing us to drive data to Flash from ColdFusion applications.
Also expected—but still potentially troubling for some developers—is that some older ColdFusion tags, especially those dealing with older authentication methods, are no longer supported. This shouldnt be a big problem for most developers, but older code will need to be migrated. Version 6.1 includes a list of tags that will most likely not be supported in future versions, which we found helpful.
Several improvements have been made for deploying ColdFusion in clustered server environments. We also appreciate the option to run multiple ColdFusion servers on a single system.
East Coast Technical Director Jim Rapoza can be contacted at email@example.com.