Book Review: Mastering ColdFusion 4.5

Authors: Arman Danesh and Kristin Aileen Motlagh

When I was learning to program in ColdFusion I found Mastering ColdFusion a great help, version 4.5 of the language was current then, so this review is of the matching book, but there is a version of the book for each language since then if you're interested in a more recent version (see links below.)

ColdFusion is a scripting language which lets websites show information from a database, send e-mail to people, lets you run areas like forums, upload files to your website through forms, and anything else that means your site needs to be 'dynamic' - i.e. do something other than show HTML files that you have written by hand or with an editor like DreamWeaver. Other well-known languages like this are ASP and PHP.

When I became a web developer I looked at ASP, PHP and ColdFusion as potential languages to run the dynamic parts of the websites I was working on - an IT recruitment site and an intranet for the same company. I chose the ColdFusion route because it seemed the easiest to pick up from the examples I found on the web. The company bought ColdFusion and I bought this book. It gives a very clear introduction to the idea of dynamic websites and how they work - how the server takes the code you've written and creates HTML pages for your visitors to see.

It has many useful example applications, each broken down so they are understandable for novice developers with no previous programming knowledge. After a few hours of reading I was creating my first dynamic pages, then quickly moved on to creating a database driven job advertising system, place where people could upload their CV, e-mail reports, and various sales tools. All based on the examples from this book.

About the only criticism I have of the book is that sometimes the chapters seem to be in a strange order - with some chapters being a bit hard for the part of the book they are in. But this is a very small criticism, this was the first technical book I'd had that I could understand and it was a real help when I was starting out as a developer. I've written eight large, dynamic websites in ColdFusion over the last four and a half years, all based on this book and questions and answers on the Macromedia ColdFusion forums. If you want to learn ColdFusion, I highly recommend it.


Getting a copy

The current version of ColdFusion is 'MX'. Here are some links for Mastering ColdFusion for all recent versions of the language:

You can download a trial version of ColdFusion from the MacroMedia website.

Review by Paul Silver, December 2004

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