Monday June 16, 2003

Cold Fusion vs. PHP

by Jay F. Davis,

I’ve been working at Georgia Tech for several months now where I am, for the first time, using Cold Fusion as the progamming language for a web application. Being a diehard PHP programmer, I was not expecting to enjoy using Cold Fusion but I have been pleasantly surprised.

Cold Fusion’s strengths are especially apparent in my primary domain of database manipulation. CF has some really nice constructs for quickly looping through a query result so that database info can be easily displayed on a web page. I can see that CF would be much friendlier to a beginning web developer who is just getting into using database content in web pages.

However, as an experienced web developer, I appreciate the nuts-and-bolts feel of PHP. Sometimes Cold Fusion hides too much of the detail. In fact, there are certain constructs in CF that seem obfuscatory. For example, CF has its own syntax for creating a web form. Unfortunately this syntax is not simpler than just using straight html, so learning the CF form syntax could in fact prevent a new web programmer from learning the easier html syntax. On the other hand, there is nothing in Cold Fusion that prevents you from simply using the html form syntax.

The one thing I really miss, however, when using CF instead of PHP, is the wealth of free examples and help that are abundant for PHP. There is nothing remotely similar for Cold Fusion. Because PHP is inherently open (because it’s free), there are tons of examples on the web to help solve various PHP programming problems. In addition, the PHP documentation available on the PHP web site ( is significantly better than the CF documentation provided with Cold Fusion. (Especially the CF help documents that come with Dreamweaver, which are useless.)

One thing I’ve gleaned through the process of learning Cold Fusion is that the methodology involved is exactly the same as with PHP or any other web development language. In fact, PHP and Cold Fusion are much more alike than different. There really was no learning curve for me with Cold Fusion. A web app is a web app is a web app.


Above article Last updated: 19 June 2004 11:12:58 PM

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