The Delicate Balancing Act between the number of ColdFusion Jobs and the number of ColdFusion Developers

October 30, 2018
Guide 5 posts
Followers: 1 people
8

The Delicate Balancing Act between the number of ColdFusion Jobs and the number of ColdFusion Developers

Guide 5 posts
Followers: 1 people
October 30, 2018

I feel like every developer I’ve interacted with has heard the same arguments about ColdFusion from their employers; and many of them are easy to defuse.

  • Point:  ColdFusion is a dead language.  It’s not modern like (insert programming language du jour here.)  Counterpoint:  ColdFusion has consistently had steady releases, each building on the performance and features of the last.  Adobe has a roadmap for new versions of ColdFusion with full enterprise support that goes well into the future.
  • Point:  We need to move away from ColdFusion.  It’s too expensive.  Counterpoint:  While the server pricing model is different than some other development stacks, and the cost of a ColdFusion Enterprise license can give you sticker shock, the overall cost of ownership and the return on investment with ColdFusion makes it one of the more affordable solutions.
  • Point:  Hiring ColdFusion developers is too difficult.  There aren’t enough of them out there.  If I put an ad out for a PhP developer, I can get 30 responses in day.  I’m lucky to get a response if I put an ad out for a ColdFusion developer.  Counterpoint:  *crickets*

The ColdFusion developer community has a population problem, and it’s a slow spiral down a drain.  Fewer, harder to find developers means fewer companies are willing to use ColdFusion.  Fewer companies willing to use ColdFusion means fewer developers who are willing to take up the language.

I’ve been a CF Developer for nearly 20 years.  I picked up CF when I was working for a radio station in 1999.  I’ve built a very good career from that “dead language.”  Since 2000, people have told me “Really?  ColdFusion?  Is that still a thing?”  I quietly smile and say “yes” thinking about all of the value I can bring to application development quickly, easily, and professionally, all while being paid well in the process.

But… it’s a constant struggle.  I hate having to struggle with an employer or CTO and constantly needing to sell the merits of ColdFusion.  I hate hearing “we’re switching to [x] for all future development” without a reasonable explanation as to why.  I hate the debate.  I hate the feeling of uncertainty that a company I work for is suddenly going to switch gears to a language I’m not nearly as proficient in, and therefore can’t make a living from.

I’ve been to all six CF Summit conferences (so far) and enjoy seeing a full conference room of 500 developers, but I’m not seeing growth.  The first Summit had ~500 attendees.  I wanted to see 750 at the next one… 1,000 the year after that… 1,300 the year after that… but unfortunately, the population of the Summit has been indicative of the population of the CF Community in general; steady, but without growth.  CF Summit 2013 had around 500 attendees.  CF Summit 2018 had around 500 attendees.

But; more developers means more competition.  Would I be able to demand the salary I currently demand as a seasoned developer if there were an abundance of them out there?  Certainly not, from a business standpoint.

We need more ColdFusion Developers.  We need more companies using ColdFusion and hiring ColdFusion developers.  We need a healthier ecosystem to support this development language we all know and love.  Adobe has some fundamental challenges ahead to not only support the community in place, but to grow the community to the point where it’s healthy again.

There’s the balancing act; and it’s delicate.  I want to be able to find a ColdFusion job if I need one.  I don’t want to have to move across the country to find a company that uses ColdFusion.  I want there to be more developers out there using the language; but not so much that my hourly rate crashes.

Comments (8)
2018-10-31 18:57:12
2018-10-31 18:57:12

Here in Nashville, which was once a very hot CF market, there’s not a ColdFusion job to be found any more. There was one company in town that had 40+ CF developers (several years ago), and wound up trying to hire programmers and train them in CF because they couldn’t find CF devs anymore. Their finding was that developers who were experienced in other languages didn’t want to learn ColdFusion. Their ultimate solution was to abandon CF in favor of RoR so they could get new developers. There was also another company here that was trying to hire CF devs willing to migrate/learn .Net. They had a hard time finding developers as well.I don’t think the “find a skilled dev and teach them CF” approach is very effective. Most developers are pretty passionate about their language of choice, and don’t want to abandon it for something different.  Most CF developers aren’t interested in taking a job as a PHP guy, so why would anyone expect a PHP guy to want to swich to CF? Most developers will seek a company that does what they already like to do, instead of finding a company they want to work at and learn whatever that company uses. People tend to think along the lines of “I know how to do X, I will find a job doing X”, not “That company uses Y, I’ll go learn Y so I can work for them.”As far as CF Summit attendance goes, one thing that always surprises me each year is the number of first time attendees. This year, and I believe last year as well, about half of the attendees were first timers. That could be read as either “significant growth since last year”, or “half the developers from last year are gone”. 🙂

Like
(2)
(2)
>
ecobb
's comment
2018-11-01 00:28:48
2018-11-01 00:28:48
>
ecobb
's comment

Eric, are you responding to my comment or Brad’s, in saying you don’t think training up non cf devs is “effective”?I don’t think Brad was saying he was “trying” it but that he does it. I know others who have relayed how they have. Is it as easy as the old days? No, but again the result is generally you find better devs.As to be clear, I did caveat my comment about it to say it would take finding people *willing* to pick up cf to get paid. You’re right that most may prefer to stay with what they know, but the law of supply and demand can lead those in other languages to find a glut and depressed pay rates there. Not all, of course, but perhaps enough to lead to folks perhaps more open to  a cf gif if positioned effectively. And they may be surprised to find cfml and cf more robust and modern than they realized. So not hopeless.As for conf first timers, some companies rotate people–and could have enough people that this was first year for some of them. And Adobe has been telling us that ther ARE new CF customers. Clearly some of us are more “glass half full” about things than others.David did style his post as point /counterpoint. 🙂

Like
>
Charlie Arehart
's comment
2018-11-01 00:37:10
2018-11-01 00:37:10
>
Charlie Arehart
's comment

Looks like I (and perhaps Eric) got bit by the bug in this portal where if we edit our comment, all paragraph formatting is lost.

Adobe folks, please fix this bug.

Like
2018-10-31 17:26:58
2018-10-31 17:26:58

All interesting points, guys… keep them coming.  🙂

Like
2018-10-31 14:21:00
2018-10-31 14:21:00

I’m literally administering interviews all week (I have another one at 1pm today) to hire developers and none of the people I’m speaking with have ColdFusion on their resume.  These are primarily Java devs with PHP, Node, C# .NET experience.  We talk about design patterns, source control, continuous integration, command line tooling, and their strategies for application design and troubleshooting.  I’m not worried about CFML, if they are smart and have learned 4 or 5 languages, they’ll easily learn another.  This is the counterpoint to your last point.  I mean, think about it– if you want to grow the CF world, those people must come from somewhere.  That means, companies have to be hiring and training devs on CF.  CF devs won’t magically appear.

As far as the attendance at CFSummit, I’m with you that I’d really like to see it grow, but my personal opinion there is Adobe puts a great deal of $$$ into CF Summit, basically subsidizing the expenses so we can have cheap tickets.  I think there’s a certain amount of marketing dollars they look to pour into it every year and ~500 is a good number for them.  Doubling the number of people at CFSummit would either mean Adobe finds a lot more money to subsidize those extra people, or the costs would go up quite a bit.  I bet the raw costs are more like ~600-700 per person given how expensive Vegas is.

Like
(1)
2018-10-31 14:03:13
2018-10-31 14:03:13

I have seen more and more people talking about getting a good Developer and training them…I think the issue might be a lot of CFML work is legacy/maintenance so it is tag based…if more of that works could be converted to or done in cfscript, a mid level JS developer could come over to CF and in a short amount of time they could be up and programming CFML. IF you want a straight up CFML developer, that is different…i think the biggest issue with that is companies unwillingness to have the developer remote. On slack channel looking at the job postings, or a few other sites, a majority of the jobs want someone on site…i get it if the work is secure, but if it is not, why can’t companies get over the idea of someone needed in house.

Something I heard recently about CFML work is so much of it is in maintenance and not new development, that some companies don’t want to bid on that type of work because it is not “lucrative” enough or a big enough project to be worth their time and resources…don’t think this is great for CFML but it is what i heard somewhere…Hope others can tell us this is not true everywhere.

I just think CF has to do a better job marketing the tool as not dead…get it into colleges as a way to quickly spin kids up on programming, need to get talks in non cfml conferences and do a better job showing comparisons of CFML and other languages…and i think a better social media presence, weather that is twitter, fb, instagram, slack or especially blog posts that can be indexed via google…when someone times in array map functions, getting a CFML post in the top few would be helpful.

These are just some of my thoughts, i hope others comment.

Like
(1)
>
daniel fredericks
's comment
2018-10-31 14:17:26
2018-10-31 14:17:26
>
daniel fredericks
's comment

Daniel, there is indeed new development in CFML. I know of it in customers I support, and perhaps CFML development shops (or Adobe) can further confirm.

As for converting CFML tags to script, for those wanting to drive that, there is a useful tool for that from Pete Freitag: http://cfscript.me

As for Adobe being on social media, they are indeed: posting and participating in Facebook, twitter, and slack, to name a few.

As for more blog posts, Adobe created the new CF portal (coldfusion.adobe.com) last year and it’s had hundreds of blog posts since (as any by Adobe as by others in the community).

As for getting CF into colleges, Adobe had created a curriculum for CFML and literally GAVE IT AWAY, and there were few takers. You can’t push a rope, and I don’t see anything ever leading to demand in colleges for CFML. It just is what it is. I simply don’t think that is the answer that so many think it is. But we all have opinions, of course.

And I don’t say these things to be contentious, only to offer another perspective on the things you raise. Again, as a long-timer in the CF community I am a bit surprised to see you offer some of the points and yet not the others. But perhaps you’ve just somehow not seen or considered them, or you may contend with them. Surely others will.

That’s pretty much how these kind of discussions go.  But hey, if it generates more light than heat, that will be worthwhile to some readers.

Like
2018-10-31 13:06:41
2018-10-31 13:06:41

David I’m surprised that as long timer you don’t offer here the frequent counterpoint to your last one (and the gist of the article): find good developers with skill in a “modern” language who would be willing to take up cfml for a reasonable hourly rate.

Many orgs have related doing that with success, and they often get better developers in the end than they may have gotten from the gene pool of long-time CFers (no offense intended, one to another).

But perhaps we’ll see a cavalcade of replies and thoughts for interested folks to consider. This is the kind of topic that has traditionally brought out all kinds of responses, with some seeing obvious solutions, others seeing intractible problems, and others everywhere in between.

Like
Add your comment