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Preface

Preface

I first started using ColdFusion in early 1996. I had been hired by a company to build and manage both their external web site and their intranet. Both started as completely static sites, with a few Perl scripts thrown in to handle such tasks as emailing HTML form submissions. But it was only a matter of time before I was asked to add some dynamic content—the request was to "web enable" our corporate address book, which was stored in a Microsoft Access database. My first reaction was to develop the application in Perl. However, at the time, building an application like this in NT Perl (all of our web servers were NT-based) wasn't feasible, so I began looking for other solutions.

I first tried a product called DB Web, from a company named Aspect Software that had just been acquired by Microsoft. After a bit of experimentation, I realized that DB Web wasn't what I was looking for. It was more of a tool for querying data from Microsoft Access databases (it wrote VB code on the back end) than a real application development platform. (As a side note, Microsoft stopped supporting DB Web shortly after I evaluated it and rereleased it as Active Server Pages (ASP) a few months later.)

Frustrated, I decided to look into another product I had been hearing about on a web development discussion list. The product was Allaire's ColdFusion (Cold Fusion at the time), a rapid application development platform for creating and deploying dynamic server-based web applications.[1] Within hours of downloading the trial version of the software, I had created a proof-of-concept for the corporate address book application.

[1] Early in 2001, Allaire and Macromedia announced plans to merge, with the combined company using the Macromedia name. Although the merger closed before this book went to press, the Allaire name is still being used in conjunction with ColdFusion, so that's what I'm going to use throughout this book. Besides, I've been working with ColdFusion for so long now, calling it "Macromedia ColdFusion" is going to require breaking a longstanding habit!

Looking back, it is almost funny to imagine that I fell in love with a language that had just over 30 language elements in the 1.5 release. At the time, though, ColdFusion had enough power to handle any web programming task thrown my way. And as the tasks have become more complex, ColdFusion has kept pace. Today, those initial 30 language elements have proliferated to over 335. Each new release of ColdFusion contains features and functionality that seem to show up just as I find myself needing or wanting them.

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