ColdFusion…why, God, why?

If there were any justice in this world, ColdFusion would never have been created.

I currently have a client whose webhost uses Windows hosting. Okay, I can handle that. It’s not what I would advise (since I’m far more competent with Linux hosting), but these things happen. And the host offers PHP.

But this particular client’s website was designed in ColdFusion, which means that it’s languishing on one the host’s ColdFusion servers, with no access to PHP. Due to the fact that I cannot test PHP applications under Windows SQL conditions, I get stuck using ColdFusion in order to be able to test anything.

It wasn’t until I was halfway through the project and banging my head against a wall because nothing was working that I figured out that it wasn’t just ColdFusion, it was ColdFusion 5, two full version numbers lower than the current released version. This server is obviously a dinosaur. I have a fairly decent background in ColdFusion thanks to my college’s idiotic policies (they used ColdFusion rather than PHP because they didn’t think PHP, a piece of open-source software, was secure), but having to use ColdFusion 5, which I’m sure is light-years better than 4, is like riding a tricycle when I’m used to PHP’s motorcycle. At least ColdFusion MX was a bicycle with training wheels.

Needless to say, the site’s code is ugly. Ugly, ugly, ugly, and no fun to write, either.

I know the people who need to hear this are not going to read this, but please businesses looking for hosting. Just because Windows “business” hosting often costs more, doesn’t mean it’s better. And if you settle for Windows, at least make sure that you don’t get saddled with ColdFusion.

On the other hand, this project has forced me to think about interface design a lot (mainly because my first design choices weren’t possible given the limitations, but also because the people who will be using this site are not at all savvy when it comes to the web). When I have more time after the project is done, I shall have to ponder interface on the web.

2 responses to “ColdFusion…why, God, why?”

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  1. Ben Forta says:

    So, are you upset at Windows, or ColdFusion, or both? ;-) You do know that A) ColdFusion 5 is 7-8 years old, from a whole different era, B) ColdFusion is not tied to Windows, it can run on Linux, Solaris, OSX, …, C) I’ve seen awful CFML code and I’ve seen awful PHP code, just as I’ve seen great CFML and great PHP. Having to deal with “ugly, ugly, ugly” code that someone else wrote is no fun, but I don’t think you can really blame ColdFusion or Windows for that one.

    — Ben

  2. Ian Beck says:

    A little bit of both, I do believe. :-)

    A lot of the frustration I’ve had with this particular project stems from being stuck with ColdFusion 5, but I just have a general beef with ColdFusion anyway. Most of my issues with ColdFusion are thanks to my experience at college; my college used ColdFusion because it was proprietary and they thought that proprietary meant more secure (an argument I can’t really argue either way). However, particularly for someone (me) coming from a PHP background, ColdFusion seemed (and still seems) far too limited. For instance, most PHP installs that I’ve run across make generating images on the fly (or creating thumbnails, etc. to store on the server) very easy. I’m sure there’s custom functions and whatnot for ColdFusion that can manipulate images, but I’ve had a tough time finding them. And ColdFusion 5? Far less love there.

    In my experience (granted, pretty limited particularly compared to ColdFusion gurus such as yourself), it’s also much more difficult to find useful open source code or examples for ColdFusion, and trying to use the LiveDocs is often painfully difficult.

    My issues with Windows hosting are pretty similar to ColdFusion; I just can’t do as much with it. My current frustration is the lack (at least on these particular Windows hosts) of anything even resembling the amazingness of mod_rewrite. I’d love to provide my clients with easy-to-use URLs, but without something like mod_rewrite I’m stuck using ugly query strings.

    Not that mod_rewrite isn’t utterly heinous to use; if Windows created a URL rewriting program that was easy to learn and use I suspect my attitudes would shift quite drastically.

    And the “ugly, ugly, ugly” code is actually mine. Of course, it’d probably still be ugly even if the server were running the latest cutting-edge beta of ColdFusion 8, but at least I’d be happier with what it did. :-)

    And may I just say that as much as I dislike ColdFusion (particularly at the present moment in time), the cfquery + cfoutput power duo is the most amazingly simple and straight-forward way to present database info in any web language I’ve come across. Mad props to Macromedia/Adobe for that little piece of brilliance.

    But I’ll still stick with PHP if I have my choice. ;-)

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