Pre-Conference Class "Getting Started with CFBuilder, for those coming from Dreamweaver, CFStudio, HomeSite, etc."
Instructor: Charlie Arehart
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Times, Location, Date

You’ve heard the buzz about ColdFusion Builder (code-named Bolt and referred to hereafter as CFBuilder), now get a walkthrough (hands-on from your own laptop if you bring one) from someone who’s been down the same path, coming to CFBuilder from other non-Eclipse-based CFML editors like Dreamweaver, HomeSite, and CF Studio. In this day-long class, Veteran CFer Charlie Arehart will introduce you to CFBuilder, presuming you have no prior experience with it or Eclipse/CFEclipse. (Indeed, if you do have experience with those editors, this is not the class for you!)

 

Whether you want to or are being told to use CFBuilder, it’s clearly the CFML editor of the future, and you’ll come away with a clear appreciation of its strengths and capabilities. You may even, like Charlie, grow very quickly to like it.

 

Many who tried in the past to make the transition from those other CFML editors to CFEclipse (a close cousin to CFBuilder) struggled, partly from the significant differences between the editors, and partly from a relative lack of guidance (and indeed a sense of not belonging) for those making the transition. You were generally expected to tough it out and “get with the program”.

 

Adobe has done several things to address those challenges in CFBuilder. There’s still room for improvement, sure, but they’ve also added still more powerful features that make it all the more worth the transition, including many not ever provided in the other CFML editors. Charlie will gently guide those using the other editors to appreciate the power and even the simplicity of CFBuilder.

 

Part 1: Getting Familiar with Eclipse

 

Charlie was like many who held back moving to CFEclipse when it came out, for various reasons. (If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry.) Eclipse is certainly a different environment. Now with CFBuilder being built on it, we simply have to come to grips with it. The target audience for this class is those who either don’t know anything about Eclipse-based editors or have tried and didn’t like them. Charlie will help you understand first why CFBuilder is based upon Eclipse, and what that means to you, as well as what things you do and do not need to understand about Eclipse to get started using CFBuilder.

 

You’ll briefly learn such fundamentals as the difference between perspectives and views, workspaces and the workbench, and so on.  You’ll also come to grips with the need for (and importance of) using projects: don’t let them intimidate or bother you, if you may have tried them already in other Eclipse-based editors. Their benefits, and even some alternatives to using them, will be discussed. (And if you also were annoyed that other Eclipse editors you tried wouldn’t let you open a file directly from the file system without opening two copies of Eclipse, note that that’s now solved in CFBuilder!)

 

Most important, you will become more comfortable with moving around within Eclipse, both in this part and by reminders throughout the class. Various common challenges and gotchas will be identified and resolved.

 

Part 2: Getting Familiar with CFBuilder

 

The bulk of the class will introduce the key features of CFBuilder itself. It’s far more than just a code editor, and again the Adobe team has done much to make us more comfortable in the transition. Charlie will cover what things you may find similar (tag and function completion/insight/help/editors, code coloring, expand/collapse, snippets, tag matching, outlining, toolbars, FTP support, and more) as well as what things you may find different (including automatic syntax checking, available code refactoring, log viewers, and more, the ability to easily build code referring to existing variables, queries, and CFCs on or accessible to the page). 

 

He’ll also cover features that existed but you may never have noticed in all other CFML editors, including database viewing and query building, and features that existed but you may never have noticed in Dreamweaver alone, including component and web service browsing, cloaking in projects, and more. You’ll be introduced to how these are implemented in CFBuilder.

 

Charlie will also cover a significantly new and different feature: the ability to manage CF servers from CFBuilder, including when you might and might not use each of its particular features, as well as understanding the difference in using them with a local versus a remote server (the latter may require implementing an Admin server instance on your CF server, which will be discussed).

 

Finally, Charlie understands how important keyboard shortcuts are for many editor users, and he’ll discuss those, including the CFBuilder feature to choose a profile that can make CFBuilder shortcuts similar to those in the other editors, as well as how to customize them still further to your taste. He’ll also cover changing typing preferences for code-related features. You’ll also learn how CFBuilder can edit not just CFML but also HTML (of course), JavaScript, and CSS. It’s not a visual/WYWIWYG editor, no, but there is significant coding assistance built-in for these other web languages.

 

Part 3: A Brief Look at Some Important Additional Features

 

Many users will be content to use only the features discussed to this point, but there are some important additional topics to cover. There won’t be time in this brief class to delve far into these features, but they do warrant at least an introduction for one to fully appreciate the power which CFBuilder (and Eclipse) brings to the developer.

 

First, Charlie will introduce the interactive CFML step debugging feature (which allows you to step through CFML code line-by-line, as it runs on your CF server, allowing you to set breakpoints, stop on CFML runtime errors, view and change variables on the fly, watch content as it’s being generated, and much more). He’ll also introduce support for CFBuilder extensions, including a quick overview of built-in ones and a brief introduction to creating (and sharing) your own, and what you need to learn to create them. Finally,  he’ll also introduce the superior extensibility of Eclipse and briefly highlight some key Eclipse plug-ins available to add still more capability and solve common development problems.

 

Each of these topics is substantial enough to warrant an entire class on their own, which Charlie may well offer in the future. They will only be introduced very briefly here in conclusion of this class, with additional resources offered for those who care to learn more about each of them.

 

Indeed, we can’t hope that to cover everything you’ll want to learn  The class will conclude with identification of several resources available to help you learn still more, from Adobe documentation and support forums, to third party mailing lists, blogs, and articles, ranging from coverage of CFBuilder in particular to Eclipse topics both in general and from a CFer’s perspective.

 

Who should attend this class?

 

Anyone interested in getting started with ColdFusion Builder without having prior experience working with Eclipse-based editors. If you are currently using Dreamweaver, HomeSite, HomeSite+, or ColdFusion Studio, this class is especially for you, since it will present things from a perspective of making the move from those editors to CFBuilder. If you’re using some other text-based editor (BBEdit, Notepad, etc.), you will of course still benefit from the class. Indeed, that means still more of the features of CFBuilder will be new and beneficial to you, if they weren’t available in your other editor.

 

Who should not attend this class?

 

Let me be clear: if you are already using Eclipse or CFEclipse, this is NOT the class for you! While you certainly could get some benefit from the discussions of CFBuilder features, at least where they are different from CFEclipse, too much of the focus will be on basics of Eclipse and discussions for those totally new to it, especially on aspects related to moving from other those CFML editors. Someone already using Eclipse-based editors (including also Flex/Flash Builder and Aptana Studio) will likely be frustrated by the pace and perspective taken for this class. Charlie (or others) may offer another class in the future focused more on introducing CFBuilder to those already using other Eclipse-based editors. Similarly, note that while features such as the debugger, extensions, and other Eclipse plug-ins will be introduced briefly in this class, they will not be covered to a degree that would suit someone seeking to focus on these particular topics. Please read carefully the course introduction above.

 

What are the prerequisites?

 

Attendees MUST ALREADY HAVE COLDFUSION BUILDER DOWNLOADED (if not also installed) prior to attending the class. You must register for the public beta program (http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/coldfusionbuilder/, no wait required) in order to download CFBuilder. Note that there is no guarantee of internet access in the classroom, nor can the beta software be distributed in the class (via a USB stick or any other way) because it requires registration. Further, it is preferable that you already have CFBuilder installed prior to the class.

 

The class will briefly cover installation, including choosing among the available configurations. And while Charlie will demonstrate things from a Windows machine, most concepts will apply to OS X as well. (Note that for now CFBuilder is not supported on Linux.)

 

Since this class is intended for those new to using Eclipse-based editors, it will focus on using the Standalone configuration of CFBuilder. Those implementing it as a plug-in on top of other Eclipse editors should have no problem with most of the class, but support/assistance cannot be provided for installing the plug-in configuration, nor with problems identified as related to running the plug-in installation, because of the possibility of configuration conflicts.

 

Should you miss observing these prerequisites point and come to the class without CFBuilder downloaded, you’re still welcome and will still benefit. While you won’t be able to do the walkthroughs during the class, you will still get to hear the discussions, observe the walkthroughs, and use later the training materials offered.

 

What should people expect to get out of this class?

 

Attendees will learn how to use ColdFusion Builder, assuming with no prior experience with it or other Eclipse-based editors. There will be hands-on exercises (for those who bring their own laptops and have already downloaded the software). Attendees will learn a few fundamental features of working with Eclipse itself, then the bulk of the class will be focused on using the specific features of CFBuilder. Some of those features will be similar to other CFML editors (Dreamweaver, HomeSite, or CF Studio), and some will be new and different; the class will highlight many of these similarities and differences. Most important, attendees will learn the fundamental features of CFBuilder that they need to proceed with developing applications, using it as the new editor for CFML (and related web languages).