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ColdFusion Tutorial – What's ColdFusion?

Page 1 — What’s ColdFusion?

Webmaster Rule Number One
When a potential employer/client asks you if you’ve ever worked with XYZ software running on platform ABC, say “yes” quickly and with great assurance. Then run home, fire up the Net, and figure out what the hell they were talking about.

I pulled this one a couple of years ago when interviewing for a book publisher that used a program called ColdFusion on its site. At first I wondered why the company needed a webmaster fluent in nuclear physics, but a quick HotBot search revealed that ColdFusion is a database-to-Web gateway that’s turning into a very popular tool for businesses that need to get lots and lots of data on the Web lickety-split.

And therein lies your reason to be interested in this otherwise dry subject, because in terms of webmastering, if business likes it, you love it. Companies with lots of junk to put on the Web usually have budgeted lots of cash for the project, cash that they’ll be more than happy to shower upon you if you show them how to assemble a cohesive, dynamic Web site out of their mess of databases.

ColdFusion is a tool made by Allaire that runs concurrently with most Windows and Solaris Web servers (it can also be used effectively on intranets, but we’ll leave that for a separate tutorial and another check from the good folks at Wired). If you host your own server in-house, you can install the package on the same machine; if you host with an outside provider, you’ll have to convince them to purchase and install it. There’s also a growing number of Web providers offering ColdFusion as an available service. You can expect to pay more than you would for a standard hosting account, but, as you’ll read in the next section, the time-saving properties of ColdFusion are well worth the extra loot.

Once installed, you’ll access your database with ColdFusion templates, which look surprisingly similar to standard HTML pages. The difference is that you can create a single template and serve up tons of information dynamically rather than having to create a separate page for every item. You’ll need a basic knowledge of databases and HTML, and if you’re working for a client you’ll need sufficient people skills to explain to them why they need to spend money to save money.