Thoughts on ColdFusion Builder

Adobe ColdFusion Builder, the Eclipse based IDE for ColdFusion has just had it’s first update released.

I was very interested in this as I love the idea of a dedicated ColdFusion IDE but my experience of the CFBuilder betas had been, well, underwhelming.

Until this week I had been using Eclipse as my main IDE with a the following plugins:

  1. CFEclipse
  2. Subversive (for SVN)
  3. Aptana (for CSS/HTML/Javascript)

I have worked in Java IDE’s before the biggest missing feature from my old setup was the lack of component or object introspection. For me it’s just the best thing. Until this week I often had my .cfc files open as a separate file just so I could know what the names of the methods were, rather than having the editor assist with with names as I typed.

Well this week I was upgrading to Win 7 from XP. Long overdue, but while I was getting setup I did some research into Coldfusion Builder and how it had come along since I last tried it about 6 months ago, on XP of course.

Then I had found it to be slow, bloated, buggy and unstable. That actually affected my patience to the point that I didn’t even look into many useful features, especially since I had to pay for it. I uninstalled it and went back to Eclipse + CFEclipse.

However, this week with the Win 7 install behind me, I decided to give Builder another shot, and I’ve been pretty happy with my experience so far. Once I disabled the Win 7 UAC settings – which were playing havoc with my SVN working copy – the ride has been smooth.

I’m using Subclipse instead of Subversive for SVN integration. Be warned through, you do need to untick some features to get the Subclipse plugin to install.

So with the new setup, what I like is:

  • Superior code completion (you need to get used to pressing CTRL-SPACE!)
  • CFScript code completion
  • Linked folders – this is brilliant, it allows you to include another folder as ‘link’ to your project. What this means is the IDE will introspect all CFCs in that folder and you’ll get CFC code assist! The setup is a little awkward – it’d prefer global linked folders so I don’t need to link my folder of CFCs to every project – but it’s a start
  • Integrated server (if you wish – I still run mine as a separate console).
  • Access to CF data sources via RDS – it won’t replace a full database analyzer tool but useful
  • Ability to tail any logfile

I dislike:

  • The price (€260). It’s a strategic thing I think, if you want a language to be successful, especially one that has a licence fee attached, then I think you have to give the IDE away for nothing to lure developers in.
  • The lack of a dedicated function explorer when viewing CFCs. The document outline tool can help there but it can get very cluttered with all sorts of things such as variable declarations and comments. A quick and easy function/method explorer would be great.

As head of a team of 7 developers, to upgrade to CF Builder I would need to ask the company to shell out about €1800. That’s on top of the CF licence fees they are paying. And really I am asking them to do that for code introspection? – everything else we can live without. But introspection alone will speed up development. I feel like I need another killer feature. What other time saving features am I missing? How can I justify the upgrade?

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One Response to Thoughts on ColdFusion Builder

  1. Nich says:

    Totally Agree.

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