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 - 5 comments - links to this post

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why I'm a ColdFusion Developer

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 second of a series of posts exploring the topic.

I ended my last post by stating that I didn't think it really mattered whether or not ColdFusion is dying. It certainly matters to Adobe, but for a lot of us, this question only starts to truly matter if they should discontinue working on it. (and even still, I would expect companies like New Atlanta to probably pick up the ball). The important question in my mind is not, whether or not CF is dying, but whether or not it is still the best tool for the job that we're asking it to do. Do we stick with it or can we justify the cost of moving onto something else? To be perfectly honest this is a question I ask every couple of years. As of last time we seriously looked at the subject (When MX 7 was released) the answer was "yes".

The title of this post is why I am a CF developer. For me it started with working on some web-based tools for a newly installed LDAP server. I had been working in Perl using the Perldap module. Our other developer was working on some initial projects for a newly installed CF 4.5 server, and I decided to take a look at it. I'm not quite sure how they decided to get started with CF in the first place. In any event, I saw that what was taking me 50 lines of code could be done in 1 with cfldap, I immediately switched over. About 6 Months later a web group was formed in the University, and my job moved over. (even though I was only doing web part time then) Our new web group found itself supporting both CF and ASP applications. .NET saw the migration of our ASP apps to CF, and we've been a CF shop ever since.

Probably the number one reason we did not move to .NET is that we are a mixed group of designers and developers. Being tag based, ColdFusion allows our designers and developers to easily collaborate on projects, while working in the same environment. It's just not realistic to expect our designers to learn VB or PHP, when they can learn a few new tags as needed. There were of course other reasons we chose (and still choose) to stick with ColdFusion. Most of these Peter Bell listed in his "ColdfFusion - Why Bother?" post last month, so I don't feel the need to repeat them.

In my next post I'll conclude this series with some thoughts on what Adobe can do to better evangelize ColdFusion.

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posted by Luis - 4 comments - links to this post

Why ColdFusion is not a dead language

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 first of a series of posts exploring the topic.

Let's start by talking about why ColdFusion is not a dead language. Wikipedia defines a dead language as, "a language which has stopped changing in grammar, vocabulary, and the complete meaning of a sentence." Furthermore it distinguishes between the concepts of a dead language and an extinct language. The latter being, "a language which no longer has any native speakers" While we all know that Wikipedia is not the end-all be-all font of all knowledge, in this case it's accurate enough for my purposes. By these definitions, ColfFusion is not a dead language; it's being actively developed. While technically I suppose all programming languages fit the definition of extinct since nobody natively speaks them. If we expand native speakers to include those who use a programming language as their primary development language, then ColdFusion is not extinct either, as there is clearly an active body of vocal developers. (Not to mention the developers who just focus on getting their jobs done and can't be bothered reading stuff online about languages.)

Ok, so if CF is not dead yet, is it dying? Before we get into that we need to look at marketshare, and total number of users. These are two concepts that I think all too often get mixed up. In spoken languages, Mandarin Chinese (at c. 873 million native speakers), is pulling away from English (at c. 309 million native speakers). English is not likely to catch up in any of our lifetimes, and will likely continue to loose marketshare, but the total number of English speakers is rising as the populations of the US, UK, Canada, and Australia grow. In my mind marketshare is less important to the health of a language than total number of users. With CF, I'll concede that marketshare has probably been decreasing, as there are simply more and more languages out there to use. I honestly have not seen any figures that prove or disprove this, but for the sake of argument I'll concede that point. As far as total number of users, I have no idea if that number is going up or down. (I'm not sure if Adobe publishes those types of numbers) The bottom line here is that I really don't know if CF is dying or not. I'm not sure how much that matters though. More about that in my next post.

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posted by Luis - 0 comments - links to this post

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Rumors of ColdFusion's Death are greatly exaggerated

In my web wanderings I came across another article claiming that CF is dead. Couldn't find any way to provide feedback.

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posted by Luis - 5 comments - links to this post
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