ColdFusion is one of the easiest programming environments to use, and enables you to create powerful server-side web applications very quickly, with much less code than other technologies such as ASP, PHP, etc.
ColdFusion integrates many Internet technologies such as XML, Java, web services, etc, and as such, your applications can be as small or complex as required.
ColdFusion consists of two main elements:
- A ColdFusion server (which runs on top of your web server),
- ColdFusion templates (or files), which you write using ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML).
That's probably a very simplistic way of putting it, as there are many elements that make up a ColdFusion environment, but these two are essential if you want to build a ColdFusion application/website.
What Can ColdFusion Do?
ColdFusion enables you to build large, complex, and dynamic websites. ColdFusion can also increase your productivity enormously, both in development time and maintenance time.
With ColdFusion, you can do things such as:
- Query a database
- Allow users to upload files
- Create/read files on the server (for example, the files that your users upload)
- Have a "member's area" (eg, via a login page)
- Have a shopping cart
- Present a customized experience (for example, based on users' browsing history)
- Create a "member's area" (eg, via a login page)
- Send emails (for example, newsletters to a mailing list)
- Schedule tasks to run automatically (for example, your email newsletters)
- FTP files to/from another server
- Publish web services
- Package and deploy your projects between environments
- Much, much more
OK, I'm Sold. How Do I Get Started?
To build ColdFusion applications, you first need to install the ColdFusion server. Don't worry if that sounds like too much work - it's very straight forward. Installing ColdFusion is just like installing any other piece of software — you simply click your way through the installation wizard, configuring it as you go. This tutorial will point you in the right direction.
Once you've installed ColdFusion server, you can write code using the ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML). CFML uses a syntax that closely resembles HTML and XML. This makes it easy to learn if you're familiar with HTML or XML. CFML however, is more powerful than HTML — it is basically a programming language. You can write conditional statements, loops, query a database, send bulk emails, publish web services and much more.
ColdFusion also provides an administration interface (the ColdFusion Administrator), which enables you to customize your ColdFusion environment.