Code Reuse


Content Author

Emily Christiansen


Reviewed/Revised By

Matt Gifford


You can also make a new .cfm file and use it as a function library. You can then use the cfinclude tag to include it on any pages that might need it.

cfinclude accepts two attributes:

  • template - The logical path to the ColdFusion file to include
  • runOnce - An optional boolean value, defaulting to false. If set to true the given template will not be processed again for a given request if it has already been processed.

If the function is placed in a file called greetingCustomizer.cfm, to give our page access to the function we just include our greeting customizer on the page like so:

<cfinclude template="path/to/libraries/greetingCustomizer.cfm">

The rest of the page remains unchanged. What it actually does is treat the code that is in the included file as if it were on the page itself. Doing so grants the included template access to all of the variables on the including page. On the surface, it might seem like a good idea, but we will get into why it can actually make code very messy in a little while. In the meantime, once we've included greetingCustomizer.cfm on our page, it will look like this:

<cfinclude template="path/to/libraries/greetingCustomizer.cfm">

<cfset fullName = getFullName( firstName="Matt", lastName="Gifford" )>

    Hello, #fullName#!

The same can be achieved using the script syntax:

include "path/to/libraries/greetingCustomizer.cfm";

fullName = getFullName( firstName="Matt", lastName="Gifford" );

writeOutput( fullName );

While cfinclude is an extremely simple approach, it does have some drawbacks. As mentioned above, the included file now has access to every variable on the including page, creating the possibility of introducing unnecessary dependencies between the two files. For example, with cfinclude, declaring arguments isn't really necessary with the function if the values already exist on the page, and less experienced developers might be tempted to leave them out altogether.


<cfset firstName = "Matt">
<cfset lastName  = "Gifford">

<cfinclude template="path/to/libraries/greetingCustomizer.cfm">

<cfset fullName = getFullName()>

    Hello, #fullName#!


<cffunction name="getFullName" output="false" access="public" returnType="string">
    <cfset var fullName = firstName & " " & lastName>
    <cfreturn fullName>

Remember that cfinclude embeds the CFML code in greetingCustomizer.cfm into displayPage.cfm, so writing our code this way is perfectly valid. Unfortunately, it opens the door to a lot of confusion. A developer looking at the function by itself has no idea where the firstName and lastName variables came from. If this function is used anywhere else, those variables will need to be declared on the page or passed into the function. What was done in the example above introduced a dependency; our function no longer stands on its own as an encapsulated block of code. Instead, it can only work in the context of the including page, and the benefits of code reuse are lost. It is very important, then, to make sure that we follow the first example, in which arguments are declared and use the arguments scope to communicate what the function needs to our fellow developers.