Hosting A to Z… Inexpensive CF Hosting

One of the more prevalent questions that come up regarding ColdFusion is “Where can i find a good cheap host”?

Since “good” is a subjective term… I’m going to focus on “cheap” (or as I like to say… “inexpensive” since cheap sounds so… well, cheap).

A little under a year ago, I’d heard about Hosting A to Z when someone inquired about them on the Sitepoint ColdFusion forums. I was looking for a cheap inexpensive host since I just wanted to throw up a personal site. Downtime wasn’t really too much of an issue (as long as it wasn’t too frequent) since this wasn’t a commercial site. I don’t get a lot of traffic, so even $15-$20 a month was a bit hard to justify. But the problem was I wanted ColdFusion. I wanted SQL Server. These are tools that I use daily, and I wanted to use them to build my personal site. But ColdFusion hosting (especially CFMX 7) with MS SQL Server generally has a relatively significant price tag attached.

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Write Some Coldfusion … Win a Nintento Wii from CFUnited!!!

I’m not really big on repeating blog entries that others have already posted (which is what everybody says right before repeating a blog entry that someone else has already posted), but I felt that this one was worth (re-)mentioning.

How cool would it be to write an open source ColdFusion application that benefits the community? Very cool you say?

How about if you wrote an open source ColdFusion application that benefitted the community and got free admission to CFUnited (the premiere ColdFusion conference)? Very cool but c’mon, Charlie. stop pulling my leg, you say?

How about if you wrote an open source ColdFusion application that benefitted the community and got free admission to CFUnited (the premiere ColdFusion conference), and got a free Nintendo Wii? Very cool, but c’mon Charlie. You’ve been sniffing the dry erase markers again, you say?

First… don’t judge. I like the way sniffing the markers makes me feel all tingly in my extremities. Second… it’s all true.

Between now (whenever you happen to be reading this) and June 5, submit an open source ColdFusion application that duplicates the functionality of a current commercial application, and you could win not only free entry to CFUnited 2007, but also your very own brand spankin’ new Nintendo Wii!

Full contest details and entry form can be found over at Ben Nadel’s blog.

Are you still here? Go! Go read about it on Ben’s blog! Time’s a-wasting! Where the %##$ is my green marker?

Make like a Banana and .split()

Of the many recurring ColdFusion related questions, one of the most prevalent is one that has to do with the fact that ColdFusion ignores empty elements in a list.

This came up (again) today on the CF-Talk mailing list, which in and of itself is not news… but today I saw an answer that I’ve not seen before, and I like it a lot. Usually the answer that I see is to replace consecutive delimiters (,, for example) with a space between those delimiters (such as , ,). Of course, this is somewhat hokey as it will only work for 2 consecutive delimiters and not 3 (or 4 or 5 or…). There are regex solutions, but i think a number of ColdFusion developers tend to give regex a wide berth when possible.

Peter Boughton offered up 3 different possible solutions, one of which I _really_ like. Java has a split() method. The split() method takes a list and creates an array based on the list delimiter. It’s really very similar to ColdFusion’s own listToArray() function, except listToArray() will (as noted) ignore empty list elements. So a list of 1,2,3,,5 will yield a 4 element array using listToArray().

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Structures in ColdFusion

I don’t have figures on this (I’d be curious to run an unscientific poll tho), but I think it’s safe to say that a large number of ColdFusion developers don’t have prior experience with other programming languages. It’s ColdFusion’s ease of use that is appealing, and makes ColdFusion a great place to start learning.

While I think this holds mostly true, there are a few situations where the learning curve can spike a bit due to the lack of a programming background (I know, I’ve smashed into -many- of those spikes). One of the concepts that’s not terribly easy for the non-programmer to grasp is the concept of copying-by-reference and copying-by-value. It’s not too long after learning about structures in ColdFusion that this becomes very important to understand.

In ColdFusion, a simple value can be copied as such:

<cfset a = "foo" />
<cfset b = a />

What happens here is that you have two distinct variables. a and b. They’ll both evaluate to “foo”. One has nothing to do with the other. You can safely do:

<cfset b = "bar" />

…and it has no bearing on a.

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