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Who Should Read This Book?

As the author of this book, naturally, I'm going to say "everyone" should read it because the goal here is for you to actually place dollars on the counter and take this volume home to savor the many pearls of wisdom within. But I'd be misleading you if I didn't mention the following:

  • You'll need to have some basic knowledge of building Web pages using HTML code and a text editor.

  • You'll need to know how to transfer files to a server via an FTP program or other means.

  • You'll definitely need a computer.

This tutorial will be particularly useful if you belong to one of the following groups.

Non-Programming Web Developers

Say you've built a few sites using standard HTML, and you now know your way around an <A HREF> tag better than you do the functions on your cell phone. You're naturally feeling a little sure of yourself, but one day you get a call from a client or boss, who has met with "the committee" and produced a huge laundry list of features to include on the company Web site. The committee wants Web-based email, a login function, a guestbook, user-customizable pages, and the ability to add new content daily. Oh yeah, and, of course, they want it yesterday.

You have several options at this point. You can quit this computer thing altogether and go back to your part-time job at the Jiffy Mart. You can phone up a programmer buddy and offer to trade him your prized Spock ears for a few hours' consulting time. Or, you can sit down and actually try to build the thing within the insane time frame the committee requires. Assuming that you're not experienced in C or Perl programming, you'd first have to scour the Web for prewritten programs that will perform all the fancy functions the company wants. Then you'd have to install, configure and customize each of these programs to your liking, and, if you've ever tried to troubleshoot someone else's freeware programs, you know that this is no easy task.

But there's a better method, one that will save you plenty of teeth gnashing and just might get you in before the company deadline. You could instead opt to install ColdFusion on the company's Web server and purchase a copy of this book (thank you) to help you create all of those special functions without having to learn a lick of C code or install a single Perl module. In just 21 days, you'll be the talk of the town and the envy of your peers.

Web Programmers

If you do have programming knowledge, you'll find that ColdFusion works just fine alongside the existing Web tools you've built, and that it can help you add new functions to your sites in a fraction of the coding time you're used to. And with all of that programming experience already whizzing around in your head, you can zip through the sections in this book that deal with familiar concepts such as variables and if-then statements.

The Teeming Millions

Even if you're not in the business of Web design, you may have a pet project that's been barking to get on the Web. Maybe you've collected lots of data on Hummel figurines or your city's exciting zoning ordinances and just can't wait to share them with the world. ColdFusion is a great way to build a feature-rich site with lots of information—without having to dedicate all of your spare hours to learning a programming language just for your pet project.


The first seven lessons in this book introduce you to ColdFusion and explain how it is used to build Web applications that will help you quickly accomplish a variety of tasks not possible with standard HTML code. You'll learn how to install ColdFusion server, how to use the SQL language to select and serve database records on the Web, and how to use forms to change the contents of your Web databases. By the end of Week 1, you'll have enough knowledge to begin building simple but functional ColdFusion-driven sites that make it look as if you've really worked your tail off when, in reality, you spent merely a few hours constructing a few template pages.

Week 2 introduces ColdFusion Studio, the optional development application that helps you build template pages. You'll also learn about tools like variables and functions, both of which allow you to create Web sites that do things other than just sit there and look nice. You'll learn how to control the flow of your application with if-then statements, and how to use ColdFusion to send and receive mail via the Web.

Finally, Week 3's lessons will show you how to make the most of your programming hours with ColdFusion. You'll learn about timesaving devices such as advanced variable types, advanced SQL procedures, and ColdFusion's Verity search engine. You'll find out how to combat the Web's inherent statelessness with client and session variables. In the final chapters, you'll learn how ColdFusion is used to construct e-commerce applications, and how to troubleshoot template pages that just won't behave.

Conventions Used in This Book

This book uses the following typeface conventions:

  • Menu names are separated from menu options by a comma. For example, File, Open means "select the Open option from the File menu."

  • New terms are set off by the icon and appear in italic.

  • In some listings, we've included both the input and output. For these, all code that you type in (input) appears in boldface monospace. Output appears in standard monospace. The combination icon indicates that both input and output appear in the code.

    The input icon and output icon also identify the nature of the code.

  • Many code-related terms within the text also appear in monospace.

  • Placeholders in code appear in italic monospace.

  • When a line of code is too long to fit on one line of this book, it is broken at a convenient place and continued to the next line. A code continuation character () precedes the continuation of a line of code. (You should type a line of code that has this character as one long line without breaking it.)

  • Paragraphs that begin with the analysis icon explain the preceding code example.

  • The syntax icon identifies syntax statements.

Special design features enhance the text material:

  • Notes

  • Tips

  • Cautions


Notes explain interesting or important points that can help you understand SQL concepts and techniques.


Tips are little pieces of information that will help you in real-world situations. Tips often offer shortcuts to make a task easier or faster.


Cautions provide information about detrimental performance issues or dangerous errors. Pay careful attention to Cautions.

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