“What is the best IDE for CFM”

I run into the question “What is the best IDE for CFM” here and there. So I thought I’d post my response here as well for others to find:

I personally use ColdFusion Builder and Sublime Text 3 for my projects at CF Webtools.

There is only one IDE for ColdFusion: ColdFusion Builder. An IDE, as opposed to a code editor, has the ability to communicate with a ColdFusion server instance and debug your code. It can also introspect your code, offering code hints based upon what your code is doing.

  • ColdFusion Builder is actively updated. Versions 1 and 2 had massive footprints that really turned me off. I have found that version 3 is much faster and therefore I find much more usable than the previous two. Builder 2016 also came out but you only gain a newer version of a JRE and Security Analyzer which you need CF Enterprise to even run. So I’ve decided not to spend the money for a fairly worthless upgrade at this point.

Everything else is just a code editor (enhanced text editor). A code editor, as opposed to an IDE, does not debug or introspect your code. In order of my recommendation:

  1. The ColdFusion Plugin for Sublime Text doesn’t support CF11 and you can’t install it on version 3 via the package manager. But overall Sublime Text is an excellent code editor. I recommend also installing a jshint package for JavaScript development. It’s a good deal for $70, plus version 3 has been free to try for a long time now while it’s in Beta.
  2. Atom was suggested for me to put on this list. It’s an open source desktop application built with HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and Node.js integration by the folks at GitHub. Adam Tuttle put out a language-cfml package. I’ve never used it but have seen it mentioned a few times on Slack.
  3. ColdFusion Builder Express makes the list as the Express version. Basically use the trial version for 60 days, then it’ll revert to a more basic and free version without the IDE functionality.
  4. CFEclipse might be the most recent with their 1.4.6 release that “only” took 2 years to come up with. But it is free.
  5. cfbrackets for Brackets is still in Beta and hasn’t been updated since June of 2014. It also doesn’t support cfscript which is a huge negative for me. Brackets is open source.
  6. Visual Studio Code was mentioned in the ColdFusion Facebook group. It has a couple of ColdFusion extensions you can install. One is based upon the SublimeText ColdFusion package. I don’t do MS programming, but from what I’ve seen VS seems like a nice piece of software, so hopefully Visual Studio Code lives up to that and becomes a nice option for ColdFusion.
  7. IntelliJ IDEA stopped ColdFusion updates for awhile, but release 15 has support for it again as of November 2015. They don’t list ColdFusion in their what’s new though. I’ve heard some good things about this, but one major downside is the cost ($500 commercial || $200 personal). As of v14 it doesn’t seem to support IDE functions such as debugging but it does have console support. I’ve heard they may have added some actual IDE features since then:Per Nick Kwiatkowski in August of 2016, “it provides limited CFC introspection. It does have the best refactoring, intellisense and Java tools out there (we deploy our copy of Lucee as WAR files). Additionally, it has a ton of tools for working with SQL, CI, and version control — which are lacking or non-existent in other tools.”

    Per James Harvey in August of 2016, “intelliJ has a servers panel that you can.set.up and use services like RDS and yes, debug from. I had my Railo, Lucee and CF servers tied into it.”

Then of course there are outdated code editors such as:

If you’re looking for a true IDE I would stick with ColdFusion Builder for the sole reason is it continues to receive ColdFusion updates. But then again “best” is subjective.


#code, #coldfusion-2, #editor, #ide