How to Get Started Developing in ColdFusion

I’ve seen a couple of tweets around this, and instead of trying to answer every one in 140 characters, I’m instead going to point people to this article.

Get the Developer’s Version of ColdFusion

The developer’s version of ColdFusion is free. It’s not a trial version; it is just free, but with a few restrictions. It is limited in the number of IP addresses it will answer to, and certain featured like cfdocument and cfchart get watermarks placed in their generated content. If you purchase a licensed copy, this version can be upgraded without a reinstall.

In addition to the Developer’s Version a Full trial version is available. It is not limited in ability, but will only run for only 30 days. If you purchase a licensed copy, this version can also be upgraded without a reinstall.

Download the free developer’s version or trial version of ColdFusion

Also I will point out that if you are a member of the Faculty, Student Body, or Staff at a Higher Education institution using ColdFusion for academic purposes, then you are eligible for a free license.

Apply for a free license of ColdFusion for Education.

Pick an Editor/IDE

There are a few options to choose from for editing ColdFusion. Obviously any text editor will work, but there are a few choices if you are looking for an editor with language support for ColdFusion.

Dreamweaver has color coding, language reference and RDS integration with ColdFusion. It is an especially attractive option if you are coming from another web technology and already working with it. If not you can also try it out its demo version.

Download the trial version of Dreamweaver

CFEclipse is a pretty full featured editor for ColdFusion. It is an especially attractive option if you are working with Eclipse already as a Java developer, or using Flex Builder.

Getting started with CFEclipse

Finally, although it is not available today, the Adobe project currently named “Bolt” is a ColdFusion IDE. I’d bet on it becoming the standard tool for ColdFusion development when it comes out.

Learn more about Bolt

Learn about ColdFusion

Pretty much everyone will point you to the Adobe ColdFusion Web Application Construction Kit, Volumes 1, 2, and 3. Combined they are pretty daunting, but you are just getting started, so buy volume 1 for now. Disclaimer: the first author of the book is Ben Forta, for whom I work. I would still recommend it even if I didn’t.

Get the book at Amazon

Also available is community member John Farrar’s book ColdFusion 8 Developer Tutorial. I haven’t read it, but check it out and see if it is more your style.

Get the book at Amazon

In addition to the book route, there is a ton of information available on the Adobe Developer Center. The include simple how to’s and higher level articles like theory behind high availability.

Connect with Other ColdFusion Developers

There are several ways to tap into the ColdFusion Community. Here are just a few:

Also deserving special mention is This site was setup by Ray Camden, and is a ColdFusion only blog aggregator. Ray’s pretty aggressive about policing the list (and publicizing the site 😉 ) so in many ways it’s a better resource than AXNA.

Get Open Source ColdFusion Code

A few years back Ray Camden started RIAForge as a place to store Open Source applications written for ColdFusion and Flex. Currently it has over 600 projects. Check it out before you try and reinvent the wheel.

RIAForge open source code for Adobe technologies

Online Video Presentations

There are a few collections of ColdFusion audio and video presentations by some of the best voices in the community.

I’ll add more to this as I find new ones, or people point out to me which obvious ones I’ve forgotten or not explained enough.

8 thoughts on “How to Get Started Developing in ColdFusion

  1. Terry — as an IT developer with a passing interest in CF, I appreciate having this primer for putting it back into my quiver of useful tools. But I have two unanswered questions which I’ll ask you to cover in future posts:

    1) I currently have a half-dozen tools I use regularly, and my heuristic for adding a new tool (and taking on that learning curve) is "does this blow the doors off my existing toolset for problem X which I’m considering?" So from my perspective, a good evangelization tactic would be learning specific scenarios where you think CF blows the doors off.

    2) The link you posted to the trial server takes me into the "register with Adobe" firewall before I get more information. Without the "doors blown off" example, I’m not yet interested enough to take more than 10 seconds answering the question of whether I can run a dev server on my MacBook. (Call me lazy, or call me a stereotypical potential customer.) So a future post with details would be useful: on an Intel MacBook running Apache, am I virtualizing another OS to do this? Or is there a less invasive option?


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