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Talkin' Smack: ColdFusion on the Mac Desktop

Absolution through MX By Dave Nagel
The Mac gods are not as forgiving as some of the other gods currently on the market. For a Mac journalist like me, one little slip can mean the difference between canonization among the great saints and martyrs of Macdom and expulsion from Machalla. And so it is not with a little trepidation that I offer you the following confession, one that, though slight, reveals the dark patch on my AltiVec core that I've been trying to hide lo these many years.

I am a ColdFusion dude.

There, I've said it. I love that application server. Yes, in my long and otherwise illustrious life, I have taken a shying to ColdFusion and have even gone so far as to develop ColdFusion applications. Now, the more pure among you will recognize the problem with this right away, while others among you might be more like, "What does this have to do with anything, dude?"

I'll tell you, dude. ColdFusion doesn't run on a Mac, and there's never been a ColdFusion development environment for the Mac.

"Oh," you say.

Yes, I say.

"Look it, does this mean you developed on a peecee at some point in your life?"

Sweet, merciful Bejeezis, no!

"But ... how?"

Well see here: No matter how difficult it might be to work in a program without any actual software, I don't work on a peecee. I like to enjoy the work I do on computers, and peecees just make me feel dirty. No, I used to do the coding in SimpleText and Tex-Edit Plus--on my Mac.

"Ah ha. But you still think you transgressed because the ColdFusion server was running on a peecee, right?"

Actually, it was running on Solaris, and I have nothing against Unix operating systems. I just feel bad about software that isn't available for the Mac.

"Mmm hmm. Say, you're really running out of stuff to write about, aren't you, dude?"

Not at all, not at all. I've simply chosen this moment to confess my transgression because very soon it will no longer be a transgression.


Yes, you see, back when ColdFusion was with Allaire, there was never any chance in hell that a Mac ColdFusion development environment would ever be released. And yet I loved what this thing could do, and I especially loved that it was a viable and cheap competitor to those multi-trillion-dollar systems from the likes of Oracle. At the same time, since I refused to work on a peecee, I had to trudge through the manual coding, which, while interesting at first, later proved to be a pain. So I just stopped using it.

A few years later, I got my first glimmer of hope for a Mac development platform when Macromedia absorbed Allaire. I knew there would never be a Mac version of the application server, of course, but suddenly there was hope for a Mac ColdFusion Studio. Immediately I called up Macromedia and asked about it. I don't remember what the exact words were, but what they said at the time amounted to, "We don't know, and probably not."

So much for that.

But then Macromedia got it in their heads to do this "MX" thing, which, essentially, is a strategy to integrate application server development and access into some of their creative software--Flash, Dreamweaver and, yes, even Fireworks.

Now, aside from being a ColdFusion dude, I also happen to be a Dreamweaver dude. So now what do you know? With the newly announced Dreamweaver MX, I have my HTML design app and my application development environment all neatly packaged into one studio.

What's more, I can finally do it all natively in Mac OS X. Granted, Macromedia took its sweet time getting over to Mac OS X (and still hasn't with Director), but, as we have seen with so many OS X releases lately, Dreamweaver MX is more than just a port, as is Fireworks MX. They're both programs that are evolving and delivering more powerful features--some that have never been available to Mac users before.

However, with today's Fireworks and Dreamweaver MX announcements, you'll probably read some editorials along the lines of, "What's Macromedia thinking?"--just as you did when Flash MX was released.

Macromedia's "MX" strategy isn't a terribly easy one to grasp at first. People haven't responded all that warmly to it, and, judging from letters I've received and posts I've read, they don't really get it either. I know a lot of users have gotten it into their heads that it signals a move by Macromedia away from creative software and toward the development market. But this really isn't the case. In terms of workflow, Fireworks MX and Dreamweaver MX are essentially the same as they were in the last release. The apps have more features and a different look, but you can still do everything you used to do in those applications. There's just more of it. Plus, as an added bonus, if you want to do application development within Dreamweaver, you can. Or, if you don't want that, you don't have to. Besides, it's not like they jacked up the price through the roof or anything. Believe me, if Macromedia had ruined what I consider to be two excellent applications--Fireworks and Dreamweaver--I'd be the first to rant about it. (I do so love to go on a good tirade!)

Instead, what Macromedia has done (aside from absolving me of my past Mac transgression) is to pack a wealth of new features into its software and bring a serious application development environment to the Mac platform at the same time. That's what the "MX" is all about to me.

Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at [email protected].

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