How to Make Adobe ColdFusion Desirable Again

October 17, 2018
Host CF Alive podcast, founder CFUnited, CEO TeraTech
Wizard 21 posts
Followers: 4 people
13

How to Make Adobe ColdFusion Desirable Again

Host CF Alive podcast, founder CFUnited, CEO TeraTech
Wizard 21 posts
Followers: 4 people
October 17, 2018

Without good marketing, a product can die. There are some out there who say that Adobe ColdFusion is dying. However, ColdFusion experts and developers agree that it is very much alive. And technically it is excellent. Perhaps the problem is not CF itself, but with its marketing.

So what steps can we take as CFers to make sure ColdFusion doesn’t fade away?

How can we promote CFML?

These are some tricky questions as there is no clear-cut answer. Both producers and consumers must do their part to ensure the survival of CF and help it grow. Let’s take a look at how we can transform our quiet platform into a roaring giant through better marketing.

Improve PR

“ColdFusion from a technical point of view is not dying. What I believe is and has always been an issue in my opinion with CF is PR. Adobe has never really marketed ColdFusion to the masses and they’ve always been fortune 500, big corporation type clients they’re going after, which doesn’t get into schools and the mainstream. And Lucee has done a lot and for them to make it available to people who don’t have big corporate checkbooks. But marketing has always been a weak point. I believe it needs more in the marketing department because the language is stable. It doesn’t have any tech issues. It’s got a good support base it just needs visibility.”- Steven Neiland, Senior web developer at SiteVision Inc

From CF Alive episode, “031 Going Modular With Fw/1 Subsystems 2.0, with Steven Neiland

Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about the good folks at Adobe and Lucee. Apart from working CFML developers, very few know the name ColdFusion. Whereas, Java and C++ have become household names in tech circles. How can we do the same for ColdFusion? To do this, we must first address how CF’s PR could be way better.

ColdFusion is far from dead. One proof of this is the amazing advancements made in CF 2018. Asynchronous programming, auto security lockdowns, and multi-latency support are just some of the new updates. But who is going to hear about it? The CF community needs to step up its game when it comes to getting the word out to the masses.

Adobe focuses its marketing to existing customers. It relies on word-of-mouth marketing more than wider outreach campaigns. The CF team also needs to reach out to their desired clientele. Adobe stays in its safe zone of Fortune 500 companies and government. Why aren’t they reaching out to the developer masses? Why are they content to stay in this shell? New recruits keep a software army going. Notice how many ColdFusion experts are currently out there. The numbers are fewer than they could be. Also many existing CFers seem kind of ashamed about what they do, as I discussed in detail in the Introduction chapter.

Adobe ColdFusion isn’t without its competitors in the CFML arena. The frontrunner is Lucee, an open source CFML. The Lucee Organization is currently not as prominent as Adobe in the public eye but rising. So why is it that Lucee is now mentioned in every conversation about CFML? First, Lucee as an organization is reaching out to the masses of developers. Lucee offers what Adobe does not — a free open source product.

But Lucee also offers some things that Adobe definitely could:

  • A modern, streamlined community website. (Separate from the main corporate website).
  • Partners that actively promote Lucee CFML, including the prolific third-party CF company Ortus Solutions.

What would help Adobe ColdFusion? Active marketing.

Instead of waiting for new customers to come to them, Adobe needs to reach out to new people. A safe place for them to start would be to expand within the Fortune 500 companies and government organizations they are already associated with. And then move beyond that to Russell 2000 and Inc 5000 companies.

ColdFusion is an easy programming language to learn. All students interested in a software development path should be exposed to CFML.

Adobe currently has a program for student outreach with Adobe Education Exchange. But when was the last time you heard a public announcement about that? Instead of only handing out a free software to a student who can market to their institution, make a scene about it. Hold hackathons. Give out prizes to top school CF coders.

Related: Comprehensive list of Adobe ColdFusion learning resources

Let’s Talk About Age and Its Benefits

ColdFusion has been around since 1995. Back in the Allaire days, it was revolutionary. So much so that it has kept going over the last 23 years through the ownership by Macromedia and now Adobe.

“And don’t believe the people who say, “Nobody uses it.” Because I get new customers every week. I’ve got over a 1000 customers last 10 years. And they’ve run the gamut from small to huge to agencies to government to see universities and all kinds of segments in between.” — Charlie Arehart, Veteran server troubleshooter CArehart.org

From CF Alive episode, “013 Are spiders eating your servers? The impact of their unexpected load and how to counter it with Charlie Arehart

ColdFusion has stamina. It has a unique tag-based language with powerful scripting. It is easy to use and easy to learn. It has lots of features built in that other languages have to use third party addons for. It is the glue between different systems and APIs.

It is tried and trusted.

It is the most secure web programming language according to a CNET analysis. And as I discussed earlier, it can be the most state-of-the-art web development ecosystem. Bar none.

Related: “076 Slatwall ColdFusion eCommerce Unleashed (Beyond Shopping Carts) with Sumit Verma

Talk about ColdFusion

Where’s the buzz? This particular issue doesn’t only lie on the backs of Adobe and Lucee. This applies to the CF community as a whole. Stop being scared to bring up ColdFusion and CFML in larger IT communities.

Believe in your development tools. Just because others aren’t using it doesn’t mean it isn’t good or in many areas the best.

Speaking of spreading the good word…

Evangelize CF

The evangelical side of Adobe ColdFusion is on a rapid decline. Other platforms have their own evangelists. People who are as recognizable as their product. Lucee has Gert Franz. Ortus Solutions with its Box products has Brad Wood, Luis Majano, Gavin Pickin and its module master Eric Peterson.

Who does Adobe ColdFusion have now? CF has many strong veteran developers and community leaders. Yet, we as a community need somebody to step up and take the mantle. Who will step up to be the face and champion of ColdFusion? A new fresh face for evangelism would be monumental in promoting CF.

“I would like to see something more from the CFML community as far as the providers, the software providers. We have other providers and I would like to see them be more prominent in what’s going on. Ortus Solutions has been doing Into The Box. I would like to see other software developers take that sort of evangelistic approach to what they’re doing as well…”- Steven Hauer, International Business Manager for Bridges for Peace

From CF Alive episode, “021 Behind the Scenes at CFObjective, with Steven Hauer

#coldfusion #CFML

There are 2.62 billion social media users worldwide, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit and YouTube. Of the 21 million developers of any language in the world, most are on some social media. You would think that some of these would be interested in CF. So where is ColdFusion?

Adobe ColdFusion’s social media presence is underwhelming to say the least. The Facebook pages have relatively few posts, leaving you feeling unsatisfied. ColdFusion’s twitter is also little-populated, tweeting on average of once a month. LinkedIn is pretty empty of ColdFusion posts. The hashtag searches for #ColdFusion and #CFML offer little more. Only a scant handful of individuals post with these hashtags. Even the ColdFusion Reddit, and the tech-focused Hacker News are close to empty.

Most companies now hire dedicated social media managers. Adobe even offers social media management platforms. So why is there no push for their own product? ColdFusion isn’t dead. It’s only hiding, and it’s hiding right in front of our faces.

What Would It Take to stay up to speed with the latest CF release?

The answer is easy. Invest in yourself and your work and update. What is it about updates that drive people away? Updates come with a plethora of benefits. They allow you to gain access to new features that can help you succeed in the world of ColdFusion.

In the ColdFusion 2018, for example, there is an auto lockdown feature. This saves you time (which in turn saves money). It allows for proper security measures to be taken with the click of a button.

There is no reason to get stuck behind. Updates are how your platform performs better, stays secure, and builds better applications. Modernize your work space. For optimal performance of ColdFusion, security tools, and other supporting systems, update! Keeping up to date software helps keep CF alive and modern.

Related Article: Adobe ColdFusion 2018; Step Into the Aether

Some CFers are reluctant to upgrade to the “dot zero” release of a new version of ColdFusion. Some new releases have had bugs in them. (The MX 6.0 release was infamous for this issue). My advice is that if you are risk-averse then wait until the first hotfix has come out or 6 months — whichever comes first. It is then safer to upgrade. Of course you always want to test your code and app on a staging server with the new version to be sure everything still works the same way.

Hidden ColdFusion

There are many developers and companies that use ColdFusion in the open on public websites. They are proud to acknowledge their platform, and that is awesome.

But there are also many who use CF and hide the fact. For good security and SEO reasons URLs don’t end with “CFM.” The CF server is told to not broadcast ColdFusion and version info in the page header. This makes identifying that the website was built using ColdFusion difficult or impossible by sites such as BuiltWith.

“These days, I don’t know if you noticed or not but everyone is like, “Oh, I found a site that’s running ColdFusion.” That’s the site that has CFM still in the name. Still in the URL. But I don’t know how many sites that we’ve built, but you don’t ever see CFM in there. You never see the file extension. So, how many sites out there are ColdFusion that nobody even knows about?” — Gavin Pickin, Software Consultant for Ortus Solutions, Corp

From CF Alive episode, “010 All things ContentBox (new API, ContentStore, Themes and more) with Gavin Pickin

Is there some secret society dedicated to keeping ColdFusion underground? Are these companies and developers ashamed to admit they are using it? If so, why? There is no need to hide your development platform. There are many more ColdFusion sites that are commonly noticed.

We need a “Built with ColdFusion” logo that you can put on such “hidden” sites, so that others can see what CF can do.

A great way to keep CF alive is to actually recognize the power of the platform. By using popularity as a tactic, ColdFusion is sure to garner more attention and in turn raise its user base.

“I like ColdFusion because I’m a consultant for a living, so clients will call me and say, “Here’s what we want to build: some sort of mobile app or web app or what have you. What do you recommend we use to get the job done quickly, securely, write code that we can actually maintain moving forward?” I try to be as objective as I can with clients, and I look around and and think “Okay, what languages and tools are out there that would be the best solution for this client?” Nine times out of 10 it’s ColdFusion. I get more done per line of code, out of the box, with a ColdFusion engine and code base, than I do any of the other similar options out there.”- Nolan Erck, Owner and Chief Consultant at South of Shasta Consulting

From CF Alive episode, “005 Dependency Injection, why is it awesome and why should I care? with Nolan Erck

One way to get this in motion is to survey a sample all IT personnel and CIOs. CF companies and (apparently) non-CF ones. That would give us a better idea of the true market share of CF.

CF users could give us insight into why they are proud of it and what they want to improve about it. Also, interview non-CF users to determine why they are not using it. What is driving them away from ColdFusion? Do they not have personnel trained to use it? Or is the stigma of a “dying” platform scaring them away? Or is it something else? Adobe and Lucee should take these answers and address the biggest issues. Not everything has to be changed at once, but the action does need to be taken.

Join the CF Alive revolution

Discover how we can all make CF more alive, modern and secure this year. Join other ColdFusion developers and managers in the CF Alive Inner Circle today.

  • Get early access to the CF Alive book and videos
  • Be part of a new movement for improving CF’s perception in the world.
  • Contribute to the CF Alive revolution
  • Connect with other CF developers and managers
  • There is no cost to membership.

Originally published at teratech.com on October 17, 2018.

Comments (13)
2018-11-17 16:14:06
2018-11-17 16:14:06

<p>In my opinion here is what Adobe should do to fix licensing woes. First eliminate Standard vs Enterprise. Standard is just a bottleneck version of Enterprise, and artificial bottlenecks are just silly. Enterprise becomes the only version of ColdFusion.</p><p>In its place, comes 3 different editions to meet the needs of the community:</p><p>ColdFusion Server ($14,995 est.) 2 sockets, no core limit (similar to MySQL)<br/>ColdFusion VM ($799 est.) 2 cores, buyable in packs<br/>ColdFusion Cloud (the market rate set on major cloud providers)</p><p>Finally it needs to remove the fine print in the EULA, like the limited the number of websites you can host, and set a reasonable number companies infrastructure you can host on a license making it more friendly for service providers. There shouldn’t be all the strings attached to a license’s use case.</p>

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MediaDR
's comment
2018-11-17 16:29:37
2018-11-17 16:29:37
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MediaDR
's comment

Blog doesn’t seem to respect whitespace when you edit a post….

In my opinion here is what Adobe should do to fix licensing woes. First eliminate Standard vs Enterprise. Standard is just a bottleneck version of Enterprise, and artificial bottlenecks are just silly. Enterprise becomes the only version of ColdFusion.

In its place, comes 3 different editions to meet the needs of the community:

ColdFusion Server ($14,995 est.) 2 sockets, no core limit (similar to MySQL)
ColdFusion VM ($799 est.) 2 cores, buyable in packs
ColdFusion Cloud (the market rate set on major cloud providers)

Finally it needs to remove the fine print in the EULA, like the limited the number of websites you can host, and set a reasonable number companies infrastructure you can host on a license making it more friendly for service providers. There shouldn’t be all the strings attached to a license’s use case.

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2018-11-03 12:16:05
2018-11-03 12:16:05

Probably not a bad idea for Adobe to give away the product and sell a support at a reasonable rate. Rank support by tier so top dogs get an immediate rush of all hands support for system down and scale back the response time and size by the amount of money paid for the agreement. The free version co be community support with a hefty charge for Ala Cart from Adobe.

Another option would be Lucee and building a solid support/ development group for that to increase confidence in it for the C folks. They need a solid dedicated support contract backed by results. We just need a solid platform with the toys to allow innovation. I’m just not ready to order flowers for the cf funeral yet.

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2018-11-03 07:48:53
2018-11-03 07:48:53

Hi Michaela,

Excellent article! Just a note: Instead of “Shasta Consulting” linking to shastaconsulting.com, “South of Shasta Consulting” should probably link to southofshasta.com (I’m referring to the link to Nolan Erck’s site, in his quote).

Thanks!,
-Aaron

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2018-10-28 22:50:30
2018-10-28 22:50:30

As someone that has recently left ACF after using it for nearly 20 years its on its way to the morgue for us. It was already desirable for us but product decisions made has forced us away from it. The primary issue we have with ACF is the highly restrictive licensing. I find Adobe’s core limitations per license to be quite absurd. To give you an example how bad their licensing is, lets look at another another product we use (SQL Server) which also has very expensive restrictive licensing. Going back 10 years ago SQL Server 2008 Standard gave you 4 cores and today they have came all the way up to 24 cores with the same license. So their licensing is scaling with technology. Coldfusion Ent. is still the same 8 cores its always been since moving to cores instead of sockets. Over a decade of innovation and the same old license. Today when we want to purchase a powerful server to run our applications ACF costs more than triple the costs of the hardware itself, when 15 years ago it was about 40% of its cost. They been using this to prop up revenue numbers by raising taxes (costs) on the residents left instead giving us a low tax environment that attracts new residents (customers). This is the sure way to kill the product and send the loyalest users fleeing.

We moved over to Lucee and so far we are happy with the experience. It was never about open source for us, we have always been willing to pay, as long as the cost was justified and was smart for business.

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MediaDR
's comment
2018-10-31 21:37:41
2018-10-31 21:37:41
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MediaDR
's comment

mediadr, you make the assertion that SQL Server Standard 2017 “gives you” 24 cores and 2008 “gave you 4”. Let’s be clear: those are LIMITS on the number of cores that CAN be used. CF HAS no such LIMITS on cores.

And SQL Server is (and has for some time) been licensed as “2-core packs” (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/sql-server/sql-server-2017-pricing#ft2) with 2017 Standard’s retail price being $3,717 (per 2 cores).  CF also has pricing based on number of cores and with different numbers for Std vs Ent.

And there have been just as many blog posts and forum discussions over the years from those who felt SQL Server was too expensive for many cores, for vm’s, for cloud deployments, etc.

I know you say you’re “willing to pay” but just don’t like CF’s pricing, like many don’t like SQL Server’s pricing. And just as they (SQL Server shops) can look to free and open source alternatives, clearly many still choose to pay for it.

And even open source projects often have paid support, whose annual costs often FAR exceed the cost of a CF license (which is in fact perpetual, other than the AWS AMI). Yes, yes, Adobe offers pricey support plans also.

As Yoda might say, “Buy or buy not. To each their own”. Again, my main point here was to press about your analogy with SQL Server. If you (or anyone) would feel I’ve misrepresented something, I’m open to correction of course.

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MediaDR
's comment
2018-11-01 01:26:25
2018-11-01 01:26:25
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MediaDR
's comment

MediaDR

Thanks for sharing your ACF licensing frustrations in detail. I think this has been a software industry-wide trend – at least at Adobe, Microsoft and Oracle. And probably at other companies too.

It is one of the drivers for open source alternatives such as Lucee.

Together with the move to cloud auto spin up of new containers on demand, which is much easier to deal with from a licensing point of view (see my comment on that below).

+1 for what Charlie clarifies on SQL Server licensing and support plans costs.

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Charlie Arehart
's comment
2018-11-02 18:37:29
2018-11-02 18:37:29
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Charlie Arehart
's comment

Charlie, you left out that SQL Server has a Server + CAL option, where ACF does not. You are not forced into a core option until you need to move on to enterprise (the max core limit you mentioned). By that time, business is probably good so you can afford to move there, which goes to what I said about making business sense. Microsoft gives 10 years of support on that license, ACF gives 5. Anyway, I think you get my point. CF is no longer a product you can go out and purchase a nice new machine and use it on, without major costs. In 2035 it will probably cost like $1M to run AFC on a good 2 socket machine. No issue there right?

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MediaDR
's comment
2018-11-02 23:10:23
2018-11-02 23:10:23
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MediaDR
's comment

I was addressing what you raised. I didn’t plan to get into all the ins and outs of sql licensing – – and changes over the years. Also, I was not discussing sql enterprise but standard  like you.

Anyway, yes, cf costs money, and on par with enterprise solutions. That will not likely change soon. Heck, the price for 2018 was raised, so it is what it is. Complaints about it have never changed things, so the continued harang about it always surprises me. Pay or go open source with Lucee.

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2018-10-18 19:29:57
2018-10-18 19:29:57

One of the biggest drawbacks of Adobe Coldfusion is cost.  I would love for Adobe to produce a free version of Coldfusion.

I am also very confused by container licensing.  If I want to containerize my application, do I need to pay a license for every container?

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Tyler Clendenin
's comment
2018-11-01 01:21:25
2018-11-01 01:21:25
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Tyler Clendenin
's comment

I made that suggestion in the CF Alive book too. And to be fair Adobe does have the free developer license for CF and free educational license too (for students learning CF, not for University IT dept).

And if you want free CFML then use Lucee. It is pretty compatible with ACF.

On container licensing I agree with your point about it being confusing. I have brought this up with Kishore (CF product manager) and wrote about it in the book. Currently yes you have to pay for a licence for each container. Even if it only exists for an hour. There is a pay per minute license solution for ACF on AWS. But not everyone using Amazon for cloud hosting.

If you have licensing issues with ACF for cloud or SaaS apps and you dont have a critical need for particular ACF features such as the new security and performance features of CF 2018 or the API manager then Lucee is the obvious alternative as it is free to license.

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2018-10-18 14:00:31
2018-10-18 14:00:31

You need to present to and convince the decision makers to use Coldfusion/Lucee. Everyone preaches to the choir of developers but we are usually hired by someone who has been told what platform is being used. Market to the big 3 C folks through a barrage of who is using CF and why they should too. Fast to market with new sites and changes, a stable and robust platform, lots of senior level people who can oversee and train the next generation of developers… Etc.

These high level folks just want the job done right with little risk of failure. They need reasons why they should set aside what other marketing efforts have convinced them that the other solution choices are superior. Build a list of who is using CF, old apps still running flawlessly, new apps with all of the toys. Offer a challenge of from specs building of Coldfusion vs any other platform to show that CF is just as good and maybe better while saving time and money to get a web product to market/live.

Give them a new comfort level through proof.

Just my two cents on the subject.

 

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Jerry Borsh
's comment
2018-11-01 01:47:02
2018-11-01 01:47:02
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Jerry Borsh
's comment

Jerry

Thanks for the great ideas on promoting CF better! You would be very welcome in the CF Alive Inner Circle group where we discuss and act on these kind of ideas https://www.facebook.com/groups/CFAliveInnerCircle/

Absolutely! I have been talking to C level folks about CF. I hope my book will help as there are a number of mis-perceptions about CF in the ones I have talked with.

If you use it right, ColdFusion is the most modern, secure and state-of-the-art web development ecosystem. Bar none.

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