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Posted Feb 7, 2005

ColdFusion MX 7 Takes on a New Set of Problems

By Linda Cole

Feb. 7, 2005 - Macromedia, Inc. today announced the release of ColdFusion MX 7, previously code-named "Blackstone." With this new release, Macromedia continues its tradition of 'making hard things easy.' They took a hard look at the issues that developers struggle with when building and deploying applications, as well as problems encountered by consumers of those applications. What they discovered was that developers were spending a tremendous amount of time in three major areas: the ability to save/print/email a document, the ability to display well-formatted information pulled from a database and information capture via web forms.

Transforming dynamic web content into a printable format has been the bane of the developer's existence. Dave Gruber, ColdFusion Product Manager, states, "There hasn't been an effective way, still to this day, to be able to consume web content straight out of the browser in a way that it can be saved, emailed or printed." This release introduces a complete web content transformation engine in the form of a single tag, called the CFDOCUMENT Tag. Developers can wrap any HTML content or other web based content in this tag and ColdFusion will transform it so that it will display in PDF or Macromedia Flash Paper format. Either of these formats allows the document to be easily printed, emailed or saved.

The mechanism to display well-formatted information that comes from a database, within the context of a web browser is limited to HTML--tables that display information in rows and columns. This provides a poor interface to users of applications and to developers who have the time-consuming task of laying out data in a structured form. ColdFusion handles the issue of displaying well-formatted data within the context of an application with the introduction of a full-blown reporting subsystem, the Cold Fusion Report Builder. The ColdFusion Report Builder is the design tool used to create report templates. The ColdFusion MX 7 server then invokes those templates within the application producing well-formatted documents displayed in PDF, FlashPaper, or Microsoft Excel.

The third major area that Macromedia addressed was information capture, the mechanism used to get user information into the database. "We found that developers were spending a tremendous amount of time on laying out and formatting web forms that could gain access to the level of information needed and store it in a database for dynamic applications," says Dave Gruber. In the data capture space, Macromedia has addressed the forms issues with a new class of CFFORM tag. ColdFusion has always had a simple CFFORM tag that built web forms, but it has now been enhanced to allow developers to create Flash and XForms.

In addition to the three major areas, Macromedia also noted that many people are not only connected to the internet through their desktop but have a very large mobile presence as well. Attempts have been made to create connectivity models using phone based browsers and other technologies, but none have been effective in deploying web applications. The mobile audience has really not been able to interact with internet applications. With this release of ColdFusion, Macromedia provides the capability to tap into the mobile world with internet applications that are usable and easy to create. In addition, Macromedia introduces a new Event Gateway architecture with this release of ColdFusion. This Event Gateway allows ColdFusion to interact with non-HTTP protocols such as SMS text messaging on mobile phones, IM clients like Lotus Sametime, other XMPP IM clients, and more. With a simple, three-step point-and-click interface, users can create multiple instances of servers on a single hardware device, clone or deploy a second application and cluster it all together.

ColdFusion has been around for approximately ten years. Over its life span, it has developed into a full-blown d programming environment, including full function support, services support and built in capabilities for searching and graphing of data information capture. CF has built in support for many of the most common capabilities found in web applications today including full-text search, charting/graphing, structured report generation, document generation, rich forms generation, and high-performance email generation.

To purchase or learn more about ColdFusion MX 7, please visit http://www.macromedia.com/go/cfmx7/.

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