The world's first real server-side scripting language, which seemed to get quiet in its v5-v6 days, is back with a vengeance with the new ColdFusion version 8. Currently available as a public beta and due for public sale in a few months, the new release has a tonne of new features to get web developers in a tizzy. While version 7 IMHO felt like a minor upgrade for most of us (the most impressive new features were in the $6000 Enterprise edition), version 8 has lots of end-user features that really goes a great job of catching up & leapfrogging some of the competition. Here are some of the highlights:
- AJAX interface with a huge amount of functionality: a data grid, an auto-suggest gadget, and tonnes more.
- WYSIWYG editor replacement for textarea boxes, which uses FCKeditor.
- Flash presentations generator to completely replace Powerpoint with something much better.
- Built-in database. PHP 5 has SQLite, ColdFusion 8 has Derby.
- RSS/Atom reader & generator, to make publishing or reading web feeds a non-issue.
- PDF manipulation, everything from content modification to being able to secure documents.
- Flex integration, for doing Flash-based applications without using Flash. Neat stuff.
- Microsoft Exchange interface for accessing email, calendars, contacts, etc from Exchange - very useful for building intranets.
- Image manipulation commands - after years and years of waiting, CF finally gets a command for manipulating images.
- Really easy and powerful multi-threading - I'd like to see Ruby get multi-threading as easy as this.
- Server improvements - not only can you more easily segregate your websites you can now also monitor how they are all performing.
- A debugger! Has been missing since version 5.
- Implicit struct and array creation, you don't have to manually create the variable and then assign data to it one item at a time, you can now just do
<cfset months = ['January', 'February', 'March'] />.
- Simple file commands, like finding a file's size without having to resort to Java, etc.
There's a whole bunch more, but those are some of the improvements that I'm really excited about. Go read the full What's New guide or watch the What's New videos, I think you'll be rather impressed, I know I am. I really can't wait for frameworks like Coldbox to upgrade to support some of the new features, now that would be niiiiice!