Back in late 2005 I asked What Would You Want From ColdFusion Microsoft Exchange Integration?. That post generated over 100 comments, and the ideas and suggestions and use cases in that thread were in a large part responsible for the powerful and sophisticated Exchange integration tags in ColdFusion 8.
So, I’d like your input again. We’ve been hearing some rumblings about Microsoft SharePoint and integration with ColdFusion, and I’d like you to weigh in on this idea. Are you a SharePoint user, or is it used anywhere in your organization? If yes, what is it being used for? And do you see any value in ColdFusion SharePoint integration? What type of integration would you like, and how would you use it? As before, I am less interested in simple “yes please” or “no, but you should support x instead” comments. I need specifics, and the more detail the better.
And no, I am not promising features. This is a brainstorming exercise for now. 😉
Thanks!

40 thoughts

  1. SharePoint usage in my company has exploded in the past few years. Some functionality that would be very useful…
    1) Get a listing of sites a specified NT username is a member of (My Sites)
    2) Return SharePoint lists with the ability to specify a view
    3) Return Document Libraries with the ability to specify a view
    4) Add/edit list items via CF
    5) Create new sites via CF (I currently do this in CF via SharePoint webservices, but it’s clunky and stopped working when we upgraded to WSS 3.0). We have a CF app to manage new site requests, and once a site is approved we just click a button and the site is automagically created. Save a nice bit of time over manually creating sites.
    I’d be happy with any integration though, as SharePoint is now a critical tool used at our company (Large Aerospace).

  2. On second thought, I suppose I’d like to see an interface into the SharePoint user service. The service I set up retrieves the current user list from SP, removes all users, retrieves a set of users from our DB and then adds all valid users back in. Kind of clunky, but the SP site access list needs to be in sync with our organizations structure so that’s the best I could think of on short notice. Would have been nice to have a handfull of tags that simplified things – something like:
    <cfsharepoint action="retrieveUsersFromGroup" group="myGroup" result="usersFromSharePoint" />
    <cfloop query="usersFromSharePoint">
    <cfsharepoint action="removeUserFromGroup" user="#name[currentRow]#" />
    </cfloop>
    <cfloop query="someQueryFromCFDSN">
    <cfsharepoint action="addUserToGroup" user="DOMAIN#userID#" group="myGroup" />
    </cfloop>
    Would have made the process much nicer then dealing with SOAP requests…

  3. Todd-
    Not sure what you mean. The auth was working in WSS 2 by passing a username/password in cfinvoke. I never really had time to research why it stopped working when we upgraded to 3.0

  4. Sharepoint is rapidly replacing our current portal application built in Coldfusion. Our current application competes on many levels with sharepoint, but the one feature that we get beat on is the save option directly to the server.
    In sharepoint you can open an Office document and make changes. Then hit Save in Office, and it saves it directly to the server. Not having to re-upload the file is a HUGE plus to a lot of users. If you could add this option to Coldfusion it would be very beneficial!

  5. The ability to write webparts in CF.
    We basically dropped sharepoint since none of our .Net developers could get a grasp on writing webparts. It would be great if you could write webparts in CF and have sharepoint use them. I guess we would need a gateway for sharepoint or something.

  6. While connecting to SharePoint would be nice, there are many other Microsoft platforms that would be really useful to connect to. Connecting to an application middleware, such as BizTalk would give us access to not only SharePoint, but things like CRM, RMS, NaVision, GreatPlains, etc. Of course, I would rather have both, as I realize that BizTalk is very expensive.

  7. We are just starting out with Sharepoint, but my understanding is that one feature allows you to create and manage workflows. It sounds like a lot of groups here want to use workflows, but use them in conjunction with existing data applications. It would be nice to be able to access the workflow engine in Sharepoint as much as possible. I’m guessing there are times we’d want to be able to do all of these things:
    – start a new workflow
    – read a workflow status
    – tell a workflow a step is complete
    – cancel a workflow
    – others?
    Thanks.

  8. HI,
    I worked in a french school in Montreal and I worked since 6 month with MOSS 2007 to build an intranet to connect admin/teachers/students/parents together.
    Being able to create custom webpart in CF would be my dream. I am not a .net developer and I don’t want to be just for my work in this school.
    Since everything in Sharepoint can be view in RSS, I guess I can use a lot of information in MOSS from Coldfusion.
    Since I have a LOT of sites in MOSS ( 1 per department, 1 per level, 1 per class, 1 per teacher/class ) I could very much use CF to program a config site to set permission on all those site at the beginning of the year.
    I saw that there is a conference at webmaniac on Sharepoint integration, what are the topics covered ?

  9. Is this really the kind of thing CF needs to be integrating at all? It almost seems like things are being added to CF "because we might as well do it", rather than concentrating on pushing the real advantages CF already has…

  10. I’d have to second David’s point above. Why should CF be integrating with Sharepoint at all? – would it not be better to improve the language and provide a neat extension architecture so people can then do what they want with it?
    I’m aware you can extend with CFX, Java, CORBA et al, but something more accessible to Johnny Coldfusion developer might be more useful

  11. From an Enterprise perspective, this is exactly the type of thing ColdFusion needs to leverage. In our organization, ColdFusion has lost the battle to Java, but has managed to remain useful as a tool for developing small to medium sized applications due to its rapid development characteristics and relatively low learning curve for new developers. However, as Java continues to progress, and new frameworks are developed that take some of the complexity out of the Java development process, it gets harder and harder to justify to our CTO and CIO the need for redundant development languages, staff and infrastructure.
    To keep ColdFusion alive and kicking around here, we need to continue to find ways that ColdFusion can shine, and integration with SharePoint would be one. Having the ability to easily develop custom Web Parts would certainly be attractive, as would many of the other items mentioned in the responses above. We have a more robust BPMS in place today, but because of it’s size, we may want to leverage SharePoint for small workflow processes. Perhaps there is a place for ColdFusion in the integration between these two? Not really sure, just thinking out loud. Bottom line is, we believe ColdFusion integration with SharePoint is a good thing here and are looking forward to seeing where this leads.

  12. @Neil & David:
    I have to respectfully disagree. We’ve all heard time and again that ColdFusion is the language that makes difficult things easy. Sure there are other improvements that can be made, but leaving behind the true vision should not c

  13. 1) Pass user credentials for the logged in user along to Sharepoint, especially when using HTTP Digest authentication, and logged in user password is not available.
    2) CFQuery integration with Sharepoint Lists? Some other way of accomplishing "CRUD" on them
    3) Ability to list/read/extract URL to/and possibly update Document libraries. Possibly some sort of CFFile integration with Document Libraries.

  14. I have no idea how any of this works in Sharepoint, we’ve only just started using it at my current company, and are really only using out of the box features. But some things I would like to be able to do would be:
    – Write web parts
    – Query lists and document libraries (perhaps the latter with a cfdirectory-like functionality?)
    – As Jared Legg Mentions, the ability to open a document and then save from Office back to the server is really key to SharePoint’s value
    – Manage and detect alerts. I’m sadly short on details with this one, but the "alert" functionality in SharePoint is really limited and difficult to use. Being able to "watch" a list for changes through some type of gateway and then trigger CF handlers would be awesome.
    Lastly, count me in as one more vote towards integrating at all. Yes, I want language enhancements and new features, but SharePoint is increasingly popular in the enterprise, and in my experience it’s a big "first step" towards moving to .NET. When all your documents and resources are stored in SharePoint, it becomes vital that other applications can integrate – or they go away. Integration with SharePoint will help keep CF in the enterprise.
    Would I rather a CF-base portal solution? Of course. But SharePoint Team Services comes with Windows 2003 Server, and it’s really easy to set up and get started with it (not so easy down the road when you want to customize…) so businesses are doing it – it’s the path of least resistance. I don’t necessarily advocate bundling applications with CF – but on the other hand, if there was another viable option, it would probably get used.
    I’m thrilled to see SharePoint integration considered as a possible feature for future versions of CF.

  15. Workflow is the big clever thing Sharepoint does that CF doesn’t, at least not out of the box. The ability to get a workflow temaplte, populate it with data. I’m thinking of the form driven variety of work flow rather than workflows that get attached to docs, though being able to post a doc to sharepoint and attach workflow or workflows to it would be equally useful.
    The status query would be pretty easy as you can do that direct form the tables but a nicer interface wouldn’t hurt. What would be really rather useful is some method of getting progress messages from the workflow. Sending emails is already supported and I guess you could do that already with some CF code but an MSMQ or a Notification Services interface would be fairly easy to roll in sharepoint and a Notification Services interface for CF would also enble it to tie in to events generated in SQL Server 2005 and potentially Biztalk.

  16. The more integration I see with Microsoft server technologies, the more I wonder how long will ColdFusion remain on the Java platform? If I was in charge of ColdFusion and we wanted to integrate with all these Microsoft technologies, I would be asking "Wouldn’t it be easier to integrate with dot net technology rather than Java?"
    Why would a company that is using Microsoft technologies like Sharepoint be interested in bringing in a Java Application server? I think it might be easier to sell ColdFusion to them if it ran on dot net instead.
    Of course, you would then alienate 25% of your developer community who use Macs and would rather not see so much integration with Microsoft technologies since it sends shivers down our spine.
    It seems to me that Adobe is trying to find a place for ColdFusion to fit and that in the future what may be good for ColdFusion may not be good for many of its developers.

  17. I’d like to see some kind of strong authentication, maybe something Kerberos based or maybe even PKI. With my corporate clients username/pwd auth is absolutely forbidden.

  18. I read/hear all the glowing propaganda about Sharepoint quite a bit, but my assessment of it to date is that it is more of a marketing success than it is an actual IT success story. Micro$oft has indeed done it’s homework in creating something that *sounds* like it’s the cure-all that IT managers want…. but those poor souls who are saddled with trying to implement it say it is the most unwieldy dog to come out of Redmond in years.
    Sadly, the CTO for our corporation has literally swallowed the Redmond kool-aid on this, and has proclaimed we will be moving toward this to the exclusion of Cold Fusion. This is a potential catastrophe for our group, so I would be a lot less concerned about this latest Redmond cancer if we could have some method of integration.
    At the very least, we should have the ability to use our existing ColdFusion templates/widgets/functional modules within the Sharepoint environment in the same vein as a "web part", so that we don’t have to wrestle with .NET programming. SP and CF need to co-exist, or we are in danger of losing Cold Fusion as our primary intranet development platform.

  19. @Dale,
    Rather than hoping for some Sharepoint integration with ColdFusion, you should probably look for a new job. I have heard nothing but horrible things about Sharepoint. I wouldn’t want to use it even if there was some sort of integration from

  20. We’re a member association using CF mainly for our internet site. We just started off deploying MOSS for intranet and extranet – considering its expensive license fee for internet-facing sites, MOSS is rarely used for public internet access. For us, we would love to allow authenticated internet users use CF accessing MOSS content types, lists (with available views), workflow status or even BI reports. As some already suggested, it woud be nice if they can check in/out documents from a document library and, even better, if they are allowed to start a workflow or invoke a feature within CF.

  21. Just in case folks don’t know, there currently is the ability to do much of what people are asking for with SharePoint today through accessing it’s web services. My suspicion is that CF would only leverage those services and make them super easy to use…but there could be more in mind that I don’t know about.

  22. My organization has been involved with SharePoint since early 2005 and we just recently upgraded to MOSS 2007. A few things that we would like to see out of any ColdFusion SharePoint integration would be:
    1) Deeper authentication integration – our current security integration depends upon a shared datasource & passing keys within the query string
    2) How about a ColdFusion webpart? I’d like to see SharePoint & ColdFusion living on the same box and be able to write CF code inside of a SharePoint webpart to be compiled at runtime
    3) Ability to use the SharePoint web services as native CF tags, similar in function to the CFExchange tags
    4) Ability to register CF components to custom UI modules as SharePoint webparts – this means I can create some piece of user interface code, such as a widget in CF, but add it to my SharePoint webpart library to be deployed to any site or page
    5) Ability to create new SharePoint functionality in ColdFusion to actually extend SharePoint – MOSS 2007 comes with about 40 "applications", I would like the ability to create new applications in CF and deploy them as templates for SharePoint so that other users can use them throughout the portal
    This is just a number of ideas, but I’m sure we, as well as the rest of the user community, would have plenty more. We’ve already tackled creating custom tags and components against the native SharePoint Services, but a deeper level of integration would always be appreciated. Likewise if you’re looking for any beta partners, we would love to be on the list!

  23. We are a ColdFusion house. Our external website will always be ColdFusion (I hope!), but I have gotten my team to use WSS for several years and we are now looking to upgrade to MOSS 2007 within the month. We will then begin the process of changing our corporate intranet (which is now CF based) to a SharePoint portal. Being in that situation, I would love to see:
    1. A Coldfusion webpart for sharepoint where coldfusion applications can act normally within Sharepoint structure. I would love to save some of our current CF applications and utilize them within SharePoint. I believe I’ve seen a project case study online that mentioned that they had created a custom webpart to display CF.
    2. A CF tag that would help add a list item to a list in sharepoint. I think the big stumbling block to adding a list item is some proprietary code that MS puts into a list item record. Determining the appropriate value for the code would be the main thing necessary, I think.
    Thanks Ben. I am excited to see an interest in what I thought was a fairly unique situatioon that we were in.

  24. I would like to see a series of tags so you could interact with document libraries (list documents, check out/in a document) it would also be nice to interact with SharePoint lists in general (list items – would return an array of items in the list). I would also like to access the security model listing users, roles and permissions, etc… I think it is critical to be able to access data inside SharePoint from ColdFusion I know companies that want to use SharePoint as a backend for their CMS because it integrates with their windows environment and their infrastructure but would like to be able to access that data for display on the web in an easy (i.e. ColdFusion) way. SharePoint integration would be another good win for ColdFusion.

  25. I think integration is a great idea, or atleast the ability to easily use SharePoint’s web services. For me right now I am trying to do some simple things like query a SharePoint list and schedule tasks that will update a SharePoint list from another data source. So far I have not been able to do even what I would think are the simple things.
    Maybe you make a tag in CF for each SharePoint web service (or the most common ones). Maybe you can add web services to CFOutput or better yet cfquery then you can use it from cfoutput or cfloop. Maybe there is a special tag to add and edit data in a list.
    It would also be great if Coldfusion could be used to make up for several of SharePoint’s short falls. SharePoint is good at getting something up and running quickly, but as soon as you want to start customizing something you run into problems.

  26. We have been using CFM pages for many years to bring MS SQL Server data to users via Digital Dashboard and the orignial SharePoint. We use it for matter management in a legal environment. It works so well we have never upgraded, but are now about to port to MOSS 2007. The CFM pages are exposed through SharePoint’s simple page viewer. We maintain state, interconnect webparts, and develop busines logic in ColdFusion, and produce sophisticated aggregations of data in multiple panes of a tabbed structure with world-class navigation and functions via Dashboard/SharePoint. We script ColdFusion, and use JavaScript to pass variables and connect webparts, while SharePoint does the heavy environmental and navigational lifting — without coding in .net. We expose highly relational case data, multiple corporate databases, documents subsystems, search, and knowledge management, etc. Look, I’m a lawyer (who really practices law), and even I can do this.

  27. Wow, so from the perspective WSS 3.0 and MOSS are stomping on everything including WSS 2.0 techniques as Microsoft tries to bury JavaScript techniques to avoid using Managed Code (.NET, cough cough choke gasp).
    Finding details on CAML or getting web services to work properly under CAC and HTTPS is tough and the message is clear. Use .Net or die.
    And the speed with which CF is being tossed (State department and virtually every place I go) is staggering from my perspective.
    It is so bad, that I may have to take all of it off my resume. I mention its strengths and I get tossed from the meeting rooms, LOL.
    I do not know if it is a case of marketing (no one know anything about it being used anywhere seriously) or development ("CF is dead, it is all Flex from now on" US Army Major) or what, but I have built an integrated CF SharePoint application and the small SharePoint component is the only thing that kept Cold Fusion and the server it runs on being junked.
    So as I personally stand in the torrent of Cold Fusion installations flowing past me downriver, what I want last year, yesterday, right now and the foreseeable future is a dozen serious clear pages on how to use Cold Fusion with SharePoint and MOSS.
    It is like it is owned or managed by some bunch of UNIX geeks who think that because what they have going on is better than Microsoft’s offerings (questionable) it has a chance in hell.
    I need right now for CFFILE to write to a document library after I switch the admin to an authorized account the way after searching it seems like it is supposed to, and when I want go to the Cold Fusion Homepage, I want to find clear concise examples of a SharePoint web service being used, not amazon.com’s web services. You must have someone there who likes Cold Fusion enough to stand up a SharePoint server and figure every possible way to show how Cold Fusion delivers against it.
    Here is how Cold Fusion can save a PDF of the mailed document (cool CF feature) into a specified document library.
    Here is how you read an Excel file using web services against SharePoint and drop it into an effective web interface.
    I don’t need to go on I think, since I think what CF developers need to deal with SharePoint can be extracted from any number of the books that are out. Say. See many Cold Fusion books on the shelves lately like there used to be? I own every Cold Fusion book I ever saw. My wallet was on AutoBuy as it is for SharePoint books now.
    Right now, I have to use a JavaScript off my Cold Fusion page to run Word VBA to execute a document.saveas into a Document Library, and while that might be somewhat effective, it does not get my neat little PDF into the document library I need it to go to, so I am, LOL, looking at mailing it to a mail account as an attachment and having an exchange rule strip out the attachment and drop it into the document folder.
    When or if they realize I have done this, it will be a problem, LOL.
    Before I get crucified, I have worked with CF for a decade and am not an evil empire sycophant.
    A lot of its current issues are the result of developers who were, um, struggling for a polite term, forgot the KISS principle. FUSEBOX.
    Hmmm, do you think that could be why the number one complaint I hear is that some CF guy built this amazing site, is gone, probably asking for more money, and now no one can understands it (Non-profit in CA dropped their beautiful, dynamic CF site because they can find no one to support it at any price, and price was an issue).
    I am puzzled and I ask how did this happen.
    The best thing about CF as a language, hands down, is it does not look like a language. In fact any web weenie writing HTML should be able to pick up most of it in a weekend because it looks like HTML, and you know web weenies cost half what .NET guys cost so it should be a no-brainer.
    But wait, I have 18 pages crammed onto one single page! Cool huh? No, retarded is more like it. Do you think a customer service trooper can read that oh so clever code. Hell, why didn’t you gum it up even more and use Front Page to encrypt it.
    I am sure other 20 year folks remember this scenario…
    Look, boss, I got the whole 100 line program to fit into two lines and it is really efficient and aren’t I smart? Um, no, go back and re-write so it takes 150 lines, add 50 lines of comments and make sure it can be supported by a 15-year old as that is all the brain power I can afford to hire.
    So just in case anyone is curious on how I managed to keep CF alive and not tossed i.e. what are the strengths as they apply in the hellish trenches of SharePoint.
    1. User Interface. Despite Microsoft’s best efforts, CF rules way over MS tools for rapid effective interfaces even without bringing Flash into it. The dominant technology will be the one that delivers a desktop experience on the web which SharePoint does not yet do.
    2. Security. Because of CF’s structure, I do not have to put accounts and passwords in any page code just to get data down.
    3. Support. I was able to get the org’s web developer coding CF in no time because he had years of HTML and CSS experience and picked up the SQL in no time. He still won’t stop working on the production box, but that will come in time.
    4. Mail.CFMAIL is where it is at for working with mail activities.
    5. SharePoint handles all security and document storage.
    Now bear in mind that if I thought it was not the right way to go, I would have helped carry out the CF server. Mission dictates.
    I feel MUCH better, LOL…

  28. I, like others, would love to see CF be able to write a document directly to the server. Our small company currently has an Intranet built on CF, which includes a portal interface, Customer Service app, basic Doclib, Disscussion, Contacts, basic Event Calendar, Job Posting, News, etc.. There’s been a hard push by some in Mgmt to go to Sharepoint. The primary reason? Document Library/Sharing and shared Calendars. Now, with CF8 and Exchange integration, I may be able to get around the Calendar issue (haven’t played with it much yet), but the DocLib functionality is a killer. I want to be able to write a DocMgmt. System that includes check-in/check-out, revision tracking, version control and archving, security, workflow (editor > reviewer > approver) and other features. This all can be done currently with CF (just a matter of coding it). However, if the basic function of getting a file from Point A (server) to Point B (client) back to Point A (server) in this system requires that a user has to download/revise/upload the document to the server, it’s pretty much a futile effort and useless, IMO. No way is mgmt going to want to go through all that to work on a document.

  29. I mentioned earlier that SharePoint integration would be a great win for ColdFusion, Exchange integration was a great idea for CF8 but SharePoint integration would be fantastic for CF9. I have talked to many other individuals that have problems integrating legacy applications into SharePoint, and ColdFusion in my opinion should be marketing itself as the next generation enterprise middleware glue. Building a web service in ColdFusion is as easy as writing a CFC and setting the access property to “remote” and I could envision creating a middleware ColdFusion application that talks to an external SQL database and updates a SharePoint List. There are features in the Enterprise version of SharePoint called the BDC or Business Data Catalog that allow to connect to other data sources, but for some organizations the enterprise version of SharePoint is very expensive. Given the financial situation many organizations are facing this is a prime opportunity for Adobe to move in to this untapped market.

  30. I am seeing alot of comments on ColdFusion web parts. I know you can use the Page Viewer web part and set the location to the ColdFusion server and this will work. May not be the best solution but it should work. I would definitely like to see a better solution be provided for our use.

  31. I would love to see cf9 integrate with Sharepoint. I think that wiould be a huge selling point in keeping cf when companies want to move to all .net. I could see cf form submissions updating a list, having the ability to retrieve user info authentication, posting files created using cfdocument directly to a list, ability to create webparts that could be flash/air based. Since sharepoint creates mobile sites, i see an opportunity for cf/air to get in that space too.

  32. We are looking for a solution to
    1. upload documents to sharepoint from coldfusion site
    2. download documents from sharepoint to user machines
    because business/users needs one interface to deal with. So frontend could be coldfusion cites and it can deal with Sharepoint like we access database/directory servers etc
    But i think instead of developing features targeting to a custom software like Sharepoint, it is better to provide interface using standards (something like web service etc) to interact with all such software like Sharepoint, documentum etc.
    Large organizations always has multiple technologies coexist and it would be great to have integration options.
    I am seeing increased usage of Sharepoint and Documentum now a days.

  33. I found this today, am curious to the current "state" of SharePoint integration. Anyone have additional information they can share???
    I can tell you that our DoD customers are coming to us demanding SharePoint (if we want to do the work)… we have a group of Notes developers, and they were told "No new development – support existing systems only, and prepare to move all apps to SharePoint this year and next".
    CF hasn’t yet gotten that "hatchet", but I think it’s already swinging…
    The momentum with our clients is simply staggering. We built a CFMX collaboration portal that’s easier to add custom sub-apps, better UI, customized for the way our customers do business, and faster than SharePoint — but without the "Upload on Save" capabilities of SharePoint it is simply not competitive.
    Also need CAC PKP authentication out of the box (we have written our own), and https:// support literrally everywhere there is path required/optional, and the "Upload on Save".
    Another thing, our clients exist on a managed network that controls exactly which version of software is installed (always "old"), and prevents nearly all Active-X plug-ins from being installed. We work around these issues most days, but SharePoint’s Active-X componenents are supposedly permitted. I would recommend Adobe do the leg work to get any/all of their required plug-ins (browser integration always needs plugins) approved as well for the major controlled networks their customers want to sell CF to.
    I’ve been building advanced CF apps since Spectra. It’s depressing to think it’s losing the market that I work in. Now my job is to integrate CF in a way that will allow us to quickly replace existing CF databases into SharePoint for our customers.
    Ug.

Leave a Reply