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Who Should Use This Book

ColdFusion is the world's leading cross-platform Web application development tool. While ColdFusion is an easy (and fun) product to learn, some of its more advanced concepts and technologies require ColdFusion experience.

This book is written for ColdFusion programmers. If you have yet to write ColdFusion code, this is not the only book you need. For starters, grab a copy of The ColdFusion 4.0 Web Application Construction Kit (Que Publishing, ISBN 0-7897-1809-X). That book will teach you everything you need to get up and running (including extensive coverage of prerequisite technologies such as Internet fundamentals, the basics of application and database design, and the SQL language). It will also teach you everything you need to write real-world Web-based applications.

The book you are holding in your hands is designed to pick up where that book leaves off. If you have ColdFusion programming experience (or are about to become an expert), this book will enhance your expertise with the knowledge you need to take your applications to the next level.

ColdFusion 4, the latest version of ColdFusion, introduces many new high-end technologies designed to let you create highly secure, scalable, and extensible applications. This book will teach you how these technologies work, how they are used, and how to incorporate them into your applications.

All this book's authors are programmers. Most develop or maintain massive Internet or intranet sites built entirely upon ColdFusion technology. The information in this book is based on the real-world experiences of these developers, allowing you to leverage years of hard-earned knowledge and experience within your own applications.

How to Use This Book

This book is not designed to be read sequentially from cover to cover, although you are more than welcome to do so. Rather, this book is organized into logical sections designed to address specific needs or problems. As such, each section stands on its own, allowing you to start at any section or chapter to obtain the information you need.

The books is divided into four sections:

Part I: Scalability

Part I of this book addresses application scalability. You learn what scalability actually is, how fault-tolerance and load-balancing technologies are used to guarantee application uptime, and how to use these technologies within your applications.

Chapter 1, "Monitoring Server Performance," introduces the basics of scalability by teaching you how to determine just how scalable your ColdFusion servers actually are. You learn how to use the built-in performance monitoring tools and how to pinpoint the source of scalability problems.

Chapter 2, "Different Ways to Scale," explains just what you can (and should) do to ensure that your applications and servers scale. You learn what works, what does not, and what to avoid at all costs.

Chapter 3, "Server Clustering Using Bright Tiger," teaches you how to use the bundled Bright Tiger ClusterCATS technology. ClusterCATS establishes server clusters that intelligently provide fault-tolerance and dynamic load balancing. (Note, however, that Bright Tiger ClusterCATS is only bundled with the Enterprise version of ColdFusion Application Server.)

Because session information is usually very server-specific, creating server clusters (or server farms) requires that you rethink how you manage session information. Chapter 4, "Managing Client State," teaches you how to manage sessions and session state across a cluster.

Part II: Security

In Part II you learn how to employ advanced security techniques and concepts in your applications.

Chapter 5, "Security Options," discusses the different techniques used to create and deploy secure Web-based applications. You learn what security features ColdFusion provides and how to determine which options are right for your application.

In Chapter 6, "The User Authentication Framework," you learn how to use ColdFusion's advanced security framework to build secure and robust applications with sophisticated access control. ColdFusion provides a series of tags and functions that are used within your application to interact with the framework; they are covered in detail as well.

Chapter 7, "Securing Specific Features and Components," covers securing specific parts of the ColdFusion development environment and the creation of server sandboxes. This includes securing your server so that developers only have access to the features they need. As such, this chapter will be of particular interest to ISPs, IT managers, or anyone who has to manage a server shared by multiple developers.

In Chapter 8, "Integration with NOS Security," you learn how to take advantage of security features built in to your underlying operating system.

Part III: Extending ColdFusion

ColdFusion is a highly extensible and flexible platform for application development and deployment. This section covers many of the new technologies that you can use to extend your applications.

Chapter 9, "Creating Custom Tags," teaches you how to write CFML language extensions in CFML. You learn how to pass attributes to tags, how to return data, and how to create complex tag sets made up of base and child tags.

In Chapter 10, "Writing CFX Tags in Visual C++," you learn how to extend ColdFusion using the CFAPI. You discover how to use the Microsoft Visual C++ ColdFusion tag wizards and how to write tags that can deliver a whole new level of flexibility and power to your ColdFusion applications.

While CFAPI is officially supported only in C and C++, it is possible to write CFX tags in other languages too. Chapter 11, "Writing CFX Tags in Delphi," teaches you how to use the CFAPI with Borland's popular Delphi development environment.

Chapter 12, "Extending ColdFusion with COM/DCOM," introduces COM and DCOM objects. These controls can be written in many languages, including C, C++, Visual Basic, Delphi, and Java. You can plug these objects into your ColdFusion code using the <CFOBJECT> tag.

Chapter 13, "Extending ColdFusion with CORBA," introduces CORBA technology. You learn about CORBA objects, how ORBs work, and how to take advantage of distributed processing using CORBA and the <CFOBJECT> tag.

Chapter 14, "Customizing ColdFusion Studio," teaches you to how to customize and extend the ColdFusion Studio development environment. You learn keyboard shortcuts, as well as how to change toolbars and how to build your own tag editor dialogs.

Chapter 15, "Scripting ColdFusion Studio," introduces another way to extend the ColdFusion Studio environment. ColdFusion Studio 4 includes a sophisticated object model that lets you programmatically manipulate the environment by writing scripts in JScript and VBScript. You learn how the object model works, what it can do, and how to take advantage of this powerful new feature.

Part IV: Advanced Application Development

Part IV covers some of the more advanced ColdFusion development technologies. Among other things, you learn how to distribute processing between servers, how to use regular expressions, and how to manage the system registry.

Chapter 16, "Using WDDX to Create Distributed Applications," introduces the Web Dynamic Data eXchange standard and teaches you how to use it to share data between different servers.

Chapter 17, "Advanced WDDX Integration," builds upon this knowledge by showing you how you can use WDDX to communicate with other development systems (such as ASP).

Chapter 18, "ColdFusion Scripting," introduces the ColdFusion <CFSCRIPT> tag. <CFSCRIPT> allows you to replace blocks of tag-based ColdFusion code with a more concise script-based interface. This technique will appeal primarily to developers who are comfortable working in other scripting languages, such as Perl and JavaScript.

In Chapter 19, "Structured Error and Retry Handling," you learn how to create try and catch blocks to give you total control over what happens when errors occur. You learn how to create custom error screens, how to intelligently handle database errors, and how to create a more professional and polished end-user interface.

Chapter 20, "Regular Expressions," introduces the powerful and flexible world of regular expression manipulation. Regular expressions allow you to perform incredible sophisticated and powerful string manipulations in simple one-line statements. ColdFusion supports the use of regular expressions in both find and replace functions, and this technology can greatly enhance these operations.

Chapter 21, "Intelligent Agents and Distributed Processing," teaches you how to use Internet protocols such as HTTP, FTP, and NNTP from within your code. With the help of these protocols, you can easily write applications that interact with other server and services anywhere on the public Internet or private intranets.

Chapter 22, "Interacting with the System Registry," shows you how the new <CFREGISTRY> tag can be used to manage your system registry. <CFREGISTRY> is a very powerful tag—and a potentially dangerous one. You learn how to use this tag, as well as how not to use it.


Appendix A, "ColdFusion Tag Reference," is the definitive reference for every ColdFusion tag, with descriptive explanations, syntax tables, and examples for each. Topics are cross-referenced extensively to related topics and appropriate tutorial chapters in the book.

Appendix B, "ColdFusion Function Reference," is a complete reference of every ColdFusion function organized by category. Thorough descriptions and examples are given for every function, and extensive cross-references are provided.

Appendix C, "VTML and WIZML Language Reference," provides an alphabetical listing of all the tags in the VTML and WIZML languages. These XML-based languages are used to manage and manipulate the ColdFusion Studio environment, and this appendix complements the information taught in Chapter 14, "Customizing ColdFusion Studio."

Appendix D, "The WDDX.DTD File," is a complete reprint of the XML Document Type Definition for the WDDX data-exchange format (with permission from Allaire). It describes what elements and attributes can legally appear in a WDDX Packet. It also lays down some ground rules about how certain special values—such as dates, null values, and carriage returns—should be treated. Think of it as the specification for WDDX itself.


The accompanying CD-ROM contains the following:

  • Evaluation versions of ColdFusion 4 for Windows NT

  • Evaluation version of ColdFusion 4 for Sun Solaris

  • Evaluation version of ColdFusion Studio 4

  • All the code listings in this book

  • The Delphi CFAPI interface

  • Lots of third-party add-ons and utilities that help you take your applications to the next level

Fire up your editor, pick the chapters that will help you most, and get to work. In no time you will be doing things with ColdFusion that you never thought possible.

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