The Developer Edition of ColdFusion is free:
When I looked at distribution, I saw CF going for about $1000. What differentiates the free from the $1000 versions? (The link you posted was for a "Trial" version only).
The trial version and the "developer edition" are actually the same program. During the installation process, you select the option for the developer edition, which is free and has no time limit on its use. You only need to pay for a licence if you want to run your own server on the internet. It's aimed at hosting companies, and big companies that have their own dedicated servers.
However, before committing yourself to learning ColdFusion, you should do a bit more research into whether it's what you really want. ColdFusion is a powerful server-side technology, but as Paula says, it doesn't have a very large user base. Not all hosting companies offer ColdFusion hosting. If you're interested in developing database-driven websites, you might also want to consider the possibility of using PHP. It has a much larger user base, and is widely available on hosting companies.
Disclosure: I write books about PHP, so my viewpoint is not necessarily unbiased. ColdFusion is very good, and is relatively easy to learn (as is PHP). However, it's not easy to switch from one server-side technology to another, as I found out to my cost when I needed to switch from ASP to PHP when I realized that ASP was no longer being developed.
Thanks David ever so much for your answer here. I am beginning to lean toward whatever the mainstream app is for dynamic website development.
Janine Warner says that CF integrates better into DW than others. I suppose this is like Micorsoft apps working together albiet they seem to discourage other 3rd party apps from integrating as well as theirs do. Is this true for PHP? Well, OK, php.
Also, I asked this question on the php forum in more detail: I'm also very unsure of what else I'll need: servers, Apache, other things. Any advice?
Janine Warner says that CF integrates better into DW than others.
I don't think that's true. Two reasons:
- Adobe is developing ColdFusion Builder, an Eclipse-based program totally unrelated to Dreamweaver. It's currently available as a public beta. From what I've heard, it's aimed more at the serious ColdFusion programmer.
- The main book on ColdFusion, written by Adobe's Ben Forta and published by Adobe Press, is a massive 1,700-page three-volume affair. It devotes a total of 14 pages of working with ColdFusion in Dreamweaver.
I don't know what Janine's course is about, but I suspect there's a heavy concentration on what Dreamweaver calls server behaviors. These automatically generate code for basic database interaction. Dreamweaver has them for ASP, ColdFusion, and PHP. They're useful for rapid prototyping, but you should not rely on them to do all the coding for you. If you do, you'll be severely limited in what you can achieve. That's why Ben Forta's book concentrates on hand-coding ColdFusion. In my book, "The Essential Guide to Dreamweaver CS4 with CSS, Ajax, and PHP", I spend a lot of time working with the PHP server behaviors in Dreamweaver, but I also devote a lot of attention to explaining the code and showing how to customize it to suit a range of needs.
If you're going to use CF or PHP, you need to learn to understand the code. Otherwise, you'll never get very far.
As for what you need for PHP, see my article in the Adobe Developer Connection: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/dreamweaver/articles/setting_up_php.html.