Learning Coldfusion in 2017

If you’re a young programmer like me, chances are you’ve never worked with ColdFusion before. As a 19 year old programmer in 2017, I have worked extensively with Python, and heard about many other popular programming languages such as C, C++, PHP, Java, JavaScript, R, C#, HTML, and Swift. But until I started interning at Matrix Group, ColdFusion was nowhere near my radar, and it felt random.

At my first look at ColdFusion code, it looked like a mess of colors, words, and symbols. After learning the basics of the language, I figured out how to output statements, set variables, create and evaluate functions, manipulate numeric values and strings. Yet, the code was still a mess that I could not make sense of.

In the midst of struggling with syntax and usage errors, what I found was lacking in ColdFusion was FAQs. It was difficult to find examples of code that caused or resolved errors, and there was not an expansive online community of users, like many of the other programming languages have, that would lend value and importance to the language. This was not a surprise considering its current use and absence of adoption.

However, the support that was available was remarkably clear and helpful! The ColdFusion documentation was easy to navigate and easy to understand as it documented changes through all its version updates – Adobe did a great job with that! There were even many blogs that aimed to teach ColdFusion from the basics.

I realize now that the greatest challenge was really in understanding the structure of the code I was working with. ColdFusion requires certain “setting” files and “main page” files that are integral to the functionality of the language – it brings the entire program together. This hierarchy can be tedious, and in my circumstance it was intense! But, it was also the key to finally recognizing the purpose of ColdFusion which further led to a deeper understanding of how it worked.

From its simple function as a scripting language, to the functions it offers as a programming language, to its ability to elegantly interpret a language similar to JavaScript in cfscript, ColdFusion is highly versatile; I can only appreciate it.

Anyone my age has probably never heard of ColdFusion. In fact, many people in the generation above mine have not heard of it. However, it was used when the internet was booming. It was the popular choice, and hence, there are many companies that have maintained their ColdFusion applications to this day. A few days ago, I was on NASA’s website. I happened to take a look at the URL and noticed that it ended with “.cfm”. HA! And right there and then I knew exactly how the site was running! It was a lightbulb moment.

At the end of this journey, I am grateful for the exposure to ColdFusion – I probably would not have had the opportunity, or realization of the language otherwise. As the language is a “fusion” of HTML and JavaScript, this was a perfect introduction and immersion in both.

As a suggestion to millennials in tech out there, don’t let ColdFusion get under your radar! The internet and technology has been, and will continue to be, a journey. The development and use of ColdFusion was an integral stepping stone as it integrated an easy way to connect HTML, databases, custom features, and other languages such as JavaScript. It helped me realize its influence during its origin in the 90’s and thus the need for such specifications in programming. Maybe you will discover another.

Did you recently learn to work with ColdFusion? What were your initial reactions?