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As we come up to CFUN-04 I am interviewing all the speakers to help you pick which talks you want to go to. Here is the first interview with Matt Liotta.
Michael Smith: Matt I see you are giving a talk on "What's New in CFML" at CFUN- 04. Why should a programmer learn what is new, doesn't the old CFML work ok?
Matt Liotta: Absolutely, there is nothing wrong with the old CFML. However, one shouldn't discount the new capabilities present in CFML. These new capabilities remove hassles for certain types of applications, make it easier to write well structured code, and support the latest technologies such as XML and web services. In a nutshell, the CFML developers' toolbox has been expanded in a very big way, so why not take advantage of that in your everyday work?
MS: Are any existing CFML tags or functions changed in CFMX?
ML: Most of the big changes are related to new tags and functions. There have been changes to existing tags and functions, but most of those changes are either additional attributes or parameters. Also, there are some newly deprecated tags and functions as well as specific attributes of certain tags that are no longer supported. The full details of which are of course included in my presentation.
MS: Deprecated? Obsolete? What is that all about?
ML: Well, deprecated and obsolete seem to be overloaded terms these days! Basically, the situation is that certain tags and functions simply no longer work (that is they are obsolete). While others still work, but aren't recommended for use in new applications since they could stop functioning in future releases (that is deprecated). Clearly, being aware of what functionality fits this description is important if one ever plans to upgrade to a newer version.
MS: I have heard that the new CFC tags in CFMX are cool. But what are CFCs about?
ML: CFCs or ColdFusion Components as they are formally called, are one of the new language features that make it easier to write well structured code as I alluded to earlier. They are clearly the biggest change in CFML in a long time and most likely one of the more important changes. So, if you are a CFML developer and haven't learned about CFCs, now is the time since many new applications will make use of them. Unfortunately, my presentation will only provide a basic overview of CFCs since there is so much new stuff in CFML to cover. Therefore, I recommend that anyone interested in CFCs also attend one of the presentations that covers CFCs in-depth such as Ray Camden's talk.
MS: Yes Ray is Mr CFC! What about XML support? I have heard a lot about XML recently from Java jocks and wondered if CF can keep up.
ML: Everything you can do with XML in Java you can do in CFML; only easier. I certainly cover in my presentation the changes made to CFML for XML support, but like CFCs, I don't really cover it in-depth. There really is so much new stuff that it is hard to pack it all into a single presentation.
MS: That seems to be a recuring theme - CF is as powerful as Java but much easier to code in. But what if you need a special Java library call - can CFML do that?
ML: Certainly you can call a Java library from CFML. There are issues to be aware of in regard to method names, overloading, and casting, but unfortunately, none of these specifics will be covered in my presentation. Last year at CFUN-03 I gave a presentation that covered these issues. See http://www.cfconf.org/cfun-03/Topics.cfm#Liotta
MS: What about web services?
ML: Much like XML, CFML now provides rich support for web services. I would have to say that there is no other platform that provides an easier way to make use of web services. Again, my presentation doesn't get into all the details of web services, but luckily I am giving an additional presentation specifically on web services that covers the gamut.
MS: I have heard that CFMX is slower than CF 5 to compile. Is that a problem?
ML: Considering CF 5 didn't use a compiler at all, while CFMX does there is certainly overhead in that regard. The good news is that compiler performance has been vastly improved with the release of CFMX 6.1 to the point where most people don't notice. It is also important to point out that the compiler overhead is not something you need to worry about in production since CFMX only needs to compile the code once. Additionally, for those people who prefer the interpreted approach previous taken by CF 5, New Atlanta's BlueDragon may be interesting.
MS: Are they are any other cool things in CFML that you can mention? What about CF7?
ML: Well... there is the new authentication and charting functionality as well as performance and functional improvements to HTTP and SMTP handling. BlueDragon also has some interesting enhancements worth noting like cfimap and cfimage. Guess you'll have to attend to the talk to learn about them all.
MS: I think that after this session I will have a lot more power at my CF finger tips! Thanks for talking with me.