Built-in ColdFusion Functions

In the ever-evolving landscape of web development, ColdFusion has always been as a robust and efficient platform. One of its defining features is the extensive range of built-in functions that simplify complex tasks and streamline development processes. This article dives into the world of ColdFusion functions, unveiling their capabilities and highlighting three popular functions: <cfquery>, <cffile>, and <cfhttp>.

Whether you’re a seasoned developer or a curious beginner, understanding these functions will undoubtedly empower you to create dynamic and interactive web applications with ease.

Also Read: ColdFusion: It’s Not Dead! It’s Alive and Here to Stay!

6 Most Useful ColdFusion Functions

1. Query of Queries (QoQ)

The Query of Queries (QoQ) feature in ColdFusion allows developers to query the results of an existing database query or even a non-database query object. It provides a convenient way to manipulate and analyze cached query results.


FROM NameOfAnotherQuery
WHERE ColumnName = 'SomeValue'

To utilize Query of Queries, you use the tag with the dbtype=”query” attribute. Within the SQL statement, the FROM keyword specifies the name of the query being queried, instead of a database table. This powerful functionality enables you to perform complex operations on query results.

Top Benefits of Query of Queries (QoQ):

  • Convenient Table Recall: Easily retrieve and analyze data from an existing database query or non-database query object.
  • Manipulation of Cached Query Results Made Easy: QoQ allows seamless manipulation and analysis of cached query results, simplifying data processing.
  • Caching Database Results: The ability to cache query results enables improved performance and reduces unnecessary database interactions.
  • Join and Union Operations: QoQ supports joining and union operations, allowing you to combine and manipulate query results effectively.
  • Generating Subreport Data: With QoQ, you can generate subreport data by querying the results of another query, expanding reporting capabilities.
  • Scalability: Query of Queries is suitable for tables containing 5,000 to 50,000 rows and is limited only by the memory capacity of the ColdFusion host computer.

2. ColdFusion dateFormat

The dateFormat function in ColdFusion is used to format a date value using U.S. date formats. It is recommended to use dateTimeFormat when formatting both date and time, and isDateFormat for international date support.


dateFormat(date [, mask]) → returns string

When using the dateFormat function, the date parameter can be either a date object or a string representation of a date. If passing a date/time object as a string, it should be enclosed in quotation marks to prevent it from being interpreted as a numeric representation.

This function is particularly useful when formatting date and time values retrieved from database query results. To ensure proper understanding by application users, it is recommended to utilize dateFormat, along with LSDateFormat, timeFormat, and LSTimeFormat functions for formatting resultSet values.

Top Benefits:

  • Consistent Date Formatting: dateFormat ensures consistent and standardized date formatting, enhancing user comprehension of displayed dates.
  • Easy Date Manipulation: The function allows developers to easily manipulate and format date values according to specific requirements.
  • International Date Support: For international date support, developers can utilize the isDateFormat function to format dates in different locales.
  • Customizable Date Formats: By specifying the mask parameter, developers have the flexibility to customize the date format according to their specific needs.
  • Compatibility: The dateFormat function is compatible with various ColdFusion versions, ensuring its availability and reliability in different environments.

Also Read: ColdFusion vs Other Programming Languages

3. ColdFusion numberFormat

The numberFormat function in ColdFusion allows developers to create custom-formatted number values. It is primarily used for formatting numbers within the ColdFusion platform. For international number formatting, the LSNumberFormat function is recommended.


numberFormat(number [, mask]) → returns string

When utilizing the numberFormat function, the number parameter represents the numeric value that needs to be formatted. If no mask is specified, the function returns the value as an integer with a thousand separator. In case the parameter value is an empty string, the function returns 0.

This function follows the Java standard locale formatting rules, ensuring consistency across different platforms. The position of symbols in the mask determines their effect on the formatting. For example, the placement of a dollar sign in the format mask determines its position in the formatted number.

Top Benefits:

  • Custom Number Formatting: numberFormat enables developers to create custom number formats tailored to their specific requirements.
  • Consistent Locale Formatting: The function follows Java standard locale formatting rules, ensuring consistency across different platforms.
  • Flexible Symbol Placement: Developers have control over the placement of symbols in the format mask, allowing for precise formatting of the number value.
  • Thousands Separator: By default, the function includes a thousand separator in the formatted number, enhancing readability.
  • Compatibility: numberFormat is a widely used function in ColdFusion and is compatible with various versions of the platform.

4. ColdFusion String

In CFML, strings are variables used to store collections of letters and numbers, defined within single or double quotes (‘ or “). The underlying type for a string in CFML is the Java String, which is immutable. This means that a new string object is created whenever strings are concatenated. To optimize concatenations, Java data types like String Builders can be used.

  • String using Array Syntax:


myString.charAt(position) or myString[position]

This syntax allows accessing individual characters in a string by their position.

  • Character Extractions by Range:


mid(myString, start, length)

This syntax enables extracting a range of characters from a string based on the specified start, length values.

  • len:



The len() function is used to determine the length of a string, counting the number of characters present.

  • trim,lTrim, rTrim:


trim: a.trim()
lTrim: a.lTrim()
rTrim: a.rTrim()

These functions are used for trimming whitespace characters from a string. trim() removes whitespace from both ends, lTrim() removes whitespace from the left side, and rTrim() removes whitespace from the right side.

Note: CFML string-processing functions can handle characters including ASCII 0 (NUL) characters and continue counting subsequent characters in the string.

5. ColdFusion listAppend

The listAppend function in ColdFusion is used to concatenate a list or an element to an existing list and returns the resulting concatenated list.


listAppend(list, value [, delimiter, includeEmptyFields])

When using the listAppend function, ColdFusion inserts a delimiter character before the value is appended. If a delimiter is specified, ColdFusion uses that delimiter. If multiple delimiters are provided, ColdFusion defaults to the first delimiter in the string. If the delimiter parameter is omitted, ColdFusion defaults to using a comma as the delimiter.

It’s worth noting that when working with strings delimited by a conjunction like “, ” (comma-space), commonly found in HTTP header strings like the COOKIE header, it is recommended to specify both the comma and space as delimiters to ensure accurate processing, as ColdFusion Server does not skip white space.

Top Benefits:

  • List Concatenation: listAppend simplifies the process of concatenating a list or an element to an existing list, saving development time.
  • Flexible Delimiter Options: Developers can specify a custom delimiter or use the default comma delimiter, allowing for versatility in list construction.
  • Handling Multiple Delimiters: If multiple delimiters are provided, the function uses the first delimiter in the list for concatenation.
  • Include Empty Fields: The includeEmptyFields parameter controls whether or not empty fields are included in the resulting concatenated list.
  • Enhanced List Manipulation: listAppend expands the functionality of list operations, enabling dynamic list building and manipulation.

Also Read:  ColdFusion Frameworks

6. ColdFusion isDefined

The isDefined function in ColdFusion is used to evaluate a string value and determine whether the variable named in it exists. It serves as an alternative to the deprecated parameterExists function. The function returns True if the variable is found and False if it does not exist.


When using the isDefined function, a string expression containing the name of the variable is passed as the parameter. The function supports simple dotted notation, such as myVar, arguments.myArg, or myStruct.key. However, square bracket notation for referencing array elements or struct keys is not supported.

It is important to note that passing an array entry, such as myArray[3], to this function will result in an error. To check the existence of a specific entry in an array, the arrayIsDefined function should be used. Similarly, when working with structures, you can use the structKeyExists function to test whether a specific key exists.

Top Benefits:

  • Variable Existence Check: isDefined allows developers to determine whether a variable exists based on its name, providing a convenient way to handle conditional logic.
  • Alternative to Deprecated Function: As the parameterExists function is deprecated, isDefined serves as a reliable replacement for checking variable existence.
  • Versatile Use Cases: The function supports various variable notations, including simple dotted notation, enabling flexible checking of variables within different scopes.
  • Error Prevention: By evaluating variable existence before accessing it, developers can avoid errors caused by referencing non-existent variables.
  • Enhanced Structure Handling: While isDefined can be used to check structure keys, the structKeyExists function may provide more precise control in certain scenarios.

These functions represent just a fraction of the wide range of capabilities ColdFusion offers. By leveraging these functions, developers can optimize their coding process, improve data presentation, and enhance overall application performance.

About Built-in ColdFusion Functions

Built-in ColdFusion functions serve as powerful tools that streamline web development by simplifying complex data manipulation, query operations, and string handling. These functions enable developers to efficiently evaluate dynamic data, perform type conversions, mathematical operations, and access system information, ultimately enhancing productivity and empowering the creation of robust web applications.

Simplify complex data manipulation: ColdFusion functions enable developers to create and manipulate various data variables, including arrays, lists, and structures, with ease.

Streamline query operations: Built-in functions in ColdFusion facilitate the creation, manipulation, and analysis of queries, making database interactions more efficient.

Efficient string and date/time handling: ColdFusion functions provide capabilities for manipulating, formatting, and evaluating strings, as well as handling date and time values effectively.

Dynamic data evaluation: Developers can leverage ColdFusion functions to evaluate dynamic data values, enabling conditional logic and decision-making in real-time.

Type conversion and data formatting: These functions offer the ability to convert data between different formats, ensuring seamless integration and compatibility with various systems.

Mathematical operations made easy: ColdFusion functions encompass a range of mathematical operations, allowing developers to perform calculations and numerical manipulations effortlessly.

Access system information and resources: With built-in functions, developers can retrieve essential system information and resources, enabling better understanding and utilization of the underlying environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most commonly used functions? 

Some of the most commonly used functions in ColdFusion are “cfquery” for database interactions, “cfoutput” to display data, “cfset” to assign values to variables, and “cfinclude” to include other ColdFusion pages or components. These help in managing data and organizing your code efficiently. 

What are the differences between built-in and user-defined functions? 

Built-in functions come with the ColdFusion programming language and perform specific tasks. User-defined functions, on the other hand, are created by programmers to carry out a particular set of instructions not readily available in the built-in functions. These allow more flexibility but require more effort to create and maintain. 

How do I find a specific built-in function? 

To find a specific built-in function in ColdFusion, you can use the Adobe ColdFusion documentation. It lists all the built-in functions alphabetically and gives a brief description of what they do. You just need to know the name or part of the name of the function you’re looking for. 

What are the best practices for troubleshooting and debugging functions? 

The best practices for troubleshooting and debugging functions include: – Understanding the function’s purpose. – Using built-in debugging tools. – Checking for syntax errors. – Testing the function with different inputs. – Breaking down complex functions into smaller parts to find where the error might be. 

How can I optimize the performance of built-in functions? 

To optimize the performance of built-in functions in ColdFusion, avoid using them inside loops whenever possible. Instead, call the function once, store the result in a variable, and use this variable inside your loop. This method reduces unnecessary calls and increases efficiency. 


In conclusion, ColdFusion functions provide developers with powerful tools to efficiently handle data, perform operations, and manage variables. Understanding and utilizing these functions empowers developers to create robust, scalable, and user-friendly applications.

If you have any further queries or require assistance with ColdFusion or any other topic, feel free to reach out. Happy coding!