July 24, 2009 · 4 Comments
Ben Forta explains why ColdFusion Builder is based on Eclipse in a great blog post that examines the alternatives and the history of CFML editors. I'm afraid I never liked HomeSite / ColdFusion Studio.I tried them when I first joined Macromedia in 2000 but they just didn't work for me. Mind you, I didn't think much of Dreamweaver either (back in the 2.0 days). I used to be an Emacs / vi kinda guy due to my Linux / C / C++ background I guess and GUI-style IDEs just weren't my thing. After I joined Macromedia, I gradually settled into Dreamweaver but I never loved it. It was competent. UltraDev 4 was a high point for me and then, as Dreamweaver evolved and grew fat / feature-rich, I switched to jEdit for a while (because DW on the Mac, frankly, sucked ass in 2002!). Of course, DW improved and became usable again (and then with DW7 the Mac was shafted again for a while and then things improved). jEdit showed me a glimpse of what a CFML IDE could be tho' and a couple of years later there were not one but two Eclipse-based CFML IDEs: CFEclipse and He3. The latter has long-since departed this earth but CFEclipse lives on with my colleague Mark Drew at the helm. Over time, CFEclipse became my preferred CFML IDE. I liked the plugins, I liked the overall feel of Eclipse (color me weird but it's true). This year, however, after a short stint on the ColdFusion Builder prerelease program (when it was still called Bolt), I found myself using TextMate more and more. Yes, it's Mac-only but it's lightweight and has plugins (bundles) for a lot of different languages. If you want a simple CFML editor, I can highly recommend TextMate with one of the CFML bundles. Why? I was a bit underwhelmed with the first cuts of Bolt but I wanted to try something different, something not based on Eclipse. I'm still using Eclipse for anything Java-related of course, including building Railo from source, as well as any Flex work I do, using Flex Builder 3. And now ColdFusion Builder has been released as a public beta. Adobe have done a fantastic job with it - it's night and day compared to the early builds I tried. I already have Flex Builder 3 and Subclipse installed on top of ColdFusion Builder and it's quickly become my preferred CFML IDE. I'll blog more about ColdFusion Builder over the next few months but I can definitely imagine paying up to $199 for it. My only real gripe is that it relies on RDS for a number of things and, of course, RDS is proprietary and therefore if you're working with Railo or OpenBD, certain features are denied you. The ability to write (and run) IDE extensions using CFML is a masterstroke! Yes, the ColdFusion Builder extensions run with Railo as your default server but you get a warning that your server isn't running every time which is annoying (because it uses RDS to determine whether a server is up or not). Hopefully that will change before launch (i.e., the warning will go away!). Adobe haven't exactly hidden that ColdFusion Builder is based on Eclipse and yet the default setup still feels very reasonable. It also feels a lot less bloated than Eclipse can sometimes feel with, generally, good startup and response times. If you haven't already downloaded ColdFusion Builder and taken it for a serious test drive, you owe it to yourself to do so. So what about CFEclipse? Well, it's not dead and it's not likely to die. No matter how good ColdFusion Builder becomes, there are always going to be people who won't pay for a CFML IDE and for them CFEclipse will remain a great choice. There are things that CFEclipse has/does that are not part of ColdFusion Builder too which may sway you (such as the methods view which I have always relied on heavily) and the frameworks explorer.