It is a rapid development platform for building websites and web applications, offered by Adobe. You can use an IDE to build websites and web apps in ColdFusion server hosting.
These days it is also used to build mobile applications. Although its syntax looks more like HTML, the entire platform is built on Java and uses the Apache Tomcat J2EE container. Though, mostly you will be interacting with the ColdFusion Markup Language, famously known as CFML. It is a web application server. You don’t need to know Java to leverage the full potential of ColdFusion.
It was released for the first time in 1995. The initial company merged into Macromedia, mostly known for Flash and Dreamweaver (remember Homesite?) and when Adobe purchased Macromedia, it also got ColdFusion with it.
Why is ColdFusion widely used?
It is used to build and install dynamic websites. Normally, when you create an HTML page, it is a static page that exists as a source code. But, when you build a website in ColdFusion, the contents of the HTML page are dynamically, programmatically displayed, after fetching from a source, like a file on the server or the database.
The entire purpose of creating websites and web applications with ColdFusion is, literally, creating applications rapidly.
To accommodate different requirements, web hosting companies can offer ColdFusion hosting in two formats: Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition.
The only difference between the Standard and the Enterprise is that the Enterprise edition is used by very big websites whereas, even very small websites can use the Standard edition.
With the Standard edition, you get PDF management, you can create Flash-based data entry forms (although, Flash is gradually being phased out), you can establish connections with all contemporary database systems, and you can also run Flex-based applications. Integration with many Microsoft products is also facilitated with the standard edition of ColdFusion. It comes with its own application server.
The Enterprise edition supports clustering and failover in server farms. There are many other enhancements that make the Enterprise edition good for large-scale websites.