An Architect's View

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An Architect's View

Promoting ColdFusion outside the CF community

October 7, 2007 ·

At MAX, Brian Meloche ran a BOF on this topic and he has published his interim report as well as the specific findings of the non-ColdFusion target group. Brian focused on what the community can do which is the right approach in my opinion (Ruby and PHP got popular because of their community, not because of corporate marketing) and one of the key suggestions from the non-ColdFusion target group was for the community to rally around a single point of promotion and build CF versions of all the free, open source software integrations that are seen in the Java, PHP and .NET communities. We won't get their by constantly reinventing wheels - we need to pitch in and help with existing projects (and authors of projects need to get better about allowing others to contribute - which is one of the problems with RIAforge since it does not support multiple contributors).

Tags: adobemax07 · coldfusion · oss

28 responses

  • 1 Raymond Camden // Oct 7, 2007 at 11:22 AM

    To be fair - RIAForge absolutely does allow you to have any number of people contributing. You can either share one logon, or simply have one person responsible for updating the RIAForge site when a new version is released. Yes- you can't have N logons and that is something that needs to be added, but it doesn't prevent you from having multiperson teams on a project hosted at RIAForge.
  • 2 doug // Oct 7, 2007 at 11:42 AM

    So interesting that you just wrote this as I was thinking about the same issues yesterday - of which I also blogged. I invite you to comment, should you have the time.
    Doug
  • 3 Sean Corfield // Oct 7, 2007 at 2:47 PM

    Doug's blog post is here if folks want to comment:

    http://dougr.net/index.cfm/2007/10/6/Where-is-CF-for-our-kids
  • 4 Sean Corfield // Oct 7, 2007 at 2:48 PM

    @Ray, RIAforge does not support multiple committers and that is key as far as I'm concerned. It's why I host my projects on Google Code (and then link to Google Code from RIAforge).
  • 5 Raymond Camden // Oct 8, 2007 at 3:56 AM

    Considering that - outside of SVN - RIAForge admin is mainly just editing fields on the site - if multiuser support was given FIRST to svn support - would that be enough to makes folks happy for a while?

    If the users you give commit access to had to be RIAForge Users - would that be a problem?
  • 6 Raymond Camden // Oct 8, 2007 at 4:10 AM

    Actually - I took another look. I believe we can allow for users with no connection to RIAForge at all. I just sent an email to Gonda about it and am going to fast track this as much as possible.
  • 7 Neil Middleton // Oct 8, 2007 at 5:32 AM

    @Mark For me, a single point of entry from a marketing/promotion point of view is wrong.

    I've posted my thoughts on my blog @ blog.feed-squirrel.com
  • 8 tony petruzzi // Oct 8, 2007 at 6:04 AM

    I think the biggest problem that you're going to have with this is deciding on how to write the applications. What frameworks are you going to use, if any, and are the applications going to be procedural or OO in terms of the code.

    Another issue that I've run into before is just the whole organization of the project in general. I remember joining the CFBB project (I think that was the name) and it never got off the ground because the people in charge weren't qualified to lead the project. There was no organization and ultimately it died.

    While what you're purposing is a noble idea, I don't see this happening.
  • 9 Sean Corfield // Oct 8, 2007 at 7:52 AM

    @Neil, interesting blog post and I agree to some extent. When people have raised the idea of a CF-only aggregator site, I've pointed out that just makes CF more of an island. Yes, it helps CFers find stuff faster but it makes it more "ghetto" at the same time. To promote CF "outside", we need to be very careful about going ghetto with it.

    We need a strong core within the community - and RIAforge is a good rallying point for all things Adobe - but we also need to make sure that CF is visible outside the community.

    As for SourceForge, well, I've found it to be a royal pain to deal with so, apart from OpenXCF (Open Exchange for ColdFusion) which was intended to be a multi-contributor, CF-focused project on SourceForge, I moved everything off to Google Code.

    You can see the OpenXCF project team here:

    http://sourceforge.net/project/memberlist.php?group_id=100854

    It includes Ray, Joe, Jared, myself, Paul Kenney and a couple of others but, apart from a Paul's cfcUnit and Tartan frameworks, only a few small projects were ever contributed...
  • 10 Sean Corfield // Oct 8, 2007 at 7:52 AM

    BTW, searching SourceForge for ColdFusion does yield quite a few hits:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=coldfusion+sourceforge.net

    @Tony, yes, CFers in general haven't really gotten their heads around how to run open source projects, mostly because it's still a relatively new concept to the community. We've seen a lot of one-man projects (not all OSS) but we have only seen a handful of multi-developer projects emerge so far.
  • 11 Sean Corfield // Oct 8, 2007 at 7:54 AM

    @Tony, to address your other point: LitePost showed that you could build an application and publish it using multiple application frameworks and I think that's a good model for other application projects. Build a reusable model and then build multiple front ends using various frameworks or even a Flex front end.
  • 12 Mark Mandel // Oct 8, 2007 at 7:58 AM

    [I accidentally deleted this comment so I'm reinstating it, albeit out of order. Sorry! -- Sean]

    @Ray -

    I hate to say this, but I totally agree with Sean.

    Riaforge is a wonderful piece of work, and *huge* kudos to you for doing it, however, as a project scales up (especially as Transfer is right now), you definitely run into some road blocks in terms of the ability to manage your project through the tools provided in Riaforge.

    The nice thing is, however, is that you can still be listed on RiaForge, even if you code and/or project management isn't hosted on there - which still leaves it as a single point of entry into Adobe OSS.
  • 13 Neil Middleton // Oct 8, 2007 at 8:05 AM

    @Sean re aggregators. For me, sites like Feed-squirrel and the goog aren't as much as a problem because a bulk of the traffic is search engine sourced anyhow.

    However, managing to get CF content onto other non-CFML aggregators would help massively. This is one of the reasons feed-squirrel carries ASP.NET content. It gets non CFML developers in, who then see CFML content.
  • 14 TJ Downes // Oct 8, 2007 at 9:23 AM

    I agree on the RIAForge points. I like RIAForge because it is a focal point for projects built on the Adobe platform. However, this is really where developers already working with Adobe products will go.

    I, like Sean, have moved much of my project to Gogle Code and Google Groups (for documentation and discussions). Partly this is for the visibility (searching Google Code and Google's search engine), but primarily because of the control it gives me over the project and allowing others to join it. With the influx of contributors to Kalendar this has become very important to me.

    Another factor to consider: A project which is well managed with have a content editor. This person should be responsible for maintaining the content on the project site. Unfortunately, without giving out my password, I can't offer this capability to the content editor on our team. I host a number of projects on RIAForge and would prefer not to give access to projects which that person is not a part of.

    Other than this, RIAForge is a great tool and has been very helpful in getting my project exposed to the ColdFusion community.

    I think that there are a few very important points brought out here that I want to emphasize:

    1. Proper project management: I am guilty of bad PM. In order to attract users to your project you need to be organized, setting milestones and addressing bugs in a timely manner. Just like commercial software, users will abandon you if they don't feel they are getting support or the project is making progress.

    2. Getting into the external resources. PHP is everywhere. You can go to any site that offers free web apps and PHP is likely the number one script used in these apps. CF has a long way to go to compete with this but it can be done.

    3. Stop protecting your code. I found that by considering my code private I was prohibiting myself an opportunity to learn. What i was writing wasn't anything that couldn't be done by anyone else, and probably better. By contributing it, or at least part of it, to the community I was able to get valuable feedback and a tremendous learning experience. lesson learned: Giving code away comes back ten fold.
  • 15 Mark Mandel // Oct 8, 2007 at 3:44 PM

    It would be great if RiaForge allows for multiple submitters! :D

    At the end of the day, I'll end up eventually taking Transfer's SVN hosting and project tracking off of RiaForge, simply so that I have complete control over the environment the project is in, and can have a more cohesive system to give to end users, without them having to go from one site to another.
  • 16 Sean Corfield // Oct 8, 2007 at 4:55 PM

    @Mark, I've certainly gotten used to the very tight integration between Trac and SVN on many hosted services that allow me to commit a change and say "Fixes #123 by doing blah, blah, blah" and have it automatically:
    - add the commit comment to bug 123 alongside with the SVN changeset number
    - close the bug
    - tie both together on the timeline

    I actually find Google Code deficient in that area. I like the Trac/SVN hosting Simeon Bateman has set up for Fusebox, Model-Glue and other projects. And cvsdude.com provides the same integration.
  • 17 Raymond Camden // Oct 8, 2007 at 5:00 PM

    Mark - message received - but please do continue to update the basic info at least at RIAForge.

    I pinged Rob today and am making N users for SVN my #1 priority.
  • 18 Mark Mandel // Oct 8, 2007 at 7:44 PM

    @Sean - It is that exact tight integration that I am looking for when I will end up moving off RiaForge.

    It will just make so many things so much easier.

    I'm actually waiting for the Skweegee project to come to fruition, and am planning on taking advantage of that for the new Transfer site.

    I also think that having a CF based project tracker integrated with SVN will be a huge boon for the community, rather than having to rely on something like Trac, which isn't CF based.

    @Ray - Of Course! I love the searchable repository nature of RiaForge, and I wouldn't think of removing the listing of Transfer from there, or not updating the information!
  • 19 Brian Meloche // Oct 8, 2007 at 9:14 PM

    Thanks to Sean and to others for the kind words.

    @Mark: I, too, have been looking for Skweegee to come together, but it seems like it's still a one man project, and it doesn't appear like there's been a lot of movement on it in the last couple of months.

    @Ray et al: RIAForge is a great central place for Adobe-based projects, but to reach a wider audience, we need to tell the story more than just one central place. If we target PHP developers, for example, we need to tell them where they will actually get the message. I have been using the term "ColdFusion Missionary" instead of "ColdFusion Evangelist" because evangelists preach to the already converted. Missionaries seek new places to preach, and sometimes have to deal with a lot of negativity and backlash to get their message across. To grow the ColdFusion market, we need to get out of our comfort zone and seek out new audiences and places to talk about ColdFusion. A central location helps once someone has already heard some good things and wants to hear more, but you have to tell them those good things before they want to hear more.
  • 20 Russ Johnson // Oct 9, 2007 at 6:34 AM

    @Brian: I know it appears that there hasnt been much movement on Skweegee over the last couple months. But thats due to the fact that Im right in the middle of a re-write. I learned a lot during the process of writing what is available now but I wasnt happy with the direction of the code. So I started a rewrite using ColdBox as the primary framework and keeping ColdSpring in the mix and adding Transfer as well.

    All this while trying to finish out some of the feature set and being a one man show. Now Mark and I talk quite a bit on IM about it and he has helped me tremendously with integrating some of the Java stuff that it has taken to get the SVN browser and SVN related timeline together.

    Im locking the feature set now so that I can prepare what I have for a release in the next week or two. From ther I will start doing incremental releases to add features and fix bugs from the previous release.

    I should really blog about the progress of Skweegee more but I have really been trying to get this thing out the door!
  • 21 Alan Daveline // Oct 9, 2007 at 9:17 AM

    No pitching in the world will make up for the ColdFusion license cost. ColdFusion has a lot of powerful strengths, but a large & active community is not one of them. The Open Source & Microsoft communities have slowly squeezed the growth out of a large ColdFusion community by offering essentially free solutions. As Sean stated, PHP got popular because of its community... one reason the community is so large, is because because every hosting provider has really nice PHP hosting plan for < $10. A ColdFusion host can easily be $20+, and you don't get nearly as many goodies. It is probably too late for ColdFusion to make up for its small community, and is there any reason is should? ColdFusion is a niche market, that has little chance to break free from its proprietary chains.

    Why would I write some community driven application, when the vast majority of the larger web development community & individual developers can't afford it? Why should I consider using ColdFusion for myself or a client when we can not freely use ColdFusion? Why would I want to waste my talent, developing some application for ColdFusion, when most of the time it already exists in PHP? Why reinvent the wheel, when I could spend my time furthering an existing PHP application. Even the mighty Adobe went with PHP and mediawiki for labs.adobe.com. Why because it is the best, and it is free!
  • 22 Ben Forta // Oct 9, 2007 at 11:59 AM

    >> Even the mighty Adobe went with
    >> PHP and mediawiki for labs.adobe.com.

    Actually, that is very incorrect. Adobe used PHP for Labs because they wanted a Wiki and the best and most popular one is PHP based. Nothing to do with PHP being best (which we can debate) or free.

    --- Ben
  • 23 Raymond Camden // Oct 9, 2007 at 12:01 PM

    Alan:

    While you can find cheaper PHP hosts than CF - I'm of the mind you get what you pay for. But you can find cheap CF hosts. They do exist. I can't imagine going to a client like Bank of America and saying, "Hey guys, want to host on a ten dollar a month ISP??"

    I would also take issue with you saying the vast majority of the community can't afford it. Since you can run the app for free locally - and you can host cheap (again, if you want to), then I do not see the logic behind your argument there. It doesn't cost me anything to download ColdFusion. It doesn't cost me anything to code.

    You ask - why would you use CF when you can't use it freely? I assume you know that price of the software is only one part of the total cost of the project. If a CF person can do an app in 1/10th the time it takes a PHP person, then your cost savings make up for itself right there. (And I don't want to turn this into a PHP versus CF argument, I'm just using it as an example to demonstrate the point that you can't look at just the cost of the software.)

    I'm also curious about this: "A ColdFusion host can easily be $20+, and you don't get nearly as many goodies" What goodies? PHP has a built in server monitor? Event gateways? Etc? Or are you talking about hosting features?

    As for Adobe - they certainly do use CF. The example you point out on Labs is just one part of the greater site. There actually _is_ a free CF based wiki out there (I wish Adobe would you, but to be fair, it is mine so I'm not objective.)
  • 24 Brian Meloche // Oct 9, 2007 at 12:04 PM

    @Russ: Good to hear you are still working on Skweegee. Please give us an update at your earliest convenience.

    @Alan: Thanks for commenting. You're exactly the kind of person ColdFusion has not targeted well in the past. Your comments are full of half truths and conjecture. Not everything you want to build is something that's freely available, and for a large custom application, ColdFusion is a GREAT choice. You can easily make up for the cost of a license on a large project with productivity gains. Anything you can program in PHP, a ColdFusion developer can write a lot faster in CF.

    I understand that there are open source projects. MediaWiki was the right choice for Adobe Labs, and it still is two years later. I also agree that there's no NEED to build a ColdFusion in every case. However, you're missing the point. There is a place for ColdFusion. I am sorry you haven't realized it yet.

    Actually, there IS a large ColdFusion community, but a lot of us have been quiet, and didn't know how to share. We do now, and we're not going away.
  • 25 sal // Oct 12, 2007 at 12:22 PM

    speakin of, have you seen this number yet...?

    http://railsenvy.com/2007/10/3/ruby-on-rails-vs-coldfusion

    them silly guys.

    cheers
  • 26 Sean Corfield // Oct 12, 2007 at 1:19 PM

    @Sal, yeah, I think pretty much everyone has seen that now...

    I think it's good on two counts: 1) it shows that ColdFusion actually is on their radar and 2) it's more of a dig at MySpace and it's ilk than a real dig at ColdFusion itself.
  • 27 sal // Oct 12, 2007 at 4:04 PM

    I must concur, they do dogg myspace more than CF as a language itself... Both liking ruby/rails and CFML/MG I found the command line comment the most humorous...

    cheers
  • 28 Raymond Camden // Oct 23, 2007 at 11:05 AM

    Just thought I'd update folks a bit on the RIAForge stuff. I spoke w/ Gonda today (he did all the CF/SVN work) and it looks like this may get done pretty soon. Once he completes the main API, I just have to make a basic crud for it in your project admin. I'll be asking for folks to test.