Cold Fusion Book Reviews
 

Declaration of bias: For fast learning of a new system this reviewer is biased towards visual study guides and, even better, live demos. But Sue and Marc with the help of Cold Fusion evangelist, Ben Forta have developed a very simple but instructive introduction to Cold Fusion Mx. The book starts with the basics - linking to databases and getting data out using SQL Now having worked with Dreamweaver and Cold Fusion Studio plus its powerful editor, Notepad - this reviewer had never put the two together, Dreamweaver and Cold Fusion. But from the opening exercises it becomes obvious that the two are built for each other.

Readers will quickly learn the utility of the Site and Application sidebars. The Application sidebar has four main tabs which Sue and Marc explain in great detail: Database for step by step instructions on how to create a ColdFusion datasource; Binding for setting up the testing connections - vital in this era of test driven development; Server Behaviors are shortcut templates provided in Dreamweaver for all sorts of data Server situations - like inserting records, updating through forms, etc. This is the meat of the matter.

Finally the book covers the important topic of setting up components in Cold Fusion. Macromedia claims that CFMx produces an 88% reduction in code relative to J2EE. No evidence is cited for this claim - but CFCs-Cold Fusion Components certainly go along way towards contributing to such productivity. In sum if you want to get up to speed in Cold Fusion with Dreamweaver Mx - this is the infamous, but still very rewarding Macromedia Missing Manual.

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I am a bit miffed because I have the first edition of this book (quite excellent); but Macromedia has made enough changes to Cold Fusion with its Cold Fusion Mx to make this book a must-have-but-not-enough-dough-to-go. However, does Ben's book answer the $64,000 question - Is Cold Fusion going to gain traction in the very competitive application server and Web Services markets by being a 4GL front end to some of the big J2EE servers like BEA Weblogic, IBM Websphere, Sun ONE and others ?

The current argument is that Cold Fusion represents 88% reduction in code and 60% reduction in learning time relative to employing J2EE services directly. Ben's book will allow you to get a good assessment of that notion with the new 6.1 CFMx with its install, speed, stability and runtime fixes.

But Ben's readers are carried through a graduating scale of exercises with Cold Fusion that first gets you up and running and then quickly adds more ambitious exercises incorporating such Cold Fusion winning services as simplified database connectivity, charting and graphing as part of reports, and then the use of CFC-Cold Fusion Components. One of the problems I have with Cold Fusion is that its a server side processor lacking client side processing power (ditto for Perl, PHP, and many other scripting alternatives which are either server or client centric but not both). However, as Ben points out there are a lot of options to solving this with CFC, JavaScript, and yes the old time religion of Java applets available. Ben is called a Macromedia evangelist, and this book is a example of what an evangelist should do well - explain things with interest and aplomb.


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