On Eclipse, ColdFusion Builder, And IDEs

I still remember the first time I discovered an IDE. This was over 20 years ago, and I was working on a personal project (a DOS based game), and picked up Turbo Pascal on the advice of a friend. Yes, I know I am dating myself now, but Borland's Turbo Pascal was revolutionary. Aside from featuring a fun language and featuring lightning fast compilation (this was in 640K and 286 processor days), the real game changer was the development experience. File and project manipulation, a real editor, integrated help, F9 to compile and any errors or warnings instantly identified in code, a profiler, even an integrated step-by-step debugger ... all things we take for granted nowadays, but back then this was revolutionary. The beauty, the simplicity, the sheer elegance, Borland got it right. And when they then added Turbo C and Turbo Assembler and more to the mix, they had found a winning formula and they dominated the landscape (right before making a whole series of superbly dumb business decisions that effectively killed the company and thereby handed the lead on development tools to competitor Microsoft, but that's a whole different topic).

So why this trip down memory lane? Lately I've been thinking a lot about IDEs and the ideal development experience. And I've been thinking about the fact that there is no ideal development experience, at least not one that is ideal for all developers. We coders take our IDEs very seriously, and rightfully so. When you spend so much of your time writing code you should indeed be using tools that help you be more productive (as opposed to tools that trip you up). And once we find something that we like, we resist any changes. IDEs rank right up there with politics and religion as topics that only the brave would dare debate. Which brings me to ColdFusion IDEs. Or rather, the lack thereof. Or ... Well, let's briefly look at the popular options to date:

Back in Cold Fusion 3 days (yes, back then it was Cold Fusion, two words) we realized that CFML developers needed a development tool. We bought HomeSite from Nick Bradbury, and created a version of it called Cold Fusion Studio (eventually renamed to HomeSite+). This tool enjoyed a very loyal following, and the fact that it was Windows only was not much of a concern as so was Cold Fusion itself (and back then we did not see the sea of shiny silver Macs that we see at ColdFusion events these days). HomeSite (including Cold Fusion Studio and HomeSite+) was not an IDE, it was an editor, and an exceptionally good editor at that. It was lightweight, responsive, extensible, and mostly intuitive. But it was also written in Delphi, a language that is tough to keep supporting. And most importantly, it was never really a profitable product. Considering what it cost to maintain, and the number of copies sold, HomeSite was always more important because ColdFusion needed it than it was as a product unto itself. But that was a long time ago, and we've done nothing (ok, almost nothing) with HomeSite since Macromedia acquired Allaire close to a decade ago. ColdFusion has evolved significantly in that time, but HomeSite has never kept up with it (it does not even know what a CFC is!). Between the fact that HomeSite was written in a language basically not used anywhere else in the company, and the fact that it was never a profitable product, and the fact that Macromedia had demonstrated phenomenal success with Dreamweaver, HomeSite just suffered from neglect. Still, HomeSite has fans to this day, and many ColdFusion developers love it and still swear by it.

I mentioned Dreamweaver, the award-winning and highly rated Web design and development tool, a Macromedia creation, and now part of Adobe's Creative Suite. Way back in Allaire days I flew to San Francisco to meet with Macromedia to discuss them adding CFML support to Dreamweaver, and offered guidance around their initial ColdFusion support. Since then, Dreamweaver has continued to add ColdFusion integration, more enhancements in some releases and less in others, but always supported. At one point there was an aggressive push by the Dreamweaver team to make that product the best tool for ColdFusion developers, and support was added for CFCs, RDS, debugging, and more. And many ColdFusion developers, including myself, did indeed jump on the Dreamweaver bandwagon (and, to be very fair, many developed a sort of love-hate relationship with the product, what it did it did well, but there was too much it did not do, and much of what it did well we did not care about). Like HomeSite, Dreamweaver is not an IDE, but for many developers it worked and worked exceptionally well. Dreamweaver is a big, powerful, and extensive product, the undisputed leader in its space. But for many ColdFusion developers it didn't work as well, especially the hardcore coders who never wanted a design view and never wanted color palettes and never wanted most of what Dreamweaver focuses on (those same developers who may feel more comfortable in an Eclipse or Visual Studio type world). In short, many coders find that Dreamweaver is better suited for web design and development than actual coding. And they are right; this is not in any way a criticism of Dreamweaver, the product just has a different purpose and target user base. In fact, the most recent Dreamweaver updates have focused primarily on CSS and XML/XSL and JavaScript, and rightfully so, that's what most Dreamweaver users need. So, while Dreamweaver is definitely not for all ColdFusion developers, many of them, especially those without a strong coding background, find Dreamweaver to be an ideal ColdFusion development tool.

The third ColdFusion development option is Eclipse. Eclipse is an open source software development platform comprised of an IDE and a plug-in system to extend it. It is written primarily in Java, and is used to develop applications in Java and numerous other languages (as well as development that isn't even language based at all). Eclipse itself does not support CFML, but the community leveraged the plug-in system to create CFEclipse. This project was initiated back in 2004 by Rob Rohan, and since then many others have gotten involved to varying degrees, with Mark Drew most recently taking the lead. Adobe, and the ColdFusion team specifically, actively supported the CFEclipse effort, and contributed code to the project. CFEclipse is designed for developers not served by Dreamweaver, and does not support any of the design centric features that Dreamweaver boasts. CFEclipse is definitely a tool for coders, and many ColdFusion developers do indeed rely heavily on this tool. The real beauty of CFEclipse is the openness of the Eclipse platform and the extensive array of plug-ins available. Need support for HTML, JavaScript, Regular expressions, SQL, version control systems, XML, DBMS front-ends, and more? No problem, download the right plug-in and you're all set. That's pretty compelling, a real IDE that gives developers complete control is highly appealing, and lots of ColdFusion developers have indeed gone this route. But, it's not all rosy, and Eclipse based development has lots of detractors who find it slow and sluggish, inconsistent, not quite polished, buggy, and worse. And there is validity to those concerns, and regardless of how you feel about Microsoft, taking Visual Studio for a ride makes you quickly realize that Eclipse is a perpetual work in progress. Still, as many ColdFusion developers have discovered, Eclipse + CFEclipse + whatever other plug-ins you need = a powerful ColdFusion development platform, and the closest we've ever gotten to a real ColdFusion IDE.

So, three options for ColdFusion development, HomeSite, Dreamweaver, and Eclipse. And all three are in use. We've been researching and polling this for years while trying to figure out what we need to do to best serve the ColdFusion community, and no clear winner has emerged. All three have loyal bases who love (or at least like) what they use, and who don't like the alternatives. The exact ratios vary based on the venue, ask the crowd at cfObjective and Eclipse is the clear leader, ask at MAX or many usergroups at Dreamweaver comes out ahead, and visit many of our customers and you'll find lots of HomeSite in use, and even these generalizations have exceptions. The reality is that there is no one size that fits all, and despite the very strong opinions and emotions on the subject, there is no clear leader when it comes to ColdFusion development tools.

This has proven to be a very difficult situation for the ColdFusion team. We know that ColdFusion developers need an IDE now more than ever. As ColdFusion has become more capable, as ColdFusion applications have grown in complexity and scope, as the skills of ColdFusion developers have increased, and as the Enterprise and mission-critical use of ColdFusion has mushroomed, so has the need for a real IDE. And so we argued and discussed and researched and debated long and hard to come up with a plan, looking at all the options, and weighing their pros and cons.

It became clear that Dreamweaver is not the ColdFusion IDE, and that trying to make it so would not be in the best interests of Dreamweaver or ColdFusion users. Dreamweaver should, and will, continue to support ColdFusion, and those who are happy doing their ColdFusion development in Dreamweaver must be served and supported. But Dreamweaver needs to focus on where web development is focused, as it is indeed doing now. Forcing full blown ColdFusion IDE functionality into Dreamweaver will not be advantageous to either ColdFusion users or Dreamweaver users.

Many of the ColdFusion team wanted to resurrect HomeSite (yes, I know it was not truly dead so resurrect may be a strong word, but let's be honest, it was not quite alive either). This option has merit. HomeSite is small, tight, fast, and we'd fully control the environment allowing us to create a truly ColdFusion specific experience. But in the end this option was deemed unworkable, particularly after this much time. In addition to all of the ColdFusion support that we'd have to have written, we'd still be faced with having to support all other related web technologies (HTML, CSS, XML/XSL, JavaScript, and much more), being Windows only, and having to maintain a team of developers who could not share any work or resources with any other development teams in the company because they would be the only ones writing in Delphi. As much as we all loved HomeSite, its continued development was impossible to justify.

Which left Eclipse. As already mentioned, there are some very compelling arguments for the Eclipse platform. And on top of those, Adobe as a company has committed to Eclipse as made evident by Flash Builder, LiveCycle Workbench, and now Flash Catalyst. Building a ColdFusion IDE that could leverage other work within the company, and more importantly, could align with those projects (especially considering how many developers are writing ColdFusion powered Flex apps) makes lots of sense. But, as already noted, Eclipse can be awkward and inconsistent, and addressing this is anything but trivial.

When weighing all of the options, and removing emotion from the discussion, it becomes abundantly clear that Eclipse is indeed the right platform on which to build a ColdFusion IDE, which is why we're doing exactly that for ColdFusion Builder. Doing so allows us to support CFML and ColdFusion development, it allows us to support all supporting Web technologies, it allows support for everything from FTP to version control to SQL and more, it perfectly aligns with other Adobe offerings, and it provides a platform that we can truly commit to and build on as we plan the future. Between Flash Catalyst, Flash Builder, ColdFusion Builder, and LiveCycle Workbench, we've got an end-to-end development workflow on the same platform, and building on Eclipse is the only way to accomplish this. We've had to figure out what plug-ins to use, what to license, and what to write ourselves, so as to deliver the best experience for ColdFusion developers. And I'm not sure that we'll get it right for version 1 (ok, I am sure we'll not get it right, there, I said it). ColdFusion Builder is definitely a 1.0 product, and users should understand that. But they should also understand that we are building the tool to allow for rapid improvements, constant updates, and flexible extensibility. Version 1 will be good, and subsequent versions will be better, it's all upside from here.

Having said that, we fully understand that not all ColdFusion developers will want to use an Eclipse based ColdFusion Builder. And that's fine. There is no one size fits all when it comes to developer tooling, and that would be the case whatever option we chose. And recognizing this, we do plan on updating Dreamweaver for ColdFusion 9. CFEclipse is not going away, and there are other 3rd party tools that offer varying degrees of CFML support. There are now more options for ColdFusion developers, and that's a good thing. And most importantly, ColdFusion developers are getting a long overdue addition to their toolbox, the ColdFusion IDE we so deserve, and one that is well positioned to grow and evolve along with the product it supports.

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Comments (59)

  • Jim Priest

    Excellent post! Is Eclipse the right platform? Who knows! However it is great to see Adobe finally moving forward with a true ColdFusion IDE!

    CFBuilder 1.0 is already an impressive product and as long as it never has a design view I think we'll be OK. :)

  • michael Long

    Dreamweaver has long been a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none product. As mentioned, it's not a great IDE, nor does it really cut it as a visual development tool.

    Individuals and small web sites tend to want tools like Sandvox or iWeb that in addition to basic web pages also build and maintain blogs, menus, photo galleries, and the like. iWeb is also notable for it's modern and simple drag-and-drop approach to page templates: just drag a photo to a placeholder image and boom, it's there.

    Large web sites and developers want IDEs, as big sites tend to be extremely dynamic database-driven entities.

    Which leaves poor little Dreamweaver sort of stuck in the middle in no-mans-land. Doesn't build and maintain site structures, no modern drag-and-drop support, and not really a good IDE or development environment.

    But hey, if you want a template manager, or still want to animate page elements on a timeline using JavaScript, Dreamweaver's the top dog.

    #2Posted by michael Long | Jul 24, 2009, 03:16 PM
  • Raymond Camden

    Nice to know I'm not the only old Pascal user. Pascal was my first language after AppleSoft BASIC, and the first that made me feel like a 'coder'. I even did some work in Modula2 (the higher end Pascal I believe).

    I've been using CFB full time for over a month now and it's already become something I can't live w/o. I will say though that if people don't like it, they really should take a look at Dreamweaver again. I was "forced" to use it last fall for a writing gig for Adobe, and frankly, I was pretty surprised how far it's come. It's still not my favorite tool, but it came darn close to replacing CFEclipse.

  • Jose Galdamez

    Thanks for sharing with us the history and reasoning behind all this IDE madness. Just a few days ago, I had had enough with some Eclipse bugs I was getting, so I decided to go old school and write out some code "Notepad" style. Would I hurt anyone's feelings if I said it actually felt kind of good?

    Personally, I'm glad to see Adobe put out something official for the community. From what I've seen so far with ColdFusion Builder, it's pretty stable and healthy. As mentioned in this article, it can only go up from here. I'm definitely looking forward to any future improvements.

    Thanks for all that you guys do!

  • Ryan

    Its amazing to think back on when I first picked up HTML. I actually remember using Homesite 1.0 from Nick Bradbury. And to think it grew into an awesome product (CF Studio) which I used up until about a year or two ago...and now CF Builder is here.

    Wow, I'm dating myself here...but alas, CF Builder is a FANTASTIC tool. I am SO pleased to have another option besides Dreamweaver.

    Excellent post Ben!

    #5Posted by Ryan | Jul 24, 2009, 03:47 PM
  • Jeff Self

    How about an official Adobe Textmate Bundle? That would be sweet.

    #6Posted by Jeff Self | Jul 24, 2009, 03:56 PM
  • Andy Sandefer

    I am very much impressed by the CF Builder beta and unless everyone wanted Adobe to spend 3 years reinventing the wheel then Eclipse was their best option. Only one aggravation with CF Builder beta...
    @Ray - have you tried to connect to an RDS using SSL? I can't figure out if I'm stupid or if it is not supported. I am fairly certain that I'm stupid but I would still like to be able to do this as I'm still firing up DreamWeaver on a regular basis in order to take care of one of my largest clients.

  • Brian

    I'm one of those old Homesite+ developers and I've looked at CF Builder a little bit, downloaded & installed the beta, but I hesitate to start relying on it because I have no clue what the pricing structure will look like and I don't want a favorite tool that I won't be able to use after October, or whenever the final comes out. I already can see that I miss the "Edit Tag" feature from Homesite+.

    (And you seem to have captured my feelings about Dreamweaver and CFEclipse pretty well.)

    #8Posted by Brian | Jul 24, 2009, 04:03 PM
  • Raymond Camden

    @Andy: Nope, I have not tried. I'd try on the CFBuilder blog:

    I've already left them a comment about adding some kind of contact form.

  • Andy Sandefer

    I'll bet you a vanilla latte that this is priced very much in the range of Flex Builder 3 Standard which is currently sitting at 250 bucks. If I'm wrong and they tip over 300 bucks then they're being greedy and they will miss out on selling as many of these as they could. But I'm betting that you'll see this for around $300 or less - I hope!

  • Jake Munson

    I have been using CFEclipse for a few years now, and I have been using CF Builder for a few days and am happy with it as well.

    That said, I'm curious about this statement you made, "Forcing full blown ColdFusion IDE functionality into Dreamweaver will not be advantageous to either ColdFusion users or Dreamweaver users." I think your team would really help the developer community if you were to post a separate article that expounded on that assertion. Why wouldn't basing ColdFusion Builder on Dreamweaver be advantatageous? You touched on this a little when you gave the Dreamweaver background (the fact that Dreamweaver is web design focused), but I suspect there is more to this argument than what you wrote here.

  • brian

    I've got a feeling ssl was not supported for the RDS plugin on cfeclipse, maybe it's the same for CFB

    #12Posted by brian | Jul 24, 2009, 04:51 PM
  • Jason Fisher

    Thanks for the insights and the run-down, Ben. I tried CFEclipse several times over the past 3 years, but just am not familiar enough with Eclipse to really have it 'gel' for me yet. CFBuilder has made much more sense to me, but in the interest of getting code pushed, I still rely on HomeSite+. Good to know the why / wherefore of the CFB decision, though: I had no idea HS+ was built on Delphi all those years ago!

    I remember pushing most of my code originally in shareware HTML editors, because Dreamweaver 2 really just sucked, until Homesite came along (late '90s?) and changed the world of CFML development. Hoping to get the latest of CFB re-installed at home for some more work this weekend as another dedicated test run. Thanks!

    #13Posted by Jason Fisher | Jul 24, 2009, 05:20 PM
  • Paul

    I'm glad to see Adobe is aware of Eclipse's shortcomings, and that the decision was made taking them into consideration. I hope that this means as CF Builder is refined, those shortcomings are taken into consideration and addressed to the extent that they can be.

    Some companies (*cough* IBM *cough*) think Eclipse is a swiss army knife and try to use it for everything, including desktop mail / calendar clients, without addressing usability or performance issues.

    #14Posted by Paul | Jul 24, 2009, 05:27 PM
  • Paul

    @michael Long

    I think Dreamweaver is a competent tool for CF development, if you're tasked with both coding and design, you're not a guru, and not working on incredibly large / complex projects.

    For straight development of large or complex projects, it functions, but in a less than ideal manner.

    Two tools, for two audiences. I like that approach. CF should be accessible as well as powerful.

    #15Posted by Paul | Jul 24, 2009, 05:31 PM
  • Alirio Boquin

    I remember the time when I started using ColdFusion Studio, came with ColdlFusion 4.5 and I like it very much because I can leave the Windows Notepad!!!

    Then I try Homesite and Homesite Plus. Then I started with Dreamweaver MX, then Dreamweaver MX 2004, Dreamweaver 8, Dreamweaver CS3, Dreamweaver CS4. I start using Eclipse with Flex 2 and I love it. When I was in Collegue I made a small Java Project using Eclipse.

    When I saw your presentation at MAX last year and saw the CF-Builder, I said this will change the way I work.

    But to be honest for some kind of work I will use DW I can't turn off so easy, works like HTML and JavaScript.

    Thank you Ben to share this history.

  • Jason Fisher


    Good point about addressing Eclipse's shortcomings; I've been glad to see that as well. I will note that the LiveCycle Workspace is really a solid IDE for LC development. I had some crash issues with it, but I was running a new Vista machine at the time, and I think it was the LC *services* giving the machine trouble more than the IDE. From what I've seen of CFB so far, it seems like Adobe is going that direction: using Eclipse as the base, but building far more than a simple plug-in to really put together the right tool for the job like they did with LiveCycle.

    #17Posted by Jason Fisher | Jul 24, 2009, 05:47 PM
  • TJ Downes

    great writeup Ben. Good to hear the background of why it became an Eclipse based tool, and the recognition of other products we love and have sentimental feelings for.

    Ray, I agree with your comments on DW. It has evolved a lot the last few years and become a really great environment. I used it for many years for CF development and leveraged many of the features to enhance my workflow. But now CF Builder is the tool I must uise because it fits in with the rest of my workflow (Flex!).

    I will probably always use DW for HTML/CSS design. it's far and above the best tool I've ever used for web design.

    #18Posted by TJ Downes | Jul 24, 2009, 06:05 PM
  • Mike Henke

    CFMeetup: Leveraging Eclipse for ColdFusion Development recording -

  • Wim

    No one seems to mention the speed of Eclipse...
    Launch Homesite and you're up and running in 2 seconds.
    Eclipse takes at least 30 seconds to start and needs a powerfull machine with enough memory. It's a great tool, but I keep on using Homesite for quick changes I need to make.

    #20Posted by Wim | Jul 25, 2009, 04:22 AM
  • Mike Henke

    That statement, eclipse is slow, is false.  ColdFusion Builder maybe making Eclipse slow but you can tweak some settings like uncheck refresh workspace on startup.  Read these tips for improving performance and 

  • Brian

    Tweaking to make it superfast is acceptable, but if the default install for Eclipse is slow... Eclipse is slow. You shouldn't have to tweak a bunch of stuff to make it run reasonably quick.

    #22Posted by Brian | Jul 25, 2009, 10:03 AM
  • Mike Henke

    Again Eclipse is not slow. You maybe confusing Eclipse with ColdFusion Builder. Or Eclipse with other plugins. Remember Eclipse is an IDE Framework. I grabbed a fresh install of the Classic package and it loaded within 10 secs.

  • Kumar

    The reason Eclipse is the best option for a CF IDE would be that more and more CF developers are going to find themselves working with just not ColdFusion but other technologies too. This could be Flex,
    Javascript, groovy, anything. Eclipse provides us much better integration when working with other technologies.

    #24Posted by Kumar | Jul 25, 2009, 12:07 PM
  • Sarah Kelly

    Turbo Pascal! and it fit on 5 or 6 5.5" floppies, IIRC. CDs were for playing music on the stereo.

    DreamWeaver started giving me nightmares way back when I tried it for static web pages when first learning web 'stuff.' I've been afraid since.

    Eclipse seems great, but the learning curve is steep. It's not intuitive at all to get it to do what you want. It's like learning another whole operating system in a way. I'm plugging along though--nice to see those optimizing links.

  • John Reese

    Ben: It is very good post, thank for sharing this.

    If Adobe will not support Homesite in the future then how about making it open source? It won't cost anything to Adobe but developers like me who still like working in Homesite then ColdFusion builder (for my taste it is still slow and asking me too much to change in my development workflow-hint couldn't open one file and update it without creating/openning a project).

    Like someone else already mentioned this, I also like edit this tag feature a lot. I am sure there are lot of ColdFusion developer like me.

    #26Posted by John Reese | Jul 25, 2009, 01:17 PM
  • Jake Munson

    "If Adobe will not support Homesite in the future then how about making it open source? It won't cost anything to Adobe..."

    I think that's a great idea myself, but I don't agree that it wouldn't cost anything to Adobe. The cost would be small, but there would be cost. Since they're a big corporation with lawyers, they'd have to do a mini-project to work out all the legalities. Then they'd have to do some web development to post the OSS project on the web. And then there'd be ongoing bandwidth usage (for downloads and such). Again, the cost would be small, but not $0. And I suspect with all that's going on, the effort would be too much for Adobe to bother.

  • John Reese

    Jake: You are right about no zero cost but it they know this very well, recently they have open sourced number of technologies (flex framework, BlazDS etc.) and even adobe has a separate website for such things ( Reason I am bringing this option because rest of other options (CFEclipse and Dreamweaver) are still available for the folks who are using them presently except for us (Homesite user). It will not be fair with us.

    #28Posted by John Reese | Jul 25, 2009, 01:53 PM
  • Ron Stewart

    Ben: Thanks for the post.

    For some of us, Eclipse isn't a stumbling block or a hurdle to trying CFB. For me, the hurdle is that CFB is apparently not supported on older PPC-based Macs (I have two that run Eclipse and my regular suite of plugins w/o a hitch), is not supported on Linux, and at least right now isn't supported on the current release of Eclipse itself (which brings on killer feature as far as I am concerned to the Eclipse table: columnar or block select in the editors which I am not willing to give up).

    Eclipse and a pile of plugins isn't perfect, but it comes pretty close to providing everything I need. I use CFE for some things, but actually use Rob Rohan's AFAE plugin for most of my editing including CFML 95% of the time. The single biggest thing I like about it -- cross-platform on all 4 platforms I regularly work on (Intel Mac, PPC Mac, Linux, Windows) -- is something that ISN'T present in CFB. For me and several others on my team, that's a non-starter for CFB.

    #29Posted by Ron Stewart | Jul 25, 2009, 09:06 PM
  • Ben Forta

    Wow, lots of comments, let me try to answer a few of them ...

    Brian and Andy, I can't comment on pricing yet. But, I do agree with your sentiment, and want ColdFusion Builder to be priced so that it is usable and available to all ColdFusion developers. Kristen Schofield and Adam Lehman own the pricing decision, and I know that they are looking at all options and want to do the right thing here.

    Paul, that is exactly right. I'd rather two distinct tools that each serve an audience than trying to create the one-size-fits-all tool that actually end up serving no one.

    Mike, Win, Brian, performance is indeed an issue. And Mike, this is not just about start-up time. It's the little things, how long it takes to open a menu or a dialog box, screen refreshes, and general responsiveness. Sometimes Eclipse just feels sluggish and makes you wish it could keep up with you. And this is true even of a vanilla classic install.

    Kumar, I agree. ColdFusion developers are using more and more supporting and complimentary technologies and products, and the "one IDE to rule them all" becomes very compelling.

    John and Jake, I love the idea of open-sourcing HomeSite. As Jake notes, it is not exactly a free option, but, I like the idea nonetheless. However, the last time we looked at doing so (back in Macromedia days) we ran into issues with some of the technologies licensed and used within HomeSite, stuff that is needed that we'd not be able to open source. Plus, I am not a fan of tossing a product over the wall by open sourcing it just to see if anyone takes the bait. If we do it, it needs to be done properly, and managed, and looked after, and that takes resources too. Still, as I said, I do like the idea, and will bring it up again.

    Ron, platform support is a $'s issue plain and simple. Right now the vast majority of ColdFusion developers do their work on Windows and Intel Mac, and so those are supported. (FWIW, this is in contrast to ColdFusion itself which is deployed on Windows and Linux mostly, and rarely on Mac). If there are enough requests from developers for a Linux version, and by that I mean enough to cost justify the work (yes, there is additional cost associated with any additional platform) then we'll do it, and if not then not. Thus far, there has been significant demand for Linux as a ColdFusion server platform, but far less for it as a development platform. But we'll keep watching it to see if things change. As for PPC Mac, it's very hard to make the case to do new development on a platform that the vendor itself no longer supports, so I'd not hold out much hope for that one, sorry.

    --- Ben

    #30Posted by Ben Forta | Jul 26, 2009, 01:01 AM
  • andrew lorien

    i'm with Ron on the cross-platform question. years ago i experimented with a 64-bit linux install, and i got comfortable and stayed here. i do all my dev work in eclipse because it's the only real option (and i do love it). I understand your platform support comment Ben, as you can imagine i hear that a lot and i'm fine with it. At least eclipse as a platform means you've got the option, and hope keeps me swimming...

    i don't imagine the open-source delphi community is huge...

  • Dana Kowalski

    I've never noticed Eclipse/CFEclipse ever being slow/sluggish. I haven't used the Builder beta very much to comment on that though. I do have a pretty powerful machine...

    #32Posted by Dana Kowalski | Jul 27, 2009, 09:48 AM
  • Jamie Krug

    @Ben, re: "If there are enough requests from developers for a Linux version, and by that I mean enough to cost justify the work (yes, there is additional cost associated with any additional platform) then we'll do it, and if not then not. Thus far, there has been significant demand for Linux as a ColdFusion server platform, but far less for it as a development platform. But we'll keep watching it to see if things change."

    I don't want to over-analyze your words here, but this sounds a bit like Adobe is sitting back waiting for direct contact from Linux developers requesting support. I see no easy means of a Linux developer new to ColdFusion to tell Adobe that they'd love to see support, nor would they likely have time to wait if they're making a platform decision. If a developer finds their way to a ColdFusion Builder or Flex/Flash Builder download page, they'll see Windows and Mac download options. They might move on to look for OSS/non-Adobe alternatives, and if not satisfied, an opportunity to grow the ColdFusion/Flex community has failed.

    I'm completely speculating, but is this not a reasonable guess? There are more than 400 votes for Flex/Flash Builder on Linux support, and growing ( I'll speculate again and suggest that these very many votes are primarily from folks who are already a part of the Flex development community. More often than not Flex is not a "must" for a given project, and a Linux development team is simply not going to switch development platforms to make use of Flex.

    I have to believe that there is a significant number of developers on Linux out there who will not find there way to, or take the time to vote for Linux support if it's not even an obvious consideration already.

    So, all my speculations aside... :) Is Adobe making an effort to gauge interest in Linux support, and if so, how?

    If Adobe does decide it is not in their best interest to support ColdFusion and Flex/Flash Builder for Linux -- and I truly hope this does not happen -- I'd ask that you at least provide a note on download pages to suggest Linux-based developers check out CFEclipse and IntelliJ IDEA as alternatives. This at least keeps the platform invitations open, even if no IDE can be provided by Adobe.


  • Ben Forta


    I am not going to comment on Flex Builder for Linux as I am not up to date on the thinking there. For ColdFusion though, we do research heavily and regularly to determine what platforms are being used for both the server and for development. And we react accordingly, we've added supported platforms to the server and have removed some too, and revisit the list with each release. And Linux servers are indeed supported, and have been for a while. For the tool we do know that Windows is the #1 ColdFusion development platform and Intel Macs are #2, there are others but they are (currently) a very distant third and beyond. This is not a statement about the importance of any platform as much it is a business decision, as it needs to be. Still, I'll pass your comments and suggestion on to the team.

    --- Ben

    #34Posted by Ben Forta | Jul 27, 2009, 11:10 AM
  • Jim Priest

    Is this a case of the chicken/egg scenario? There is no Linux demand because there hasn't been Linux support in the past?

    I'll be blunt, IMO building a tool on a platform that IS cross-platform and then adding functionality that cripples that ability makes no sense to me.

  • Darren Walker

    I think Adobe missed a trick here - they should have called the IDE ColdFusion Studio 9. "Builder" - I know it matches Flex builder, but it kind of sounds like there should be a$$ crack showing when I code. "Studio" would attract more ladeez. Otherwise, nice work.

  • Alirio Boquin

    Ben my first language was Turbo Pascal 5 (I have the manuals if some want it!) Then I learn Delphi (I have the Delphi Bible!).

    Can you write some day a post about, what happens with Borland why this amazing product(Delphi) why didn't dominated the development landscape?

    The question a have to this post is: If Homesite it's written in Delphi and Eclipse it written in Java, Dreamweaver it's written ?

    Thank you Ben!

  • Travis

    Thanks for providing some insight into Adobe's plans for HS+ and DW. I'm a little saddened you feel us in the DW camp aren't 'coders'. Personally I think DW does very well with CF and I can use it to do the design of our sites as well. DW has a very VERY polished interface that Eclipse lacks (that means don't rewrite DW for Eclipse, ok!?). If CFB works as well as we hope, it'll be sad and difficult to justify using both CFB for CF and DW for web design when we don't have to make that justification now (assuming they're not packaged together somehow). I'm glad to see Adobe will keep DW current with CF, although I think it's unfortunate to see all this effort into Eclipse.

    In your OP you said, "Adobe as a company has committed to Eclipse as made evident by Flash Builder, LiveCycle Workbench, and now Flash Catalyst. Building a ColdFusion IDE that could leverage other work within the company, and more importantly, could align with those projects (especially considering how many developers are writing ColdFusion powered Flex apps) makes lots of sense." then in your comments you said, "I'd rather two distinct tools that each serve an audience than trying to create the one-size-fits-all tool that actually end up serving no one." Using Eclipse in this way is basically doing just that; creating an all-in-one product, just with individual price tags.

    I'm curious to see how adobe will package these. Our team has used the Macromedia suites and now the Adobe suites for design and development. I hope to see future packages include Flex/Flash/CFB/DW/PS type combinations so we're not forced to pay for everything individually.

    I tried using Eclipse, I just don't like it. I also feel Flex Builder 3 is half the reason we don't do more with Flex in our organization. I honestly think Adobe could have made a far superior IDE (even one that can link together) with the talent they inherited with the purchase of Macromedia.

    I'm curious to know what CFB can do that CFEclipse doesn't that will justify whatever price tag Adobe will slap on it. Has anyone done a direct comparison?

    I haven't lost faith in Adobe, but I hope this isn't the start of "a whole series of superbly dumb business decisions that effectively kill the company."

    #38Posted by Travis | Jul 27, 2009, 01:51 PM
  • Jake Munson


    If I had to guess, I'd say the Windows only additions to CFB are the RDS related stuff. If that's the case, then I'd push for a Linux version that does not include the RDS stuff, as in my opinion the tag insight is WAY better in CFB than CFE. Did I use enough acronyms? :)

  • 6dust


    Did you try Flex Builder before version 2? It was based on Dreamweaver and was absolutely horrible. The switch to Eclipse IMHO saved the product.

    #40Posted by 6dust | Jul 27, 2009, 03:08 PM
  • Travis

    @ 6dust,
    We've only just started our flex initiative. But to be fair that's a version 1.0 product. Arguably DW wasn't all that great until MX which was version 6 I believe.

    I'm not saying DW is flawless (I still LOL at the DST bug), but its been very good to me and my team.

    A friend of mine uses CFEclipse for some pretty large projects. I respect his abilities and judgement as a developer so I tried things as he described. I got tired of finding the plugins I needed, configuring the plugins and still fumbling my way through the UI to get anything done. In contrast, DW was very easy to transition to. I've played with the CFB beta and I'm of the same opinion. CFB may have some great features but if they're buried 7 clicks beneath an obscure menu system it doesn't do me much good. CFB also needs better support for remote development environments. I've never been part of a team that develops locally.

    Most of my dislike for Eclipse is the UI. Things aren't where I expect them to be (add line numbers and line wrapping in CFB for example). It also looks cheap and half assed which doesn't do the CF community much good, like Ben said, look at Visual Studio. .net may suck to program but they have a nice IDE... We're backwards. I think a CF IDE should be as intuitive and easy as CF which I can't see in Eclipse.

    I don't see how supporting some level of design view is a bad thing. Even if you are a CFC freak you're still going to spend some time writing HTML even if it's a simple table or placing a chart within a div or something. DW works well for us because we use the design/split view to highlight the element we're working with, similar to design view in flash builder. Honestly we don't use most of what DW offers, the main attraction is the UI and how it makes it easy for us to work within the visual part of our system. I'll be happy to hang up my guns if someone can show me how to make Eclipse worthy of the RDE that is CF.

    #41Posted by Travis | Jul 27, 2009, 04:53 PM
  • Joel Richards

    Great read! I am still a diehard HomeSite user and never could fathom why Macromedia would let such a great product languish. I have worked with CFEclipse and am now working with CF Builder. With CF Builder I may I found a replacement for Homesite.

  • Mike Henke

    @ Travis "CFB may have some great features but if they're buried 7 clicks beneath an obscure menu system it doesn't do me much good."

    Try ctrl-shift-3 - is a quick access shortcut for menus, preferences, views, nothing should be "buried 7 clicks."

  • Mike Henke

    meant ctrl+3 -

  • David McCan

    Nice historical review. Thank you. I was surprised that Homesite did not sell more copies. At one point years ago the top 10 rock star website developers were surveyed and more than half of them were using it.

    #45Posted by David McCan | Jul 29, 2009, 12:13 AM
  • Steve Caldwell

    I really appreciate this article. I learned ColdFusion in Dreamweaver CS4, and have found it very difficult to try to move over to CFBuilder. I can't live without design view...coming from an HTML and CSS background is probably why.

    I do find DW very useful on coding pages as well, and I need to be able to switch from my cfc's to my web templates quickly and within the same interface, so it's no contest for me.

    I don't come from a coding background, and don't need to force an IDE on myself when I won't actually get any work done.

    I'm glad to hear that DW will still be supported in future versions, that was a fear of mine...and no one was really talking much about it.

    #46Posted by Steve Caldwell | Jul 29, 2009, 11:53 AM
  • runescape gold

    This is a subject close to my heart and something that I've blogged about for more than a year

  • Gadi

    Everytime I had tried CFEclipse, I ended up back at CF Studio / Homesite+. It was always too slow and sluggish, and was to difficult to open a file and edit it.

    I agree with one of the earlier posters that there is no better program to quickly open and edit a file than Homesite.

    I am disappointed that you went with the eclipse route, though it does make perfect sense for Adobe. Will you at least provide the CF9 tags updates for homesite?

    I think I would take up delphi if homesite was open sourced.

    #48Posted by Gadi | Jul 30, 2009, 04:43 PM
  • tony

    Thanks for the great article, the history, the honesty, and the clarification of some of these issues.

    I have tried Dreamweaver numerous times, and now I'm giving CFEclipse a try, but I still hold CF Studio near and dear to my heart (and close at hand for when I need to fire up and edit something quickly).

    I would love to see something that combines the features and the speed of CF Studio, and I would pay $ for it. If Bolt/CFB is that tool, I'm way past ready. If not, where can we start on the open source version of CF Studio? Where, indeed, can one get a version of it at all?

    Along with perhaps many others on this board, I have an almost sentimental affection for CF Studio -- in addition to a high degree of comfort with it.

    The future is here and I'm ready. Everything you can do to make CFB fast and compact I'm sure we'll all be grateful for.

    #49Posted by tony | Jul 30, 2009, 06:44 PM
  • Mark

    I'm another Homesite+ user, and I think that CF Studio was more of an IDE than you give it credit for. It not only had the RDS selector, but more importantly it had the step debugger (and we actually had it working), at least until support for it was removed from CF Server with the MX conversion. IMHO the biggest shortcoming was that its team development / source control integration was (and is) sketchy.

    Anyway, good luck with CFB!

    #50Posted by Mark | Jul 31, 2009, 03:41 PM
  • Michael De Jonghe

    Any post that gets 50+ comments is a good one!

    What I think is missing, or not talked about enough, is that CFB needs to be "Adobe". Let me explain... The reason I buy Adobe products is because they work. Plain and simple. The reason I buy Creative Suite is because each individual tool works well with the others in the suite. But what I've come to love the most is not the work flow or the round trip development, It's the USER INTERFACE. All of the CS4 tools look the same, as do the micro sites, demos, AIR apps, etc that Adobe puts out.


    For nearly two months now I've wondered why Flash Catalyst has one UI while the Flash and CF Builders have another. Why? Especially when they're both Eclipse based. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way, and I'm sorry for yelling in caps before, but this is not a small thing. I spend many hours each week looking at the same monitor. Whatever CFB turns out to be... make it easy on the eyes... please.

  • Marcus Andersson

    Whatever people may think about Microsoft, Visual Studio is awesome compared to Eclipse. I think Visual Studio alone can be a reason for people to choose, for example, Silverlight over Flash/Flex.

  • Danny Armstrong

    RE: No Linux support in ColdFusion Builder

    Is it worth it to alienate all of the Linux based devs just to save the cost of supporting the app on Linux. It's a java app. What insight does the CFEclipse crew have on cross platform support.

    Information like this: proves it is (was, at least) trivial to make the program cross platform compatible.

    #53Posted by Danny Armstrong | Feb 5, 2010, 03:46 PM
  • Jacek J.

    Why would I spend $250+ for the CFBuilder when CFEclipse is free?
    Adobe is trying to monetize on the segment that they are destine to fail. We all tried CFBuilder, we all like it and we all went back to CFEclipse when the beta expired :)
    Let’s face it - CFBuilder is not superior enough to CF Eclipse to cost $250+,
    and unlike FlexBuilder it really isn't a true IDE (it really is still just an editor - just an awesome editor)

    Adobe should get of the pipe dream of making money on tools like CFBuilder and concentrate on
    development of core products, like JRun, which quite honestly does not compare against any other Java 6 EE (former J2EE) (in reality it is somewhere between EE and SE - from the load and thread handling capabilities - but that's totally different discussion :) )

    Supply tools like CFBuilder at reasonable price (under 100) o0r don't even bother (not with CFEclipse out there going strong)

    #54Posted by Jacek J. | Mar 30, 2010, 11:29 AM
  • Russ C.

    I'm a long-time user of Dreamweaver, and a heavy coder. Over the years I've found Dreamweaver to be a reasonably good tool, though like many others here I could pretty much care less about the design view. About the only thing I use it for is to more quickly navigate to a particular section of code by using split view. Disappointments have been the lack of support for viewing MySQL stored procedures, and the flaky nature of the cfc outline view (I don't remember what DW really calls that palette). I'm currently on CS3, and haven't seen much in the later versions that make me want to upgrade. In fact, I've been actively moving to open source for as many applications as possible, so switching away from DW has been on my to-do list for a while.

    In that vein I recently decided that I would give Eclipse a try to see if it could really replace DW. To make a really long story short, I first tried CFEclipse with some additional plugins (such as QuantumDB for better db integration). Then I tried Aptana. Then I tried CF Builder.

    The result is that I find none of these provide some of the features I really value in DW. Here's how my notes summarized the missing pieces (well, one was a great find - QuantumDB):

    - Templates: not available in any of the three, though cfincludes could be used to eliminate the need for templates
    - Automatic updating of files when a file they reference gets renamed (especially useful when renaming js files to eliminate problems caused by browser caching of an old version): not available
    - Robust search and search-and-replace: Eclipse Search view is OK, but not as good as Dreamweaver (e.g. can't search/replace in a selection)
    - Cloaking, not just from FTP, but also from searches: not available
    - Database explorer with support for MySQL stored procedures: none of them support stored procs, but QuantumDB does!
    - FTP synchronization: Synchronize View in Team is OK, but I prefer the way DW handles it
    - CSS support: nothing like in Dreamweaver

    In the end, none of the Eclipse-based tools fit my needs well enough to make the switch, which is unfortunate because I really, really like the ability to add plug-ins to add new functionality. On the other hand, the eclipse UI is a bit on the screwy side sometimes, so it would certainly take some time to get truly productive with it.

    #55Posted by Russ C. | Aug 15, 2010, 10:29 PM
  • Gail H

    I guess I'll stick with my dusty old version of HomeSite+. Like every other Adobe product, Cold Fusion Builder has too high a price tag for my budget. Over the years I've spent several thousand dollars on various versions of what used to be the CF Suite, but ever since Adobe took over the product, I haven't been able to afford the software. The initial outlay for any Adobe product is huge, and the upgrade prices of $200 and up for any given product are simply out of reach for a self-employed person like me to try to keep up.

    Since neither HomeSite+ nor my latest version of Dreamweaver (which I never use) qualifies for the CFB upgrade price, I would have to pay the full $299. Considering that HomeSite+ cost about $80 and provides EVERYTHING I need in a "development environment," with one exception (mentioned below), I can't justify spending $299 dollars to learn an entirely new system that I may not even like. The only reason I can still develop in CF at all is that the development version of the server is still free. If Adobe ever starts charging for that, it will be time for me to learn a new language.

    I think the fact that HomeSite+ is still so useful for CF programmers is a significant one. What other product has maintained its usefulness to so many developers over so many years, even without any support at all? To support those developers, all Adobe would really have to do is continue to create the add-ons for the tag insight and help files for each new version of ColdFusion. These are the ONLY things I miss in my HomeSite+ editor. While they require a certain amount of time and cost to create, they require no (or very little) additional coding to the actual product. I still have not heard a compelling reason for not doing this. Of course, Adobe is probably just trying to shoehorn people into using one of its other products instead of HomeSite.

    Still, for very little cost and effort on Adobe's part, the dedicated HomeSite+ users could be satisfied by simply having access to updated help and tag files for the product. I'll bet most of them would even be willing to pay for it. I know I would be willing to pay up to around $80.

    #56Posted by Gail H | Apr 14, 2011, 12:13 PM
  • Bill Brown

    Hi I have just got a job and the website uses very complex coldfusion. What is the best way for me to learn the CFlanguage I have no training but love the way it works

    #57Posted by Bill Brown | May 25, 2011, 08:48 AM
  • Ben Forta

    Bill, lots of great getting started content at, and also see my books at

    --- Ben

    #58Posted by Ben Forta | May 25, 2011, 10:51 AM
  • charlie arehart

    I realize this is an old post, but since some commenters were complaining/asking about a free edition of CFBuilder, note that since this blog entry was written, Adobe did indeed come out with a free edition of CFBuilder.

    For more info, see