ColdFusion 8 warms up to Microsoft .Net


Adobe Systems Inc. is bridging the Java and .Net worlds with the latest iteration of its application development tool, ColdFusion.

Released on Wednesday for public beta testing, the server-side Java-based software product, ColdFusion 8, now features support for Microsoft .Net objects.

Users no longer need to choose one platform to the exclusion of the other, said Tim Buntel, senior product marketing manager for Adobe.

Instead, he said, “developers can even combine .Net and Java [objects] on the same page.”

Java is an object-oriented applications framework developed by Sun Microsystems Inc.

Microsoft .Net Framework is an umbrella term that covers a collection of products and technologies from Microsoft including pre-coded assemblies for building Web applications.

The beta testing version, codenamed Scorpio, is available for downloading at theAdobe Labs site.

Interoperability was among the top demands of users of previous ColdFusion versions who often dealt with clients and collaborators employing .Net products, Buntel said.

He said Java-trained developers often found it hard to handle .Net objects because of programming language differences and conventions.

Scorpio now allows users to pull in .Net objects and manipulate them as they would native ColdFusion articles.

A Canadian analyst believes this ability, as well as a host of other new features could help resurrect the ColdFusion, which in recent years has been overrun by the more popular .Net Framework.

“There’s still a long road to go, but this release will bring back ColdFusion from death’s door,” said George Goodall, analyst for research firm Info-Tech Research Inc., in London, Ont.

ColdFusion was among the products acquired by Adobe when it bought San Francisco-based multi-media software firm Macromedia Inc. in 2005.

Once prized as an industry leader prized for being able to streamline application development with the use of tag-based commands and easy user interfaces, ColdFusion’s market had shrunk considerably by the time of the Macromedia acquisition, said Goodall. “There was even concern among ColdFusion users that the tool would disappear after the Adobe purchase.”

But Goodall and other analysts agree the current upgrade signifies that Adobe is committed to ColdFusion.

Another key development is the integration of Microsoft Exchange, according to the Info-Tech analyst.

“With this feature, Adobe is building into ColdFusion a messaging capability that is compatible with a very pervasive communication tool,” Goodall said.

Developers working in ColdFusion can now read and update e-mail accounts, calendar tasks and other messaging features without having to switch over to an Exchange server, according to Buntel.

Adobe also opened up the application programming interface (API) for ColdFusion to enable developers to better monitor projects and avoid “bottlenecks”, said Buntel.

“Now users can access, audit and snapshot all the information available in ColdFusion,” he said.

For instance, developers can track long-running processes, audit frequently run queries and determine where project bottlenecks are occurring, he said.

Other improvements include:

• Full portable document format (PDF) integration, to enable creation, update and interaction with Adobe PDF files;

• Flash-based presentation capability to allow easy combination of HTML (hypertext markup language), audio, movies and images;

• Built-in AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) widgets, for simpler creation of auto complete forms, calendar pop ups, grids and other objects using ColdFusion-based tags;

• Enhanced native image manipulation which enables users to blur, sharpen, draw, rotate and stream objects more seamlessly.

ColdFusion will also be able to integrate with other Adobe products such as Flex (software development kit), Apollo (an operating system environment for building and deploying desktop rich Internet applications) and LiveCycle (a design and Web authoring software).

Buntel said ColdFusion will likely be released in the market by mid-summer.

Pricing has not yet been determined, but the software will be offered in pre-developer (single user with two remote extensions), standard and enterprise versions, Buntel said.

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