Simon is an Adobe Community Expert, an Adobe Certified Instructor, and a Senior Web Developer for Working on several high profile projects ranging from a start-up athlete skin care shopping cart application to a full blown CMS requiring multiple workflows for publishing and editing several types of content, Simon has used many different technologies including ColdFusion, Flex, InDesign, AIR, and Blaze DS. Constantly learning, Simon is always looking for new challenges and reports his findings to user groups and on his website. Simon has posted 3 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

Flex and ColdFusion Services

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If you were asked to create a cutting edge, feature-rich, easy-to-use website, what technology would you use to create it?  If you said "Flex," then you are off to a good start.  Not only does Flex offer a rapid development environment and come packaged with many of the UI components that you need for any application, but it also offers ways to communicate with outside resources.  Why does communicating with outside resources matter?  It matters because the one thing that Flex does not offer is any kind of server-side technology.  This is because Flex was solely created and intended for the creation of client-side applications.  So though your Flex application can have the ability to process and manipulate data, that is pretty much where its data functionality ends.  Flex on its own has no way to communicate with a mail server, create documents, or even write data to the server’s file system (AIR does have this ability but only for the user’s machine and not for a centralized server that everyone can access).  If there were no way for Flex to communicate with a server-side technology that could offer this functionality, then it would not be possible to create the awe-inspiring applications that we have on the internet today.

So the question is: what should you do with the data that your newly created Flex application has gathered?  Using the RemoteObject, httpservice, or webservice tags, you can communicate with a server-side scripting language such as .NET, PHP, or Java, sending data via post commands or Soap calls and receiving data via Soap responses or XML.  This is all well and good, but how would the server-side script be created?  Even though your manager thinks that because you know ActionScript you know all the other languages, that might not actually be the case.  What if you don’t know these other languages? Should you try and learn them or hire a freelancer, just so you can have your application send out emails?  Well, with the introduction of ColdFusion 9, you will no longer need to worry about that problem anymore.

With the recent release of ColdFusion 9, Flex, as well as other 3rd party technologies, now has direct access to some of the core services that ColdFusion uses.  Since Adobe purchased Macromedia in 2005, ColdFusion has been using the same image and PDF technologies that originally put Adobe on the map.  With access to these services, developers who do not know how to write a line of ColdFusion will still be able to create high quality images and PDFs. The introduction of ColdFusion as a Service (CFAAS) allows 3rd party technologies access to the following ColdFusion proxy ActionScript Classes:

  • Config (Configures the application for using ColdFusion Services)
  • Util (Includes file upload support)
  • Chart (Charting functionality)
  • Document (PDF Creation)
  • Image (Image Creation and Manipulation)
  • Mail (Email Creation and Sending)
  • PDF (PDF manipulation)
  • POP (Email Retrieval through POP3 Mail Server)


Installing ColdFusion 9

The first thing you need to do to install ColdFusion 9 is download a copy from the Adobe Labs website.
Once the download is completed, follow the on-screen prompts.

Most of the screens are self explanatory, but let’s just review a couple that could trip you up.

When you get to the “Install Type Step" (figure 1), you are asked to either provide a serial number or choose a 30-day trial or developer edition.  Select the developer edition.  The developer edition will install a fully functional copy of ColdFusion that can only be accessed locally.  

The “Installer Configuration Step” (figure 2) is where you can choose how ColdFusion will be installed on your machine.  For now choose the default server configuration option.  All examples below will be assuming that this was your configuration choice.

ColdFusion comes pre-packaged with a built-in web server.  If you have apache or IIS installed on your machine you will be able to choose to run ColdFusion through these during the “Configure Web Servers Step” (figure 3), but for simplicity’s sake, select the built-in web server option.

Once all the steps have been completed, ColdFusion 9 will be installed on your computer.   If you selected all the default settings during the installation process, you will have the following server information:
Web Root: C:\ColdFusion9\www root OR /applications/ColdFusion9/wwwroot/
Server Root: http://localhost:8500/ OR
ColdFusion Administrator: {server root}/cfide/administrator/

For those of you who want to experiment with ColdFusion 9 but do not wish to install the server on your local machine, you can get free ColdFusion 9 hosting from a number of ColdFusion hosting companies.

As we don’t want everybody to be able to access the services on your machine, it is necessary to create a user account to access the services.

In the ColdFusion Administrator go to the “User Manager” page under the “Security” section.  Click “add user” and provide a username and password.  Remember the details, as you will need them later.  Whenever you see “Your Username” or “Your Password” in the code examples, put this information in.  Before clicking “add user,” go to the “Exposed Services” section and move all the services from “Prohibited Services” to “Allowed Services.”  Don’t worry, things are still secure, because the services are also restricted by IP address.  Click on “add user” to finally add the user.

Now that the user is added, you need to click on “Allowed IP Addresses,” which is also under the “Security” section.  In the IP address box add the IP  If you do not have ColdFusion installed on your machine, you will need to add your external IP address. You are now ready to use CFAAS.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Simon Free.

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