Book Publishing Dilemma, Input Requested

For about a decade now, my ColdFusion Web Application Construction Kit has been the de facto standard used by virtually all new ColdFusion developers, and by many who want to brush up their skills as ColdFusion is updated and enhanced. This book (and its Advanced sequel) in many ways helped define ColdFusion, played an important role in the growth and evolution of the product. Over the years I've pulled in respected, trusted, and well-known ColdFusion developers to help with the books (most notably Ray Camden who assumed the role of co-lead author on the most recent CFWACK, and who will be doing so again for the next edition). I am genuinely humbled at how important these books have become to the ColdFusion universe, and honored by how many of you have relied on these books to do what you do.

But now I am faced with dilemma, and I'd love any and all input.

Here's the deal. The books have grown to be huge. We started with a single volume in ColdFusion 2 and 3 days, and quickly had to move to two volumes as of ColdFusion 4. And then two volumes were not enough, so we tried moving the language reference appendixes to a dedicated little third volume in ColdFusion 5 (a decision that did not go over well with most readers, although some loved it and have asked for that book to be revised and updated). For ColdFusion 6 and 7 we put the appendixes back into the book, and thus had no choice but to remove some lesser used chapters, and also made the very painful decision to make some chapters only available electronically (as PDFs on the accompanying CD).

But now things have gotten worse. The books are now several thousands pages combined (taking into account CFWACK and CFADV as well as all of the electronic chapters). And as I work on the Scorpio updates (Scorpio has so many new features that there are lots of updates, and even more new chapters needed) it is becoming apparent that page count is going to be a massive problem. Consider the following:

  • We've reached about the maximum page count that can be physically bound as a single volume.
  • Printing costs industry wide have gone up. I have fought hard against book price increases before, but I am being told that there is no way we can continue to print books of this size at the current price.
  • And, as already stated, I really don't like electronic only chapters. I am fine with chapters being made available in print AND electronic, heck, I'd like for the whole book to be made available as an e-book on the CD. But I don't like electronic chapters in lieu of printed chapters.

So, what to do?

  • We can eliminate the language reference appendixes (tags, functions, Verity language, etc.). Those ran about 400 pages in CFWCK7, and will be even bigger in the Scorpio edition. We can consider making those electronic chapters, or perhaps try a separate reference volume as we did back in CF5 days. My big concern with this one is that many users tell me that these are the most used parts of the books, and I regularly see copies with colored tabs and the like plastered all over these sections.
  • We can make additional chapters electronic only. Deciding which ones to pick is painful and never what all users will want. Plus, as already said, I really don't like this idea.
  • Some users have asked me to do away with the intro material, the first several hundred pages of CFWACK. And the truth is, for all but new readers, those are unnecessary. But, at the same time, I get several e-mails every single week from readers thanking me for just those chapters, in particular the ones that explain basic relational database theory and review SQL language basics.
  • For ColdFusion 7 I had chatted with the publisher about breaking the books into three volumes. That would solve lots of problems by allowing us to create three thinner books with a greater total page count. But, three thinner books will cost readers more than two thicker books, and so I decided not to go with this idea because I felt guilty charging readers more money (especially those who only buy CFWACK who would now need to buy two books to replace it).

As you can see, we have no great ideas, just lots of imperfect options. So, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. If any of these ideas make sense, tell me. If any are flat out wrong, tell me that too. And if you have other ideas we've not thought of, please share those as well.


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Comments (115)

  • Ray Champagne

    Just thinking out loud here, but why not have two books, one strictly being a CFML reference manual, and the other the book itself?

    The reference I use all the time, but the book itself I use rarely, unless I am exploring a topic that I previously haven't used before. It would be nice to have a handy reference separate from the book. And while the livedocs are nice, I prefer a manual - they are just more convenient, IMO.

    And cost? Pfft. These are the tools of the trade. It's necessary. Mechanics don't complain about the price of tools, if they make their job easier, they suck it up and buy them.

    I wonder if you could offer the above as a package with one price?

    #1Posted by Ray Champagne | Jan 26, 2007, 12:21 PM
  • Ian Skinner

    I wouldn't dismiss the three volume solution so easily.

    I think I like the idea of an introduction, intermediate and advance titles. Among the several advantages I see is that they may not need to be updated on exactly the same time schedule. I can imagine, based solely on my personal view point, that the introduction book can be written in less ColdFusion version specific language. I don't see the basics of ColdFusion having changed that much through the last several versions. I started with 4.5 and my <cfquery...>, <cfoutput...> and other basics have not changed much as I have learned my way through 5, 6.x, and 7.x versions.

    If these titles where organized correctly I could see a new developer starting with the basic title, then over time getting the intermediate and advanced. Then from that point on, not needing to replace all three titles every version.

  • Teddy R Payne

    I have purchasing the CFWACK for some time now. Orange Whip Studios will never be a more memoriable company.

    I would be willing to advocate the idea of just having two books. If you keep the nature of the Beginner and Advanced book, I think it makes only sense to me to have a companion CD to both volumes. These CDs would be the e-reference of the language references and additional supporting material.

    I am also a proponent of O'Reilly Safari Books online. If the publisher offered a reduced cost of the PDF version, I would purchase that as well.

    I tend to program on my laptop all of the place and copying and pasting code samples is typically better for me isntead of ready a hard copy.

    PDFs provide a very easy way of bookmarking and searching for topics more than sticky little red tabs on a bound book.

    Plus, I have a flash drive with PDFs on it for when I am offline.

    So in short, I would suggest that you offer a hybrid on the book with an avenue for the eletronic only crowd.


    #3Posted by Teddy R Payne | Jan 26, 2007, 12:26 PM
  • Ian Skinner

    Another thought, re separating out the syntax reference.

    Is it permissible to consider printing this as a separate volume that is sold with the main book. I buy lots of 'books' for personal and professional reasons that consist of two or more volumes bundled together.

  • Josh Nathanson

    I still have my Allaire CF 4.5 manuals on the shelf, I kind of liked how it was broken into four separate volumes. I have CF7 WACK and it's too big and heavy to take anywhere, such as on a plane or whatever. So I support the idea of separate volumes even if the price is higher.

    #5Posted by Josh Nathanson | Jan 26, 2007, 12:33 PM
  • Luc

    About more than 3 books. Like a series... with each book (booklet) focusing on very specific tasks.

    will cost a bit more but can serve as a great reference library

    #6Posted by Luc | Jan 26, 2007, 12:34 PM
  • Dan Skaggs


    First of all thanks for all the work on these books over the years. I have a complete set dating back to when I started on CF 4.5. Alas, with my current job, all those books are useless to me now as I travel every week for my job. I've wished for a PDF version of the books for quite a while so that I could carry the info with me (obviously lugging both books to the airport every week is out of the question).

    Just my 2c worth.


  • Andy Matthews

    I have the WACK, but won it in a contest. I AM, however, one of those people you mentioned who absolutely LOVES the CF5 reference book. I literally carry it with me everywhere I go. It's gotten used less now since I discovered but it's still important to me. While I think having the reference available in printed form would be really important, I'd be okay leaving it out in favor of an online reference. As long as it was REALLY easy to use and search that is.

  • charlie griefer

    i agree with Luc.

    i've always thought a series of books, each very specialized and very focused, would do well. let's say i just want to brush up on cfscript. or regular expressions (in CF). or complex variables. or persistent variables (application/session/client).

    this thought actually came about when the CFMX Bible was released. not knocking the book at all...i think it's a great book and i recommend it to folks to this day. one of the things i actually like about it is that it's very all-encompassing. very much so. but i've heard criticism that having so much in a single book made it overwhelming to some. i heard people say "if i to learn about _____, i'll buy a book about _____".

    but as i heard that argument, it occurred to me that there wasn't a book just on _______.

    so maybe there should be?

  • Dave Cordes

    Personally I never use my books anymore, I just go to when I have a question. I think once you are comfortable with ColdFusion in general that's what most people do. But that's not a fact, just my opinion. Therefore a downloadable version or online version would work quite well for me. Having a 1,000 page book just doesn't make sense.

  • Bruce

    Please go to three volumes. Your books are well worth the price. I used them almost every day and it is much quicker to pickup the book, then to load a CD and find the PDF and open the PDF.

    #11Posted by Bruce | Jan 26, 2007, 01:05 PM
  • Steve Bryant

    I'll echo the thought about more specialization.

    CFWACK is a great book. Whenever I talk to people about learning ColdFusion, I direct them to that book. I suspect others do as well. To that end, it makes sense that it remain an introductory book. Tag/function references as well as basics of HTTP and SQL are handy for this book.

    As to "advanced" topics, I liken this to advanced university study. A Phd candidate doesn't just get "advanced" in their topic, they get specialized. It would be nice to have a books performance, security, graphing/reporting, xml, etc.

    For myself, I always have a debate about the new books. I don't care pay for a rehash of the basics, but there are usually a few new features that I would like to read about as I try them out. If more, smaller, books were available for that I would really love it.

  • Rick Mason

    I would recommend keeping CFWACK and the advanced book. Then add a third book with just the language reference - perhaps with more code examples. I know that I would have no problem buying all three :<).

    #13Posted by Rick Mason | Jan 26, 2007, 01:12 PM
  • Molly

    Given Ben's statement: " . . . . Scorpio has so many new features that there are lots of updates, and even more new chapters needed . .. " and the WACK's weighty size already . . . I really like the idea of an introduction, intermediate and advance titles to split up the weight . . . I traveled extensively nationwide wth my first WACK best friend for about two years. . .and the weight/size was an issue . . . would have paid more for the separate volumes as it would have allowed me to travel only with the volumeI needed at the time

    I am also a supporter of the "separating out the syntax reference" concept. . . which would then bring the grand total to four books. I no longer travel with my WACK friend. . . but would definitely welcome the opportunity to travel with a syntax reference volume.

    #14Posted by Molly | Jan 26, 2007, 01:12 PM
  • Sam Farmer

    More books, more books, more books!

    Seriously, there is a shortage of CF books already and it can only help to have more IMO. My wife recently bought WACK but got frustrated by the introductory chapters because she already knew some of it. I think she really started reading at chapter 8. I would suggest making the introductory section in its own book and calling it "Intro to Web Applications" something with a potential broad range.

    #15Posted by Sam Farmer | Jan 26, 2007, 01:24 PM
  • Derek P.


    Let me start off by saying, these books changed my life and gave me the career that I have now...I am eternally grateful for stumbling across such a great opportunity that you provided to me; I owe my successes as a CF developer to you my friend :). (still gonna buy you dinner one of these days!).

    Anyhow, I think you should split the book up into volumes. I don't see myself buying CFWACK because I am not the novice I used to be, but I do want a book on the new features found in scorpio..So perhaps release a novice/intermediate/advanced series? and maybe an even smaller volume for each release that talks about all the new features and stuff.

    Just throwin ideas out there! Hey, if you need any help writing the next book...I'll have to check my schedule, but I am sure I can pencil you in :P

    #16Posted by Derek P. | Jan 26, 2007, 01:25 PM
  • Doug Hughes

    Ben - Do what MS does for a lot of their sets of books: Make a boxed set. You buy it and you get three books shrink wrapped in one box. Make it a "bookshelf", not a book or two or three.

    I suppose you could also sell them all individually too.

    And yea, books are a part of the business. A reasonable price is a reasonable price. Do what's best, even if it's a bit more spendy.

    Lastly, you might experiment with three versions: a box set, the three books sold separately and a download-only electronic versions.


    #17Posted by Doug Hughes | Jan 26, 2007, 01:32 PM
  • Dennis Spaag

    I too am for removing the syntax reference and also not publishing the reference at all - the online reference being more than adequate. Also, CF ide's generally provide good tag/function insight and help when learning. I also think that it would be best to keep it to two books if at all possible. Perhaps just an appendix with pointers to online or other print resources for specialized topics. Also, I like the idea that purchasers of the print volumes could get free downloads of bonus chapters in PDF.

    #18Posted by Dennis Spaag | Jan 26, 2007, 01:33 PM
  • Sam Mitchell

    I think three books is the way to go. Your books are the definitive resource and if I have to pay an extra 10-20 dollars then that's what I have to do. I'd rather have all the information at my fingertips than on CD. That's my 2c.

    #19Posted by Sam Mitchell | Jan 26, 2007, 01:33 PM
  • Brian Rinaldi

    Here's the thing about the money Ben. Several years ago there were a number of CF books you could find on the shelf of most book stores. Several general all-purpose like the CFWACK/Advanced books or CFMX Bible and some more specialized like your Reality CFMX series, Building a Content Management System with CFMX or Java for CF Developers. Look at the bookstore shelf today and you don't see that proliferation of CF books anymore. In fact, in most cases, it is just CFWACK/Advanced (sometimes no Advanced even).

    My point is, I bought many of those books previously whereas now there are not so many books to buy. So, even if you made 4 books I am likely spending less than I used to on CF books. It is also important to keep in mind that if your books are two of the only options for printed material about CF, then more content is better and possibly specializing the books as well.

    So, I agree with you on the PDFs, they never get read unless you specifically need something in there (and for all the effort that it probably takes to write this seems like a waste). I'd say, go 3 or 4 volumes if you want; get all the material in and if necessary supplement it online.

    Also the language references seem a bit silly to me for the space since they are accessible online and you can get them straight from Adobe if you want them printed.

    Sorry for the lengthy response.

  • Dan Sorensen

    I use as my command reference everyday, rather than the book. (I wish it was a little faster to load...) So I wouldn't mind an electronic command reference if it was easily searchable.

    If it were three volumes, I'd repurchase the advanced volume (hopefully focusing on some great new Scorpio features) and maybe the command reference.

    I think the intro/beginner volume is essential, but I agree with Ian that it wouldn't need to be updated as often if it covered the basics and maybe some best practices.

    Maybe the electronic command reference CD could be included with all volumes.

    #21Posted by Dan Sorensen | Jan 26, 2007, 01:45 PM
  • gabriel bulfon

    I am think that removing the syntax reference is the best choice.

  • Rick Root


    I'd personally like to see the 400 pages of reference materials extracted out into its own book.

    #23Posted by Rick Root | Jan 26, 2007, 01:47 PM
  • Nick Kwiatkowski

    I am in favor of a Beginner's book, Intermediate topics, and Advanced Topics. The beginner's book should be the smallest, as not to intimidate the new users.

    #24Posted by Nick Kwiatkowski | Jan 26, 2007, 01:48 PM
  • Ed Northby

    I'd really like to see a nice big reference manual with 1-3 samples for each reference item. As for the application, migration, administration and dev guides, perhapse including them as PDFs on a disk inside the all-mighty Reference manual. I love the quick searchability that PDFs offer and I love having a reference guide on my desk. For me this really seems like an answer that could make most everyone happy. I'd even go as far as also offering the reference manual as a PDF on the same disk. That way all books are included and the reference manual is in both formats. PRESTO! Everyone is happy!

  • Ben Forta

    Wow, thanks for so many responses guys, much appreciated, and keep it coming.

    For those of you that want 3 volumes (an intro, basic, and advanced), where would you want the referance appendixes? Intro? Basic? Or a seperate volume (which would then make it 4 volumes!)?

    Keep the ideas coming. I'm going to have a chat with my publisher about this next week, and your feedback is invaluable.

    --- Ben

    #26Posted by Ben Forta | Jan 26, 2007, 02:12 PM
  • Ryan Favro

    I agree with Doug, perhaps add a payment plan option to accomodate the increased price (joking). Or if you buy the book get a discount on your next cf lisence.

  • Craig

    Drop the reference guide. It's nice to have everything in one manual, but if it's all too big, then I want the "Ben-and-Ray"isms....the Obi-Wan Kenobi stuff that teaches improved methods and the tricks that only come with buckets of experience. The reference stuff I can hit the Adobe site to get.

    #28Posted by Craig | Jan 26, 2007, 02:18 PM
  • Ian Skinner

    As an advocate of the three levels, I can see the reference as a forth volume.

    I imagine this has an advantage that this could probably be the most frequently updated and repurchased volume. How one programs well is relatively slow to change, the tools one can use changes very quickly.

    I could see that this could be an electronic and|or on-line and|or print volume.

    I could see it in ALL volumes, but my tree hugger side cringes at this thought.

  • David Betz

    My vote would be for 4 volumes (at least). Keep the reference separate. You would only have to buy the volumes you needed/wanted, and I personally wouldn't complain about price. These books are priceless! The boxed set is an interesting idea as well.

    I could be wrong, but I'd bet there is at least some correlation between the people who do and do not like or use online/electronic documentation and their ages. I find myself constantly printing out pages from PDFs, and the printed books you got when you registered CFMX are full of those tabs and stickies you mentioned.

    #30Posted by David Betz | Jan 26, 2007, 02:24 PM
  • Brad Haas


    Here's another thought. What if you continue on with CFWACK and CFADV. Take the reference material out of these books and then publish a 3rd book that covers what's new in CF8 and also contains the reference material.

    The removal of the reference section from the the first two books would let you cover new techniques in CF8 and by creating a third book would let long time developers find out about just the new stuff and serve as a reference. Of course you could always include the reference material on a CD with the new CFWACK book so that people wouldn't be forced to buy book 3 unless they wanted to.

    #31Posted by Brad Haas | Jan 26, 2007, 02:25 PM
  • Steve Bryant

    I'll add this about the reference appendix:

    In 1999, Allaire put out a "Quick Reference Guide to CFML" (not sure if this is what you were referencing earlier). It was 30 pages and spiral bound measuring 4" by 9".

    Despite being well out of date, I still keep it in my laptop bag, primarily because it is such a small, handy reference. When I forget a simple matter of syntax and don't have an internet connection (it does happen), that can prove to be quite handy.

  • Adam Lehman

    I vote for breaking out the language reference to it's own book, much like the "Actionscript Dictionary' series.

  • John Wise

    I'm all in favor of additional books, as long as there are corresponding PDFs to go with each. An option to purchase just the PDFs would be great as well.

    I find it *much* easier to search for something in a PDF than a book when I'm working on my laptop.

    #34Posted by John Wise | Jan 26, 2007, 02:39 PM
  • Jo Ellen

    Does anyone know who published Kathy Ireland's books?

    #35Posted by Jo Ellen | Jan 26, 2007, 02:42 PM
  • Lola LB

    First of all, let me say that I love your books - I have the CF7 version and keep these next to my bed for nighttime reading (yes, I have other books for nighttime reading but I like to have something geeky when I'm in the mood) and the previous version boxed up for my next office location.

    I'd go with the 3 volume, even 4 volume option. I've printed out some of the extra chapters on the CD to keep in my notebook. Yes, I probably killed a few trees by doing so, but I just like to have something in my hand when I read. Make it so that these 3/4 volumes could stand on their own if I only needed the reference section, or just the volume that covered the new stuff in Scorpio, whatever. Of course, I'm going to end up buying all of these volumes, in any case (especially when there are discoount deals to be found here and there).

    And as others have pointed out, there's a definite void when it comes to books having to do with ColdFusion. I've posted a couple times on Tim O'Reilly when he posts his book market surveys and asked why doesn't O'Reilly have up-to-date books, and his response was along the line of "the statistics gathered show that there's a very low number of programmers using CF, so it's not worthwhile anymore to publish CF books anymore". The second edition of "Programming ColdFusion MX" only covers MX 6.1 and we know how much's changed since that version.

    Oh, another suggestion - for those of us who don't use Access and have MySQL installed along with CF on our Mac laptops, how about a MySQL version of the ows database?

    #36Posted by Lola LB | Jan 26, 2007, 02:58 PM
  • Jeff Chastain

    I personally would like to see more books available in electronic format. I am on the road most of the time and carrying around my bookshelf is not an option. Having books available on a flash drive or my laptop is great and searching is much faster and easier. Add to this the fact that PDFs don't cost much to replicate and I would buy a lot more books.

    #37Posted by Jeff Chastain | Jan 26, 2007, 03:00 PM
  • Mike Henke

    I like the idea of a series. My suggestion would be like the Pragmatic Starter Kit Series.

  • Alan Dix

    Ben, smaller, more mobile books and PDF's. For sure.

    #39Posted by Alan Dix | Jan 26, 2007, 03:14 PM
  • Doug B

    I also am one who would not dismiss three books in place of the two current ones. The way I would work it is to have a book for the novice user to learn the things needed to get started with Coldfusion. The next book would be for the daily (Intermediate) coldfusion user which would include not only the reference but also the nitty gritty of lists, cfc's, functions etc..etc..The third book would be the advanced book designed for those who have a thorough understanding of Coldfusion and would like to advance their skill set into other areas IE: Flex integration, XML, WDDX etc. I know the goal is to sell books, and therefore believe that only a limited number of "beginner" and advanced books would need to be published, with the brunt of the publishing done in the intermediate (Daily) user book. Anyways, I hope this helps in the decision making process. Good luck Ben!!


    Doug B.

    #40Posted by Doug B | Jan 26, 2007, 03:14 PM
  • Tony K

    Multiple volumes is the way to go. And the reference should be its own volume. You did that around CF5 and I love that book. And don't be limited by 3, go for 4 or 5. People will buy what they need. And it is easier for me to buy three $20 books than one $60 book.

    #41Posted by Tony K | Jan 26, 2007, 03:22 PM
  • Patrick McElhaney

    CD or paper: why can't we have both?

    I think you should sell CFWACK, the advanced book(s), and the reference as separate volumes.

    You should put the reference on the CD that comes with the other books.

    You should put some or all of the advanced content on the CD that comes with CFWACK.

    You might put part or all of CFWACK on the CD with the advanced books.


    #42Posted by Patrick McElhaney | Jan 26, 2007, 03:24 PM
  • Doug B.


    I am kinda recending my previos post. I like the idea of 4 books that Ben mentioned!! I think that would be the best and only way to go. Split off the reference material into it's own book and then do the beginner/intermediate/advanced.

    Doug B.

    #43Posted by Doug B. | Jan 26, 2007, 03:27 PM
  • Sam Mitchell

    I like the idea of 4 volumes (beginner, intermediated, advanced, and reference). I'd gladly pay for the box set. IMHO the benefits of smaller more specialized books far outweighs that of their counterparts.

    #44Posted by Sam Mitchell | Jan 26, 2007, 03:43 PM
  • Sid Wing


    I can say that WACK is a staple in my library and I always make my new programmers purchase a copy as well... 4 volumes is not a problem. Matter of fact, that would be great because then the company can purchase as programmers progress,

    #45Posted by Sid Wing | Jan 26, 2007, 03:56 PM
  • Philippe Maitre

    I would love 4 separate volumes, as outlined earlier by others, available individually or as a discounted box set.

    I personally hate having to tote around huge 1,000+ page books, so having the CFWACK broken out into smaller separate volumes would be well worth the extra money. (I also like the idea of having all of the content in hard-copy format.)

    #46Posted by Philippe Maitre | Jan 26, 2007, 03:58 PM
  • DK

    I'd like to see the reference section pushed into its own book then the rest divided up as it makes sense. The regular and advanced setup seems to work well so far. That would bring it to 3 volumes.

    Once I've read the book, myself, I typically just crack open the reference unless I'm specifically searching for an example of something.... even then I would probably look online first. This way the reference manual would be readily accessible and not so big to lug around.

    #47Posted by DK | Jan 26, 2007, 04:22 PM
  • Rick

    I like the idea of 4 books too, sold separately and bundled together (I'd buy the bundle for sure). I'm less concerned about the price than I am about getting everything in printed form in a book that is manageable in size.

    I think having the language reference separate is a good idea no what way you go. I tend not to use it in the books currently because it's too awkward to get at but a smaller book would be excellent.

    I hate PDF only chapters. I know there is good stuff in the last books that I never looked at because it was on a CD.

    I also like the idea of a beginner only book. I'm constantly trying to convince students that CF is a good alternative to PHP for them and having a smaller (ie. less scary) book to get started with would be a major boon.

    #48Posted by Rick | Jan 26, 2007, 04:26 PM
  • Bill Gordon

    I vote for 3 volumes. The books are great. I would buy them at almost any cost.

  • Jeff Epstein


    First, thank you for soliciting our input!

    I am strongly in the three-volume camp, but also for splitting up the reference material accordingly...CFML is now far too big to digest in a single gulp. No one book can serve both newbies and advanced developers. In the real world, you have different CF coders at different levels...nobody I know walks out of training and starts cranking CFCs. Have a "basic" edition WITH a reference section for all the basic CFML (I/O, formatting, list, loops, etc.) Advanced or Power CFML (CFCs, UDF, XML, objects, all else) with that refernce material, and a CF8 only edition with all the Scorpio stuff. (You could also have a fourth volume: all the reference material in one place.)

    Make them different colors, different levels, and - although you did not ask for this part - it is time to split up the Certification as well. Do the whole thing like we do in ham radio: Technician class, General class, and Extra class. Give out dog yummies for advancing from level to level.

    <cfset cents = "02">


    #50Posted by Jeff Epstein | Jan 26, 2007, 04:56 PM
  • Raymond Camden

    Do I get to vote? :) I'm in the "multi-volume" camp. 3 or 4.

  • Ian Skinner

    Do I get to vote? :) I'm in the "multi-volume" camp. 3 or 4.
    # Posted By Raymond Camden | 1/26/07 5:08 PM

    But, do we suspect Ray has an ulterior motive. He just wants more covers he can see his name on!

  • doug

    I really liked the CFWACK format, but what I have found to be more of use is my nice large ColdFusion reference wall chart. Possibly you could remove the reference section but provide a wall chart insert along with Livedocs in-text references.
    There are more IDEs to develop ColdFusion than just DreamWeaver, Eclipse/CFEclipse for instance. Possibly these sections related to IDE-centric development could be compiled into a separate draft.
    The getting started materials are pretty much duplicated in the CF Getting Started Experience provided in the CF Admin which I would think that anyone who purchases the book will have CF installed. However, in lieu of possibly removing the CF Getting Started Material I think including Installation and setup content would be important. I would also like to see more information on server tuning and maintenance.
    I found it difficult to read and work through the book in print form and much easier to work with the .pdf chapters in a window next to Eclipse. This also allowed me to copy/paste sections of code that I had already worked through as I progressed through the example applications. I would favor an E-book as an alternative to purchasing the print version.

    #53Posted by doug | Jan 26, 2007, 05:46 PM
  • Steve Powell

    I like the 4 volume idea, beginner, intermediate and advnaced, split the lang ref off as a separate book. Cost is a no brainer given how useful they are.

    #54Posted by Steve Powell | Jan 26, 2007, 06:28 PM
  • Scott P

    I voter for more volumes, moving the reference to its own book. Like the old Perl Resource Kit from O'Reilly.

    And I don't know if you can do it, but a chapter on CFEclipse would be great in one of those books.

    #55Posted by Scott P | Jan 26, 2007, 07:26 PM
  • James Holmes

    4 volumes. The material is all essential, so this has to be the way to go. E.g.: the developer I sit next to wanted a run down of relational databases and was going for my Oracle book - I took it off him and pointed out the into sections in CFWACK. Someone else asked about XML and Xpath - I gave them the Advanced book. Same for regular expressions - I dive into the advanced book every time I have to write one.

  • Steve Walker

    Not to sound redundant, but I too want more volumes. Reference should be a separate volume. A couple of caveats - more information on advanced topics with real-world examples, Flex integration, plus all the new cool Scorpio features. Also, an complete electronic version so that when I am flying across country and coding on the plane, I have access to all my resources.

  • Alex Aguilar

    "I like the idea of 4 volumes (beginner, intermediate, advanced, and reference). I'd gladly pay for the box set. IMHO the benefits of smaller more specialized books far outweighs that of their counterparts."

    I agree with smaller more portable books.

  • Patrick McElhaney

    Well it sounds like 4 volumes is winning. I think the beginner version is critical and the stand alone reference is a no-brainer. But why intermediate and advanced? Does that mean I have to look at two or three books to understand a topic thoroughly? What happens when the content outgrows two volumes? Do you make a "somewhat advanced" book?

    Instead, I think I would prefer to a single CFADV "book" split into multiple volumes. Vol. 1 would cover one set of topics and Vol. 2 would cover another set of topics.

    #59Posted by Patrick McElhaney | Jan 26, 2007, 09:37 PM
  • Joe Meboe

    Please, Ben, let content and quality trump all other issues. Issue the books as a three or four volume set, and let them remain the standard which has helped so many of us. While I appreciate the desire to keep costs low, that's focusing on the wrong value. Focus on the full value that these wonderful books bring to us ColdFusion developers and let us worry about the costs. For many of us, our companies pick up the costs and for the rest of us, the value justifies the cost.

    Thanks for *all* the ways in which you support us.

    Joe Meboe

    #60Posted by Joe Meboe | Jan 26, 2007, 11:07 PM
  • Jeff Borisch

    I like the 3 volume + Language reference idea. Like others have said, these are about the only current CF works 'round these days, so the Advanced volume has license to be total wack-o advanced. I'm thinking more: how to hook into Java, Admin-api, and what you need to do to secure CF in production.

    I favor ebooks and I like .chm files in particular. I use them on the Mac no problem.

    #61Posted by Jeff Borisch | Jan 26, 2007, 11:36 PM
  • Jeff Borisch

    I like the 3 volume + Language reference idea. Like others have said, these are about the only current CF works 'round these days, so the Advanced volume has license to be total wack-o advanced. I'm thinking more: how to hook into Java, Admin-api, and what you need to do to secure CF in production.

    I favor ebooks and I like .chm files in particular. I use them on the Mac no problem.

    #62Posted by Jeff Borisch | Jan 26, 2007, 11:36 PM
  • Jeff Borisch

    I like the 3 volume + Language reference idea. Like others have said, these are about the only current CF works 'round these days, so the Advanced volume has license to be total wack-o advanced. I'm thinking more: how to hook into Java, Admin-api, and what you need to do to secure CF in production.

    I favor ebooks and I like .chm files in particular. I use them on the Mac no problem.

    #63Posted by Jeff Borisch | Jan 26, 2007, 11:37 PM
  • Jeff Borisch

    I like the 3 volume + Language reference idea. Like others have said, these are about the only current CF works 'round these days, so the Advanced volume has license to be total wack-o advanced. I'm thinking more: how to hook into Java, Admin-api, and what you need to do to secure CF in production.

    I favor ebooks and I like .chm files in particular. I use them on the Mac no problem.

    #64Posted by Jeff Borisch | Jan 26, 2007, 11:38 PM
  • Jeff Borisch

    I like the 3 volume + Language reference idea. Like others have said, these are about the only current CF works 'round these days, so the Advanced volume has license to be total wack-o advanced. I'm thinking more: how to hook into Java, Admin-api, and what you need to do to secure CF in production.

    I favor ebooks and I like .chm files in particular. I use them on the Mac no problem.

    #65Posted by Jeff Borisch | Jan 26, 2007, 11:38 PM
  • Jeff Borisch

    I like the 3 volume + Language reference idea. Like others have said, these are about the only current CF works 'round these days, so the Advanced volume has license to be total wack-o advanced. I'm thinking more: how to hook into Java, Admin-api, and what you need to do to secure CF in production.

    I favor ebooks and I like .chm files in particular. I use them on the Mac no problem.

    #66Posted by Jeff Borisch | Jan 26, 2007, 11:38 PM
  • Jeff Borisch

    I like the 3 volume + Language reference idea. Like others have said, these are about the only current CF works 'round these days, so the Advanced volume has license to be total wack-o advanced. I'm thinking more: how to hook into Java, Admin-api, and what you need to do to secure CF in production.

    I favor ebooks and I like .chm files in particular. I use them on the Mac no problem.

    #67Posted by Jeff Borisch | Jan 26, 2007, 11:39 PM
  • Jeff Houser

    To Dan Sorensen,
    Try cfquickdocs. It loads quicker than livedocs most of the time.

    To Brian Rinaldi,

    There were a ton of CF books published in the CF5 to CFMX era. The market was saturated and most of the books did not sell. I'm sure that many of the authors thank you for their support. But the support was not wide-spread enough, and publishers have no interest in updating those books. As an author of 3 of them, I've tried.

    Unless Adobe can promise a huge upswing in CF Developers (which seems unlikely), I wouldn't expect another massive rush of CF books.

    To Ben's Dilemma,

    I never use a printed reference anymore. I'd drop those 400 or so pages. The idea of a 3 volume set is intriguing, but I doubt it'd be financially viable from the publisher's standpoint.

    ( Hey need another co-author / contributor? Let me know! ).

  • Giancarlo Gomez

    Hello Ben,

    I have printed material dating back to CF 4.5 and I really loved the CFWACK and CFADV, that I purchased both for CFMX6 and CFMX7, as well as gave away a pair at my local CFUG. Anyways, these books like many other commentors here, gave me the career I have now and I thank you for the work you and the rest of the authors put into them. But now for the future ... I WOULD LOVE A SERIES OF BOOKS!!! Who cares about the $$$. If we know this language and it is what we do, I am sure we can afford it. It would be nice to have books that are easier to carry and easier to find what you are interested in (whether it be by level and/or subject). Knowing me I would still by all of them to have. Another option would be to sell them as PDFs as well at a lower cost. Which ever way you end up doing, I am sure they will be great.

  • Aaron Neff

    I'd prefer 3-4 books over pdf-only chapters.

  • Wim

    Ben, I've read your books on several beaches in Europe, and I can tell you it's really a pain in the *ss to do so. They are just TOO thick. I guess I have the same reaction as about 90% of all people here: split the books! The price is no issue. I've ended up printing the electronic chapters and that costs money too.

    #71Posted by Wim | Jan 27, 2007, 04:56 AM
  • Brian

    Ben, people who program in cold fusion make good money. The price won't matter...don't feel guilty.

    #72Posted by Brian | Jan 27, 2007, 09:22 AM
  • Alexei

    Divide and conquer. 1 Big basic book, 1 Big Advanced book, 1 Big Reference with examples Book, 1 new in cf8 book. The only problem relies on teaching the basics of the new scorpio stuff. Experienced CF programmes don't buy the basic books, but since new things will be added, how about a 4th volume only with new stuff from the ground up?

    Volume 1 - Basic of the basic
    Volume 2 - Advanced
    Volume 3 - Performance, Tweaking, clustering, etc.
    Volume 4 - Complete Reference with small examples
    Volume 5 - New in CF8 from the scratch.

    If someone is new at CF s/he won't need vol 3 and 5. I'd buy 2,3,4,5 for instance.
    I don't like PDFs like you, i wan them printed. Books aren't expensive themselves, and developers are used to buy lots of them. I share some books with my co-workers, so the most books the better.

    #73Posted by Alexei | Jan 27, 2007, 09:55 AM
  • Rachel Maxim

    Oh, the WACK holds a warm place in my heart too! I've been reading it since CF5. When Adam told me about the dilemma (before I got around to reading this post) my first response was "break it into multiple volumes, like Oracle and Microsoft do".
    To be honest I really hate the chapters that are only on CD. Sure, it's great to have the books on PDF, but only if they are already in the book. I would advocate a 4-5 volume set, and would be happy to pay for it. Books may be pricey, but considering I've basically built a career out of a few $50 books and almost no college training on the subject, it's well worth it. I also think the multi-volume set enables developers to only purchase the books that apply to them.

    I think Alexei has broken it down pretty well - my slight twist would be:

    Introduction to the language and programming concepts
    Intermediate/Advanced development
    Administration, performance tuning and and clustering
    Language/function reference
    What's new in CF8 (perhaps some overlap with the prior volumes, but assuming intermediate knowledge of CF 6/7)

    #74Posted by Rachel Maxim | Jan 27, 2007, 11:31 AM
  • David Graham

    Rather than taking a skill level approach (Intro, Basic, Advanced) why not separate the books by topic? You'd probably still need an intro book, but then how about books focused on databases and SQL, frameworks, CFCs, server tuning, security, a reference book, New In CF8 etc.

    I also absolutely love Steve's idea of complete electronic versions. We have two offices and some on site work - I love your books, but hate lugging them around.

  • Alexander Tsoukias

    Ben... you do not need to feel guilty, as the book price should have been twice or triple from the beggining. We should thank you for holding in so many years on that pricing.

    So setting price aside, you should go to multiple volumes, LiveDocs is cool, but I want to hear Ben explaining it (and I'm sure all you readers will agree).

    So better go to multiple books and explain it as you properly do and forget the electronic stuff etc...

    All the best and thanks again and again for opening my eyes in the cfwwworld!!

    #76Posted by Alexander Tsoukias | Jan 27, 2007, 04:06 PM
  • Jeff Borisch

    Everyone. Sorry about the half dozen identical messages I posted. It seemed like I kept failing the captcha and I repeatedly tried to get past it; trying all the possible combinations where the case of the letters was ambiguous.

    I'll only try this message once. No Matter What :)

    #77Posted by Jeff Borisch | Jan 27, 2007, 04:43 PM
  • Andrew


    First let me thank you for the CFWACK and CFADV. Without a doubt these have set the standard for web development books and all other books are compared to these.

    I like a series of books focusing on specific content. I am a huge fan of Flash Forms (I know that there are mixed feelings from the Adobe - Macromedia team on the extensive use by some of us) so I would love to have a book on exploiting the many capabilities of this technology. In addition, to Flash Forms I am a huge fan of CFCHART and want to learn more about CFR's but have not found a reference that goes into much detail on the subject.

    Your concern about cost is admirable, but for people who are really serious about developing they will pay for books if they are helping them be heroes when they develop solutions (happy customers mean more support). One of my knock on Adobe technologies is the lack of books on how to use their products. In comparison to ASP.NET and JAVA, there is really a limited number of books out there for ColdFusion.

    A series is what I'd like to see and would pay for without hesitation.

    #78Posted by Andrew | Jan 27, 2007, 10:17 PM
  • Kevin Roche


    I really think there is a need for a printed reference. I guess being an oldie I like sometimes to have the book to hand when I am coding especially somthing I don't use every day. I also think that its best to have smaller books. I often recommend Sue Hove's book to new CF users. Sometimes beginners get confused by having so much in one volume. So go for 3 volumes I say. Even 4 might be better.

    The only rider I would suggest is that it would be great to have an idex to all the books in one place so I can find something which is a bit obscure when I can't remembe where I saw it. How about a google search of the book?

  • Toby MacLeod


    I use the books everyday. I started CF a year ago with no programming skills whatsoever and now I'm starting to build CF Apps fulltime and I couldn't have done it without the books. From the perspective of a person who started at the beginning and has worked there way to a medium skill set and who is working towards an advanced skill level I suggest the following:

    1. I use the tag and function references the most. I think it would be great to have them in a separate book.

    2. I wouldn't get rid of the introductory chapters as they are very valuable for someone starting from scratch. (While I don't like chapters exclusively offered electronically, if any of them had to be I would suggest the intro chapters)

    3. I personally don't care if the content comes in 2, 3, or 4 books. The cost isn't an issue if you are serious about learning CF. I think the content organization and usability should be more of a priority than cost.

  • Joseph DAngelo

    Ben --

    Just to echo what everyone else here has said, I think that more volumes is definitely not a bad thing. Its much easier to hand a 200-page book to a new developer to learn the basics of CF than a 800-page reference manual that is thicker than most desktop dictionaries.

    I learned a lot of new things in this edition of the advanced book, stuff I'd ever find in the online documentation, like utilizing the Apache POI API for creating and controlling MS Excel spreadsheets. I'd hate to think that I would be missing out on stuff like that because of the physical limitations of a book.

    About publishing in electronic format... its great for me here at home, but the facility I work in won't allow us to bring in external media and I'd hate to have to print out 800 pages of reference to bring into work.

    Thanks for all you do...

    #81Posted by Joseph DAngelo | Jan 28, 2007, 12:55 PM
  • Edward T.


    These books have been invaluable to me from my start back in 4.0 days all the way up to the present day. They are not only useful to me personally, but form the backbone of my CF training program for new hires. Even the MS in Comp Sci candidates that I get find them invaluable for understanding the practical issues in web development. Heck, I've even handed them to a .NET developer switching over to CF and they just -put him at ease- about CF.

    I'm going to echo my thanks and recommendation for a 4-vol. boxed set: beginner, intermediate, advanced, and language reference, and I can guarantee you at least two sales :-)


    #82Posted by Edward T. | Jan 28, 2007, 02:32 PM
  • J Murphy


    Divide it into as many volumes as you need. I use your books quite often and they are worth the price. Usability is the key here. Electronic versions are not convenient and using the web isn't either. There have been times I've been in the car with your book and a laptop figuring out a problem (as a passenger of course). The books always pay for themselves easily.

    #83Posted by J Murphy | Jan 28, 2007, 02:57 PM
  • Michael

    I think 3 or 4 books is fine. Price is whatever you have to pay just like any other support/reference/manual for anything else. It is a tool of the trade. The other thing I would like to see is a couple of complete application produced as part of the book and not just parts of different applications inserted as examples. Also having to carry the books around can be a pain especially since all the changes at airports, so if you also had a cd that contained all of the information as part of the book as well would be good. For those that just want it electronically they should be able to purchase it on-line.

    #84Posted by Michael | Jan 29, 2007, 01:47 AM
  • charlie arehart

    Ben, I have to admit I haven't got time right now to read the 84 comments that precede me, but I did search to see if any referenced "documentation" and only 2 did, and not as I would, so let me add a couple of ideas.

    As some may guess, they're both a little "outside the box", but desperate times call for desperate measures. The first involves giving more credence to the docs, and the other is a proposal for a radically different kind of update for the WACKs.

    It sounds like what's needed is a "getting started guide" to hold the portion devoted to beginners, and then a "reference manual" for the reference. The rest, one could argue, could go into separate "Developers Guide " and "Administrators Guide".

    But, hey, then you'd just be replicating the documentation. Funny that. Each one of the above guides already exists in the documentation. Now, before anyone think I'm bashing Ben for writing the books, please don't. He knows that I am a co-author of the ColdFusion MX Bible [still on store shelves and often listed as the 2nd book folks recommend :-) ].

    Still, I have long wondered why people even buy books when they have the CF documentation, available in both print and online, and they too approach the 2,000 page mark. I believe the doc set can be purchased for $50, which is amazing. And yet people don't seem to bother.

    Now, I'm really not saying this to discourage people buying Ben's (or my) book. I'm really just writing in response to this stark reality Ben has put forth. (Indeed, so there's no confusion, I'll point out that I've also offered myself to Ben for the future books as the publisher of our Bible has not expressed interest in updating it. It's a tough market for CF books out there.)

    I'd argue that the best solution would be to get the Adobe CF docs into bookstore instead. Heck, rebrand them as co-authored (or perhaps edited) by Ben so that they come up in searches people may do for "the Forta books".

    Whether that idea holds any water or not (and really, that could be done in addition to any other ideas), I have some other thoughts, as naturally I've been thinking about this conundrum (of what best books to offer).


    Assuming Ben and his co-authors choose to press on, here's something I'd propose: only write the new books as updates over the previous ones. In other words, write whatever would be new, whether it's a new chapter or a new way to do something in an old chapter, and reference back to the sections in the old book that this updates.

    This has multiple benefits. First, those who already have the old books need only by the new ones. And I'm sure many who've bought the new ones before have lamented that they had to search around to find out "what's new" (regardless of any preface explaining new chapters, there may have been minor but functional changes in other chapters that weren't mentioned).

    Perhaps as important, this would also help those who see only new code be able to better appreciate why folks may use "older techniques". It's understandable that a new book would drop an "old way", but that doesn't mean people won't still come across it in the wild. If they had to go back to the "last complete WACK" to see how that "old way" was described, it would help them know both the old and newer ways.

    Again, I know these may seem a little out of left field. But Ben's used to that from me by now after 10 years of our working together on some things. I'd love to hear what others think, though I realize that perhaps others will comment (as I did) without having the time to read through all the preceding comments.

  • Aaron Wolfe

    I say go with 3 Volumes.

    #86Posted by Aaron Wolfe | Jan 29, 2007, 09:48 AM
  • Joe Kelly

    I say go with 3 volumes. The value of the information outweighs the additional cost, IMO. I also like the CFML Reference Handbook - handy! If you feel bad about the additional costs, throw in some extras, like the CFML Language poster/shower curtain.

    #87Posted by Joe Kelly | Jan 29, 2007, 10:21 AM
  • andy leontovich

    Hi Ben. Why not sell the books as chapters. And include in the set a "business solutions" book or two. I find that I don't need 70+% of the books and would rather not pay for the chapters I don't use. If I have a project that requires something different-then I'll buy the book that gives me what I need.

    Thanks for all of your hard work. I've been using your materials for years.

    #88Posted by andy leontovich | Jan 29, 2007, 11:32 AM
  • Will  Tomlinson

    You have no choice but to create 4 volumes ben. It is what the gods command.

    We're happy to pay the money for one or all of your cherished works.


  • Clint

    I think your making a mountain out of a mole hill. Just split up everything into 2 or 3 completely different books. One book is your reference book, one is for beginner-intermediate, and another for advanced. Or any other way you want to split it up. As long as they are completely seperate from each other, but all about Coldfusion. Maybe make a 4th book about extending Coldfusion, stuff that coldfusion uses or can be used by. Such as Flex/Coldfusion integration (not about Flex but the CF side of the equation), and same with other technologies. How to use CF with any DB, or other languages like PHP through other services like HTTP. etc...

    #90Posted by Clint | Jan 29, 2007, 07:47 PM
  • Ben Forta

    No Ray, you don't get a vote. ;-)

    Charlie, good feedback, much appreciated. And bummer that the Bible book won't be updated, but it's my good luck that you are now available :-)

    Jeff (and others) re the lack of ColdFusion books, that's a very painful subject, and one I have tried to fight to no avail. The bottom line is that the publishers screwed up. Back in CF3 and CF4 days there was 1 and then 2 books (the second being the Sybex book, which, while I liked, was unfortunatley written for the same users as mine own books). In the CF5 era there were a couple of new additions, including Rob's excellent O'Reilly title (which was written for a very different audiance). And all of the books did very well (it was the height of the .com era, too, which helped, so lots of customers and readers, and a handful of titles). Then came CFMX, and every publisher under the sun jumped on to the CF bandwagon (New Riders, as an example, had never published a CF book previously and foolishly released at least 6 for CFMX!). That flood of books, coupled with a general decline in software sales post .com, means that none of the books then did well (including mine). So, all (but one) of the publishers backpeddled and decided to publish no more CF books. We went from too many to too few in one release, which is really silly. If there were a few more they would do well (I have the numbers to back that up). I've tried to push O'Reilly to update Rob's book, even though it competes somewhat, but to no avail. It's feast or famine it seems, and with the publishing industry in the dumps in general (lots of publishers have gone out of business, all publishers are cutting back on title counts, and are trying to only bet on what they see as the sure thing, something overly hyped or new and up-and-coming), CF is getting the raw end of the deal. Which hurts CF, I agree.

    But, back to the issue at hand. Thanks of all of this feedback, and if you have anything to add please do so. I'll post the plans as soon as we've figured them out.

    --- Ben

    #91Posted by Ben Forta | Jan 29, 2007, 09:10 PM
  • Brian Meloche

    I'll throw out the idea of a FIVE... that's right FIVE... book reference.

    Sam Mitchell, and others, said it earlier in this thread:


    The FIFTH book... or maybe a separate series of books... would put it ALL together. It could have samples (a second stab at the Reality: series idea), ways to solve intermediate to complex problems (cookbook), but also teach things like good fundamental CF application architecture and design. It could possibly be a series of books, not just a single fifth book. I've always been a guy more interested in engineering, rather than just pure theory... ways to make things WORK. That's what I am getting at. Teach people how to become good CF developers, not just the syntax.

  • Tjarko Rikkerink

    One of the reasons I stopped buying the books after version 6 was the fact that 3/4 of the book is exactly the same as the previous version. Now if a new developer comes in the company I let him start with the version 6 book.. and after that show him/her just tutorials on the new stuff in de version 7 of ColdFusion. I plan to do the same for version 8, because i'm only interested in the NEW stuff.. not the old... how do I create a variable etc etc..

    For me an "What's New, and how to use it, beginner/advanced" version would be the trigger to buy the book again.

  • Adam Reynolds

    Hi Ben,
    I kinda gave up on your books and bought the O'Reilly CF MX book as I was after reference book.

    I do think you need a book on how to programme CF (beginner/intermediate) but I've been developing with CF now for 8 years and your books don't do it for me. However I will quite happily hold my hand up and say that I usually google for answers on specific topics. I don't think I've opened a CF book in over a year now.

    I would suggest though that you need a reference book, possibly in 2 volumes, and a beginners guide to CF, cos it ain't as simple as it used to be and there are specific thought processes a developer needs to go through if developing a site. Things like 'securing your application', 'Frameworks'.

    On a completely related note, I'd love to see a book on Flex/CF integration covering/development strategies. It's something I'm getting to grips with, but it isn't fun at the moment.

    #94Posted by Adam Reynolds | Jan 30, 2007, 06:01 AM
  • Adam Reynolds

    Just thought I'd add that if you did release a reference book, then I would buy as it is always useful to have.

    Please note that is one of my homepages in Firefox.


    #95Posted by Adam Reynolds | Jan 30, 2007, 06:07 AM
  • Sam Farmer

    Charlie makes a very good point about the existing documentation and books that are kinda published by Adobe. I say kinda because you can buy them but they are sold in a way that makes them sounds very dry and I have never seen them in stores. A shame because, for the most part, they are excellent books and on par with CFWACK.

    #96Posted by Sam Farmer | Jan 30, 2007, 08:57 AM
  • Clint

    A large consensus seems to favor Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Refence, and possible Cookbook (Solutions, examples, architecture, integration..).

    During a developers "lifecycle" he is in one of 5 stages:

    Discovery - Gets most of his information free from the web, tries a few things.
    Beginner - Looks for a starter book or reference, just the very basics, begins building simple apps, no DB's or integration.
    Intermediate - A narrow and small group, most go from beginner to advanced. Larger apps requiring more planning with DB and webservices etc..
    Advanced - Needs information you usually have to pay for to find, stuff only found in advanced classrooms. Enterprise apps with a high degree of Object Orientation. How to manage CF server and such.

    Maybe you could cover each one every year and you'll always have an audiance. I would buy an advanced book but would be discouraged if half of it had stuff I already knew and use everyday. Leave that stuff for the beginners. (1. Simple programming, 2. DBs and integration, 3. OO and server management, 4. Reference and/or cookbook.)

    #97Posted by Clint | Jan 30, 2007, 09:29 AM
  • Rick Smith


    I've seen people mention the O'Reilly book for reference, but it's so dated now... let alone when Scorpio is released. I do rely on a significant amount of online resources, but the print resource is particularly handy when you work for the federal government and access to online resources is limited.

    I very much support the idea of the three volumes and having a digital e-book for each. I particularly like the idea of breaking the volumes up into beginner, intermediate and advanced volumes. Of course I will purchase all of the new volumes.

    The purchase cost is irrelevant when you consider the cost of frustration developing without it.

  • James, F.E.

    One more vote for at least a separate reference book.

    After that, the proposed three volumes - beginner, core, and advanced - sounds good. Other books/topics as the need arises (maybe a CF Cookbook?) or a book explaining more CF OOP, or something covering the popular frameworks (Fusebox, Mach-II, Model-Glue, etc.)

    #99Posted by James, F.E. | Jan 30, 2007, 11:04 AM
  • Adam Reynolds

    I have a real problem with beginner/advanced. You have people that don't know how to use CF and then you have people who are experienced with CF and need a reference/cookbook.

    That's it.

    The definition of beginner should encompass best practices, that sort of thing.

    What I would say is that you have developers and server administrators and there is a black art to CF when loadbalancing etc and high availability.

    I honestly think you need a book "Developing Coldfusion: Best Practices". CF can be easy which means you do get some idiotic code that somebody knocked together and causes the perception of CF to be degraded.

    This should go into design approaches, sql injection attacks, frameworks (FB, MG, Mach). It should also discuss RIA integration design considerations.

    You then need a CF Reference/Cookbook.

    I'd love to see a Coldfusion Server Adminstrator book, looking at server hardening, loadbalancing, server analysis (which with CF8 is going to be very good) etc.

    All good fun, but everybody needs something different. :(

    #100Posted by Adam Reynolds | Jan 30, 2007, 11:28 AM
  • Chuck Williams


    Basic thoughts:

    I wouldn't worry so much about increasing the number of volumes. I certainly understand your concern for "making people pay more", but I also would agree with a previous comment that these are 'tools of the trade', and therefore, if you don't have the money - work up for it! Earn it, and be proud when you make that purchase that will no doubt enhance your mental existence. Oh, and I wouldn't numerically order the volumes for sure. I like Alexei's post and demarcations of subject matter, just hack off the volume #'s and it seems perfect. Make people understand what they're buying, rather than somehow prioritizing content. That would make me feel like I need to own the whole set, just to own it. Could be just me.

    I feel like I should say, your WACK for CFMX was my introduction to programming beyond JavaScript. 4 years later, I'm now working as a full-time ColdFusion developer for a very large international logistics & shipping company. Thank you, and keep up the good work!

    #101Posted by Chuck Williams | Jan 30, 2007, 01:07 PM
  • Jim Gibson

    I just finished going through the CF MX 7 WACK from cover to cover. My thoughts as I went through it:
    1. I wish it were broken up into at least two volumes for convenient carry. Making the reference sections an independent volume would seem like a good step.
    2. I wish the entire book was on the CD-ROM so that I could reference it on the laptop when the book is inconvenient to carry.

    I encourage the CD-only chapters for subjects that are specialized, so that you won't be tempted to leave out or treat superficially any important specialized material in the interest of controlling page count. In this book it would be nice if chapter 33 had much more on WAP apps.

    Note: I loved this book. I wish I had found it sooner. I did notice dozens of typos, incorrect wording, and other breakage. (Sorry, I have a gift, or curse, of seeing such things without trying.) Please contact me if you have been wishing for some additional help in reviewing the final draft of your next version.

    #102Posted by Jim Gibson | Jan 30, 2007, 03:06 PM
  • Ali


    I learned CF by reading your books. They have been an invaluable reference source for me throughout my career.

    I still have and held onto the Advanced CF 4.5 book, because of the language and tag reference.

    Even when I was a struggling student, I always shelled out for the CF Reference books. Now that I am an IT manager I always get company approval for getting whatever CF Manuals we need.

    So I strongly urge you to have a separate CF Language Reference with all the Tag and Function definitions. Even if I didn't get company approval for it, I would buy it.

    #103Posted by Ali | Jan 30, 2007, 04:14 PM
  • charlie arehart

    To all the people pleading for Ben to create a separate printed Language Reference, I realize you may not have read all the comments above to see my previous post, but I'll ask again just in case folks may read "the last few most recent" comments:

    Do you realize that you already have a CF Reference Manual (1108 pages, at that), for free in both PDF form (at and in print form if purchased from Adobe? That's in addition to the HTML version at as well as and installed in all the CF editors.

    I just have to wonder why Ben should be expected to create another CFML reference when such an extensive one already exists.

    If folks would argue that they wish it was improved, then perhaps instead the doc team could do whatever it is that you like about Ben's reference, so that everyone benefits (and Ben has one less book to have to produce). Just one man's opinion.

  • tb

    Ben, I'm sure you don't want to hear this but it's kind of like needing glasses as you grow older. Resistance is futile. The books got to be too much to lug around back at the MX edition. I gave in and bought a Safari subscription (kind of pricey though) and learned to live with it. At least I have search capabilities.
    PS. Sure would like to see you do the same thing for Flex that you did for CF!

    #105Posted by tb | Jan 31, 2007, 10:59 AM
  • Jamie Samland

    Cost doesn't matter to me. Ater 4 years of CF development, I reference the newest CFWACK all the time. More, smaller books would be better, as larger books seem to get damaged faster. I'd rather not have CD-only chapters unless the entire book is on CD (or DVD).

  • R

    No matter what you do. DON’T take any content out! I own all your books and must say, although there is some overlap, the more detail the better. I like the idea of three volumes.

    Keep writing brother!

    #107Posted by R | Feb 1, 2007, 11:48 PM
  • Jeff Hobbs

    I would like to see three books as well. Maybe the language reference could be the third book with examples. That way, if it's smaller, maybe the costs could be less for at least the language reference book.

  • Bob Flynn


    I realize I'm coming to the party a little late here, but today I had a conversation with someone in our university's IT Training division. They used to have an intensive CF class but have had to abandon it. They can no longer find any books that are in the Training from the Source model. They like to use them as the backbone of their longer classes. They do the same with an intensive ActionScript course they offer.

    I know that you should not be expected to pick up any other CF book projects, but based on some of the discussion above, clearly some of the beginning and even intermediate audience could be served by such books. This could change the equation for your books. Based on the amount of feedback you've received on this one post I think it's clear that there are clearly tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to get their hands on more CF books. It's been too long. Are the publishers listening?

    Thanks for the thrilling publications of yesteryear! I look forward to reading whatever Scorpio Man comes up with next!

    #109Posted by Bob Flynn | Feb 13, 2007, 08:26 PM
  • Token

    I like to know that if I'm buying a book, it has to have EVERYTHING in the one book.

    I am very happy to spend a bit extra to get ONE complete book, than less amounts on seperate books. So at the moment I have bought both of Ben Forta's books, the normal CFWCK7 and the Advanced edition. I DO NOT WANT TO BUY A 3RD BOOK.

    So my ideal solution would be to have all the really important material in ONE book, have another ADVANCED edition, and then have a website where the extra chapters can be downloaded. This will save you money on producing CD-ROMS. Just have a companian website where the extra stuff can be downloaded. I guess the reference section is good to have as PDFs, because they're just there for reference.

    #110Posted by Token | Apr 21, 2007, 01:21 PM
  • Token

    I'm most people are running out of bookshelf space, so if all the CFWCK books could be availabe as e-books, then I would much prefer that.

    Its not practical to buy so many books and store them anywhere. Theres just no space anymore.

    #111Posted by Token | Apr 21, 2007, 01:24 PM
  • George

    This is one part of application development I need to get better at. Right from my new handle book I would like to quote something that sums everything I have been talking about quite nice.
    The mistake lies in assuming that any decision is cast in stone--and in not preparing for the contingencies that might arise. Instead of carving decisions in stone, think of them more as being written in the sand at the beach. A big wave can come along and wipe them out at any time.
    Mazda spark plug -
    So, take care of your books...

    #112Posted by George | Sep 27, 2007, 10:17 PM
  • Johnny

    There's no clear sense of the future for publishing, and many questions remain. Uppermost in the industry's mind is whether Google will prevail in its quest to make the world's backlist fully searchable, but the larger issue is whether the publishing industry's embracing of the digital world arrives too little, too late. Because when it comes to change, those in the midst of it are often the last to know, and the slowest to react.

    from: Johnny ( d' fireplace screens - )

    #113Posted by Johnny | Jan 27, 2008, 11:57 PM
  • Ashley

    For All,

    ColdFusion Open-Source Update - April14, 2008

    It seems lately the world of ColdFusion bloggers has become re-obsessed with the topic of ColdFusion's place in the industry with more rallies to the defense of the ColdFusion community and calls of "ColdFusion is not dead". Honestly this argument has played itself out so much over the years that it is tiresome and generally gets argued amongst people whose opinions are never going to change anyway. First you have the "ColdFusion Hater" who is generally dead certain of ColdFusion's impending demise despite a general lack of evidence or knowledge about the place of ColdFusion within Adobe and its current state of development (yes, they are hard at work on version 9). Then there is the "ColdFusion True Believer" who argues the exact opposite position though equally uninformed and who seems to believe statements like "ColdFusion rulez" is a convincing argument. Occasionally voices of reason jump into the debate, but since the point is not about reasonable discussion they are quickly drowned out by the flames.

    see more at

    brochure printing -

    #114Posted by Ashley | Apr 24, 2008, 07:07 AM
  • Bryan

    I do agree ColdFusion is getting better,

    ColdFusion is on 20th postion compare to last year which was 31 position.

    Open-Source really make difference, Check Ruby position.

    Why Ruby Hype....?

    #115Posted by Bryan | Apr 24, 2008, 07:08 AM