“What is the best IDE for CFM”

Posted: February 11, 2015 in ColdFusion
Tags: , , ,

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.

  1. roger tubby says:

    Chris – I’m not sure how you delineate the difference between IDE’s for ColdFusion versus a “code editor”. If the IDE is an all-encompassing view of the code/test/run/produce cycle, I guess I can agree. But don’t most of us use multiple windows to do some of the external functions?

    I’ve used Eclipse on several projects and really tried to use CFEclipse but the over-large footprint of Eclipse just got in the way. Sublime-text is great but seems to be dying on the vine.

    I just recently started using the IntelliJ IDEA (mainly javascript, scala, and java) and think it is pretty fantastic, It also seems to be updated frequently with new plug-ins as needed. The latest ColdFusion update (AFAICT) is Feb. 3 which seems reasonably active.

  2. DonCx says:

    I see that CFB3 is still built on top of Eclipse. How then is it lighter weight with a smaller footprint? The hugeness of CFB2 drove me eventually to Atom, with which I have a like/hate relationship. Can you explain how CFB3 is smaller, or is it just faster?

    • Chris says:

      CFB3 most likely is not lighter weight. I’d assume the opposite. Though I’ve never done any research into that. It’s just faster for me.

      Though now that I’ve upgraded to Windows 10, I’m starting to see some of the stalling issues that plagued CFB2 on Windows 7. I plan on submitting those types of bugs in the near future.

  3. “There is only one IDE for ColdFusion: ColdFusion Builder.” — this would be incorrect. There are still plenty of old school developers using CF Studio. CFS connects to the CF server via RDS, and offers in line debugging, database integration, and a lot of wizards and shortcuts.

    • Hey!! And now I can see the rest of the article, and you did mention CFS. Which I loved loved loved.

      This list is a pretty good resource – Eclipse and Builder were the only other ones I’d checked out, and I didn’t really dig them. Thanks!!

    • Chris says:

      I can agree with your point, however I’m not even sure CFS could run on Win 10 and hasn’t been sold for a decade or so. So I’m not willing to add it to the list.

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