ColdFusion consists of the following core elements:

  • ColdFusion scripting environment
  • CFML
  • ColdFusion Administrator

The ColdFusion scripting environment

The ColdFusion scripting environment provides an efficient development model for Internet applications. At the heart of the ColdFusion scripting environment is the ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML), a tag-based programming language that encapsulates many of the low-level details of web programming in high-level tags and functions.

ColdFusion Markup Language

ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML) is a tag-based language, like HTML, that uses special tags and functions. With CFML, you can enhance standard HTML files with database commands, conditional operators, high-level formatting functions, and other elements to rapidly produce web applications that are easy to maintain. However, CFML is not limited to enhancing HTML. For example, you can create Flash output that consist entirely of Flash elements and CFML. Similarly, you can use CFML to create web services for use by other applications.For more information, see Elements of CFML.

CFML tags

CFML looks like HTML-it includes starting and, in most cases, ending tags, and each tag is enclosed in angle brackets. All ending tags are preceded with a forward slash and all tag names are preceded with cf; for example:

tag body text and CFML

CFML increases productivity by providing a layer of abstraction that hides many low-level details involved with Internet application programming. At the same time, CFML is powerful and flexible. ColdFusion lets you easily build applications that integrate files, databases, legacy systems, mail servers, FTP servers, objects, and components. CFML tags serve many functions. They provide programming constructs, such as conditional processing and loop structures. They also provide services, such as charting and graphing, full-text search, access to protocols such as FTP, SMTP/POP, and HTTP, and much more. The following table lists a few examples of commonly used ColdFusion tags:




Establishes a connection to a database (if one does not exist), executes a query, and returns results to the ColdFusion environment.


Displays output that can contain the results of processing ColdFusion functions, variables, and expressions.


Sets the value of a ColdFusion variable.


Lets an application send SMTP mail messages using application variables, query results, or server files. (Another tag, cfpop, gets mail.)


Converts application data or query results into graphs, such as bar charts or pie charts, in Flash, JPG, or PNG format.


Invokes objects written in other programming languages, including COM (Component Object Model) components, Java objects such as Enterprise JavaBeans, or Common CORBA (Object Request Broker Architecture) objects.

CFML Reference describes the CFML tags in detail.

CFML functions and CFScript

CFML includes built-in functions that perform a variety of roles, including string manipulation, data management, and system functions. CFML also includes a built-in scripting language, CFScript, that lets you write code in a manner that is familiar to programmers and JavaScript writers.

CFML extensions

You can extend CFML further by creating custom tags or user-defined functions (UDFs), or by integrating COM, C++, and Java components (such as JSP tag libraries). You can also create ColdFusion components (CFCs), which encapsulate related functions and properties and provide a consistent interface for accessing them.All these features let you easily create reusable functionality that is customized to the types of applications or websites that you are building.

CFML development tools

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 helps you develop ColdFusion applications efficiently. It includes many features that simplify and enhance ColdFusion development, including tools for debugging CFML. Because CFML is written in an HTML-like text format, and you often use HTML in ColdFusion pages, you can also use an HTML editor or a text editor, such as Notepad, to write ColdFusion applications.ColdFusion 9 includes a line debugger that you can use to debug your ColdFusion applications in Eclipse or Adobe Flex Builder.

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