Macromedia readies new ColdFusion releases

Macromedia Inc. later this month is expected to announce an upgrade to the ColdFusion application server, the last version to be released in C++ before the company switches over to Java with another new version early next year.

ColdFusion, which is used to power small to midsized Web sites, is one of the products Macromedia acquired when it merged with Allaire Corp. last month, and the upgrade will be the first release since they united.

Sources say ColdFusion 5.0, which is set for a June shipment date, will include some established Macromedia technologies, such as Flash Generator, and some Java features. Flash Generator allows businesses to create Web site graphics and animation, such as mastheads, charts and interactive maps, on the fly.

“I see a solution that enables us to build graphics dynamically with Flash as a big plus,” says Leon Chalnick, president of Advanta Solutions, a consulting firm in Long Beach, Calif. that has used ColdFusion since its inception. With Version 5.0, Chalnick figures Advanta would have the ability to build a query against an intermediate query result and flush pages to the browser before they’re complete.

Pricing information for ColdFusion 5.0 wasn’t available, though pricing for the enterprise edition of ColdFusion 4.5 is US$3,500.

The version of ColdFusion coming early next year will be blended with JRun, a Java application server developed by Allaire. Further details about that new product aren’t yet available.

“The user functions of ColdFusion are easy to develop, and [with Java], they have a lot going for them,” says Shawn Willett, an analyst at Current Analysis. But the key for Macromedia is keeping ColdFusion’s installed base, which numbers around 700,000 developers, content. “Some users like the way it is and think Java is trendy, so they may hesitate to make any radical changes.”

Analysts and users say Macromedia needs to deliver more stable products in ColdFusion 5.0 and beyond than it did with Version 4.5. Some customers complained of problems when running ColdFusion 4.5 in Windows NT environments, for example.

Then there’s the trick of satisfying both Macromedia and Allaire customers while merging the companies’ technologies.

“The concern … is that in the next versions we will start seeing more of a Macromedia style of product [such as graphical front-end features] while losing the familiarity and strengths of previous versions of ColdFusion,” says Jeff Acker, president of Topham Holdings in Edmonton, Alberta. “Nevertheless, I feel that Version 5 will satisfy both groups and buy some time for Macromedia to work on Version 6.”

Macromedia didn’t return calls by press time.

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