Patrick C. Keaveny

The Wordy Coder

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Getting Started with ColdFusion


After several weeks of traveling in Uganda, shooting a video, and completing paper and theology assignments, I’m back to working at VoterTide full time.

Today, after the usual “welcome back” conversations that permeated the first hour or so of on-the-clock time, I was told to start learning ColdFusion so as to be able to implement new tools into the admin panel of our system.

So far, ColdFusion reads like a mixture of PHP and HTML. It’s tag-based so that shaves off the learning time somewhat. The installation process was a bit nasty though. I went to and downloaded the Ready2Run package (which is what my coworker recommended). From there I unzipped the file, opened the newly-created folder… and had no idea what to do next.

Which is one of the grievances I have with the technology world in general. It’s too full of people who are experts at systems, but somewhat incapable of relating that expertise to new users. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to google “INSTALL” + whatever program I downloaded at the time just to make the damn thing work.

Luckily this folder had a README.txt file that seemed to be what I was looking for. So I opened it up, was told I could run it using java -jar start.jar, and then opened a Terminal window. After using the cd (change directory) command to get to the right folder, I typed in “java -jar start.jar” and the thing started running. I’m pretty new to the whole process of using an engine on my machine so I let it run and went on Twitter to see the latest Rob Delaney tweet (“I am running for Governor of Texas & Florida.”).

I tried creating a CF file in Dreamweaver and then uploaded it to my personal site. When I did a simple loop the page showed just the code, my guess is this means you NEED an engine to even do anything with ColdFusion. So I went back to Twitter and read the latest Rob Delaney Tweet (“If you’ve had more than 2 martinis in your life a DUI is a certainty for you.”).

After about five minutes I started to realize I was spending much longer on Rob Delaney’s Twitter page than I probably should be, and went back to the Terminal window. There was no command prompt, only a bunch of code and then the word “STARTING.” My guess is this means the engine is running, so I went back to the ReadMe file and it said “point your browser to” followed by a bunch of numbers and dots. So I copy and pasted said bunch of numbers and dots into my browser and VOILA! The Blue Dragon startup page was working.

After reading through the tutorials for CF for several hours, I figured it was time to start writing some code. Now to figure out how to do so. Unlike PHP, it seems ColdFusion needs the engine to run. Now the question is, how do I get the index page I created to use the Blue Dragon engine?

After reading through some CF notes, I realized that the Blue Dragon page I was looking at was pointing to a local folder. Using the start.jar file as a starting point (and the ReadMe doc), I searched through various folders and settled on one folder that seemed right. I dropped the index page I created into that folder, loaded up the Blue Dragon page again and VOILA! My first piece of CF code was working, in all of its default-styled glory.