What is special in Coldfusion 9 except high pricing? What is for an entrepreneur in Coldfusion 9? Why would someone choose Coldfusion instead of Java,.NET or PHP?
The tldr version of my answer: don't be put off by the price tag on the box. Look for value over the duration of your project.
Adobe ColdFusion is a complete package and bundles third party components, some of which contribute to the licensing cost - eg performant database drivers.
There are other CFML engines emerging - Railo is wicked fast and free, OpenBD also has free versions.
Adobe has also introduced a free academic license.
You refer to .NET as an alternative - how much does a Visual Studio licence cost? One of the most popular IDEs for CF developers is free open source - the CFEclipse perspective for Eclipse.)
Regarding learning curve:
You can learn the basics very quickly, and get a really good return on investment. The CFWack is a great resource that will see you getting data out of your database and into web-based reports with very little effort.
As with all systems, the advanced stuff takes longer to learn, but ColdFusion prides itself on rapid application development - the ROI for a developer's time is great, and salary is always the most expensive component of a software project. The license cost is insignificant over the medium to long term.
I've used Adobe ColdFusion since version 5 - from my perspective it continues to get better. Version 8 was an amazing upgrade, and version 9 (which is in public beta) looks to be better yet. (You can purchase maintenance which typically includes the next major release for free.)
ColdFusion 9 made many things easy. Let's name a few...
- ORM (backed by Hibernate)
- Full-text search (backed by Apache Lucene)
- realtime messaging with Flex client (through Adobe LifeCycle Data Services or BlazeDS)
- chart engine (backed by WebChart 3D)
- ready-to-use AJAX components (backed by ExtJS 3)
- Adobe PDF generations / manipulations (backed by ... adobe proprietary library? not sure)
- CFSpreadsheet (Apache POI / OpenOffice API)
- CFReport (CF Report Builder, Adobe/Macromedia's take on Crystal Report...)
Although many of these libraries are open-source (e.g. Hibernate / BlaseDS), and you can integrate them for free in your ASP.NET or whatever, you don't have to dig thorugh their documentations to use them because Adobe has made them Very easy to use. Most of them only require a tag or two! (strength of CFML!)
For the price of CF, yes you're getting quite a lot of value. You've got to evaluate your needs and what CF provides, before just labeling it 'expensive'. :)
In the beginning, the power of ColdFusion was that it could communicate directly with databases, where other web development systems could not. (That's back in 1995.) Nowadays, it has lost this advantage but still has some powerful features and it has built a reliable user-base in the past.
Nowadays, I think it has become too big a beast to quickly learn and use in any environment. While it is easy to learn, the biggest problem tends to be its price. (There is, of course the free Developer version.) It suffers big from its competition with PHP, although PHP does have a few problems with maintaining a fixed syntax. PHP is too much in motion.
Also, ColdFusion is now written in Java, making it available on many different platforms but by doing so, it lost some of its value to MS Windows. While Java is still very fast, many Windows developers still feel more comfortable with applications written in C++. It has actually become less native for Windows, which probably caused them to lose some of their Windows users.
But the main reason to use ColdFusion would actually be the same reason why they lost some of their Windows users: It's platform-independent! So you can develop a site on Windows and easily port it to Linux. This isn't really possible with .NET application since Mono doesn't support .NET completely. And while PHP also offers platform-independence, it never gained a good reputation as a reliable system simply because the huge changes between the multiple major versions.
I echo the sentiments about it being cross platform, but a big part of the picture is the built in capabilities. You can create PDF's, talk with Microsoft Exchange, dop down and call Java, or drop down and call .NET. It has solid abilities to consume SOAP or REST webservices. Add to this in ColdFusion 9 that you can communicate with SharePoint and Office Documents. The end result is a tool that can talk to nearly every other system out there, and that functionality is built right into the standard product.
Add to that, while it can do a lot, the syntax is relative easy to learn, and most operations can be performed with a very little bit of code. ColdFusion does have a cost, but I make the argument that the value ColdFusion provides is worth more than the cost.
I used ColdFusion as far back as 4.5 back in 2000 and up to ColdFusion 6 (MX?). Back then the biggest reason for ColdFusion was it's simplicity and that within the language, you could create some impressive web applications in a much shorter time frame than ASP/JSP/PHP.
While I haven't used it in years, the newer features today make it seem more compelling than before and in comparison to free alternatives. It may not be for everyone, but if your looking for specific features that ColdFusion offers, it may be the better option. Most people will stick with PHP, ASP.NET or J2EE as they're mostly free and will probably work just as well. I've always looked at ColdFusion as the "rapid web app" of choice with lots of bells and whistles. If time is a factor for development, ColdFusion is probably the better choice.
This type of question has be asked and answered ad nauseam on stackoverflow.
Here are the Q/A this myself and a great deal of others have left lengthy answers for.
As to entrepreneurial value I think that depends on your business model and development team.
ColdFusion is a robust enterprise class Java application with loads of built-in features. Some of these features are basically wrappers around the extensive Java libraries and as such make utilizing those libraries concise and simple. Should you not like ColdFusion's implementation you can load any jar's or package'd wars you like, roll your own solution... its really all up to you.
Aside from the other great answers, I personally feel the beauty of ColdFusion is the ability for both beginner and Advanced developers to be productive with solid contributions on the same team.
The #1 cost in any software project is Developer time, not software licenses, hosting, or hardware.
In my experience CF has saved me 30-50% in project development time consistently for the past 10 years. I work with a variety of languages.
$1200 isn't very much if it saves 50% on your labour cost of a project. There are also Open source (Railo, etc) engines if you like CFML but can't afford it.
Here's what I tell anyone who's considering ColdFusion:
Do you know HTML? (Yes, good. | No? Then how will you write websites in the first place?)
Do you know SQL? (Yes, good. | No? Then how will you query a database in any language?)
If you can answer yes to both of those, then you are only a handful of tags away from being able to write CFML. Coldfusion code is VERY readable if you understand HTML and SQL. Get a datasource name attached to your database in the CF administrator and you are seconds from having a data driven website functional.
The overhead of learning the language is almost negligible. You need to know HTML and SQL before you can code in ANY other web programming languages, which along with cfquery, cfoutput, cfif/else are about all you really need to hit the ground running.