The Delicate Balancing Act between the number of ColdFusion Jobs and the number of ColdFusion Developers
The ColdFusion community needs two things: More ColdFusion jobs, and more ColdFusion developers to fill those jobs. This is a delicate balancing act. How do we grow the community to be healthy again?
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.