ColdFusion, for me, started with a single function. It became a career-changing technology that has served me very well for the better part of 20 years.
I used to work for a rock radio station in Las Vegas as their Promotions Director. It was an incredible time. Let me tell you, I, of all people, should not be permitted to be in control of $1 Million worth of broadcasting equipment and the ability to reach thousands of listeners when I was in my early 20’s. I was young, tech-savvy, and having way much more fun that I should have. Each year, the station would broadcast the Super Bowl live on the air for people who weren’t able to watch, were stuck at work, or otherwise couldn’t see the game on TV.
In 1995, the world wide web was in its infancy, but things were really starting to take off. During the 1995 Super Bowl, I was sitting in the studio, running the game, watching the Chargers and ‘Niners play in Miami. This was also the Super Bowl where many of the biggest commercials started advertising their website addresses, so you saw “nike.com” and “pepsi.com” in small print at the end of the commercial. I recognized something was happening and I felt the stations needed to be a part of it.
The next day, I met with the Vice President of 6 local stations and told him, “Tony… we need to build websites for the stations.” His response is burned into my memory to this day. His shoulders dropped, and he sighed heavily and asked, “Really? Do you really think this Internet thing is going to take off?” I smirked and told him, “yeah, I’ve got a hunch.” He begrudgingly approved my request with a caveat; “you can build websites for the stations, but you get no extra budget, no extra help, and no additional resources.”
I was off. And with the help of a local company (and my beloved Amiga 2000) I was writing text files that contained HTML 2 and graphics and all sorts of web goodies… it was very rewarding and exciting. The sites were hand-coded and static. (Read as, a giant time-sink and painful to manage.)
Somewhere along the line, someone at the station thought it would be a good idea to have the current date, and the “last updated” date appear at the top of the page.
Seriously. On a static site, this was the priority for someone. We must help our listeners by telling them that the site was last updated three days ago, and that today is Tuesday. (Remember though that this was before the age of smart phones, or even WiFi, so getting a web page to do anything seemed like a feat of computer science.)
So for months, I updated the site every day. I logged into the host, downloaded the index.html file, manually changed the date, and re-uploaded the file. It was my nightly ritual, and it was awful. Like, 10 hours of Nyan cat awful.
Then… enlightenment. Someone turned me on to ColdFusion and this one simple line changed my life, and my career path forever.
<cfoutput>#dateFormat(now(),'dddd, mmmm d, yyyy')#</cfoutput>
That was it. So simple… so elegant… so powerful. I posted my file and saw the date change after midnight automatically and I. Was. A. GOD. It wasn’t long before I asked, “that was great… I wonder what else I could do with ColdFusion?” 20 years later, I still have had the privilege of developing with ColdFusion every single day.
What was your turning point? What made you embrace the language and start wanting to do more?