Interview for Farcry: A Free ColdFusion-based CMS
"FarCry : A Free ColdFusion-based CMS" interview with Steve Rittler
Michael Smith: This time we are talking with Steve Rittler about his CFUNITED-
05 talk "FarCry : A Free ColdFusion-based CMS". So why should a developer come
to your session Steve ?
Steve Rittler: Michael, I'm going to be showing them how a great open source
product can be used to address a constant business problem - managing website
content. We'll not only go over the features and functionality of the package,
but also get to the code and show how easily extensible it is. Some might say
that FarCry is similar to Spectra (a content management toolkit sold by Allaire
several years ago), but it works much, much better and is boatloads faster too!
MS: How much does Farcry cost?
SR: The software is FREE (as in beer)! The folks at Daemon have released it
into the world under the Common Public License.
MS: Wow! What kind of things can FarCry do?
SR: FarCry can manage your site's navigation structure, HTML content, images,
files such as Word and PDF documents, news items, event listings, and links to
other websites right out of the box. There's even a built-in user directory for
managing permissions that integrates with Active Directory or LDAP if you so
desire. FarCry is built on ColdFusion MX and has been designed from the ground
up to be extensible - you can easily add new features and functionality to it
using the same ColdFusion knowledge you already possess. Say, for example, you
wanted to integrate "Michael's Book Club" in your Farcry-managed site. You
could easily create a new "book" content type and add it to the managed core of
FarCry by writing *one* ColdFusion Component (CFC). Spend another 5 minutes
tweaking some display code for "book" objects and you're all set to manage your
entire library through your website. It's pretty powerful stuff! Did I mention
that I didn't have to write a single query to make that work?
MS: How is that possible?
SR: Daemon managed to abstract all of your database operations into a single
tier composed of four queries, hence the name "FourQ" for this layer of the
FarCry core. All of the SQL code is created and written for you dynamically
based on the properties of the objects you define. In the example of our "book"
content type above, some properties of the object might be title, author,
summary, and year of publication. When you deploy that CFC into the FarCry
core, FarCry takes on the task of creating the database table(s) to store that
information and manages all database interaction from then on.
MS: That is cool - but doesn't it take a long time to set up a site this way?
SR: Actually, no. You can be up and running with a site just as fast as you can
populate the content. That, as well as the site layout design, usually
represents the slowest part of any site development process anyway. Creating
simple custom types and integrating simple applications is a piece of cake.
Even my first attempt at doing so didn't take more than 20 minutes to figure out
MS: What versions of ColdFusion does Farcry run on? 5, MX, MX 7? Standard,
Enterprise? Windows, Linux? Macromedia, New Atlanta?
SR: Farcry runs on all versions of ColdFusion from MX forward . Enterprise
edition is not required. Farcry will run on BlueDragon, but from what I
understand there are some minor tweaks that you have to make. Nothing that will
cause you to rip your hair out anyway! It'll run on whatever flavor of OS
you've got, assuming you can run CF there. I'm currently working on making a G4
my development server - i'll have to let you know how that works out.
MS: What about support options?
SR: Farcry is open source, but Daemon (www.daemon.com.au) is the company behind
the development of Farcry and maintains the code base. They do offer support
and consulting packages if you should need them. Other than that, there is a
very popular (and immensely helpful) mailing list that is monitored and archived
by Daemon. There are a growing number of resources online (blogs, newsgroups,
tutorials and walkthroughs) that are easily Googled as well. I use all of these
on a regular basis. Someday i'll contribute back to the core codebase!