Having used the previous edition of this series (7MX), this edition turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. It looks like the publisher compromised on quality rather than on release date. Points to note before you buy this:
- Some of the chapters are to be downloaded as PDF's. These chapters are not just some appendixes or add-ons covering bonus topics. These are integral parts of the book. In fact, it would be hard to guess why one chapter made it to the book while another did not. Why, for example, put information on the basics and good practices of web development in the book, but leave information on using ColdFusion to consume web services to the downloadable PDF's?
It would make more sense to make the books a little thicker, or to create a volume 4. If cost consideration are at the heart of this decission, then why print a book in the first place? Unable to decide on making a book or a site, the publisher mixed the two up in an unfortunate way. Puzzeling stuff.
- The books generally feels sluggish. Certain parts are not as well written as others. Moreover, some writing is clearly targetted at the very beginner in web development, whereas other chapters (for example, on the integration of CF with .Net) are understandble only by those who are already quite advanced in both CF and .Net.
- In almost all new chapters there are some minor gramatical and technical/logical errors that should have been taken out by the editor. Most people might not notice most of these, but for a 50 dollar book I believe proper editing is not too much to ask.
- Much, perhaps most, of the content is simply copied from the previous series of this book. But alas, why fix it if it ain't broken? But on the other hand, not all of the new CF8 features are fully covered. For example, the coverage of the new cfimage tag, the new Ajax functionality, the newly integrated rich text editor and integration with Flex leave much ground untouched. Even though the series consists of 3 books, it can not be considered a full reference on ColdFusion.
- Unlike the previous version of the books, there is no reference section of CF functions and tags. For this and the above reasons, I still regularly refer to my good old WACK 7MX books, rather than this new and updated edition.
- Most importantly: there is no index for all three books combined. So if you want to look up something, you need to go through three indexes to know which information is available.
Say, you want to know how to localize the way dates and times are rendered for a non-US audience. Displaying a date is rather basic, so you first look in the index of volume 1. It's not there, so you look in volume 2 and finally, by going through the index of volume 3, you find that you find the information you look for is in chapter 50. This is one of the PDF's you then download, print or read from the screen. Not very handy.
It is generally much faster to use Google or the Adobe site to find an answer to a specific question as it is. But if the publisher makes such a mess of the books, the match is off.
Conclusion: if you want books on the new features of ColdFusion 8, then this series is the one to buy, simply because there is nothing else out there. If you want to learn ColdFusion from scratch, this is a rather OK tutorial. Not great, just OK.
But if you want a good reference on ColdFusion, the previous edition of the same series (CF7MX) is much better. This is mainly due to its reference list of ColdFusion tags and functions by topic, which was thrown out in this edition. Also: you have only two, not three indexes to go through in order to find the information you look for.
For our offshore web development office, I was contemplating to buy an extra series of these books as a reference for our CF-people there. I decided that they would be much better off with just a printout of the documentation provided on the site of Adobe. That is more consise, complete, and free. A sad conclusion for a series I had rather high expectations of.