Switching Environments

Environments that match your development stages.

CFWheels allows you to set up different environments that match stages in your development cycle. That way you can configure different values that match what services to call and how your app behaves based on where you are in your development.

The Development environment is the most convenient one to use as you start building your application because it does not cache any data. Therefore, if you make any changes to your controllers and actions, for example, it will immediately be picked up by CFWheels.

Other environment modes cache this information in order to speed up your application as much as possible. Making changes to the database in these most modes will cause CFWheels to throw an error. (Although that can be avoided with a reload call. More on that later.)

The fastest environment mode in terms of page load time is the Production mode. This is what you should set your application to run in before you launch your website.

By default, all new applications will start in the Development environment which is middle-of-the-road in terms of convenience versus speed.

The 4 Environment Modes

Besides the 2 environments mentioned above, there are 2 more. Let's go through them all one by one so you can see the differences between them and choose the most appropriate one given your current stage of development.HTTP


  • Shows friendly CFWheels specific errors as well as regular ColdFusion errors on screen.

  • Does not email you when an error is encountered.

  • Caches controller and model initialization (the config() methods).

  • Caches the database schema.

  • Caches routes.

  • Caches image information.


  • Caches everything that the Development mode caches.

  • Activates all developer controlled caching (actions, pages, queries and partials).

  • Shows your custom error page when an error is encountered.

  • Shows your custom 404 page when a controller or action is not found.

  • Sends an email to you when an error is encountered.


  • Same caching settings as the Production mode but using the error handling of the Development mode. (Good for testing an application at its true speed while still getting errors reported on screen.)


  • Shows your custom maintenance page unless the requesting IP address or user agent is in the exception list (set by calling set(ipExceptions="") in config/settings.cfm or passed along in the URL as except=, or as except=myuseragentstring to match against the user agent instead. Please note that if passing an exception on the URL using the except parameter, you must also provide the password parameter if a reload password has been define. This eliminates the possibility of a rouge actor breaking out of maintenance mode by simply adding an except to the URL.

This environment mode comes in handy when you want to briefly take your website offline to upload changes or modify databases on production servers.

How to Switch Modes

You change the current environment by modifying the config/environment.cfm file. After you've modified it, you need to either restart the ColdFusion service or issue a reload request. (See below for more info.)

The reload Request

Issuing a reload request is the easiest way to go from one environment to another. It's done by passing in reload as a parameter in the URL, like this:


This tells CFWheels to reload the entire framework (it will also run your code in the events/onapplicationstart.cfmfile), thus picking up any changes made in the config/environment.cfm file.

Lazy Reloading

There's also a shortcut for lazy developers who don't want to change this file at all. To use it, just issue the reload request like this instead:


This will make CFWheels skip your config/environment.cfm file and just use the URL value instead (testing, in this case).

Password-Protected Reloads

For added protection, you can set the reloadPassword variable in config/settings.cfm. When set, a reload request will only be honored when the correct password is also supplied, like this:


Don't forget your reload password in production

You really don't want random users hitting ?reload=development on a production server, as it could potentially expose data about your application and error messages. Always set a reload password!

Disabling Environment Switching

If you're deploying to a container based environment, or one that you know you'll never want to switch out of production mode, you can disable URL based environment switching completely via: set(allowEnvironmentSwitchViaUrl = false);

This is just an additional check to ensure that your production mode acts in the way you expect! Application reloading is still allowed, but the configuration can not be altered.\

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