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An Architect's View

Common ColdFusion Arguments

January 10, 2008 ·

A regular topic of discussion in the ColdFusion community is "What should Adobe do to make ColdFusion more popular?". There are always some common themes in this discussion. I'd like to examine some of the arguments made and play devil's advocate in an attempt to get a bit more thought behind the discussions and, hopefully, bring out some useful insights (for both sides).One of the most common arguments I hear is that ColdFusion needs to be taught in schools. The argument seems to be that people don't use ColdFusion at work because they didn't learn it at school / college. Well, I learned Basic and Pascal and LISP at university and I don't use those languages today. The languages I do use, I learned after I left university. I did a BSc in Math with a minor in Comp Sci (Americans may not realize that in a European degree, that's all you study for three years - it's a very focused, deep dive into the subject rather than the broad spectrum of subjects found in American university courses). Basic was a convenient language for first year math problems. Pascal was a reasonable teaching language. LISP was used to illustrate non-numeric computation (symbolic data manipulation). I taught myself FORTRAN, some PL/1 and pl/p, a variety of assembly languages, Prolog, APL, Algol 68 and several other languages. After leaving university, I got jobs doing C and COBOL programming, then C++, then Java and more recently ColdFusion. In other words, all of the jobs I've had used languages I did not learn at university. Lots of people use languages they did not learn at school. In fact, based on the complaints that ColdFusion is not taught at school, I would deduce that all of you reading this are using ColdFusion despite not having learned it in school! Another very common argument is that ColdFusion needs to be free and/or open source. This argument seems to be based on the logic that PHP and Ruby on Rails etc are popular because they are free and/or open source. A side argument is usually that free/cheap hosting is available for those languages but ColdFusion hosting is more expensive. Let's tackle that first: used to be written in PHP. I built the site before I joined Macromedia and before I'd heard of ColdFusion. I didn't know much about hosting companies in the U.S. so I picked a local one (Hurricane Electric) that offered PHP/MySQL hosting for $10/month. After joining Macromedia and starting my blog, my bandwidth grew as my site became more popular and I had to move to a "bigger" plan that cost me $25/month. When asked why my site wasn't written in ColdFusion, I said "Well, ColdFusion hosting is so expensive compared to PHP!" and was deluged with emails from y'all telling me about cheap ColdFusion hosting. So the very community that complains hosting isn't competitive with PHP was telling me to switch from PHP to ColdFusion because hosting is competitive! I switched. I pay $15/month. I have several ColdFusion sites now, mostly on $15/month plans although I also have one on GoDaddy's $8/month plan (you get what you pay for). There are also some free hosting offers out there for ColdFusion. Now, let's go back to the free and/or open source argument. First off, ColdFusion is free for developers. There's a very good free ColdFusion IDE (CFEclipse + Eclipse). What about ASP.NET? How much is Visual Studio? What about PHP? How much is Zend? I know you don't need Zend to develop PHP - I'm just making the point that ColdFusion has both free and paid development tools, just like PHP - and ASP.NET. The next argument I hear is that Adobe needs to provide more ColdFusion evangelists. Whilst we can never have too many evangelists, let's look at the competition: PHP? No paid evangelists. All of the buzz around PHP comes from the PHP community. Ruby on Rails? No paid evangelists. You might argue that ThoughtWorks pay their people to evangelize RoR but, c'mon, that's one small consultancy and they really don't do much evangelism anyway. So, the buzz around RoR? Community! Groovy? Python? No paid evangelists. They're all driven by their communities - and you've all seen how zealous those folks can be about promoting their own technology! Rails Envy, anyone? Then we hear that ColdFusion needs to be marketed and/or taught to non-ColdFusion developers. My gut reaction is just to point people back to the evangelism answer. Where's the marketing of PHP, Ruby on Rails etc coming from? The community. No companies, no budgets, no deep pockets. Just you lot. You love ColdFusion? Tell others about it. You think they'll want to hear it? Well, I don't much want to hear PHP or Ruby either since I "don't like" those languages. However, I'm a "language whore" so I tend to experiment with lots of languages and will use different languages for different tasks to some degree. Even so, the languages you use are more likely determined by your employer than by you. That means you need to evangelize "up" as well as "out". Adobe should "give away" ColdFusion on CDs etc just like they did with Flex Builder! Yup, I totally agree. And Adobe did exactly that! One of ColdFusion's supposed strengths is that it's so simple, non-programmers can use it. As we know, that means that there's a lot of bad ColdFusion code out there. Well, guess what? There's a lot of bad Java code too, and Ruby code and PHP code. What can be done to combat this strike against ColdFusion? Well, it certainly isn't Adobe's fault: they offer training materials to help you improve - as do lots of other companies - and they sponsor conferences where you can go and learn how to be a better programmer. What we can all do to counter the problem of bad code is become better programmers. We need to invest in ourselves, go to conferences, take training courses. Relatively few ColdFusion developers use a framework, relatively few are leveraging the better practices available through ColdFusion Components. We must all do better. Make it your 2008 resolution to attend at least one conference (cf.Objective(), Scotch on the Rocks, CFUNITED all spring to mind). Your employer won't send you? Go on your own - I bet you'll get a better job as a result! And then there's always the generic "ColdFusion needs more marketing" with the expectation that somehow Adobe will produce a television advert for us or billboards at airports. All I can say to that is "Get real!" and ask you when you last say a television advert for PHP or Ruby on Rails or whatever? Microsoft products don't count - Bill has almost unlimited funds and, besides, what does Microsoft advertise on TV? Not ASP.NET, not C#, not Visual Studio .NET. No, Microsoft advertises consumer products. What would you expect Adobe to advertise? Maybe Flash Player? What else? Certainly not ColdFusion. So here's your challenge for 2008: convert a non-CF developer to CF. Just one. C'mon, you have 355 days left. If all of you - all 400,000 of you - convert just one developer this year, we'll double the community. You believe in ColdFusion - make someone else believe in it too!
This is a blog post I started early in 2007 before I left Adobe. I deliberately didn't post it then because people would claim I was just toeing the party line. Well, I don't work for Adobe now. I make my living from their products - and it's a good living - but I promote whatever I want. I use ColdFusion because it's a darned good product - and I'm a C++ and Java developer by trade and training. Consider this a "call to arms" to expand the CF community!

Tags: adobe · coldfusion

98 responses

  • 1 Joel Stobart // Jan 11, 2008 at 1:24 AM

    You seem to be confusing the open source, and free arguments, and then fudging your way out of the whole thing.

    Coldfusion could be a very useful open-source product; this would mean that if you had a tag that was working badly, or couldn't do something you could hack away in Java, produce a fix, and re-submit it to Adobe. Adobe could have a bleeding edge release, and a stable release (like O/S projects often do) this would mean that if I wanted a cfgooglecheckout tag - I could code one - or I could go to Adobe - and download one. It may never get integrated into the core but it would be availiable.

    Adobe would then be able to concentrate on language features rather than on integrated presentations, etc.

    I think open source (but not free as in beer) could be a real plus for the ColdFusion community.
  • 2 Akbar // Jan 11, 2008 at 1:27 AM

    Great answers sean ...

    As a part of my community work I'm training a dozen of college students in CF started from Jan 3.

  • 3 Fred B // Jan 11, 2008 at 2:06 AM

    I've always thought the main problem was how closely aligned some languages are to particular web servers. I'm thinking Asp.NET/IIS and PHP/Apache.

    This is 2008 why can't I 'sudo apt-get install coldfusion'?
  • 4 ziggy // Jan 11, 2008 at 3:04 AM

    >>A side argument is usually that free/cheap hosting is available for those languages but ColdFusion hosting is more expensive.

    Obviously there is a little cf hosting in comparison and it is much more expensive on average. Little competition, expensive server. Especially overseas.

    >>let's go back to the free and/or open source argument

    Try to develop and sell a cf app and then tell people they have to find "custom" cf hosting for it. Forget it. Other solutions are popular because free to mess around with and dirt cheap to host, no way around it. Cf tries to offer more for more money. Different deal, different market.

    >>So here's your challenge for 2008: convert a non-CF developer to CF

    Why do I have to convert someone to Cf and sell Adobe's product? Now if it were an open-source community...

  • 5 James Marshall // Jan 11, 2008 at 3:54 AM

    Hi Sean,

    I generally agree with you, but there's a couple of points that I wanted to respond to in greater detail. Rather than post a lengthy comment here I posted on my blog:

    Hope you don't mind...
  • 6 Todd Rafferty // Jan 11, 2008 at 3:59 AM

    Hear hear. Great post.
  • 7 PeteJ // Jan 11, 2008 at 4:31 AM

    Addressing only the cost of hosting when considering the free/OSS argument ignores a big problem- the cost of the server software. A LAMP stack costs $0 to install on a server. CF Enterprise? $7500! Any company looking to control fixed costs will hesitate to use CF unless they're hosting a lot of applications on it; this presents pretty big barrier to entry. The reason PHP is becoming more accepted in the enterprise is because it got in through the back door with small apps that didn't cost anything to run on a production server. Coldfusion simply can't compete with that.
  • 8 Brian Rinaldi // Jan 11, 2008 at 5:20 AM

    Very nice entry Sean. As someone who actually has been making a concerted effort to promote ColdFusion outside the normal circles (with some articles already out, others in review and presentation to non-CF groups), I think you make the right points about how we get the word out. That being said, ColdFusion is, according to Adobe, profitable and continues to see growth with each release. In general, there doesn't seem to be a shortage fo ColdFusion jobs. So my question is, what really needs fixing? Yes, there are more popular languages but I kinda like out niche. I think our community is tighter and more vocal, and not to mention our conferences aren't so large as to be unwelcoming.

    I guess my point is, I evangelize ColdFusion because, like you, I think it is an awesome product. I don't do it because I think we need to be more popular than .Net or PHP (if that is even an achievable goal). And I, for one, would argue there is nothing wrong with where ColdFusion is today.
  • 9 Rick Mason // Jan 11, 2008 at 5:30 AM

    Sean I can give you another good reason for teaching CF in college and that is the existing demand for developers.

    I live in Michigan which has had the worst economy in the country for five years running. One of the things that I am proudest of in running a CFUG is helping companies find CF developers. Right now I am receiving five or more inquiries a month from employers and can't match them to developers.

    I am afraid we are reaching a tipping point where CF shops will move to another language simply to more easily find developers.
  • 10 Sam Farmer // Jan 11, 2008 at 5:55 AM

    Very good points.
  • 11 Ryan TJ // Jan 11, 2008 at 6:04 AM

    Great challenge. One down. We just hired a Java developer and are sending her to CF training. She sat in on Joe's Model-Glue sessions we had him give. Joe was great in that respect because he can speak about both languages and give parallel examples.
  • 12 John Farrar // Jan 11, 2008 at 6:08 AM

    OK... we met our quota three days ago. We converted a very good PHP/JS developer to CF. FWIW you would love to hear why he never tried ColdFusion. (He didn't know there was a free developers version.) He checked it out because we were making an ICE library. (Integrated COOP Elements) to work with his jQuery plug-in. He was so impressed by the way our library interfaced his library he just asked us, found out it was free and downloaded and began learning CF. No manufactured twisting or what if's here. This is a reality that I have spoke of at Frameworks conference about a year ago. I spoke on community technology. COOP was refactored and extended from what was presented.

    Conclusion: I am not just waiting for Adobe. I will say that not everyone needs to build something like COOP ICE libraries to convert people. But don't just expect someone to convert. The IDE won't convert people to CF. (not DW or CFE) Studio was a converter in it's day. We knew earlier that if you wanted to do web development that we could convert people to CF just by showing them CF Studio. Heh, now the same thing is pulling people away from CF. That is a fact.

    Lastly rather than hitting on all points here is one more. Simpler common developer methodologies are more likely to convert than geek'd out ones. RoR seeks to convert geek'd out Java guys. A simpler methodology is always a good pull if it has a good foundation. We need more tutorials explaining how to do things in methodologies... that will be a great community building tool.

    NOTE: There is more impact if we don't do things alone. Let's quit the in house fighting. If you like what you use promote it. Friendly answers are fine, but some guys are constantly seeking to convert others by acting like politicians! Let's work more on truth than mud slinging... let's make our community attractive also and not let the loud few spoil our spirit! :)
  • 13 Dan Vega // Jan 11, 2008 at 6:37 AM

    Every time I see the free / open source argument I laugh. I believe Ray started using the saying but I may be wrong "PHP is free, so is dirt".
  • 14 Scott Fitchet // Jan 11, 2008 at 7:34 AM

    They need to advertise more on the trade rag sites ... eWeek,, etc which in turn garners free news coverage ... try searching for ColdFusion at Also ... anywhere they'd be advertising LiveCycle.
  • 15 Randy // Jan 11, 2008 at 7:43 AM

  • 16 Kyle Hayes // Jan 11, 2008 at 9:08 AM

    @Sean great post by the way.

    As for another suggestion is the idea of a more architecturally sound organization of code with real packages and code insight like is possible with ActionScript, C#, and Java.
  • 17 David // Jan 11, 2008 at 9:09 AM

    Hi Sean,
    Great post, just a few thoughts:

    "ColdFusion needs to be taught in schools" - I've heard this one too, and I partially agree. I think it should be offered for Graduate students - those most likely to go on to decision making positions. When they hear "ColdFusion" they shouldn't dismiss it out of hand. If they were involved with CF in some manner, they are more likely to be personally offended when others try to FUD it.

    To me, CF is more of a solution than a language (I'm sure I stole that from someone else!) I don't think CF should try to compete with the "dorm room developers". They are in a different place, with their learning - problem solving using PHP or some other language. And that's cool - Maybe it's just me, but at this stage in my life, I'm more challenged by getting great features implemented, and getting home for dinner on time!

    Free / Open Source / Evangelists / Marketing - yeah, ditto there. As far as marketing is concerned, there should be more targeting at corporate decision makers. Adobe looks like its phasing out JRUN, so I'd look for some partnerships with some competitors in that space, like IBM or BEA.

    I agree that WITHIN the community, we need to do some more educating, before we go out to other communities. As a small example, I was commenting on a thread some months ago regarding the price of CF, and people were complaining about the "high cost of hosting". In less than 5 minutes, I found 3 options for less than $15 a month, and one for free. I wasn't believed, and had to provide links to prove it. I don't really get that - here are some very vocal users who complain about hosting prices, and can't do a 5 minute search for cheap CF hosting? (that part of the conversation ended pretty quickly, for the record :-)

    Here's another one - how many CF users are NOT in a user group? I met SO many at MAX. (for the record, I run a CFUG in Connecticut). Besides having regular kick-ass presentations, we talk about how to best position CF to clients, deal with FUD, compete, etc. If you're not IN a user group, or running a user group, you are losing a significant competitive edge, IMHO.

    Cheers Sean.

  • 18 Sean Corfield // Jan 11, 2008 at 9:13 AM

    @Joel, no, *I* am not confusing free and open source but the way many in the CF community present this, *they* are confusing the two. Hence the way my counter-argument is worded. Bear in mind that Smith was released in 2007 as an open source CFML engine project to pretty much complete disinterest. CFers don't really want an open source engine even tho' it comes up a lot in their complaints about Adobe. What they really want is *free* which is a different issue entirely.

    @Akbar, that's great! Keep up the good work!

    @Ziggy, I don't think Adobe ColdFusion is targeted at people creating apps to resell although some people do well with an OEM agreement (Straker Interactive's ShadoCMS, for example, OEMs ColdFusion and Flex). BlueDragon and Railo may suit the resale application market better.

    @PeteJ, Standard Edition is $1300 and frankly that's easy to slip into any worthwhile project. Enterprise Edition "sells itself" to large sites because they're the ones who would already pay hundreds of thousands for WebLogic or WebSphere ($400,000 for a medium-sized WebLogic deployment - with a discount - and $100,000 a year in support / maintenance). ColdFusion is cheap by comparison - Enterprise for that many CPUs would have been just $120,000 with a discount!

    @Brian, good points.

    @Rick, it's great that your CFUG helps companies find developers but I think you missed my point about teaching CF - most developers do not use the languages they learned in college!

    @Ryan, John, good to hear you've already met quota :)

    @Scott, I searched for LiveCycle and found one brief mention in a news item (the open source initiative for BlazeDS). I searched for ColdFusion and found three mentions in comments that people had posted on articles. Searching for LiveCycle yields 107 mentions, searching for ColdFusion yields 236 mentions. LiveCycle 164, ColdFusion 360. So ColdFusion gets consistently twice as many mentions than LiveCycle in those e-magazines...
  • 19 Sean Corfield // Jan 11, 2008 at 9:26 AM

    @Kyle, the code insight you refer to really comes from the strictly typed nature of those languages - and that is not at all applicable to ColdFusion. You'd do better to look at Smalltalk and Ruby tooling for comparisons.

    @Davo, agree on the bizarre way some CFers tend to reinforce their own arguments *against* CF (re: hosting costs as an example). I also agree with you on the user groups - but I think you'll find the same is true in the PHP, Java, C#... communities as well.
  • 20 brad // Jan 11, 2008 at 12:58 PM

    One problem with ColdFusion is that it isn't really supported for multi-platform systems. Sure, you can run it on Windows, Mac, or some Linux distros, but there are other operating systems, such as FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, etc. I can't get ColdFusion to install on some of them because installers do not work at all. And yes, Java can run on these systems.
  • 21 Sean Corfield // Jan 11, 2008 at 1:07 PM

    @Brad, the list of supported operating systems is listed here:

    You may or may not be able to get ColdFusion installed on other distros (I've succeeded with CentOS and Ubuntu, both of which are unsupported).

    Solaris *is* supported so if there are problems with installation, you can take advantage of Adobe's free support for installation problems.
  • 22 Todd Rafferty // Jan 11, 2008 at 1:08 PM

    I think he means Solaris 10, to which, there is no support for as far as I know. I don't blame Adobe for that though.
  • 23 Brian Swartzfager // Jan 11, 2008 at 1:32 PM

    Hi, Sean,

    I agree with most of what you said, with two slight disagreements:

    1) Your argument against teaching ColdFusion at the college level is a bit weak. Just because you don't use the languages you learned in college (older languages not commonly used in modern web application development) doesn't mean that's true for everyone, especially now that most college programming courses jump right into Java. And even though you don't use Basic or Pascal or LISP anymore, you at least know what they're about and what they can do, and considering a lot of the misconceptions out there about ColdFusion, having a greater number of students with even a casual level of ColdFusion knowledge couldn't hurt.

    Plus, Adobe's decision to make Flex Builder available for free to students and faculty members tells me that they feel there's some value in promoting a programming language (Flex) in the college education system.

    2) I wouldn't expect or what Adobe to run radio or television ads for ColdFusion, but putting more ColdFusion ads on relevant technology websites couldn't hurt. There's a Digg-like news site called DZone ( geared towards web and Java developers that I visit every day, and almost every day I see some sort of graphical ad for Adobe AIR. I think it would be great if an ad for ColdFusion appeared there periodically.
  • 24 JAlpino // Jan 11, 2008 at 1:54 PM

    Proud to say that I made a convert out of a fellow developer last year, and am looking forward to showing another the benefits of Coldfusion this year. It's an easy 'sell' in my opinion provided the recipient is willing to listen, you can't deny the power that CF gives you. (ie. access="remote")

    @sean - as far as your comment about school, I agree with that for the most part, but there are definitely Universities that teach more relevant languages. Rutgers University at the time I was in school used Java exclusively for their curriculum and it looks like NYU is using CF in at least one of their courses
  • 25 Mark Cadle // Jan 11, 2008 at 9:32 PM

    I think the argument about advertising is missing the major issue with Adobe. I have spoke with Adobe execs about this. Quit advertising to me, the user already sold on CF, I will get the updgrades. We have invested in it and are not leaving it. Adobe needs to be advertising to people who are not on ColdFusion. Instead of calling me for every release, call other companies who are on PHP or RoR. Just my two cents.
  • 26 John Farrar // Jan 12, 2008 at 9:06 AM

    This is a great summary of the topic. Why did we start using AJAX, not everyone is? Why do some people use Open Office? Why would anyone ever use AIR or Flex?

    * The heard it being promoted.
    * They heard it worked for someone else.
    * They heard people prefer it.
    * They found them easy enough to use and get started.
    * They were persuaded by the above items enough to make the investment. (Even free open source requires a time investment.)

    - - - - - - - -
    The comment that we are not attracting new talent is to true even if not completely true. Adobe needs to do some PR in this arena. Not TV advertising or radio, but just visibility of cool sites and technologies. This is a missing piece of the puzzle in the CF marketing. (Adding a killer IDE that would help the beginner and not just satisfy the CF Guru is another key tool for achieving this.) Letting them know the dev. version is already free and is another key.

    Perhaps Adobe ought to seek out talent this year at CFUnited from the corners of the country and the world and sponsor their attendance at other events. IMO either CF Standard ought to be free or if it's worth it... sell the thing!
  • 27 ziggy // Jan 12, 2008 at 9:11 PM

    >>@Ziggy, I don't think Adobe ColdFusion is targeted at people creating apps to resell

    No, but as a developer you might want to sell an app of some sort to make money, but in cf your market will be minute. And when you want to find an app to use you're forced to get something written in php (or a poor cf version of it) - and hence start working in php. Both are marks against cf growth caused by server cost.

    Hosting: I don't understand how anyone can not see that non-cf hosting is 1000 times more plentiful and much cheaper on average, especially overseas. Having to post about searching and finding 3 cheap cf hosts makes the point about how poorly it compares. You don't need to search for cheap php hosting, it's the norm.

    Teaching in schools: people seem to be speaking as though Adobe could arrange this. Schools are only going to teach what they think is relevant. Why would a school teach a niche, proprietary, tag-based language like cf given the choices they have?

    >>Bear in mind that Smith was released in 2007 as an open source CFML engine project to pretty much complete disinterest.

    Unfortunately contributions have to be written in java, so the people who would most want to use it and contribute generally can't.

    OS-wise, things have improved greatly in the last 2 years but I don't know why Adobe doesn't sponsor a set of open-source cf projects. In a niche market with a small community you need to be more pro-active. Provide a website, coordinator, system, promotion, sponsorship, code, help, etc. It's a cheap investment. Where are the killer cf apps for people to get hooked on cf? Ray Camden has probably done more for Adobe than anyone else on this front, but, with all due respect, there is no wordpress, oscommerce, etc. - I'd even suggest a sponsored framework -, to get people immediately set up and then hooked on cf on a small-med level. (The enterprise end will take care of itself.)

    I still think a free version of the server without any of the "extras" (reports, charts, threads, whatever) would be good and not harmful to Adobe's present income. If you had that and a killer os ecommerce/blog/social app you could have a steady influx of new, young cf entrants - something badly missing now, which will increasingly have effects.
  • 28 Sean Corfield // Jan 12, 2008 at 11:37 PM

    @Ziggy, did you miss my comment about OEM deals and looking at Railo and/or New Atlanta for that?

    As for Smith being written in Java, well, so is ColdFusion so the situation would be the same if Adobe decided to open source ColdFusion - in which case, why are people asking for that? (Like I said, they don't really want open source, they want free)

    Adobe have sponsored a website and a coordinator for open source: RIAForge and Ray Camden. Or didn't you realize that was an Adobe-backed project? They also provided support to the CFEclipse project - but as the CFEclipse team of the time will admit, they - not Adobe - dropped the ball on moving that forward (and, fortunately, Mark Drew stepped up and pretty much took over - and Adobe *do* work with him).

    I'd love to see some decent open source applications but it's the community's "fault" that they haven't appeared, not Adobe's. As for frameworks, ColdFusion has some really good open source frameworks: cfcUnit, ColdBox, ColdMock, ColdSpring, Fusebox, onTap, Mach-II, Model-Glue, Reactor, Transfer all come to mind.
  • 29 Brian Meloche // Jan 12, 2008 at 11:54 PM

    A few people have missed the point that you're playing devil's advocate in this post.

    I largely agree with you, but I strongly disagree with you about education. You can't judge the education of the 80's or 90's against the education of today. None of us could have learned the languages we use today because they weren't invented yet.

    Today, most students that learn programming learn Java, PHP, Ruby, Python and/or .NET in school, and it's safe to assume that they move on to jobs with those languages. Many of them don't even bother to learn ColdFusion, or even learn ABOUT ColdFusion. If they learned ColdFusion in school, they'd find how fast it is to develop in and how much they can get done versus doing it in one of the other commonly used web development languages.

    Why should they even bother to learn CF, when they can find jobs in other languages?

    I want to get CF taught in schools because I want CF to get discovered more.

    We need more developers, too, and this is another reason why we must get it in schools.

    In support of learning ColdFusion on your own, I think Adobe needs to do a better job teaching ColdFusion on itself. There's not a lot of training materials there... and, as you eluded to, most non-CF developers don't know that there is a free developer edition. Adobe needs to do a better job promoting CF as a platform to learn and get it in the hands of more developers. The MacWorld insert was a good thing, but it needs to be repeated in other magazines, especially web development magazines.

    One final thing... I agree that Smith has not gotten a great response, but I think there are different reasons for that than just that developers aren't really interested. There are a lot of CF developers that have never even heard of the Smith project, and reports seem to indicate that Smith isn't ready for prime time yet. I haven't tried Smith yet, but I doubt that I will until it's more fully developed. Since I am not a Java guy, I can't help develop it, and I am probably not going to learn it so I can.
  • 30 Eric Hynds // Jan 13, 2008 at 8:03 AM

    Here's a good read to help explain why CF is not free:
  • 31 Sean Corfield // Jan 13, 2008 at 10:58 AM

    @Brian, I'm not really being devil's advocate here: I genuinely don't agree with the anti-CF / anti-Adobe arguments that I keep hearing from *within* the CF community. It's almost like many CFers actually *want* CF to fail in some way. It's very puzzling to me.

    As for education, I learned several languages in college but immediately started working in other languages (which *could* have been taught to me in college but weren't). I'll accept that the market has changed and that Java has, to some extent, become the most common teaching language (in my day, Pascal was the most common teaching language - and there were lots of Pascal jobs then).

    My point is that education can't teach you every language (I learned about a dozen languages on my own while I was at college - in addition to the two or three actually used in the course) so there are always going to be a lot of deserving languages that aren't taught in college. I just don't think it's realistic to expect a proprietary language to be taught in college.
  • 32 Brian Meloche // Jan 13, 2008 at 11:33 AM

    @Sean: The anti-CF, anti-Adobe arguments from within the CF community is also puzzling to me as well. There are also some within the community that the community does not need to promote ColdFusion; that it's ALL Adobe's job. How shortsighted!

    Most programmers will learn languages that can do the same kinds of things ColdFusion can do, and that most will not bother to learn ColdFusion just because it's out there. Most people learn a language because they have to - a job requirement or a course - not out of it being a hobby (the "good" developers do, but there are a lot more "mediocre" developers, and the mediocre ones tend to learn a language because they have to, not because they want to). I'd rather see students get taught a course in CF, weigh it against some of the other languages that can do similar things they are also taught, and make a conscious decision which languages they prefer. Also, not everyone has the time to experiment with new languages. It's great, if you can, but, realistically, most people don't. I just want to make it easier for programmers to pick up ColdFusion, and the easiest way to do that is to make it so they have to learn it.

    Your point that not every language can be taught in school is a valid one. I just want to see ColdFusion being one of those languages taught to more students.

    No matter whether you think it's critical or not, it wouldn't be a bad thing for ColdFusion to be taught to more developers. Anyone that believes teaching CF to more people would be a bad thing must be greedy, believing short term jacking up of rates is preferable to a chance to expand the talent pool, thereby adding more markets and marketability for ColdFusion.
  • 33 David // Jan 13, 2008 at 12:29 PM

    >Having to post about searching and finding 3 cheap cf hosts makes the point about how poorly it compares.

    I think you're missing my point - if in 5 minutes I could refute the very argument that the CF community was making with a 5 minute search. Why couldn't they have found what I found? Too many people accept the FUD without fighting back or researching more.

    Yes hosting for noon-cf is more plentiful. No, as my minute research found, it is not cheaper.


  • 34 6dust // Jan 13, 2008 at 12:39 PM

    CF's cost for enterprise is definitely not a factor when mixing in with other "enterprise" technologies. For example, most of the work I do with CF is internal to a company, working hand in hand with SAS servers to do some serious number crunching. CF handles all of the user/GUI tasks (setting up jobs, scheduling jobs, application administration, results browsing, etc.).

    The budget guys are used to paying close to six figures, per server, PER YEAR, for SAS. They see the CF line items come through and just laugh them off.

    For smaller projects, I guess it all comes down to the developer. I know that for myself, I can code a project in CF much more quickly, so the cost of that server license is probably recouped after one project. That is not speaking for all developers, so maybe for the PHP/RoR gurus out there, the cost may not be worth it.
  • 35 Anuj Gakhar // Jan 13, 2008 at 1:15 PM

    Great post Sean.

    I think costing is one big issue here. CF hosting is expensive because hosting companies have to spend lots of money to get CF on their server and as a result they are unable to offer good CF hosting offers which in turn puts off the end users.

    I think if Adobe can make some real good offers to hosting companies atleast (like first year free and second year half price etc) and those hosting companies then offer cheap CF hosting in return to their customers, that can make a huge difference, specially for people looking for shared hosting. Majority of the sites are still on shared hosting I think (apart from the enterprise ones). That would mean companies wont hesitate to offer CF services to their clients which would mean a bigger CF developer community evolving.

    The decision of going with PHP/.NET or CF is not a developer's decision, its the employer's always. And I am sure if given a choice between CF and PHP/.NET to an employer if he knows that CF is not going to cost him a fortune (specially in the UK, prices are almost double here), CF will get chosen, no other language has so many features all in one place.

    It would be a good start from Adobe to help hosting companies to help the end users.

    One way or the other, money plays a BIG role and the cost should go down for the community to grow. All other problems will be solved if this one cost problem is solved, I think.
  • 36 Justin Carter // Jan 13, 2008 at 3:19 PM

    ColdFusion didn't exist when many of us were in school, so of course it couldn't be taught. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be taught now! ;)

    I also totally agree with Ziggy. There are a bunch of very popular languages (which we all know) that you can use to develop and deploy an app for no cost. ColdFusion just can't compete with that. It would be nice if it could compete on *some* level... What that is I don't know.

    Also on BlueDragon, Railo, Smith: not many people outside the CF community would have ever heard of these products. If you are evaluating ColdFusion and you find the licensing is too expensive or too restrictive for your business model, you don't get other options handed to you, you probably just give up and go back to the aforementioned bunch of other very popular languages that are free.
  • 37 Mohammed Irfaan // Jan 13, 2008 at 3:58 PM

    I had landed my first CF job because i was taught CF in my UNI. If it wasn't for the slight exposure i was given in uni for coldfusion i wouldn't have been a CF developer.

    I think having CF exposed in the education system will make quite a difference.

    But thanks for such a great post. I will take up the challenge and try to convert a non-CF developer to a CF developer.
  • 38 barry.b // Jan 13, 2008 at 4:10 PM

    1) I have direct evidence that teaching ColdFusion to student equates to CF server sales. Sean, what you say is correct for CompSci students (and it's perhaps better that people learn lots of different stuff beforehand - Haskel anyone) but for Multimedia students (where I work) students are taught PHP anyway (something I'm trying to change).

    2) one of the biggest roadblocks I'm hitting at the moment is lack of free apps - something that PHP seems to have a ton of. I'm fighting Wordpress with BlogCFC, MediaWiki with CanvasWiki, Moodle with FarCry, SugarCRM with [something] etc. I'm trying to use the successful integration of CF-powered apps into the business as a reason to keep CF alive around here.

    eh, my 2c
  • 39 Brian Rinaldi // Jan 13, 2008 at 6:13 PM


    FWIW, I was a guest speaker (as Steve Erat was in past years) in a class that teaches Oracle and ColdFusion at the Harvard Extension School (which btw reaches students around the world). So I guess some universities do teach a "niche, proprietary, tag-based language".

    Also, regarding hosting, a good friend of mine hosts a list of 10 ColdFusion hosts under $10 - and its only 10 because he won't list ones that don't meet his standards (as in GoDaddy doesn't make the list ;). Given the size of the community, that seems like a pretty decent amount of cheap hosting (your claim that we are niche - which is true - and then comparing the amount of hosting with PHP has some logical flaws). Oh, here's the link -
  • 40 H Jaber // Jan 13, 2008 at 7:04 PM

    Great post, I agree with the post and with some of the comments. It's silly to keep hearing about how CF hosting costs too much and everything else is cheaper. If you're worried about that, purchase a license for $1299 and get you a virtual server from and host your own clients and sites. This will make selling your services easier since the site will be hosted wiht you also. Next year you can bill your customer for $100 a year and if you have 12 customers, guess what, your hosting is paid for that year!

    Regarding people wanting or expecting CF to fail, in a way that's true. And I think those people are waiting for something like that to happen so that they can jump to another popular language.

    People forget how easy CF makes things for us, from integrating with a vast variety of apps, web services, pdf generation, etc... I can go on and on about it, you know the rest.

    BTW, I have 2 new CF developers I've been training, I hope to add more. I know my business (CF Development) is doing great, I have 7 current projects that I'm working on and have 5 more that I quoted. Each and every single project is new to CF, whether they were php, static, or whatever, they will now be CF! Clients don't need to know how much CF costs if they're going to be in a hosted environment, and as a developer you should help guide the client in the right direction for hosting and that sort of thing.
  • 41 ziggy // Jan 13, 2008 at 7:21 PM

    >>Adobe have sponsored a website and a coordinator for open source: RIAForge and Ray Camden. Or didn't you realize that was an Adobe-backed project?

    I didn't, though I should have given that they are all adobe products on there! But, for example, I've sent in a few emails to riaforge on fixing obvious problems with the site and they don't get done, or only ages later. Code - on a site about code - was displaying in almost unreadable htmlformat for ages (finally fixed), or no separation between comments so very hard to read them (not fixed). Minor, but my point is I think all cf projects are like that. One very generous guy who maybe takes your input when and if he has time. Bogcfc is fairly lacking compared to something like wordpress, but hasn't been updated in 2 months. Nothing like OS apps in other areas which have systems and teams and scheduled releases. Adobe just hired (sponsored?) Ray very recently, so maybe they're changing? And, again, absolute respect to Ray, but, damn, one guy can only do so much.

    >>They also provided support to the CFEclipse project

    That's great, though I don't like the eclipse memory beast at all. I wish they'd just update Homesite.

    >>did you miss my comment about OEM deals and looking at Railo and/or New Atlanta for that?

    I don't exactly know what an OEM deal is but I use bluedragon hosting because much cheaper and suits my needs, and am considering buying railo. I think they've helped a little.

    >>I'd love to see some decent open source applications but it's the community's "fault" that they haven't appeared, not Adobe's.

    My major point is that it IS Adobes fault because they don't nurture the type of market and community that would create those apps. I think you need a basic free server and hence cheap, plentiful hosting and, importantly, a large young community to develop those things - and/or a very focussed team a la RoR. Adobe only cares about enterprise dollars. Fair enough, it's their business and they can do what they want but the result seems to be a slowly dwindling, aging community, even if sales are ok now. I don't know, maybe it's sustainable and enterprises will keep bringing in and training new people, and there will always be a fringe of developers around that. My perspective is different, I'm not in an enterprise and I have to work with wordpress and others which I'd rather not do, and if I want to find anyone (overseas) who knows cf it is not easy.

    Hope another perspective helps.
  • 42 Sean Corfield // Jan 13, 2008 at 10:56 PM

    @Ziggy, perhaps instead of bitching about problems with RIAforge and BlogCFC you could volunteer to help fix it?

    You don't know what "OEM" means? Look it up!

    You're a whiny ass trying to blame a corporation for your failings. You complain that CF isn't like PHP and Ruby but those languages are entirely community driven. There is no corporation behind them. You do not understand community support. You're pathetic. If you don't like the way CF works, piss off and go be a script kiddie in the PHP world. Your perspective is *selfish* and uninformed.
  • 43 Sean Corfield // Jan 13, 2008 at 11:03 PM

    And before anyone starts beating me up for being mean to Ziggy, take a look at yourselves. "Oh woe is me". "The sky is falling". C'mon folks, get up off your asses and be a community. If PHP and Ruby are so great, learn from them and drive things as a community. There's no corporation behind them.

    The open source projects in CF are nearly all one-man shows. Heck, even CFEclipse is a one-man show. Do something about that. CONTRIBUTE. EVANGELIZE. Stop whining about Adobe!

    If you think CF is great, prove it. Contribute to an open source project, convert a non-CF developer to CF. Stop feeling so sorry for yourselves and stop expecting Adobe to deliver everything on a plate.

    I'm tired of the whining... Let's see 2008 be the year when the negativity STOPS and the community actually start to work together to promote the technology and start being POSITIVE.

    You contribute, you convert - only then do you have any right to complain. Otherwise, shut up, eat it up and get with the program.
  • 44 Sean Corfield // Jan 13, 2008 at 11:09 PM

    @H Jaber, that's great! That's exactly the sort of story I want to hear!

    Please, everybody, more positives, less negatives.

    I used to get in trouble for telling people that if they don't like their job, they should quit and get a better one but it really is solid advice. If you don't like your technology, go away and find something you like. If you think CF is great - and most of you profess that - then push forward and show the world you mean it.
  • 45 Joel Stobart // Jan 14, 2008 at 12:09 AM


    Thanks for pointing me at the smith project - I had never heard of it before.

    Open-source projects often come late to market, and take an amount of time to gain acceptance. Smith may, or may not, be a valuable addition to CF - time will tell.

    I think that a broader range of platforms/implementations of CFML could only help the coldfusion community. I personally think that a decent O/S CFML implementation may significantly grow the acceptance of ColdFusion.

    - Joel

  • 46 ziggy // Jan 14, 2008 at 1:11 AM

    >>@Ziggy, perhaps instead of bitching about problems with RIAforge and BlogCFC you could volunteer to help fix it?

    Perhaps instead of bitching about a small example made to illustrate a large point, you could read what was written and realize that 1) I don't use blogcfc, 2) I obviously don't run Adobe's websites, and 3) I did send a note in about it.

    Look past the trees, Sean, there's a whole forest out there.

    >>You don't know what "OEM" means? Look it up!

    I obviously know what it means, Mr. Angry, but I don't quite see how it gets Adobe to give me and everyone else a cheap server that will help build a much bigger and better cf community.

    >>bitching about problems
    >>You're a whiny ass
    >>blame a corporation for your failings.
    >>You're pathetic.
    >>piss off
    >>*selfish* and uninformed
    >>get up off your asses
    >>shut up, eat it up and get with the program.

    And I have a small peepee too?

    Are you the poster boy for CF community, Sean? All this because someone dared to suggest a truly viable way to build a community that differs from your "we just gotta try harder" pyramid scheme?

    Your vulgar, unintelligent reply demonstrates that you shouldn't ask people ask for opinions if you only want to hear applause.

    Blog this one, Sean, and think seriously about the state of the CF community if you're one of the most "respected" people in it.
  • 47 shimju david // Jan 14, 2008 at 3:42 AM

    Only issue with Coldfusion which I feel is its cost of enterprise edition which certainly creates a barrier for small-size Coldfusion consultancies who are in need of dedicated servers. Shared hosting is not ideal for websites or apps developed using frameworks like Model-Glue and Mach-ii.

  • 48 DanaK // Jan 14, 2008 at 6:22 AM

    Good Post.

    The pricing continues to be the major struggle imho. You kind of glossed over some of it, not to slight a great post. Some of the arguments you see over the price are somewhat valid. There is an initial investment to make, which hopefully you recoup in saved development time over a few projects. I think the opposite is the case with something like PHP. You point out Zend etc, but thats somewhat of an optional (using it loosely) 'feature' you can get away without purchasing to get an app. live.

    I've always thought when people were talking about teaching CF in school or Adobe's marketing, that they were alays referring to marketing to the cursory user. In that I mean the person who might dink around and make some small apps or websites for personal use, i.e. the majority/mainstream/whatever you want to refer to it. I think thats where Adobe's marketing of the developer version better could come into play myself.
  • 49 Scott Fitchet // Jan 14, 2008 at 7:49 AM

    My point was that there was zero (0) mention of ColdFusion at If the RAD aspects are so great ... then CIO would write about them ... especially if there were ad dollars and white papers thrown their way.

    On the CIO homepage today I see an article titled "The Business Value of Windows Vista". Probably no coincidence that the column is sponsored by Microsoft.
  • 50 Sean Corfield // Jan 14, 2008 at 7:54 AM

    @Ziggy, Google testifies to your negativity.

    In comments on other people's blogs you have stated that Rey Bango's "Got CFM?" list 'isn't much', that you 'hate Flash' and have no use for Flex, that the built-in AJAX features of CF8 are 'terrible' and 'looks like total crap' and that 'intelligent people' would code that stuff by hand.

    You're a BlueDragon user because you think Adobe ColdFusion is too expensive and you're considering Railo because it's even cheaper - yet you also claim Adobe ColdFusion can be bought for $1 (in Asia, where you are from) but still say no one uses it.

    You think Adobe has 'screwed up badly'. You think the people at CF conferences are 'old'.

    That's just from results on the first page of searching for 'coldfusion ziggy' so I'm sure I could list a lot more of your negativity if I went beyond page one!

    It's also hard to take you seriously when, in this thread, you say 'I don't exactly know what an OEM deal is' but then you say 'I obviously know what it means' but then say you don't understand how an OEM deal would get you a cheaper server...
  • 51 Sean Corfield // Jan 14, 2008 at 8:00 AM

    @Shimju, I'm curious - do you think that "small-size Coldfusion consultancies" would not buy Standard Edition? I agree that Enterprise Edition is a chunk of money for a small shop but in the "enterprise" market it's still pretty cheap.

    @Scott, I'm not sure if you think that column has less value because it is sponsored by the vendor? If so, isn't that going to be a problem with Adobe sponsoring a column that promotes ColdFusion?
  • 52 Scott Fitchet // Jan 14, 2008 at 9:23 AM

    That wasn't my point. On a site like that it doesn't matter if the opinions are accurate or BS. CIO would be at the top of a list of magazines I have historically seen sitting in IT executive's snail mail boxes ... you go where those eyeballs are.

    ( CIO is not Dr. Dobbs. )

  • 53 Sean Corfield // Jan 14, 2008 at 9:51 AM

    @Scott, thanks for the clarification. Sounds like an Adobe-sponsored article in CIO magazine, promoting ColdFusion, would make you a happy man (and probably others too).
  • 54 Chris Dawes // Jan 14, 2008 at 2:35 PM

    Adobe's sponsorship in Australia is pitiful. I guess they just don't think we're a big enough market. It's actually disheartening to the point that everyone ends up bagging the half-baked support we receive. No wonder CFUG's are small here in the major cities!
  • 55 randy // Jan 14, 2008 at 3:30 PM

    I have been using CF since v1.5 when it came bundled with O'reilly Webserver in a box. We run our owners so I have no real world knowledge of outside hosting. One issue I run into is the LOW cost of CF vs managements ideas - when we go in with our budget and I say we need $15,000 to upgrade our dev server and prod server to CF 8 - they are like thats it - I am yeah its easy, fast and never failed us yet and we get our money - but our management has a perception that you get what you pay for so it must not be a solid product since it is so cheap. We have spent less that 100K since V1.5 and one of our other groups are BIG Business Objects users and they pay 125K a year for upgrades and client licenses and I say for what REPORTS give me a break - if the users can define what they want WE can make CF doing faster and better - I love CF being the little engine that could because BOTTOM LINE is CF allows one to DO while a lot of other things are one trick ponies.
  • 56 barry.b // Jan 14, 2008 at 5:08 PM

    @Chris Dawes

    gee Chris, it's a shame you feel that way. I mean, the CFCAMP last year was really the hard work of just Mark Blair from Adobe working with the CFUG managers (Steve Onnis and Mark Mandel in your case in Melbourne). The ANZ market is (compared to Nth America) tiny. We do it tough in some cases, but we also get kudos and disproportionate benefits (ie: flying in a couple of Adobe ppl to travel around Australia - even to Perth, WebDU support every year, etc).

    you know what would get more support from Adobe (and carry more weight than just raw sales)? Bums-on-seats at CFUG's, etc. You help out, sure, but how many other CF'ers that you know don't bother?

    if you're talking about support on a promotional level, I regularly see the Microsoft side and it's big, glossy but ultimately heartless and overtly manipulative of the community. More miss than hit. In Brisbane we usually miss out on things, it seems it's always Syd or Melb. but we have 4 Adobe user groups now and there's a bit of a groundswell so we are getting some "leverage". Perth too has a passionate CFUG manager that forced Adobe to find dollars to take CFCamp there against huge cost.

    if it's technical support then frontline should always be CFAussie (a problem shared is a problem halved) but then again, when I've been truly stuck and desperate (eg cfpresentation woes recently), emailing Ben Forta or Tim Buntel directly has usually helped as the next tier of help or at least getting me in touch with the right people - bottom line: the guys care about our region, they know we do it tough.

    FWIW, Adobe people *are* listening... but we also have to come up with the goods in the form of user group attendance, or community applications/frameworks/code or blog articles, etc.

    final point: Robin Hilliard has pointed out many times that ANZ sales numbers are skewed and not representative - not all CF licenses are bought in our region, but from the US (or we use U.S hosting).

    sure things could be better, but it doesn't take much apathy to make them a hell of a lot worse...

    eh my 2c only.
  • 57 Will Tomlinson // Jan 14, 2008 at 7:28 PM

    My luck in pushing folks towards CF has been in our local community college.

    I even had a student that worked for a PHPee shop, learned some CF at our school, then talked her boss into switching to CF.

    So it can be beneficial in the school atmosphere.

  • 58 ziggy // Jan 14, 2008 at 7:54 PM

    Sean, you seem badly confused between making a good argument and not liking the point of the argument. (Let alone between building a community and attacking anyone who disagrees with you on method.) Argumentum ad populum? If you can refute the sacrilegious points you've cited - magically make 700kb ajax pages become lean, or show how disliking Flash is "wrong" -, do so. If not, don't embarrass yourself trying to shame people for thinking freely and not simply kowtowing to the Adobe gods like you do.


    Beyond witchhunts to root out apostates, what's next in your community building plan? Loyalty oaths?

    >>It's also hard to take you seriously when...
    >>>but then say you don't understand how an OEM deal would get you a cheaper server...

    It's hard to take your insults seriously, Sean, if you really think everyone wanting to build a website can just call up Adobe and say, "Hey, Sean Corfield said you'd give me a cheap server if I mention 'OEM'." But, hey, maybe I'm just being negative.

    What I'm left wondering is if Adobe/MM got rid of people like you to improve things, or if you actually represent the attitude of people there.

    Enjoy. I'll be off in exile.
  • 59 Sean Corfield // Jan 15, 2008 at 7:49 AM

    Folks, I was going to take Ziggy's discussion private but he's using a bogus email address to post comments so, rather than be accused of 'censoring' him, I published his comment.
  • 60 brad // Jan 15, 2008 at 7:52 AM

    How do I unsubscribe from this blog? I don't want to receive emails for all comments on a blog post.
  • 61 Todd Rafferty // Jan 15, 2008 at 7:57 AM

    wtf, ziggy's comment definitely came out of left field.

    How can you kowtow to Adobe when once upon a time, he USED TO WORK for Adobe. If there's any man that I think that understands the Adobe Culture, I would imagine it would be a current or former employee. Sean left and went freelance and zig's comment is just downright malicious.
  • 62 Mark Cadle // Jan 15, 2008 at 8:31 AM

    I want to jump in and say one final point. I think everyone who is upset on this thread seems to have a common statement; that CF isn't cheap enough or doesn't have the support / "nice-ty's" of other similiar type systems. The one thing I do have to say to that is, CF is more of an enterprise level app server in my opinion. I don't see why a soccer mom would want to use CF for just a blog. Some of the posters keep saying that open source apps, like blogCFC, aren't supported enough, etc. Well, CF really wasn't designed to be a blog engine. Ray has done an awesome job creating blogCFC and promoting its upkeep and community spirit.

    I run a firm that is specific in the genre of development we do. We only develop in CF, Flex, and AIR. Our clients are typically government level entities. We save governments millions of dollars just because we use CF and Flex. When I tell the CIO or exec that in order to have a server that does everything sharepoint,business objects, as well as numerous other type servers for under 10K, I am generally met with disbelief. Most think that this type of functionality must cost over a 100K. This is where Adobe MUST step in. They have to get out and promote the fact that this product is better than everything else and 10 times cheaper.

    When it comes to CF hosting, you have to look at who really needs it; developers (such as my company), businesses, governments, etc do. 10K for enterprise level functionality is a drop in the bucket. Honestly for most small businesses, 10K is not even noteworthy. This is why I say why would a soccer mom need CF? If you only use CF hosting to run a blog, go elsewhere. You are not using all of the features that make CF a value. Built in reporting, LiveCycle Data services, Charting, Flash Forms easily written, Flash Remoting, Event Gateways (Directory Watchers, MY FAV!!), multiple database interfaces, image manipulation, PDF manipulation, the list goes on and on AND all of this for ONLY 10K!!!!!! Try to go buy each application server that does that functionality and it would probably be well over 500K.

    So, I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are only using CF to run a blog or someother simple application, you are not leveraging all of its potential. So yes, I can see where you would want a cheaper product, but when you look at what you could be doing to better your application, increase the useability of the app for your users, and increase the enjoyment of your user experience then 10K is not enough. In my opinion Adobe should be charging 10 times the current amount for this product. That way executives will believe me when I say they can have their cake and eat it too!

    Thanks Sean for at least posting this and braving the flames. I have never understood why people in the same community who ultimately want the best, hate and flame each other so much. May 2008 change everyone's attitude!
  • 63 H Jaber // Jan 15, 2008 at 9:07 AM

    I say whoever has an issue with the cost of CF and is not happy with all the power, go to php, aspx, ruby, whatever... Take the negativity with you when you go. BTW, you better get used to creating all of your own functionality, i'm sure those languages don't come packed with the same things you're used to. And than again, you can find some pre-built code that may be nicely written or may not, that's open source for you.

    The bottom line is this, if you're not happy with something, act on it and lead us all by example so that we can work with each other rather than taking different sides. There is quite a bit of whining going on that probably has the other communities laughing at us.
  • 64 Justin Carter // Jan 15, 2008 at 5:16 PM

    I'd like to point out that I think the "Enterprise only" attitude is the wrong one to take and is harmful to the community. Not everyone wants to use Enterprise features of CF, because not everyone is a developer in an enterprise environment. Does that mean we shouldn't use CF at all?

    I think it's particularly wrong to say you shouldn't use your chosen language of expertise (i.e. CF) for a blog, or a small website, or any other web-related project, especially when you may have invested years into learning CF... Or that you should be prepared to pay the cost (or 10 times the cost?) because it makes things so much "easier" than other languages (which, depending on the context, could be completely untrue when there are other good technologies and language syntax's out there). What's the alternative; stop using CF and use something else? Great, that helps a lot :P

    Ultimately, I guess it's this indecision in where ColdFusion sits in the market that is causing the tension. If the price goes up then no doubt it would get dropped by some, while others would be happy to stick with it. The problem with the latter is that it makes adoption even more difficult than it is now if there is a further reduced set of shops working with the language. There is a gap at the bottom of the ColdFusion product line (in terms of features and pricing), and we are seeing a gap in the developer market (at least in Australia).

    It would be nice to think that a free version could increase the pool of developers and, potentially, lead to increased sales for Adobe. I don't know if that's feasible, but it should be at least considered. Try it for one version release, and if it fails then pull the product. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

    Anyway, all I'm trying to say is that there is another side to the coin ;)
  • 65 Tom Mollerus // Jan 16, 2008 at 8:28 AM

    At least one of the main issues I see in this conversation is whether Adobe or developers should be responsible for making ColdFusion more successful. I think everyone agrees that to some degree, Adobe should be responsible for it-- it's their product that they're charging money for. And as developers who support Adobe by forming a community for their product, it's perfectly fair for us to comment on their efforts.

    But developers need to remember that they've got some skin in the game, too. You've invested some of yourself and your career in ColdFusion, and it's in *your own best interest to actively promote it.*

    So I agree that CF developers should join CFUGs, develop FOSS projects, and teach/recruit/evangelize. But it's also fair to respectfully encourage or criticize Adobe. Both parties need each other. I, for one, would like to see Adobe get CF available as a free option on major hosts. They could still charge a licensing fee to the host, and we'd all enjoy the benefits of a growing community as more people tried the language.
  • 66 barry.b // Jan 16, 2008 at 2:52 PM


    that's a balanced and fair view, IMHO, but lets also recognise some of the positive stuff that Adobe are doing.

    did you know ...

    that Adobe will freely give ColdFusion Enterprise licences to Educational Institutions for student work (labs, projects, etc)? (and since CF works well on *nix, the budget looks pretty good). Adobe are developing a very enlightened view of how to support education.

    now *that's* definitely an improvement to the Macromedia days.

    Also, Adobe give their user groups a fair bit of support - and best of all - keep their hands off them so they remain free and independent in speech. Compare that to your MSDN groups...

  • 67 Daniel Greenfeld // Jan 17, 2008 at 11:40 AM

    Flex knocked one out of the park. From what I understand, Flex is quite free unless you start paying for support, right?

    Since Abobe won't open source ColdFusion, I think ColdFusion should do the same with ColdFusion as it has done with Flex. Make downloading and installing it free no matter the license. Sell support services. Charge more for Enterprise support.

    What you get is a faster growing base of users and ammunition against us open source guys, plus a stronger tie into the world of people who insist on paying too much for support (ie - Enterprise groups). ;)
  • 68 Sean Corfield // Jan 17, 2008 at 12:52 PM


    Flex is a free client technology that has an optional (but very, very desirable) paid development environment (Flex Builder) and an optional (and expensive) server component.

    ColdFusion is a server technology that has a variety of free (CFEclipse etc) and non-free (Dreameaver / HomeSite) development environments. You really can't compare them.

    And it's worth pointing out that the Flex server component - LiveCycle Data Services (formerly Flex Data Services) is substantially more expensive than ColdFusion (although there is a free version for single CPU, single application deployment). BlazeDS is coming as free, open source but it is not all of LCDS so you still really can't compare CF with the Flex ecosystem.
  • 69 richard // Jan 20, 2008 at 10:04 AM

    I develop apps that are delivered to clients as WAR files for deployment on appservers such as Websphere, or on Tomcat for example. These clients have to pay the full enterprise license just to run one application - this doesn't help with this kind of model. Some kind of runtime licensing is needed
  • 70 Sean Corfield // Jan 20, 2008 at 12:54 PM

    @Richard, you should talk to Adobe about OEM licensing.
  • 71 barry.b // Jan 20, 2008 at 2:07 PM


    seconding Sean's comments, if you're developing turnkey apps, OEM pricing can be very competitive, especially at volume.
  • 72 richard // Jan 20, 2008 at 8:46 PM

    @sean - I should have added that I do this work for a large company in Switzerland, and we did achieve a deal with Adobe Switzerland about licensing for CF7. We did eventually get a substantial reduction for corporate clients, but only after some rather protracted and convoluted negotiations. So for a small development firm, this kind of business model would possibly be out of the question, shutting the door to an area of CF development. Suppose you are developing an app for small firms, to be installed on their local intranet, a worklow system or whatever. If you choose CF over ASP or PHP then you are faced with adding a few thousand dollars to the bill, esp with CF8. This might make the difference between success and failure. For a large corporate client, no, but for development targeted at more cost conscious market... There is, of course BD and Railo
  • 73 Sean Corfield // Jan 20, 2008 at 9:11 PM

    @Richard, you may find that it was "rather protracted and convoluted" because you are "a large company" and that getting an OEM deal is substantially easier if you are a small company. My experience in dealing with large corporations is that the bigger your company is, the harder it is to do a deal with the large corporation.

    As you say, however, there are alternatives as well these days - so there's no reason why any size of company should have a problem creating an OEM-based CFML solution.
  • 74 richard // Jan 20, 2008 at 11:09 PM

    @sean - thanks for the advice - as I have two such applications in the pipeline I'll have a word with the Adobe people about this
  • 75 Devin // Jan 23, 2008 at 10:42 PM

    I'll be the first to admit that I don't care about open source and what I really want is free. It's not because I won't pay that price tag (I've already been sold on CF, as well as everyone else that's been commenting here), rather, to make this technology mainstream.

    You meantioned in your post, "What about ASP.NET? How much is Visual Studio?" Well, IS free, just not the IDE. I believe that's a very big difference and is the point I'm trying to make.

    I'm sure Adobe has their reasons for what they do and how much they charge for products. And I won't pretend to understand their business, but I can't help but look at the Flex business model and wonder why the same can't apply.

    Flex1/1.5 costed a buttload (and it never really took off). Sure, the price tag probably wasn't the only reason, but I can be that had a hell of a lot to do with it. Adobe realized that they needed to do something drastic with Flex 2.0 to push it mainstream. Amongst other things, they made it free. And look what happened! I'm assuming the idea was to make the money back through charging for the IDE (and also assuming that that has been a successfull business model, or wouldn't still be that way today). After all, that's how MS's successfull model works, right? Being that this has proven to be a successfull model over and over, with multiple technologies across multiple companies, for making a technology extremely popular and still making money, can you explain why this wouldn't work for CF?

    Oh... wait. Maybe because CF doesn't have an IDE? At least not a kick-ass one such as flexbuilder and visual studio. Being as though CF is one of the oldest web application technologies and STILL not having kickass IDE tells me that some one has dropped the ball. But that's besides the point.

    In any case, it seems to me that CF just needs a really, really good IDE. Something that developers would buy (any serious CF developer, at least). And then make the server/compiler free, even if that means that 3rd party modules cost extra (kind of like flex charting... people will pay if they need it). Or am I missing something obvious here?
  • 76 Todd Rafferty // Jan 24, 2008 at 11:14 AM

    @richard: You are missing the fact that CF comes bundled/invested with 3rd party applications. Verity, the encryption library, etc. They couldn't give that away for free even if they tried.
  • 77 Sean Corfield // Jan 24, 2008 at 11:15 AM

    @Devin, ASP.NET isn't free because the O/S isn't free (Linux is free, Windows is not). It's a nit-picking point but an important one. And tooling up ASP.NET to have all the features of ColdFusion would be expensive because you'd need a lot of third-party add-ons.

    As for Flex, I'll point out that the server components are *not* free (and are much more expensive than ColdFusion). The only free parts of Flex are the client side stuff (by virtue of the Flash Player runtime) and the SDK - compare to the Java JVM and JDK for ColdFusion (which are free). Also note that as of Flex 3, the Flex Charting components won't be a separately purchasable module - you'll either buy Flex Builder Standard ($249) or Flex Builder Professional ($649).

    The CFEclipse project tried to make a low-cost, pre-packaged version and no one in the CF community would pay anything for it. And how many CFers do you know that would pay several hundred dollars for something when CFEclipse is free? If CFEclipse suddenly cost $249 for a "basic" version, how many CFers do you think would buy it and how many would continue to use the older, free version?
  • 78 Tom Mollerus // Jan 24, 2008 at 1:40 PM

    @Devin and Sean,

    I have to agree with Devin on the argument that CF's cost is a major factor in why it's much less prevalent than PHP, ASP, and Java/JSP. If it were free and/or available for free via major web hosts, a LOT more people would try it.

    And before someone points out that there are many cheap CF hosting accounts available, let me say: those CF hosting accounts have to be specifically chosen by customers. They're not going to choose them unless they know what CF is and why they'd want it. Your average newbie or non-techie business owner is not going to have heard of CF; they're going to have heard of PHP.

    Only when new developers/business owners are presented with BOTH ColdFusion and PHP in the same hosting account are they going to bother to look at CF.

    I don't really care in the end whether CF is free, or cheap, or expensive; I don't care whether it has its own IDE; I don't care whether it's open source or now. The only thing I think we all care about in the end is whether we enjoy our job using ColdFusion, and whether the CF job market makes for a good life.
  • 79 barry.b // Jan 24, 2008 at 2:18 PM

    RE: "cost"

    I'm sold on CF simply because of the productivity gains - which offsets the cost of the software (or sourcing specialist hosting) well. Selling the solution, not the platform, as it were.

    When CF comes with so many extensions and functionality - talking natively to Java or .NET DLL's, MSExchange as examples - then not wasting time trying to learn how to incorporate third-party libraries (AKA "shifting targets") into the platform is a lifesaver. IMHO only .NET does it better with "out-of-the-box" functionality (and I'm not going back to ASP.NET anytime soon)

    ColdFusion == RAD: it's a money-saver.

  • 80 Devin // Jan 24, 2008 at 4:00 PM

    "I'll point out that the server components are *not* free (and are much more expensive than ColdFusion)."

    Actually, LiveCycle Data Services ES Express is free, non-expiring, and for commercial use.

    I think it should be broken down like this:

    CF Standard (no enterprise features, and no 3rd party non-free modules) -- Free

    CF IDE -- affordable ($500 or less)

    CF IDE for students -- Free

    CF Enterprise -- Lots of money

    And in doing something similar to that, here's what how I would imagine it to affect the industry.

    --Medium/Large companies will continue to pay for CFEnt (no money loss for Adobe).
    --Small dev shops will be more willing specialize in CF development rather than just asp/php. (more money to adobe for the cost of employees CF IDE's rather than no money to Adobe for being strictly asp/php)
    --CF contactors, like myself, (as well as fulltime employees who want to do development on their home computers) would be more willing to pay for the worthy IDE, rather than paying nothing for development.

    I just can't see any drawbacks to the situation.

    And as for everyone else saying that they don't mind the current situation, neither do I. Like I said, I've already been sold on the platform. But this blog post isn't about what I personally think about CF, it's what I think would make CF more popular.
  • 81 Sean Corfield // Jan 24, 2008 at 5:23 PM

    @Devin, LCDS Express is pretty restricted in terms of deployment. And Blaze DS - the open source portion of LCDS - is a subset of LCDS Express in terms of features (although unlimited in terms of deployment I believe). Again, you're comparing apples and oranges.

    If you removed all the "3rd party non-free modules" from CF Standard, I think you'd have a fairly crippled product. Remember that Allaire tried a free version of CF (also called "Express" like LCDS) and it was not well-received.

    You can't see any drawbacks because you're looking at this through blinkers (or blinders as I believe they call them here in the USA?).

    Question: do you use CFEclipse (free) or Dreamweaver (not free) or HomeSite+ (which you have to buy Dreamweaver to get)? Think about the implication of your answer :)
  • 82 Todd Rafferty // Jan 24, 2008 at 5:33 PM

    @Devin, I think you'd be very surprised at what's left if/when all the "3rd party non-free modules" where yanked out. Oh, wait... doesn't that also include database drivers? Ah, forget that, I'll pay, I'll pay. :P
  • 83 richard // Jan 24, 2008 at 9:16 PM


    QUOTE: You are missing the fact that CF comes bundled/invested with 3rd party applications. Verity, the encryption library, etc. They couldn't give that away for free even if they tried.

    That is true, but it doesn't help with the initial issue of choosing a platform for turnkey applications aimed at cost conscious small businesses. I should add that like most people here I'm pretty much sold on CF given the productivity gains, and this has been proven to me over the past few years, not only in development, but maintenance. However, I'm keen to see what OEM pricing options Adobe can come with.
  • 84 Fred B // Jan 25, 2008 at 1:26 AM

    I think a stripped-down lean-and-mean free version of CFMX is a great idea.

    The Community edition of Railo is free and it is certainly not a "fairly crippled product". No it doesn't do everything CFMX does, but it does do everything I need.
  • 85 Todd Rafferty // Jan 25, 2008 at 3:47 AM

    @richard, that's because you never had to stop and say, "Gee, I wonder if this edition comes with database drivers? That'd be nice." If it were free, those would probably be yanked out and you would probably have to setup all the jdbc drivers yourself.
  • 86 Devin // Jan 25, 2008 at 6:26 AM

    How am I comparing apples to oranges? I realize LCDS for the enterprise is not free, and I never said or implied cf for the enterprise should be free.

    If I'm looking through blinders, why have so many other (now more popular) technologies pulled it off... vendor specific and non vendor specific? If cost is not the reason CF is less popular, then what IS the reason? If you think it's the community apect, how much do you think the high cost barriar affects the community aspect?

    Many people here (including me) are giving their opinions on why cf may not be popular, and it seems that cost is one of the more popular opinions (be it directly or indirectly related). So rather than just rebutling everyone's thoughts, what is your opinion for cf being less popular?

    And I use dreamweaver. I'm not thrilled about it, but that's what I use.
  • 87 Devin // Jan 25, 2008 at 6:40 AM

    I don't think I'd be surprised at what non-free 3rd party modules are yanked out. Anyone have that list off their head? I'm sure I've put together many applications that use no non-free 3rd party modules or so-called enterprise features. In fact, I bet the last cf web site I built was like that -- which is hosted on cf enterprise, so I had the option to, there just was no reason to.

    In fact, I sometimes wonder why I'm not using a free technology for many of the applications I build, being that I'm not building a mission critical enterprise app everytime I open dreamweaver. That's probably what's going through the minds of people who do use something else.
  • 88 richard // Jan 25, 2008 at 9:29 AM

    @Todd - you are misunderstanding me. How do I present these arguments to someone who says, "ok, your are selling me this app for $3000 + $1000 dollars for this license fee thing, but this guy is selling it for $3000 - what is my extra $1000 dollars (or $500 or even $200) getting me" Now I could say to myself that my competitor spent a whole lot more on development than I did, because his platform was a bit more tricky etc etc, but more likely I am going to say to myself that I'm not going to develop $3000 apps using CF, which is a shame, but it goes back to the question about making CF more pervasive, and hence more successful
  • 89 Sean Corfield // Jan 25, 2008 at 10:31 AM

    @Devin, the free version of LCDS only allows one application on one CPU. How many CFers do you think would accept that for a free version of CF?

    I don't deny that many CFers perceive cost to be the issue. That doesn't mean they are right :)

    @Richard, if CF helps you build a better application faster then either you can sell your higher price on better features or it would cost you less to produce and you could sell the overall package for the same price with the license included.

    You can't have it both ways folks: either CF is much more productive than "technology X" - as everyone believes - and therefore you save so much time/money that the cost is worth it, or it isn't any more productive and therefore seems expensive. If it isn't any more productive, why are you using it?
  • 90 David // Jan 25, 2008 at 10:59 AM

    If I can comment on the price part - there have been many suggestions on this blog and others, about Adobe stripping out features and allowing them as add-on's - different levels so to speak. Jason Delmore (the CF Product Manager) pretty much ruled this out - he said on his blog that CF would essentially need to be re-written to handle this.

    Now, that not being an option, the other model to take is provide an IDE and give the server away for free (maybe mark down the Enterprise version). That would be closer to the Flex/MS model.

    I'm not really sure what this IDE would look like, what it would bring to the table, and why people would feel compelled to purchase it. When Jason Delmore asked that question on his blog ( I didn't see alot of people delivering answers to that question - What would distinguish this IDE over a crowded market?


  • 91 barry.b // Jan 25, 2008 at 4:01 PM

    on the back of what Davo has said that any stripping out features is out of the question (so it's a dead issue)...

    @Devin: "what is your opinion for cf being less popular?"

    right now, lack of choice (and lack of numbers of) open source and - free to start with - apps, and that can come down to sheer lack of numbers of CF'ers contributing. PHP wins in this space hands down, and gut feeling says there are more Python OSS than CF...

    give credit where it's due, Geoff Bowers and Daemon has shown that opening up FarCry CMS has created a POSS business model as well as a thriving contributing community. And Ray Camden has just announced another milestone with RIAForge ...

    but as far as bringing an app into my organisation to start off with, expand upon and contribute back to, I haven't got a lot of choice.

    is that the fault of individual developers? probably not. ASP.NET apps are pretty thin on the ground too, considering how much "bigger" it is.

    gut feeling is there's not a lot that can be done about it - it's a community mindset that needs "adjusting". I'm just saying that this is my pain at the moment and I'm on the knife edge in keeping CF alive within my organisation in the face of PHP exactly because of this.
  • 92 Sean Corfield // Jan 25, 2008 at 4:55 PM

    @Barry, yes, and that's a point I've made early and often: even CFers complain that PHP has more open source apps yet they don't stop to think why (answer: because the CF community doesn't collaborate and produce such apps).

    It's worth noting that in addition to FarCry as POSS, Transfer ORM is just about to go that way so maybe we'll see more projects follow that path and that will help CF overall.

    Most of the CF open source apps are the product of just one man and, because they are not team efforts, they are not as polished and feature-rich as their equivalents in other communities such as PHP. The community needs to pitch in and help more (and project authors need to get better at allowing multiple contributors - although typically very few volunteers actually *contribute* anything so it isn't really the fault of the project authors).
  • 93 Justin Carter // Jan 26, 2008 at 12:19 AM

    Barry, excellent points, but... I think there needs to be a large enough CF developer population before we can hope to build, maintain and support a large number of Open Source solutions, but I dont think we have enough developer numbers to do that yet. Developers are the ones that drive OSS, OSS cant drive the platform when the developer numbers arent there. It's the chicken before the egg thing in this case I think.

    IMO, reasons for lack of adoption need to stem from more fundamental things initially, such as the cost of entry to using the platform, developer tools (Adobe supported CF IDE), and other stuff previously mentioned in this thread. CF has been around a lot longer than mainstream acceptance of OSS too :)
  • 94 Sean Corfield // Jan 26, 2008 at 7:27 PM

    @Justin, that's certainly not true of Ruby (on Rails). What made Ruby popular was an Open Source framework. That's what drove community growth.

    I'd question your assertion about the longevity of "mainstream acceptance of OSS" - I was writing OSS in the early 90's along with a lot of other folks. I will concede that OSS tends to thrive more in the *nix community than the Windows community.
  • 95 Devin // Jan 26, 2008 at 10:54 PM

    But it didn't cost a few thousand dollars to actually use ruby's open source framework in an application.

    the majority of cf-based open source and/or free apps primarily only get used by existing cf developers... and not pulling in new developers. So it's not helping the cause much. And it's understandable, considering a free forum or free blog isn't so free having to shell out so much for the server to run it on.

    It also takes away a lot of the incentative of building such things, knowing that relatively few people are going to use your cf forum compared to the much cheaper costs of running a php forum. I don't think we'll ever see a huge library of OSS for coldfusion, it just doesn't happen on a technology of that cost.

    When it comes down to it, ColdFusion is marketed to businesses (who can afford it), not individual developers. So as long as that continues to be profitable, I don't see it changing. There will always be a lot of CF developers, but it'll never be extremely popular. Unless they figure out how to market it to both businesses and individual developers (like they've done with flex)
  • 96 Justin Carter // Jan 27, 2008 at 4:16 PM

    Thats right, with Ruby you can actually deploy an OSS app for free, without Ruby licensing costs... With the ColdFusion product you just can't. Therefore it is much less likely that any CF-based framework or open source project will ever make much difference in developer growth, compared to what Rails did for Ruby, because the up front platform cost is just too high for the expections of people making a switch to CF. The majority of the time when people hear OSS they think "free", and they want free (regardless of how wrong that expectation may be). So even with some "super awesome, RoR killing, make the world a better place" ColdFusion open source apps that are free, it is an uphill battle to convince people that they should then pay the licensing fees for the ColdFusion product for something they just want to use for free. I just don't think OSS could drive ColdFusion unless the licensing changes..
  • 97 Rich // Jan 30, 2008 at 11:59 AM

    What's funny is that I actually did learn Coldfusion at a university. I took a grad school class at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor as an undergraduate. The class was called Advanced Web Design I believe and it was basically about creating web apps using Coldfusion 4.5 and MS Access. This was back in late 2001 or early 2002. Coldfusion was the second language I learned in college along with C++. Coldfusion is by far the best language in my opinion to get something up and running quickly outside of using a framework.

    Right now I work with PHP and use the CakePHP framework but I will always be a CF Fan even though I'm working in an open-source shop right now.
  • 98 steve // Feb 12, 2008 at 3:05 PM

    I don't actually code coldfusion but I am responsible for administrating coldfusion servers and desiging I.T. Infrastructure which at the moment is based around coldfusion.

    The problem I find is that Adobe really limit the features on the standard edition i.e only alloying you to deploy CF as a J2EE app via tomcat using the enterprise edition. This to me is annoying as it limits how you can split presentation layers and your application layers in to two seperate sets of physical layers.

    I mean fair enough you have to limit the standard edition but they should really include a bit more functionality. Paying 7500 dollars approx for a enterprise licence or 3500 dollars approx for the update just so you can deploy as a J2EE app is a bit much for my liking especially when thats all you need and don't require the extra functionality that they pack with the enterprise licence.

    Just my two cents