Changes in Scoped Variable Handling in ColdFusion

Changes in Scoped Variable Handling in ColdFusion

  • Affected versions:
    • CF 2021 Update 13+
    • CF 2023 Update 7+

In a recent update, ColdFusion has adjusted how it handles scoped variables and their references. Previously, when ColdFusion encountered a variable without a prefix, it would search through different scopes in a specific order to find it. However, for performance reasons, the application variable searchimplicitscopes=FALSE was later introduced, preventing unscoped variables from being searched in various scopes.

With this update, ColdFusion will now default to searchimplicitscopes=FALSE. If a variable name lacks a scope identifier, it can only be resolved within certain impacted scopes: CGI, URL, Form, Cookie, CFFile, and Client. These scopes can be externally modified within the request.

For instance, the following code will produce an exception: “Variable TEST is undefined.”

<cfset cookie.test=1>

Options for Testing Before Updating

We highly recommend reviewing your website’s code before applying this update to avoid encountering errors. If you wish to test this change on a per-application basis without updating, you can set the searchimplicitscopes key to false in the Application.cfc and/or Application.cfm. Below are examples of how to do this.

Application.cfc Example
<cfset THIS.Name = "xByteCloud" />
<cfset THIS.searchimplicitscopes = false />
Application.cfm Example
<cfapplication name="xByteCloud"

As an alternative, Adobe offers a patch that logs all unscoped variables. This log file can then be used to identify areas in your code that need modification. It’s important to note that this patch is not intended for production use. We recommend uninstalling the patch after it’s been running for 2-3 days to reduce the additional overhead.

If you’d like our team of Engineer’s expert assistance with installing the patch, then please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ll work with your team to schedule a good time to install, and uninstall the patch.