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Exciting New Features in ColdFusion 5

By Shannon Peevey, UNT Central Web Support

We are living in an exciting time when technology is changing our lives. We are seeing hybrid cars on the street, and the end of analog television, and we are, amazing as it may seem, becoming used to the fast pace at which this world moves, as if the speed itself wasn't a new phenomenon which has only occurred during the second half of the last century. To keep up with this pace, we are constantly bombarded with new ways to stay on the cutting edge, and develop and perform faster, allowing us to have more personal time for ourselves... Or else, that is what they are telling us... To achieve this, we are given more and more products that dub themselves Rapid Application Development, or RAD, products, but few actually achieve this status...

Enter Macromedia ColdFusion 5

Macromedia ColdFusion 5 is the first release of the popular internet RAD software, formerly known as Allaire ColdFusion. This name change comes about as a direct result of the merger of the Web design giant, Macromedia, and the dynamic Web content behemoth, Allaire, in what is a move to solidify each company in the marketplace, and to offer the end-user/designer a complete Web content design package. The ColdFusion 5 package, signifies this step towards an integrated package, and comes to us from a history of powerful, and extremely stable precursors. Macromedia knows this, so they have built upon this foundation, and then, looking to the future, added some powerful, cutting-edge tools for the designer and the administrator. In this article, I would like to cover a few of the features for both the designer and administrator, and will hopefully whet your appetite for the upgrade to ColdFusion 5 that we are planning for fiscal year 2001-2002.

For the designer . . .

First, for the designer, they have added the ability to create custom tags and "user-defined functions" which add extensibility and reusability to the code that you are creating. Custom tags allow you to create something unique for a particular purpose in a particular application, and push the boundaries for the uses of ColdFusion 5. If you have seen some of the great ColdFusion sites that are out on the Web, (www.laksamana.net, www.balibalibali.com, www.cfvault.com, www.dragonballz.com (which was created in part by our very own Kenn Moffitt!)), you will see what Web designers have been able to do with the older versions of ColdFusion, and am sure you will be able to create something new, and very innovative with this new extensibility. The user-defined functions allow the designer to create a function for an application, and then pull that function out of the application and drop it quite easily into a new one. According to reports, this single feature has dropped production time in half on the creation of test applications.

Another exciting new feature, is the ability of an application to access information from a disparate array of data sources using a standard SQL statement. This is called a "Query of Queries", and allows you to access a database, multiple database, multiple databases from multiple companies, (ie. Microsoft and Oracle), or even an e-mail system and a database... As you can see, ColdFusion 5 is pushing the envelope on querying data sources, you decide the limitations...

Speaking of data connectivity, the Merant's DataDirect Connect ODBC Drivers that are being shipped with ColdFusion 5, have been shown to perform five times faster than the traditional ODBC drivers that were being shipped in previous versions. And, in addition to the speed at which the new drivers perform, ColdFusion 5 allows incremented page delivery to speed up the rate at which your application downloads at home, or at work. Incremental delivery allows for the information to be posted at the time the browser receives the information, and not at the time when all of the information has been received by the browser, as was the case in previous versions.

For the administrator . . .

For the administrator, we are getting a new archive tool, that will allow for easy backup and portability for your applications. We will also get SNMP, Simple Network Management Protocol, support, allowing us to monitor performance from remote locations and make sure that your applications are on-line and running at the optimum rate possible. We are also excited about the amount of integration that is seen between the newest version of ColdFusion and third-party products, allowing for greater choice of operating systems, enhanced COM support, and load balancing, and allowing us to bring you the most stable and enjoyable environment to work on.

In Summary

As you have seen in this article, we are looking at an exciting time here on campus with an upgrade to our newest dynamic Web content development tool, ColdFusion 5, and at the same time, continue with the highest degree of accessibility, stability, and proven performance that you have come to expect from ColdFusion, and Central Web Support. As you may be aware, we are sending out notifications of other upgrades that are going to be taking place concurrently with the ColdFusion upgrade, and I hope that you check out my other articles in this issue of Benchmarks Online, and in those to come, to learn more about what we hope to do for your Web site here on campus.

If you have any questions about ColdFusion 5 and/or how you can get your dynamic UNT Website hosted on our server, feel free to write me at: speevey@cc.admin.unt.edu