Server Speeds App Building

Macromedia's ColdFusion 5.0 reduces amount of database connections, enhances users' productivity.

In the first release since the technology was acquired by Macromedia Inc., the latest version of the ColdFusion application server adds tools and features to help developers build and deploy applications more quickly.

ColdFusion 5.0, the first release since Macromedia acquired Allaire Corp. last year, features integration with Macromedias Generator tool for creating graphics and charts using data drawn from any source.

ColdFusion 5.0, which Macromedia will announce this week, lets users define custom functions, using CFScript, that are then available in any ColdFusion application. Another feature the company is calling "query of queries" allows users to integrate data from different sources and treat the data as if it were from a single source, reducing the number of connections to and from a database.

"We have quite a large student database, and at [peak] times, it can be quite slow," said Phil Hulsey, a beta customer and developer with East Carolina University, in Greenville, N.C. ColdFusion 5.0 "allows us to cache large amounts of data in memory so we dont have to go back piece by piece. Thats saving us some grief."

Another new feature, being able to deliver complex pages in increments, also helps performance, Hulsey said. The universitys development server is running better on the beta of ColdFusion 5.0 than its larger test server.

"Were putting the release candidate on our test server, and we have high expectations its going to way out-perform it," he said.

Many of the new features are designed to enhance users productivity, said Adam Berrey, vice president of Macromedias ColdFusion server business, in Newton, Mass.

"We think 5.0 is really going to help enable IT managers to do more with the resources they already have," Berrey said.

The latest version includes analysis and reporting tools, the Verity K2 search engine and International Language Packs for multilanguage indexing, enhanced application monitoring, integration with enterprise management systems, and enhanced integration with hardware load balancers.

Also new is a feature that enables developers to package entire applications—including files, data sources and configuration settings—for easier deployment. The feature, called Application Deployment Services, also gives users an easy way to automatically roll back applications if there is a problem.

Berrey said some applications will run up to three times faster than those built using ColdFusion 4.5. "Customers are going to see pretty significant performance increases," he said.

The new monitoring and analysis tools, developed internally, will give server administrators the ability to monitor server performance and identify problems.

Pricing is $1,295 per server for the Professional Edition; $4,995 per server for the Enterprise Edition; and $5,995 for two CPUs for the Hosting Service Provider Edition. The Professional Edition for Windows and Linux and the Enterprise Edition for Windows and HP-UX will be available in June. The Enterprise Edition for Solaris and Linux will be available in August.