Using CFCs effectively

Several techniques let you effectively use CFCs in your applications:

  • Structure and reuse code
  • Build secure CFCs
  • Use introspection to get information about components

Structuring and reusing code

Component inheritance and the Super keyword are two important tools for creating structured, object-oriented ColdFusion components.

  • Component inheritance Lets you create a single base component and reuse this code in multiple subclasses that are derived from the base component. Typically a base component is more general, and subcomponents are typically more specific. Each subclass does not have to redefine the code in the base component, but can override it if necessary.
  • The Super keyword Lets a component that overrides a base component method execute the original base component method. This technique lets your subclassed component override a method without losing the ability to call the original version of the method.

Using component inheritance

Component inheritance lets you import component methods and properties from one component to another component. Inherited components share any component methods or properties that they inherit from other components, and ColdFusion initializes instance data in the parent CFC when you instantiate the CFC that extends it. 
Component inheritance defines an is a relationship between components. For example, a component named president.cfc inherits its methods and properties from manager.cfc, which inherits its methods and properties from employee.cfc. In other words, president.cfc is a manager.cfc; manager.cfc is an employee.cfc; and president.cfc is an employee.cfc.
In this example, employee.cfc is the base component; it's the component upon which the others are based. The manager component extends the employee component; it has all the methods and properties of the employee component, and some additional ones. The president component extends the manager component. The president component is called a subcomponent or child component of the manager component, which, in turn, is a child component of the employee component.

  1. Create the employee.cfc file with the following content:

    <cfset This.basesalary=40*20> 
  2. Create the manager.cfc file with the following content:

    <cfcomponent extends="employee"> 
    <cfset This.mgrBonus=40*10> 

    In the example, the  cfcomponent  tag's extends attribute points to the employee component.

  3. Create the president.cfc file with the following content:

    <cfcomponent extends="manager"> 
    <cfset This.prezBonus=40*20> 

    In the example, the  cfcomponent  tag's extends attribute points to the manager component.

  4. Create the inherit.cfm file with the following content, and save it in the same directory as the components you created in the previous steps:

    <cfobject name="empObj" component="employee"> 
    <cfobject name="mgrObj" component="manager"> 
    <cfobject name="prezObj" component="president"> 
    An employee's salary is #empObj.basesalary# per week.<br> 
    A manager's salary is #mgrObj.basesalary + mgrObj.mgrBonus# per week.<br> 
    A president's salary is #prezObj.basesalary + prezObj.mgrBonus + 
    prezObj.PrezBonus# per week. 

When you browse the inherit.cfm file, the manager component refers to the basesalary defined in employee.cfc, which is the base component; the president component refers to both the basesalary defined in the employee component, and the mgrBonus defined in the manager component. The manager component is the parent class of the president component.

Using the component.cfc file

All CFCs automatically extend the ColdFusion WEB-INF/ cftags /component.cfc component. (The WEB-INF directory is in the cf_root/ wwwroot  directory on ColdFusion configured with an embedded J2EE server. It is in the cf_root directory when you deploy ColdFusion on a J2EE server.) This CFC is distributed as a zero-length file. You can use it for any core methods or properties that you want all CFCs in your ColdFusion application server instance to inherit.


 When you install a newer version of ColdFusion, the installation procedure replaces the existing component.cfc file with a new version. Therefore, before upgrading, save any code that you have added to the component.cfc file, and then copy the code into the new component.cfc file.

Using the Super keyword

You use the Super keyword only on CFCs that use the Extends attribute to extend another CFC. Unlike ColdFusion scopes, the Super keyword is not used for variables; it is only used for CFC methods, and it is not available on ColdFusion pages that invoke CFCs. 
The Super keyword lets you refer to versions of methods that are defined in the CFC that the current component extends. For example, the employee, manager, and president CFCs each contain a getPaid method. The manager CFC extends the employee CFC. Therefore, the manager CFC can use the original versions of the overridden getPaid method, as defined in the employee CFC, by prefixing the method name with Super.

  1. Create the employee.cfc file with the following content:

    <cffunction name="getPaid" returntype="numeric"> 
    <cfset var salary=40*20> 
    <cfreturn salary> 
  2. Create the manager.cfc file with the following content:

    <cfcomponent extends="employee"> 
    <cffunction name="getPaid" returntype="numeric"> 
    <cfset var salary=1.5 * Super.getPaid()> 
    <cfreturn salary> 
  3. Create the president.cfc file with the following content:

    <cfcomponent extends="manager"> 
    <cffunction name="getPaid" returntype="numeric"> 
    <cfset var salary=1.5 * Super.getPaid()> 
    <cfreturn salary> 
  4. Create the payday.cfm file with the following content, and save it in the same directory as the components that you created in the previous steps:

    <cfobject name="empObj" component="employee"> 
    <cfobject name="mgrObj" component="manager"> 
    <cfobject name="prezObj" component="president"> 
    An employee earns #empObj.getPaid()#.<br> 
    A manager earns #mgrObj.getPaid()#.<br> 
    The president earns #prezObj.getPaid()#. 

In this example, each getPaid method in a child component invoked the getPaid method of its parent component. The child's getPaid method then used the salary returned by the parent's getPaid method to calculate the appropriate amount.
Included pages can use the Super keyword.


The Super keyword supports only one level of inheritance. If you use multiple levels of inheritance, you can only use the Super keyword to access the current component's immediate parent. The example in this section illustrates handling this limitation by invoking methods in a chain.

Using component packages

Components stored in the same directory are members of a component package. Component packages help prevent naming conflicts, and facilitate easy component deployment; for example:

  • ColdFusion searches the current directory first for a CFC. If you place two components in a single directory as a package, and one component refers to the other with only the component name, not a qualified path, ColdFusion always searches the package directory first for the component. As a result, if you structure each application's components into a package, your applications can use the same component names without sharing the component code.
  • If you use the  access="package " attribute in a method's  cffunction  tag, access to the method is limited to components in the same package. Components in other packages cannot use this method, even if they specify it with a fully qualified component name. For more information on access security, see Using access security in Using CFCs effectively.

Invoke a packaged component method with the cfinvoke tag

  1. In your web root directory, create a directory named  appResources .

  2. In the  appResources  directory, create a directory named components.

  3. Copy the tellTime2. cfc file you created in Invoking methods of a CFC instance in Using ColdFusion components-Developing guide and the getUTCTime . cfm file that you created in Placing executable code in a separate file in Building ColdFusion components to the components directory.

  4. Create the timeDisplay.cfm file with the following content and save it in your web root directory:

    <!--- Create the component instance. ---> 
    <cfobject component="appResources.components.tellTime2" name="tellTimeObj"> 
    <!--- Invoke the methods. ---> 
    <cfinvoke component="#tellTimeObj#" method="getLocalTime" 
    returnvariable="localTime" > 
    <cfinvoke component="#tellTimeObj#" method="getUTCTime" 
    returnvariable="UTCTime" > 
    <!--- Display the results. ---> 
    <h3>Time Display Page</h3> 
    Server's Local Time: #localTime#<br> 
    Calculated UTC Time: #UTCTime# 

    You use dot syntax to navigate directory structures. Place the directory name before the component name.

  5. Browse the timeDisplay . cfm file in your browser.
    The following example shows a CFScript invocation:

helloCFC = createObject("component", "appResources.components.catQuery"); 

The following example shows a URL invocation:


Using CFCs in persistent scopes

You can place a CFC instance in the Session or Application scope. This way, the component properties continue to exist while the scope persists. For example, if you use a CFC for a shopping cart application, where the shopping cart contents must persist for the length of the user's session. If you place the shopping cart CFC in the Session scope, you can use component properties to store the cart contents. For example, the following line creates an instance of the shoppingCart component in the Session scope:

<cfobject name="Session.myShoppingCart" component="shoppingCart">

Code that manipulates persistent scope CFC properties must be locked, just as all other code that manipulates persistent scope properties must be locked. Therefore, lock both of the following types of application code:

  • Code that directly manipulates properties of a persistent scope CFC instance
  • Code that calls methods of a persistent scope CFC instance that manipulate properties of the instance
    If you place multiple CFC instances in a single persistent scope, you can create a named lock for each CFC instance. For more information on locking, see Using Persistent Data and Locking.

Session scope CFCs cannot be serialized, so you cannot use them with clustered sessions; for example, if you want to support session failover among servers.

Building secure ColdFusion components

To restrict access to component methods, ColdFusion components use  access ,  role-based , or programmatic security.

Using access security

CFC access security lets you limit the code that can access the components. You specify the access to a CFC method by specifying the  cffunction  access attribute, as follows:




Available only to the component that declares the method and any components that extend the component in which it is defined. This usage is like the Java protected keyword, not the Java private keyword.


Available only to the component that declares the method, components that extend the component, or any other components in the package. A package consists of all components defined in a single directory. For more information on packages, see Using component packages in Using CFCs effectively.


Available to any locally executing ColdFusion page or component method.


Available to a locally or remotely executing ColdFusion page or component method, or to a local or remote client through a URL, form submission, Flash Remoting, or as a web service.

Using role-based security

If you specify a roles attribute in a cffunction tag, only users who are logged in with one of the specified roles can execute the method. When a user tries to invoke a method without authorization, an exception is returned. 
The following example creates a component method that deletes files:

name="deleteFile" access="remote" roles="admin,manager" output="no"> 
<cfargument name="filepath" required="yes"> 
<cffile action="DELETE" file=#arguments.filepath#> 

In the example, the cffunction tag includes the roles attribute to specify the user roles allowed to access it. In this example, only users in the role admin and manager can access the function. Notice that multiple roles are delimited by a comma. 
For information on ColdFusion security, including the cflogin tag and role-based security in ColdFusion, see Securing Applications.

Using programmatic security

You can implement your own security within a method to protect resources. For example you can use the ColdFusion function IsUserInAnyRole to determine if a user is in particular role, as the following example shows:

<cffunction name="foo"> 
<cfif IsUserInRole("admin")> 
do stuff allowed for admin 
<cfelseif IsUserInRole("user")> 
do stuff allowed for user 
<cfoutput>unauthorized access</cfoutput> 

Using introspection to get information about components

ColdFusion provides several ways for you to get information about components:

  • Request a component page from the browser
  • Use the ColdFusion component browser
  • Use the Adobe Dreamweaver Components panel
  • Use the GetMetaData function
    Development teams can use the information about components as up-to-date API reference information.

For information about how to include documentation in CFCs for display by using introspection, see Documenting CFCs in Building ColdFusion components.

Requesting a component page from the browser

When you access a CFC directly with a web browser without specifying a component method, the following chain of events occurs:

  1. The request is redirected to the cfcexplorer.cfc file, which is located in the cf_root/wwwroot/CFIDE/componentutils directory.

  2. The  cfcexplorer  component prompts users for the ColdFusion RDS or Administrator password, if necessary.

  3. The  cfcexplorer  component renders an HTML description and returns it to the browser.

Using the ColdFusion component browser

You can also browse the components available in ColdFusion using the component browser, which is located at cf_root/wwwroot/CFIDE/componentutils/componentdoc.cfm.
The browser has three panes:

  • The upper-left pane lists all CFC packages that ColdFusion can access, and has all components and refresh links.
  • The lower-left pane lists CFC component names. When the browser first appears, or when you click the all components link in the upper pane, the lower pane lists all available components. If you click a package name in the upper left pane, the lower pane lists only the components in the package.
  • The right pane initially lists the paths of all components. When you click a component name in the lower-left pane, the right pane shows the ColdFusion introspection page, as described in Requesting a component page from the browser in Using CFCs effectively.

When RDS user names are enabled, the component browser accepts the root administrator user (admin) with either the administrator or RDS single password.

Using the Dreamweaver Components panel

The Dreamweaver Components panel lists all available components, including their methods, method parameters, and properties. The panel's context menu includes options to create a component, edit the selected component, insert code to invoke the  component,  or show detailed information on the component or component element. The Get description option shows the ColdFusion introspection page, as described in Requesting a component page from the  browser   in  Using CFCs effectively. For more information on viewing and editing CFCs in Dreamweaver, see the Dreamweaver online Help.

Using the GetMetaData function

The CFML GetMetaData function returns a structure that contains all the metadata of a CFC instance. This structure contains substantially more data about the CFC than the  cfdump  tag shows, and includes the following information:

  • All attributes to the component tag, including any metadata-only attributes, plus the component path.
  • An array of structures that contains complete information on each method (function) in the component. This information describes all attributes, including metadata-only function and parameter attributes.
  • Within each function structure, a Parameters element that contains an array of parameters specified by  cfargument  tags. Information on each parameter includes any metadata-only attributes.
  • Information about any properties that are specified using the  cfproperty  tag.

Display metadata for a CFC

  1. Create the tellAboutCfcs . cfm file in the same directory as the telltime . cfc file, with the following code:

    <!--- Create an instance of the component. ---> 
    <cfobject component="tellTime" name="tellTimeObj"> 
    <!--- Create a structure. ---> 
    <cfset aboutcfc=structNew()> 
    <!--- Populate the structure with the metadata for the 
    tellTimeObj instance of the tellTime CFC. ---> 
    <cfset aboutcfc=GetMetaData(tellTimeObj)> 
    <cfdump var="aboutcfc">
  2. View the tellAboutCfcs.cfm file in a browser.

  3. For information on how to specify CFC metadata, including how to use component tags and how to specify metadata-only attributes, see Documenting CFCs in Building ColdFusion components.

Adobe logo

Sign in to your account