On Dreamweaver CC And ColdFusion

The release of Dreamweaver CC brought some important enhancements to the product, along with a renewed focus on client-side development and technologies. To support that focus the Dreamweaver team made a decision to deemphasize other areas of functionality. And among the removed features is some of Dreamweaver’s ColdFusion support. This has upset many in the ColdFusion community, and understandably so. But, as usually happens, facts and realities get misconstrued amidst the angst and hand-wringing. And so this is a chance to try to set the record straight.

It is true, the Dreamweaver team has significantly reduced support for ASP/ASP.NET, JSP, and CF. That was a business decision. Every product team has to do what they think is in the best interests of their product. The ColdFusion team has to do what they think is best for the ColdFusion business, and that includes a CF10, a planned CF11, an upcoming conference, and, yes, ColdFusion Builder. Likewise, the Dreamweaver team has to focus on what’s important for them and their numbers, and their client-side focus makes sense to them (and, actually, to me, too). Would I like Dreamweaver to do it all? Sure, but that’s not practical, and so they made the trade-offs and decisions that every Product Manager has to make. And personally, I like the Dreamweaver focus; it’s long overdue. Do you know that DW6 still had dialog boxes with Netscape Navigator icons in it? Seriously, Dreamweaver was suffering from ongoing feature addition while nothing was ever deprecated or removed. As I said, this was overdue.

And so, yes, Dreamweaver now has less ColdFusion support. But, to be brutally honest, I had given up on Dreamweaver support for ColdFusion a long time ago because Dreamweaver has never been a true ColdFusion IDE. Even back in Allaire days when I worked with the then Macromedia Dreamweaver team to add ColdFusion support, the support was minimal at best. There was one release (MX maybe?) that added some decent CFC support, but honestly, there has been no real Dreamweaver support for ColdFusion since then, just more of the same. And over the years that has frustrated me far more than Dreamweaver CC reducing ColdFusion support does. And so, recognizing Dreamweaver for what it was, the ColdFusion team opted to build ColdFusion Builder, and that’s where they are putting their efforts. I understand that many don’t like ColdFusion Builder, I’m not a major Eclipse fan myself, but ColdFusion Builder is a far better CFML IDE than Dreamweaver ever was, and so that’s the focus going forward. And there are other alternatives, too. In fact, even Brackets now has a work-in-progress community based CFML extension.

Now, just so I am very clear. I use Dreamweaver extensively for what it does best, client-side work. I recently worked on a project which made extensive use of jQuery and jQuery UI, and Dreamweaver worked perfectly and intelligently and usefully. But I’ve not used Dreamweaver for CFML for years, and for those of you who are still using Dreamweaver for CFML development, I’d take this latest change as a long overdue nudge to find a better IDE. I know it’ll take effort, but you’ll really be better off for having done so.

That said, you actually can use Dreamweaver CC for CFML development. Here are the facts:

  • First, what does work? Syntax color coding works as it always did. Edit a tag and you’ll still get popup attribute help as you always did. Shortcuts like Ctrl-Spacebar still bring up the complete list of CFML functions, no change there. ColdFusion specific menu selections, like the one to wrap text within CFML style comments, still work. In fact, ColdFusion appears on the Insert menu to give you access to CFML tags (although, it appears that not all of the selections work properly).
  • Ok, so what is missing? ColdFusion specific panels and tabs are gone, including the ones for CFC generation and for WSDL introspection. Also, the File, Open dialog defaults to displaying only HTML pages, which makes opening .CFM files a pain.
  • Anything else? Yep, the big issue is that the DW team broke the OS .CFM file association, making opening .CFM files irritating. It is still possible to open .CFM files from within DW directly (the already noted limitation notwithstanding). That said, the DW team has published this doc to explain how to fix this oversight.

So, bottom line, chicken-little overreactions aside, it is indeed true that the Dreamweaver team has opted to deemphasize server-side development, and that includes diminished ColdFusion support. But that does not mean that Dreamweaver CC cannot be used for CFML development, it can, albeit not as cleanly and with some changes. The most important support, the language awareness within the editor, remains as is.

As for what comes next, I’ll say it one more time. Dreamweaver has had CFML support, but it was never a CFML IDE. Feel free to continue to use it, but also look at ColdFusion Builder and 3rd party tools, too.

51 responses to “On Dreamweaver CC And ColdFusion”

  1. John Allred Avatar
    John Allred

    I wish I’d understood this years ago when Coldfusion Studio was phased out. I was incredibly unimpressed with Dreamweaver as a replacement, and now I know why. Being little more than a dilettante, losing Studio arrested my forward momentum, I suspect.

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