Change is in the wind for Macromedia's ColdFusion. When version 7, code-named Blackstone, hits the streets in early 2005 it will offer myriad new features and ease-of-use enhancements for both developers and end users. ServerWatch recently spoke with Tim Buntel, product manager for ColdFusion, to zoom in on the next stop on the product road map.
One of Macromedia's major goals for Blackstone is to speed up and simplify common development projects. It has done this by "investing more in the product architecture to make it more feature rich and developer friendly," Buntel said. This will enable enterprises, "to get the developer out of the designer's seat," he added.
One way Macromedia has done so is through Blackstone's use of Flash for "data management and collection," Buntel said. Rich, multistep forms can be created using "four ColdFusion tags, with very little syntax required," Buntel said, noting XForms can also be used.
Blackstone will also be more accommodating to business applications built with ColdFusion, particularly when it comes to reporting. New reporting capabilities include a report design tool and a dynamic report-generation capability. In addition, a document generation tool will translate content into a print friendly format with a simple doc tag wrapped around the content comprising the report. The tag handles all presentation and style issues, according to Buntel.
Blackstone will also offer a "full-featured reporting engine," Buntel said. Using just ColdFusion, developers can customize how database activity is presented to end users. This feature is ideal for sites with repeating data (such as a real-estate site with a property search).
Blackstone includes a significant upgrade to its charting capabilities in a wide variety of formats. "Its charting and graphics support come with 'named styles' and themes," Buntel said.
Blackstone will also bring new management capabilities to ColdFusion by, "putting a ColdFusion friendly face on cool J2EE stuff," Buntel said. Such "cool stuff" include EAR and WAR deployment options and a new sourceless deployment capability to make it easier for ISVs to protect development investments. With this functionality, "ColdFusion can run on multiple virtual machines within a single machine," Buntel said.
Finally, Blackstone will offer event gateways that enable ColdFusion programs to be written to respond to any common gateway, including a directory on a server's file system, an instant messaging server, and, of course, a Web browser.
Blackstone is currently in its second alpha phase. It is scheduled to enter a private beta, with a wider audience, in early fall. Organizations currently using Blackstone include, Amkor Technology, InvestEdge, Optimal Payments, and UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television.
Buntel maintains a blog, where he provides regular updates about what's going on with Blackstone. To learn more, check out his "Long Overdue and Reluctantly Agreed-to Blackstone Blog."