Dreamweaver to CF Builder to Dreamweaver

So I’m a bit late to the party, but I had my reasons to not make the switch… namely my complete distaste for Eclipse (I’ve expressed this before).  I’m finding myself wanting more when I code cfscript, javascript and all that ajaxy stuff, so I finally forced myself to set aside my differences with Eclipse and approach CF Builder with an open and very clear mind.  I made the switch and started this article in October 2011 and just now wrapping it up after an in depth evaluation.

First, my work environment.

I have a live co-located server that hosts my final product.  I then have a separate development server in my home office which I use to create all my masterpieces.  I have a laptop which I’ve never really been comfortable coding with, but do use it from time to time.  And then there’s my crown jewel… my dual monitor workstation which I’m on nearly all day every day (would like to eventually add a third monitor).  The only reason I mention the dual monitors is that it’s imperative to my development… Dreamweaver CF Builder, Fireworks, Navicat & FlashFXP (all the development stuff) on the left and my browser is on the right (of course I test in every browser… no built-in rendering or troubleshooting tools needed for me), which I refresh as I go making sure I’m getting my desired outcome across all platforms.  And as I just mentioned, I use Navicat for all my SQL management (both Dreamweaver’s and Eclipse’s built-in SQL stuff is just laughable [and unnecessary]) and then FlashFXP for my FTP client (built-in FTP clients work fine… they just scare me.  I test over the local network and want to make sure I’m only uploading the final product, not risking overwriting anything important.).

On ColdFusion Builder:

  1. I don’t get it because ColdFusion is a scripting language and I’m not compiling anything… ever.  But maybe having a server setup poses some use I’ve missed the past 10+ years of coding in ColdFusion [and continue to not see might I add].  CF Builder it seems, revolves around getting your server in the settings.  Sure you can code without it, but CF Builder will put you through constant nags and shames of guilt if you don’t.  Further, CF Builder wants to assume your ColdFusion test install is on the same local machine… which I’ve never seen done (even when I developed for the US Air Force) unless you’re traveling and demoing an app in front of a group of people.  And although it’s totally my fault I never figured it out, my firewall on my server was preventing CF Builder from connecting to it on port 80… which apparently is open by default for http, but not other things.  Regardless, once your server is setup, life is pretty nice in CF Builder afterward… it’s just a bleeding shame it took two years to figure out the problem because not a soul on the planet could figure it out… I just got the “you’re insane” look.  It would be very nice if future versions didn’t revolve around having the server setup, because frankly, it’s completely irrelevant and completely useless.
  2. Once I got around server hell, the first thing I noticed were the fonts… which is like I’m looking at the moving numbers in The Matrix.  Sorry Adobe, but I code in Calibri… an easy change in the preferences.
  3. I really don’t like scrolling horizontally.  Thankfully, there’s an easy fix for that in the preferences as well.
  4. I also don’t like how every time you fire up CF Builder it loads what you were just working on… I closed it because I finished working on it.  Not a big deal though… I just got into the habit of closing the files before I actually close the program.
  5. I really prefer my tags to close after I type the beginning if the closing tag.  This however is also easily changed in the preferences.
  6. I absolutely love, love, love how CFB handles CFSCRIPT.  Unfortunately I’m finding myself not using CFSCRIPT often enough to justify the use of CFB solely for this purpose.

Now on Eclipse in general:

  1. The reason I completely can’t stand Eclipse is the fact there’s just a million little things that annoy the living crap out of me.  Like autosuggestions… I love them and use them adamantly to code faster, but in Eclipse they never popup fast enough when you need them and then popup when you don’t need them and you’re constantly going back to fix crap you accidentally hit enter on.  I am constantly typing in full tags (because the autosuggest didn’t catch) which has really slowed me down.  I’m also constantly retracing my steps to remove mistakes I make when the autosuggest randomly pops up for no reason at all… which tends to happen mostly when I’m copying and pasting.  In terms of autosuggestions… Dreamweaver just does it better, much better.
  2. Seriously, why in the world do I have to go through a wizard to create a new file?  Dreamweaver has this right… right click on the folder, new file, type the name of the file with the extension you want and boom you’re done.  No extra nonsense.  Dreamweaver even autodetects the type of file it is… automatically setting up the default CFC template if name it with that extension.
  3. I really dislike the default color scheme… and thank heavens it’s completely customizable, but it literally took me an 8-hour day to get it to match Dreamweaver.  It would have been nice if this was something that was already done in CFB… at least on a setting [to at least try and make the switch for the myriad of CF Dreamweaver developers more comfortable].
  4. Tag quotes… seriously wtf!  In Dreamweaver, I hit enter for the autosuggest and they’re just there with my cursor in the middle.  But in Eclipse, half the time the autosuggest doesn’t even come down (like never when I use class).  And I have to manually insert the first quote every time.  I’m a creature of habit and typing in quotes after nearly 15 years of not having to ever enter a quote has been an extremely uncomfortable switch.
  5. Eclipse is just dumb.  And I’m not just talking about how it can’t figure out what it’s doing with autosuggestions, I’m talking like the vast majority of the time when I go to close a tag it closes the wrong tag!  This is another area where Dreamweaver just excels over Eclipse.
  6. The .settings directory and settings.xml… get them the *expletive* out of my working directory!  I do understand why they’re there and it’s fine that Eclipse needs these files… but put them in THE ECLIPSE install directory or anywhere else but in my working directory.  At least give me the option.  Having to dodge this using my FTP client every time on every project is a royal pain in the butt.  This is probably the biggest nuisance for me.  Granted.. I find the stinking _notes directory Dreamweaver just as annoying.
  7. On a positive note, the one thing about Eclipse I love better than Dreamweaver is how Eclipse handles CSS… it’s just wonderful.  I actually look forward to doing CSS work in Eclipse… it’s that enjoyable.
  8. I have a love/hate relationship with Eclipse caching my files.  I love it because it lets me know I did work on another computer and the file changed.  On the other hand, I hate it because I can’t just open up and go like Dreamweaver.

I didn’t really know I was that picky about my coding environment until I tried this switch.  And in all honesty, I did come out thinking better of Eclipse and CFB than I did before.  However, for all the hype over the past few years I find CFB overrated and really don’t buy the hype.  In the end, I really don’t find the trouble worth it.  This is a product I wish would just go away and that Adobe would redirect its time and efforts back into the Dreamweaver extensions.  I’m really just hoping the CF10 developers will be providing extensions to Dreamweaver because I honestly don’t think I can stand CFB much longer.  And sadly, a large portion of the problems with CFB stem directly from Eclipse, not CFB itself.  I never expected CFB to be Dreamweaver, but I did expect CFB to make my development more efficient.  I now understand that efficient by definition also lies within the developer himself/herself, but In reality, CFB has actually made ColdFusion development more difficult and inefficient, at least for me.  I honestly believe even a new developer learning to code would find Dreamweaver a breath of fresh air after having used CFB/Eclipse.  I don’t mean to ramrod CFB by any means, but I honestly couldn’t recommend it to anyone.

So in the end I will be switching back to Dreamweaver with an upgrade to CS6 later in the year pending the outcome of developing CF10 extensions.  Of course I say this amidst the announcement of Brackets… Adobe’s new IDE for HTML/CSS/Javascript.  Wouldn’t it be nice if this also became the future IDE of ColdFusion (hint-hint-wink-wink)?

7 comments

  1. Andrew Scott says:

    I sort of hear you frustration, but I came from ColdFusion Studio. Which was the best coding editor on the market, when that was dropped for HomeSite+ there had been a lot fo things that Studio did that Homesite did not and I moved on too.

    Dreamweaver for me was bloated crap, that ran so slow it wasn’t funny. Now before I get a lot of feedback on that I haven’t touched Dreamweaver for about 6-8 years, but Dreamweaver is a designers tool and that is what I hated back then.

    Now lets get on with your grips. You split them into ColdFusion and Builder the problem is that the gripes you mention all belong to Adobe ColdFusion Builder mainly.

    1) Eclsipe auto suggestions, when you talk about this you need to take into consideration that Eclipse is fully configurable. This means that a plugin like CFB can and does make what you are having problems with a pain, but this is not Eclipse’s fault this is Adobe’s.

    2) When creating a new file and or folder, you are not going through a wizard, what you actually see is that you have the opportunity to change your mind. Let me just say that if you RMB on a folder and create a file all you are doing is typing the name and hitting enter. You are not going through a wizard. But lets say you RMB on the wrong folder, you know have the opportunity to select the right folder. Just you are not used to this type of feature, and your assumption of wizard here is so wrong it is not funny.

    3) I hate the colour scheme of Dreamweaver with a puke thrown in, so this is again why Eclipse is fully configurable. But I will agree that if you are referring to the syntax colouring, ye I agree this could use some work. Again this is not an Eclipse problem.

    4) This is a known bug and has been reported to Adobe on many occasions, and to date this is something they just can’t seem to get right. But again this is not an Eclipse problem this is an Adobe problem.

    5) Is also a know bug that Adobe just can’t seem to get right. And Again this is not an Eclipse problem. As Eclipse can geth this right in PHP, Java and other language editors for Eclipse.

    6) Filter them out, this is very easy to switch on. And this is an Eclipse thing, but it is not a problem if you know how to do it.

    7) Eclipse doesn’t handle CSS that is done by the Aptana guys who wrote the plugin that CFB uses, so again you are assuming this to be Eclipse when it is not.

    Now I would like to address your CFB problems.

    1) I have never experienced what you have described here, you can or not setup servers that will be used to introspect your environment that will further aid you in your coding. If you do not setup a server than coding is not an issue as you have experienced.

    2) Every editor has there own fonts, I too like to code in that font and just change the font editor so that I can as well. But this is why Eclipse is great, because not everyone likes the same thing.

    3) Again not everyone is you, so it needs to be configurable.

    4) This is a godsend, especially if you are working on about 15 files at once and you want to go home for the night. When you come in to work in the morning, you just don’t have to remember the files you had been working on. But again this is configurable, which means if you don’t like it… Switch it off.

    5) Yep again configurable, as you have suggested.

    6) it handles everything just as good not just script.

    Now considering that Dreamweaver has been around for donkeys years, ColdFusion Builder is young but has a lot more promise. As for expandability ColdFusion Builder running on Eclipse is powerful, more powerful than you can imagine. DW is limited in this respect. But lets say you want to handle continues integration, how would you do this with Dreamweaver. What about writing and developing unit tests, again much easier in CFB than DW, or what about task based development. I would like to see you do something like mylyn in DW. And I could go on and on about the benefits to CFB over DW.

    You have come to love your Editor that’s fine, go back to it and live your boring little development life style were you can’t deploy real world development situtations.

    • Rick Smith says:

      So if I use something other than Visual Studio for .NET or Zend Studio for PHP, I also live a “boring little development lifestyle where I can’t deploy real world development situations”?  All your points seemed pretty valid up until that remark/insult, which really discredited you in general.  So we’ll ignore this and move on.

      Everyone continues to tell me how “powerful” Eclipse is… I’ve yet to see it.  The problems you mention with Dreamweaver long disappeared many eons ago.  I honestly don’t even know how to open the wysiwyg view… I’ve only seen the code view for the last ten years, which I find much more zippy than CFB by any stretch.  As for when I’m coding PHP, I tried Eclipse and laughed my way back to Zend Studio — just no comparison.  And who wants to use anything else other than visual studio for coding .NET.  I’ve concluded the only thing I would ever Eclipse for at this point is coding Java, which I don’t use, but I am also of the conclusion that since ColdFusion is Java this is why Adobe chose Eclipse, which isn’t a legitimate reason.  It’s about using the right tool for the right job imho, and I’ve presented a few arguments here that maybe CFB isn’t the right tool for CF [yet].  Having forced myself to use CFB for the past six months, I certainly would consider returning to Eclipse should some of these major issues get sorted out.

      As you point out CFB is young, and there’s certainly much potential for improvements.  I was certainly unaware of the issues you pointed out as bugs, but these “bugs”, whether they’re Adobe’s problem or not, are bugs that literally cost valuable development time.  This is a major problem and one that should prevent a product from leaving beta stages.

      I tried CFB1, and it was so slow I never really gave it a chance.  I really gave CFB2 an open chance not intending to return to DW ever, and the reason I’m returning to DW isn’t because CFB is different, but because it’s inefficient… a very legitimate reason.  CFB doesn’t allow me to deploy real world development situations.

      • da_cameron says:


        As for when I’m coding PHP, I tried Eclipse and laughed my way back to Zend Studio — just no comparison”

        Err… isn’t Zend Studio basically an Eclipse plug-in?  It’s a *bloody good* Eclipse plug-in (and puts CFB to shame), but still… dissing Eclipse and following that up by saying Zend Studio is better seems a bit of a curious thing to say to me.

        As for the other stuff… I pretty much agree with Andrew: most of the things you gripe about regarding Eclipse are either a) vagaries of CFB (1, 4, 5); b) not actually an issue because it’s just the way you’re running things (the rest).

        On the first point you raise – about configuring a server for CFB:
        1) yeah, CFML *is* compiled.  It’s not your actual CFML that gets executed by the JVM: it’s Java byte code.  Still, this is neither here nor there;
        2) you don’t need to configure a server to develop CFML just fine.
        3) You *do* need one if you’re going to do any debugging.  And there’s probably a few other things you’ll need a server for too (like anything using RDS, unsurprisingly).

        Due to a vagary of my config, I cannot run the debugger, so I don’t – on the whole – bother configuring a CF server for my project (I do not use RDS at all).  I never encounter any problems due to not having one.

        CFB’s a bit shite, but Eclipse ain’t: it is a brilliant piece of software.  I can’t comment on what DW is like because the last time I looked at it (about ten years ago), it was utter rubbish for developing on. Creating HTML and CSS: yeah, it’s probably OK, but coding?  Nup.  I understand it’s become less bad since then.

        — 
        Adam

  2. Matthew Williams says:

    I dropped DW when I switched to an AMD processor about 6 years ago.  DW 8 had issues with those CPUs at the time, and would spool up 50% on one core for no real reason.  I jumped on Eclipse/CFEclipse at that point.

    To me, DW and Eclipse have two different goals.  DW is great if you want to design screens in a split pane view.  Eclipse is great for actual coding, and if you do more than just web development, is a one stop IDE.

    I also don’t find it odd to develop on a local server.  I’ve used two successive laptops running CF 6,7,(8,9 on the newest), Railo, MySQL, MSSQL, Oracle, Apache, IIS to do all my development locally for about 6 years.  No matter where I go I can code if that laptop is with me.

    • Rick Smith says:

       I think I pointed out “unless you’re traveling”.  If you’re coding on the go, a local installation most definitely makes sense.

      Thank for your input. :)

  3. Bill Tindal says:

    You should try Sublime Text 2 (w/ ColdFusion plugin). It’s available here – 
    http://www.sublimetext.com/dev

  4. […] how about a meaningless apology followed by details, screenshots, etc on an improved CF Builder which I currently loathe, but dying to hear info on improvements because you know, CF Builder is still EXTREMELY inefficient […]

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