What is ColdFusion MX?

ColdFusion MX is a powerful web application server that lets you create robust sites and applications without a long learning curve. ColdFusion MX does not require coding in traditional programming languages (for example, C/C++, Java, XML), although it supports these traditional programming languages.

ColdFusion MX consists of the following core components:

The following sections describe these core components in more detail.

The ColdFusion application server

The ColdFusion application server is a software program that resides on the same computer as your web server software. It is the program that parses (reads and interprets) and processes supplied instructions. These instructions are passed to ColdFusion through ColdFusion pages, which use a CFM or CFC file extension. A ColdFusion page looks like an HTML page but contains special tags that instruct the ColdFusion server to perform specific operations.

How ColdFusion processes pages

The following steps explain how the ColdFusion server processes a ColdFusion page:

  1. The ColdFusion server looks at the content of the page and searches for the following ColdFusion instructions:
  2. If the Coldfusion server finds any HTML or plain text in the page, the ColdFusion server returns it to the web server untouched.
  3. The ColdFusion server processes all the ColdFusion instructions found, and returns any remaining results to the web server. The web server then sends the entire output to the browser.

The ColdFusion Markup Language

ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML) is a a tag-based language similar to HTML that uses special tags and functions. With CFML you can enhance your standard HTML files with database commands, conditional operators, and high-level formatting functions, and rapidly produce easy-to-maintain web applications.

CFML looks similar to HTML: it includes start and end tags, and each tag is enclosed in angle brackets. All ending tags are preceded with a forward slash (/) and all tag names are preceded with cf; for example:

<cfstarttagname> </cfendtagname>

Building applications with CFML

You build ColdFusion applications as a series of pages that use CFML. Developers can extend this language by creating their own custom tags or user-defined functions (UDF), or by integrating COM, C++, and Java components (such as JSP tag libraries).

Interacting with data sources

ColdFusion applications can interact with any database that supports a JDBC technology-based driver. A JDBC technology-based driver uses an Application Programming Language (API) to execute SQL statements to databases on most platforms. However, ColdFusion is not limited to JDBC data sources. You can also interact with existing Open Database connectivity (ODBC) data sources by using ODBC Socket, a driver that interacts with an existing ODBC driver.

Development tools

While you can code your ColdFusion application with NotePad or any HTML editor, Macromedia recommends that you build your applications using Macromedia Dreamweaver MX. Dreamweaver MX offers features and wizards that enhance ColdFusion development. For more information about Dreamweaver MX, see Chapter 4, "Configuring Your Development Environment".

The ColdFusion MX Administrator

You use the ColdFusion MX Administrator to configure and maintain the ColdFusion application server. It is a web-based application that you can access using any web browser, from any computer with an Internet connection.

This image shows the ColdFusion MX Administrator home page.

You can manage the following configuration options with the ColdFusion Administrator:

For further details about the ColdFusion Administrator, see Installing ColdFusion MX or Administering ColdFusion MX.