Adobe ColdFusion links to AIR

The upgrade also features a performance boost for much faster response times

Adobe is now shipping the ColdFusion 8 application development platform, offering faster performance and basic linkages to Adobe's AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) technology.

ColdFusion is a server technology for building Internet applications. AIR, which is Adobe's planned software for deploying Internet applications on the desktop, can use ColdFusion as a server component. AIR applications can connect to ColdFusion for enterprise data and services, said Tim Buntel, Adobe senior product marketing manager for ColdFusion. AIR had been known as Apollo and is only available in a beta form at this point; general availability is expected later this year.

Although ColdFusion 7.0.2, released last year, could offer basic data exchange with AIR, version 8 improves data synchronization and performance significantly, according Adobe. Future versions of ColdFusion could expand connectivity to AIR, Buntel said. For example, development tools could be built for this purpose.

Also highlighted in version 8 of ColdFusion is multithreaded support within the ColdFusion language. "It allows developers to run individual parts of their application in separate threads in the application server, so the processing of your application can efficiently use the resources of the server," Buntel said.

Another feature is a Server Monitor capability, which is a rich Internet application that gauges metrics like memory usage and page response times.

Adobe received far greater response than expected to the public beta program launched in late-May. Anticipating that 5,000 developers would download the product, Adobe instead had nearly 14,000 downloads, Buntel said.

A beta user cited the product's speed compared to previous versions. "I've seen, depending on what we're doing, at least two times faster [response times] and in many cases [it has been] up to four or five times faster," said Terry Ryan, IT director at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

The school's student portal application is being written entirely in ColdFusion 8, Ryan said. ColdFusion 8's Server Monitor, meanwhile, has saved the school from having to write its own monitoring tools, he said.

ColdFusion competitors most commonly are PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor), ASP.Net, and Ruby on Rails, Buntel said. But these technologies have a more limited reach than ColdFusion, he said.

"Their emphasis is primarily on traditional Web-based applications and being part of Adobe, we're going beyond just HTML," with capabilities for PDF, Flex, and Air as well as connectivity across Java and .Net, Buntel said.

Version 8 enables invoking of .Net objects and generation of PDF documents. Interactive debugging is offered based on the Eclipse IDE.

The enterprise version of ColdFusion 8 costs US$7,499. It enables deployments with a J2EE application server. The standard edition, for smaller installations, costs US$1,299.

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