Reviewed by: David Bell, send e-mail
Published by: Macromedia, go to the web site
Requires: Windows 98, ME (except Enterprise Edition), NT4.0 & NT4 Server, SP6A Server, Windows 2000 Server (SP2) and Windows XP, Developer Edition 256MB RAM, Professional Edition & Enterprise Edition 512MB RAM
MSRP: US$799 (Developer, Professional and Enterprise edition pricing available)

Macromedia's introduction of the MX product line represents the first complete family of tool, server and client technologies for building Rich Internet Applications that can be delivered across major platforms and devices. Each of the new Macromedia MX products have evolved to provide a better ease of use, productivity through better integration, more power and functionality and deeper support for application development, while providing strong support for Java technology, Microsoft.Net and the industry standards including HTML, XHTML, XML and Web Services. Macromedia's ColdFusion MX is the current culmination of this evolution of development, providing a means for developers to author Rich Internet Applications using the Java platform and an embedded J2EE 1.3 compliant server which can run on Websphere and Weblogic with robust support for Microsoft.Net products and technologies.

The web site designer not accustomed to working through server-side scripting will find it a considerable challenge, so Macromedia provides numerous support capabilities for the designer to grasp the full impact of these resources. The software comes complete with a CFML Quick Reference Scripting guide, Installation Guide, Migrating ColdFusion 5 Applications Guide for upgrades to MX, a guide on Administering ColdFusion MX and a guide on using Server-Side Script in ColdFusion MX, as well as a guide on Getting Started Building ColdFusion MX Applications. In addition, Macromedia provides online training where dedicated web designers can learn at their own pace and skill level to adapt the topics and applications to suit their requirements. A Macromedia Certified Professional Program is also available to meet the ever increasing demands of the industry. Another helpful feature is the ColdFusion Online Forum at Macromedia. There are several various subjects and queries from users of ColdFusion MX with replies from other users of CFMX that will provide a good insight into problem solving options and user tips. Last but not least are the tutorials and guides that take you step-by-step through various application development projects.

Any web site developer who has experience with developing an interactive calendar that draws upon information from a database knows how time consuming it can be and the difficulties that ensue in development of such a feature using HTML. The Company Calendar Module is just one feature of ColdFusion MX. It combines the power of Dreamweaver MX, Flash MX and server-side ActionScript to dynamically update the user interface without refreshing the page, providing employees with a quick, intuitive way to find information about company events. ColdFusion MX also provides a new role-based security framework for adding security to any type of application. With a single tag and a new function, users can add fine-grained access control to their applications and the authentication methods can be tied to any ColdFusion data source. This means web developers can integrate with existing security systems, including databases and LDAP directories, or access data through custom API's using COM or Java objects.

Developers involved in building applications for multi-national companies will find the ability to work with double-byte content such as Japanese, as well as single-byte languages based on the Latin alphabet, a definite advantage. The XML Handling capabilities of ColdFusion MX provide the ability to build a document repository of tech notes. For the end user this makes data easier to search or manipulate and also makes it easier to share the information with dealers and suppliers.

Macromedia ColdFusion MX should not be considered a venue of choice for the bargain basement web site designer. However, for the web application developer and professional web site developer this revolutionary new product provides high end customers with Internet applications that are both rich in personalization and functionality and which are easier to maintain through an intuitive server and scripting environment.

The professional web developer who thought he had finally reached the sky using previous versions of ColdFusion can now take that leap into outer space with ColdFusion MX using available web services to 'fuse' the power of Dreamweaver MX, Flash MX and Fireworks MX into the productive interactivity of information technology that, until now, had only been a dream.

But, does the cost justify the means? In layman's terms I guess the simple answer is "If you really wanted to win the race you wouldn't enter the Indianapolis 500 with a Volkswagen beetle!"

Visit the following sites to see some impressive examples created using ColdFusionMX:

Boreal Ski - FAO Schwartz -

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