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ColdFusion Background

ColdFusion is a server side scripting language, which is executed by the ColdFusion application server. ColdFusion works by executing CFM templates, a mixture of HTML and ColdFusion instructions to return normal HTML to the requesting browser. Often this will have included retrieving data from a database and generating web pages on the fly.

The ColdFusion (CF) application server was first developed in 1995 by JJ Allaire and is currently up to version 4.5. It exists in many incarnations, CF Express, free but fairly limited in it's power, ColdFusion Professional, just about all the features that ColdFusion server offers and ColdFusion Enterprise with advanced load balancing and the ability to spread tasks over a number of servers with advanced security features.

Using ColdFusion Variables

We've seen what types of variables exist, now lets see how we use them. In ColdFusion code, variables come in the form of variabletype.variable. Wherever we want to have a variable value used in your code you have to use
#variabletype.variable#. Therefore if we wanted to output the browser information, the clients IP address we would do the following. Again, I'll do the code and explain it later.

Get Started with ColdFusion

ColdFusion MX is the newest version of an already fantastic product developed by Macromedia, arguably the biggest and best producer of Web software out there. CFMX, as it’s commonly referred to, is built on top of J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition), and as a result, is much more robust that previous versions of ColdFusion. If you are wondering whether or not you should upgrade that old copy of 3.1 you still have lying around, the answer is a resounding “yes!”

Installing ColdFusion and Defining a Data Source

Installing the package is deceptively simple, and if you're an advanced enough user that some company is giving you the administrator password and letting you sit in the big kids' chair at their Web server then you shouldn't have any trouble. The reason I call the process "deceptive" is that setting this thing up is a breeze - the hard part doesn't come until later when you're building templates.

Coding auto-suggest and select controls

Ajax (which stands for "Asynchronous JavaScript and XML") is not a product or a technology. Actually, it's not any single thing you can point to. Rather, it is a technique that combines DHTML and JavaScript with the (until fairly recently unnoticed and unused) ability of web browsers to make asynchronous HTTP calls.

If that sounds obscure, don't worry. What it simply means is that JavaScript (the scripting language supported by just about every web browser) has the ability to make web page requests under programmatic control, requests that don't actually update or refresh the screen. By coupling that ability with some clever JavaScript and DHTML, web browser can be made to do some very interesting things, including addressing the scenarios just mentioned.

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