Ruby on Rails and ColdFusion

March 15th, 2009

Two other development languages that are in wide use and deserve at least a mention are ColdFusion and Ruby on Rails.


ColdFusion, like PHP, JavaServer Pages and ASP is a scripting language used to create dynamically-generated web sites. The product was initially developed by the brothers JJ and Jeremy Allaire and released in July 1995 with the first version almost entirely written by JJ. Early versions, primitive by today’s standards, primarily provided access to a back-end database. With all versions prior to 6.0 written in C++, this meant that ColdFusion was limited to running on Microsoft Windows. ColdFusion MX 6.0 was a complete rewrite, based on J2EE and compiled to bytecode similar to JSP and ASP.NET. Below is a CF release history:

· 1995 – Version 1.0

· 1996 – Version 2.0

· 1997 – Version 3.0

· 1998 – Version 4.0

· 1999 – Version 4.5

· 2001 – Version 5.0

· 2002 – ColdFusion MX, Version 6.0

· 2005 – ColdFusion MX, Version 7.0

· 2007 – Version 8

Allaire was acquired by Macromedia in 2001 which was, in turn, acquired by Adobe in 2005. While the popularity of ColdFusion has declined in recent years, interestingly, over 14,000 developers worldwide participated in the beta testing of version 8, so there remains a strong base of developers.

Without getting into a detailed list of the technical pros and cons of the language, several points that need to be mentioned are:

  • ColdFusion’s licensing is expensive compared to its competitors
  • CFML syntax is very different from traditional programming languages, which use a C-style syntax, although this is a key reason for its success, and it is relatively easy to learn with some very nice, and powerful, features.
  • CF is not Open Source and does not have advanced Object Oriented features.

In adddition, Adobe, in an evangelism package, touts the distinct advantages of ease of learning the language, shorter development and maintenance times in comparison to other languages and less code required to complete similar applications.

However, it is tough to overcome the initial licensing cost when most competitors’ products can be obtained at no cost. Therefore, the number of developers has been steadily decreasing and a recent search on for developer positions showed five times more PHP positions available than ColdFusion positions.

Ruby On Rails

Ruby on Rails is a relative newcomer to the web application development language products. Essentially, it is an open source web application framework, for the Ruby programming language, that is intended to be used in an Agile development environment. David Heinemeier Hanson originally released Rails in July 2004. Ruby received a major boost in August 2006 when Apple announced that it would ship RoR with Mac OS X which was released in October 2007. RoR is noteworthy for its extensive use of Javascript libraries and since Version 2.0 offers both HTML and XML output formats.

Ruby itself is a general purpose object-oriented programming language that combines the syntax of Perl and Smalltalk. It originated during the mid-1990s’ in Japan and was initially developed by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto. The standard 1.8.7 implementation was writing in C. Ruby 1.0 was released in December 1996 and the latest version, 1.9.1 was released in January, 2009.

While Ruby on Rails has been gaining in developer popularity, a recent search on for open positions showed that there were more than 7 times more open PHP positions than those looking for Ruby on Rails developers.