CFML or ColdFusion Markup Language is one of the most accessible programming languages for the web. If you’re a brand new ColdFusion* developer you have several options for getting up and running with ColdFusion.
As a web developer the key thing you must have before you build production applications is the knowledge and background to set up a developer environment on your computer or laptop.
With ColdFusion there are several options available and I’ll cover the 3 main ones here:
- Adobe ColdFusion trial edition – this is the simplest way to start in my opinion and the approach I use most often. Go to adobe.com/coldfusion and download the version for your operating system.
- Adobe ColdFusion is a paid product so you should be aware of that if you go this route and hope to put your application into production.
- Once you go production there are number of web hosting companies that offer ColdFusion hosting, but personally I like to spin up my own server with Amazon (AWS) and make use of the cloud-licensing that Adobe offers.
- Lucee – Another great option with the clear advantage of being open source and freely available. Without getting into a lot of technical details this open source edition was previously called Railo. For most intents and purposes anything you see that refers to Railo probably now refers to Lucee. Check out the Downloads page on lucee.org for the latest release.
- I probably should take back what I said about Adobe ColdFusion being the simplest path to ColdFusion development. The Express edition of Lucee offers an even simpler way to get started and is only a 70MB download. However, I’d recommend using the normal installer when setting up a production server.
- There are going to be some differences between Lucee and Adobe ColdFusion. For example in many cases Lucee may out-perform it’s very distant commercial cousin. On the other hand there are some proprietary features in Adobe’s product that can be very compelling for certain use cases.
- In most cases language differences should be minimal, but I would not normally expect a code base created on one engine to work on a different engine without at least some tweaking.
- CommandBox – Okay, this one isn’t a CFML-engine per se, but it is a quick way to get started with ColdFusion. CommandBox is the leading ColdFusion-powered command-line environment and I’m a huge fan of this tool. Download it from Ortus Solutions.
- Under the hood this tool is running one of the two CFML engines mentioned above.
- I’m not even scratching the surface of what this tool can do, but if you’d like to get started quickly just run CommandBox and type the command server start in your project directory. This will fire up a CFML server on your localhost.
- Since I can’t cover everything I’d like to jump right to my favorite bit, the REPL. Once you launch CommandBox, type repl and press Enter. This puts you into the ColdFusion REPL environment. From here you can type ColdFusion statements and see their output in the console.
Whether a brand new developer or a seasoned programmer, ColdFusion has something for everyone and can be a great on-ramp to your web development journey.
The 3 options presented in this article are actually quite different in terms of purpose and capability, but all 3 can serve to help you try out one of the most simple and easy-to-learn programming languages in use today.
*Finally, I would like to acknowledge an important technical distinction about my use of the word “ColdFusion” in this post. Technically ColdFusion refers to Adobe’s ColdFusion product; whereas Lucee is considered a “CFML Engine” and is not correctly referred to as ColdFusion.
Are you a new ColdFusion developer? If so, let me know in the comments how you set up your environment and what approach works best for you.