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About This Book

Welcome to the world of ColdFusion development! This book was written to guide you through the basics of using Macromedia ColdFusion MX to develop dynamic, database-driven Web sites and applications. You've chosen to become a ColdFusion developer at a great time in its history. The development environment is at its most robust and powerful level with more than 75 basic instructions and 240 built-in functions at your disposal. ColdFusion's performance and scalability are at all-time highs, and the ColdFusion Application Server has been rewritten in Java, meaning that you can deploy it on any server that has Java support. ColdFusion continues to power more and more dynamic Web sites, so the skills you develop in working with this book will always be in demand and valuable.

As a ColdFusion developer, you'll find that you're part of an active and vibrant community that sponsors regional user groups, seminars, and mailing lists that you can post to when you encounter challenging programming requirements. Macromedia's DevCon developers conference is a fantastic annual event where you can increase your knowledge, become certified in ColdFusion development, catch glimpses of how ColdFusion will continue to evolve, and network with other developers like yourself. Be sure to check Macromedia's site (http://www.macromedia.com/) for dates and locations.

If you're like most developers, you'll find the effort you put into mastering ColdFusion to be both personally and professionally enjoyable. We're glad you chose this book to help you with that effort!

How to Use This Book

Students learning ColdFusion always crave examples, and this book provides broad and instructive sets of examples showing how to work with ColdFusion. The many examples included in this book are there for you to type in, tweak, experiment with, and adapt to your own purposes. Most are inspired by functionality found in real-world applications, meaning that you'll be working with very relevant and valuable code. Be sure to explore each example thoroughly and don't be afraid to make mistakes! You can learn a lot about programming from your errors, too.

Another important aspect of the examples in this book is that they illustrate best practices in ColdFusion programming. You should focus on incorporating these best practices into your own coding habits. Not only will this make your code easier to maintain, in many cases it will also help your applications to run more efficiently.

Who Should Use This Book

ColdFusion MX Development was written with the ColdFusion beginner in mind. A number of good books have been written about ColdFusion, but few, if any, are in a tutorial style that welcomes a newcomer to ColdFusion programming. This book fills that void by providing an example-driven way to learn ColdFusion that starts from first principles.

After you complete this book, or if you've had some beginning-level exposure to ColdFusion, you should consider moving on to a more intermediate level book that discusses some of the more advanced features of ColdFusion MX.

How This Book Is Organized

Each chapter of the book covers an important ColdFusion foundation skill. The coverage of each chapter is as follows:

Chapter 1, “The ColdFusion Development Environment,” explains the different components that make up a ColdFusion-based Web server and what tools you can use to assist in your development work.

Chapter 2, “Variables and Variable Scope,” introduces you to the many different kinds of variables in the ColdFusion environment and how you can use them to accomplish tasks such as processing data submitted from an HTML form.

Chapter 3, “Implementing Conditional Logic,” demonstrates how to construct if-then rules that govern how ColdFusion responds to different situations.

Chapter 4, “Interacting with Databases: Retrieving Data,” shows you how to query a database and use the returned data to construct a dynamic Web page.

Chapter 5, “Interacting with Databases: Inserting, Updating, and Deleting,” explains how to perform database queries other than data retrieval. You'll learn how to collect data via an HTML form and create a new record in a relational database table. You'll also learn how to edit and delete existing records.

Chapter 6, “Using ColdFusion Lists, Arrays, and Structures,” shows you how to use some special data structures and their accompanying functions to store and manipulate data more efficiently.

Chapter 7, “Implementing ColdFusion Loops,” introduces you to the different kinds of iterative instructions you can implement with ColdFusion.

Chapter 8, “Sending E-mail with ColdFusion,” shows you how to compose and send dynamic e-mail messages. You'll also learn how you can get ColdFusion to answer the mail.

Chapter 9, “Troubleshooting Your ColdFusion Code,” provides you with tips and techniques for chasing down some of the common errors that come up during ColdFusion development.

Chapter 10, “Adding JavaScript to Your Forms,” demonstrates how you can use ColdFusion to soup up your HTML forms with JavaScript that enforces required fields and validates user input.

Chapter 11, “Maintaining State Information,” explains how you can build “memory” into your dynamic Web sites. With it, you can remember important information, such as the contents of a person's shopping cart.

Chapter 12, “Using the ColdFusion Application Framework,” describes the features of ColdFusion that help you to bring many individual ColdFusion scripts together to work in concert as an application.

Chapter 13, “Creating a Search Engine with Verity,” shows you how to set up a basic search engine on your site by using Verity, a free-text search tool that comes bundled with ColdFusion.

Chapters 14, 15 and 16 provide short case studies in how to use ColdFusion to build three common Web-enabled sites. In Chapter 14, “Case Study: Corporate Intranet Directory,” you'll see how to develop an employee directory for a corporate intranet, including tools for managing the names in the directory. Chapter 15, “Case Study: Conference Registration Site,” shows you how to develop a site that registers conference attendees. Chapter 16, “Case Study: Online Store,” walks you through the basic steps of building an online store.

The appendixes contain references on how to use the ColdFusion tags and functions you'll learn about over the course of the book. Appendix A, “ColdFusion Markup Language Tag Reference,” summarizes the usage and syntax of the tags, and Appendix B, “ColdFusion Markup Language Functions,” does the same thing for the functions.

Conventions Used in This Book

This book uses several common conventions to help teach ColdFusion.

Some of the typographical conventions used in the book include the following:

  • Commands and computer output appear in a special monospaced computer font.

  • New terms being introduced are in italics.

  • Any lines of code that are too long to fit across a single line will be broken across two or more lines, and a code continuation character () will appear on the subsequent lines.

In addition to the typographical conventions, the following special elements are used to bring special information to your attention:


Notes augment the material you read in each chapter. These notes clarify concepts and programming practices.


Tips offer shortcuts and solutions to common problems.


Cautions warn you about roadblocks and potential pitfalls that can occur while you're developing ColdFusion applications.

What's Next

Now that you have a sense of what this book is all about, it's time to jump in and begin your exploration of the ColdFusion development environment. Chapter 1 introduces you to the basic elements of this environment: the ColdFusion Application Server, the ColdFusion Administrator, and ColdFusion Studio.

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