Flex 4: Switching to Railo from ColdFusion
With the Xuland Flex-based social networking application I’ve been working on for the past eight months, I decided to switch things up on the back-end, most notably in the services layer where I’ve been using ColdFusion 9 for my data-access objects.
ColdFusion has been a perfect fit for Flex since I had used the software quite extensively for much of my programming career. However, as I prepare Xuland for go-live (August 13th – which also coincides with the Adobe MAX Awards deadline for entry date), I realized that without a license for the software I would be restricted to shared hosting services – a solution that would not work in the long-run, especially if Xuland were to suddenly gain popularity.
As I considered dedicated or “cloud” hosting, I would have to either buy an $8,000 ColdFusion license (umm, no) or switch to an alternative. BlueDragon piqued my interest, but it unfortunately does not yet support AMF. Without the ability to remote, my application would launch already dead in the water.
Another alternative, completely unknown to me before today, is Railo (pronounced “Rhylo” after a fictitious alien dog in Star Trek).
“Railo is a free, open-source alternative for ColdFusion application development.” It currently supports the AMF3 format (whereas in the last version it only supported AMF0) and comes shipped with its own application server and servlet engine (Caucho Resin). In fact, the Express versions can be downloaded, configured for Flex and launched within minutes. The best part is it’s completely FREE.
I’ve since switched from ColdFusion to Railo and with hardly any tweaking, Xuland was running against Railo executing the same CFC’s I had already written for ColdFusion 9. After starting the Railo service locally the first time, it automatically created the necessary Flex remoting-config and services-config XML files needed in the WEB-INF directory. Remoting worked perfectly, and I dare say it seems a bit faster (I have not run any benchmarks quite yet, however).
If you’re looking for a solution similar to this, definitely consider Railo as it works as well as ColdFusion without the sheer cost.