Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Some thoughts on ColdFusion Evangelism

In one of the comments to my Friday post, Barry B asked for my thoughts on ColdFusion's Strengths, and how they could be leveraged to get more companies on board with CF development. In my mind that called for more than a simple comment response. Below is the last of a series of posts exploring the topic.

In my last post, I talked a little bit about why I am a ColdFusion Developer. In my final post for this series, I thought I'd throw out some ideas on how Adobe can better evangelize ColdFusion. Bear in mind that these are just thoughts, and as such may or may not truly be viable ideas. I hold no claim to ownership on these ideas, so Adobe, or whomever can feel free to use them as they see fit. Mainly this is meant as a jump off point for discussion, rather than fully realized ideas.

The first thing Adobe can do is to better advertise. I receive regular mailings from Microsoft advertising .NET, as well as seeing their ads regularly in publications like eWeek, Baseline, etc... More importantly, my boss (who ultimately decides what we buy) sees those same ads. Sure, I receive emails from Adobe when new products come out, but my boss does not. Beyond that, the fact of the matter is that when I do receive one of those emails, I tend to file it away to look at later, and move on to the more time sensitive emails. Two guesses as to how often I get back to the Adobe mailings. As a direct result, while we would be good candidates for using Flex, I don't see that happening anytime in the near future. I've mentioned it a few times, but it's been difficult to put together a compelling business case for a product that my boss has barely heard of. (Reminds me of the old catalog service "Everything you've never heard of but can't live without".)

The second thing Adobe can do is put Livedocs out of it's misery, and replace it with something better. One would think that between Flex and ColdFusion, Livedocs would be a showcase of how to build a compelling rich internet application. Livedocs was great back in the day, but it's getting more than a little long in the tooth at this point.

My third suggestion would be to recreate the CF Pet Market application in competing languages (PHP, .NET, Ruby, etc..) using best practices in those various languages, then posting a series of articles highlighting specific areas where CF shines.

My final, and probably most controversial suggestion is for Adobe to release a free version of CF server that can be used in a production environment. I'm thinking something that sits say below Standard edition, with support for maybe 95% of the tags (i.e. no reporting, no pdf work, no image work, etc..), and reducing the number of built-in database drivers (perhaps keeping only mysql and access). The idea here would be to put CF on an equal footing price-wise with the PHPs of the world at least for getting in the door. Once users have an investment of time in CF, I suspect the cost of upgrading for the more robust pay version would be less of a concern than it is today. It might also mean more developers learning CF in the first place.

Well, there you have it, during this series of posts, I've discussed Why CF is not dead, why I use CF, and finally with this post, added some thoughts on how Adobe can better evangelize CF. Hopefully you found some of these ideas interesting.

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posted by Luis


Anonymous Michael Long said...

&tInterestingly, I just posted on the same issue:

ColdFusion, and the Mac vs. Windows Problem

I'm not sure that the "limited but free version" approach would hold up, however. If you're a developer working on a site, are you really going to want to use a crippled product to built it?

Especially when full-featured alternatives are readily available?

12:05 PM  

Anonymous Rick Smith said...

I find it interesting that it's ColdFusion developers lobbying for a free version of CF and not the people who aren't using CF. I too agree there should be a free version (far above and beyond that of the current Developer Edition).

I don't think I can agree with you on the advertising. I think there's a difference between good and bad exposure. Our loyal CF groupie or word-of-mouth atmosphere is what has made ColdFusion, and although CF is indeed a commercial product, advertising the living crap out of it will only attract bad exposure. Bad exposure being unloyal, whiney, critical, pain in the butt users. The ColdFusion developers I work with including myself almost appreciate the "dead language" publicity CF keeps getting. It's almost like CF is our dirty little secret and we don't have to share. :D

I do agree with you on LiveDocs. I was using it today and it is just simply dated.

12:16 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you echo pretty much what others have been saying. Good point about getting rid of LiveDocs (or DeadDocs as it should be called) which takes ages to load up for starters. I've been using cfQuickDocs as a replacement but even that seems to be getting slower as more CF'ers are relying on it instead of the official Adobe offering.

Perhaps Adobe should start a competition to replace LiveDocs? Even if only 3 people enter, one is bound to be better than LiveDocs. The prize could be $5K of Adobe software. (Which is a bargain considering what it would cost to if it was commissioned in or out of house.)

Gary F.

12:21 PM  

Blogger Luis said...

@Michael - I was thinking entry level more than limited. Perhaps I didn't articulate that well enough.

@Rick - The problem I see is that if they don't advertise enough, perhaps sooner than we'd like those CF is dead articles will be true.

12:21 PM  

Blogger Cleibe Souza said...

It's quite interesting to see this discussion happening now. I'm originally from Brazil, although I work as a developer for Cornell university in upstate Ithaca, NY. I'm following a long thread of comments about how coldfusion is dying or not dying in Brazil since the post office on one of our major cities decided to move their system out of coldfusion. Coldfusion developers in Brazil are concerned about their jobs and are starting a movement to try to pressure Adobe Brazil to do something about the future of coldfusion in Brazil and South America.
I really think that a free version of coldfusion would help to get people more 'excited' and try the language. The only way to get people using the language is providing ways for them to get their feet wet, and we all know that it's almost impossible for many developers/small businesses to afford a coldfusion license.

8:22 PM  

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