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What is ColdFusion & CFML? Benefits & Advantages

Nowadays, there's no shortage of server-side web application platforms to choose from when thinking about your next project. Although many platforms can provide similar results, ColdFusion has proven to be a dominant choice for the industry.

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What is ColdFusion and CFML?

ColdFusion is a rapid application development platform used to create powerful and highly functional object-oriented server-side web applications. It was originally written in C and C++ up until version 6.0 when it switched over to the Java platform and became a commercial product.

ColdFusion was created by J. J. Allaire in 1995 and later adopted by Macromedia in 2001 as part of a $360 million merger. Shortly after, Adobe acquired it and scaled it into the highly functional web development platform we know and love today.

The ColdFusion Markup Language, more commonly known as CFML, is the tag-based language used to write and create applications within the platform. The tag-based structure makes it insanely easy to tie into HTML documents with easily readable and clean code.

ColdFusion is most commonly used for high functioning, data-driven websites, and intranets, adopting remote services such as REST, WebSockets, SOAP web services, and much more.

Is ColdFusion Dead?

No! In this industry, it sometimes feels like we love to hate things as they get older, but Adobe has been releasing and supporting new updates since they acquired ColdFusion back in 2005, with no plans to stop.  At least not in the near future.

Although ColdFusion is currently not one of the more highly used server-side platforms available, it's certainly not going anywhere anytime soon. See for yourself by reading the official Adobe ColdFusion blog.

How Much Does ColdFusion Cost?

The developer version of ColdFusion is free and always will be. With it, you get all of the functionality you'd get with a full-blown Enterprise Edition license. The only downfall with the developer version is you're limited to two IP addresses that can hit the server at any given time, so it's not ideal for production environments or applications.

At this time, the ColdFusion 2023 release is the latest version available, with a Standard Edition license cost of $2,499 and an Enterprise Edition license cost of $9,499.  The difference in cost is massive, but the key takeaway between the two licenses is the number of cores you can max out before additional charges are required. This can get costly quickly, especially for smaller developers or companies adopting the language. Luckily, if you run into this scenario, there is an open-source alternative that we'll talk about next!

Open-Source CFML

A very popular alternative to Adobe ColdFusion is an open-source web application development platform called Lucee. Lucee doesn't come with any of the Adobe-created features out of the box like creating spreadsheets or PDF files, but there are many libraries available for free you can import straight into the Lucee Administrator that function about the same.

Lucee is also much easier to install as it checks server connections for you and runs as a stand-alone application. And, although Adobe has its own highly responsive customer support for ColdFusion, Lucee has a large amount of community-based support available. Lucee is also very popular with updates and new versions released to the public consistently.

CFML/ColdFusion Hosting Options

Adobe has provided a full list of ColdFusion hosting partners so you can find the best solutions that meets your needs.

Another option is to launch an EC2 instance from the AWS Marketplace with ColdFusion. Just be aware that the costs of this solution can sometimes be very high. If this isn't a concern for you and you're familiar with working in a Windows server environment, then it may be a better solution.


CFML, namely ColdFusion, was one of the first platforms I started developing in back in the Macromedia days.  I still love it to this day, and am especially happy with the release of Lucee, giving us smaller developers an easier chance at production environments with CFML.

In my opinion, if you're starting out with CFML and want to build applications on the cheap, the direction to go is Lucee. If you're a large development firm, require the bells and whistles of what ColdFusion has to offer, and have the capital to purchase a Standard or Enterprise Edition license, then that may be a more viable option.

Both platforms are widely supported and you can go in any direction you want with CFML while still building powerful web applications.

Posted by: Josh Rowe
Last Updated: July 20, 2023
Created: July 03, 2021


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