What ColdFusion IDE Do You Use in 2017?

Hello ColdFusion community.  Over the years I’ve used several different integrated development environment (IDE) tools for my ColdFusion projects.  Here’s a brief timeline of the IDEs that I’ve used over time in chronological order:

Macromedia/Adobe Dreamweaver
IntelliJ IDEA

I feel like each IDE that I’ve used over time served a purpose.  Dreamweaver, for example, was a great learning tool and for someone just starting to learn web design, the “design view” and integrated FTP synchronization was a valuable asset.  However, once I started utilizing ColdFusion Components (CFCs) in my daily work, I found Dreamweaver’s lack of understanding of component structures (classes & methods) hindered my productivity.

Next I migrated over to CFEclipse and CFBuilder (version 2).  Both of those tools I felt took my ColdFusion development to the next level and made developing with CFCs much easier.  My favorite feature of these IDEs was the CFC structure/outline view.  Giving developers the ability to view and jump around a component’s methods was a game changer for me. However, I always had performance issues with both CFEclipse and CFBuilder when working with large or complicated CFCs.  It was difficult for me (at first) to give up Dreamweaver’s “design view” but eventually I got used to it.  Also, I didn’t like that CFBuilder didn’t come with any FTP deployment functionality (without 3rd party plugins) so I found myself going back to Dreamweaver for sync and deployment.

One aspect of CFEclipse/CFBuilder that I didn’t care for was the aesthetics.  The Eclipse IDE just looked clunky and ugly on Windows – especially when compared to modern day text editors like SublimeText or other IDEs like Atom.  As a developer that enjoyed working at night (or in the dark with my favorite Star Trek episodes playing in the background) I wanted an IDE that had a decent dark theme with lots of GUI customization options.  No matter how hard I tried, I could never get Eclipse to look the way I wanted it to.

Eventually, I stumbled upon IntelliJ IDEA.  IDEA doesn’t advertise that their IDE supports ColdFusion (at least according to their web site) but regardless, CFML support seems to be baked into the application anyway.  I found that IDEA had much of the functionality I enjoyed with CFBuilder but with a much sexier interface and a few extra bells and whistles.   The first thing I noticed when trying IDEA was how fast the program ran on my Windows machine – especially with massive CFC files.  Additionally, IDEA had features that I missed from my Dreamweaver days like FTP/Sync and deployment.  I also felt the linting system (tells you when there are problems/syntax errors in your code) worked better and helped me write better code.  Finally, the interface customization was exactly what I wanted.  I was able to set my IDE up with a sleek dark theme (they call it Darkula) with the infamous Solarized code coloring theme and I absolutely fell in love with it.
So that’s where I stand today. I’m a bit of an IntelliJ IDEA fanboy as you might be able to tell but the fact that they don’t “officially” support the CFML language has me concerned for the future. I’m always on the lookout to see if there’s something better and would love to hear what IDE you use in your projects.  Feel free to elaborate on what your likes/dislikes are of your current IDE and what features you’d like to see in your ideal CFML IDE.

31 Responses

  1. As a long time user of Nick Bradbury/Allaire/Macromedia/Adobe’s HomeSite/ColdFusion Studio, I’ve finally switched to using something else. For me, I think UltraEdit comes the closest in terms of features, but lacks drag-drop resources (to generate img/css/js links), color picker and some code widgets, but it’s very extendable when it comes to reassigning hotkeys, creating macros & generating templates (similar to snippets). It’s extremely configurable when it comes to layout and/or theme. It’s portable and can be installed on a USB stick. You can open a new editor without having to have it be a saved file. The built-in FTP client is better than most IDEs that I’ve tested and doesn’t require you to create a project in order to edit remote files. There’s no official built-in CFML support, but I’ve configured CTRL+1 to take selected text and automatically launch a browser-based search on CFDocs.org. To account for some of my favorite HomeSite shortcuts, I’ve recreated them using AutoHotKey. I’ve created a URI handler so that I can click on weblinks and automatically open templates directly in UltraEdit and go to the line number where an error occurred.

  2. I like the idea of the IntelliJ. I looked it over briefly and loved the Darcula theme and the Idea of the source control integration, however I started coding CF2 in notepad and sublime text 3 is about all week heart can handle. However, it is far better than any of the alternatives I have seen. I have to say I hate leasing software…

  3. I agree with you Gregor on the concept of leasing software. It’s a licensing model that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    However I think with IDEA if you end your subscription you can continue to use the version up until you cancelled. I believe they call this a “perpetual fallback license”.

  4. I use TextPad, a slightly advanced Notepad. Does that even count as an IDE? LOL! I haven’t found an alternative that I’m comfortable with yet. It must be able to load up in a blink of an eye and not be a resource hog.
    I’m interested to hear more opinions on IDEs so I hope others reply.

  5. I have never found an IDE that really felt right. I ended up going back to advanced text editors in lieu of a full blown IDE.

    I also can’t pick a text editor I like best, so I cycle between several: Textpad, Notepad++, Sublime and VS Code. I tried CF builder for a while, but I develop in many different languages and I prefer to not have to switch to a specific editor for each language.

    • LOL! I like your optimism that the next version of CF Builder might be sufficiently better. 🙂

      Maybe CF just isn’t suited to an IDE and all you need is a fancy text editor to be optimally efficient at coding projects. That’s what I found. At least there are choices for everyone.

  6. I have used Dreamweaver, Editplus, Eclipse with CFEclipse plugin, CFBuilder 2/3, and slowly moving towards Sublime.

    I love Eclipse and CFBuilder. Lately I have been impressed with what Sublime has to offer. It is just plain awesome.

    If you are like me who loves short cut keys , productivity tools etc, then you will fall in Sublime, period.

    Just try this. Lets say you have copied 1000 records that needs to be inserted and you need to add single quotes, commas etc. Well just select a block of text, then press Ctrl+Shift+L to split it into one selection per line. Pure magic and brilliance.

    When I am just reading code, I use EditPlus with CF + SQL plugins a lot. Light weight and easy to use.


  7. I noticed an interesting trend among presenters at CF Summit a few weeks ago, most presenters that I attended were using Visual Studio Code. At first I thought I was looking at Sublime, but then I noticed the terminal at the bottom of the window – paired with a CLI like CommandBox, I imagine that could be a pretty powerful combination!

  8. I use cfbuilder 3 but I will check out any new IDE that may be an improvement. I’ve used sublime, cfeclipse, dreamweaver, brackets… but none really felt very complete. I’ll have to take a look at VS Code soon and see what it has to offer.

  9. I’ve been using CF Builder 2 because it is the only thing that will work in the same version of Eclipse with Flash Builder 4.7 — I can run CF Builder 3 as a separate app if I want, but I don’t want to use two different IDEs when I work, so I’m “stuck” with CF Builder 2.

    We’re migrating away from Flex, so Flash Builder 4.7/CF Builder 2 is going away soon — thank God! What an awful IDE it has been! I can’t wait to be rid of it!

    We’re switching to Angular 2 for our front end (almost done replacing our old Flex apps with Angular 2 apps), but we’ll still be using ColdFusion for the server-side stuff.

    I’ve been using WebStorm for the Angular 2 stuff, and Flash Builder 4.7/CF Builder 2 for the Flex and ColdFusion stuff. When Flex is completely gone, I will upgrade WebStorm to IntelliJ IDEA and use it for Angular 2 and for ColdFusion, so I can have all my work in one IDE.

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