Tuesday 18 December 2012

Positive Communication from Adobe regarding ColdFusion

In a break from the perceived doom & gloom I have been seeing recently regarding CFML - this blog, Sean's blog, Andy's blog (Andy's gripe is specifically about the ColdFusion installers not working on the current versions of Windows), the Fusion Authority blog etc, some  stuff from the Railo community (which seems a bit counterproductive to their cause, but it's only an element of the lunatic fringe that engage in this), and various series' of sound-bites on Twitter - Adobe published a very positive-sounding article on their official ColdFusion blog yesterday. It should come as no surprise that Adobe are sounding positive about their product, but it's really not something we hear too much of too often (Rakshith, take note ;-).

One might think that the article was all just self-promotion & marketing spiel, but this one actually had a bit of meat to it, which was refreshing.

The most surprising thing to me is that Rakshith says the previous quarter (he says "this quarter", but I am guessing it was Q3, as Id be surprised if they have the figures for Q4 yet) was the best they've had since 2008. This is good news. And, to be honest, I find it quite surprising. Other than upon initial release when there was a fair bit of excitement, the reaction to ColdFusion 10 has struck me as being fairly muted, and indeed with all the problems the updater has had and a bunch of significant performance bugs and a coupla security glitches, some people (me incl.) have been referring to ColdFusion 10 as this decade's ColdFusion 6.0. This is probably slightly unfair on CF10 as CFMX 6.0 was a travesty, and ColdFusion 10 is just a bit unstable. But the thing is, the initial muted hype around CF10's release died off quite quickly and has been replaced with irritation. So I thought it might count as a flop.  That said, the ColdFusion community "vibe" is generated by very few people in the bigger scheme of things, and simply because someone is saying something loud and long doesn't necessarily make it either true nor representative of how most people think.

But, whatever, it's good news for ColdFusion if it's doing better: it'll make Adobe more interested in keeping it around.

Rakshith references the roadmap and "future" directions, but, sadly doesn't go into any further detail beyond pointing us back to the original high-level roadmap doc (PDF) that circulated a few months back. It'd be good if they could flesh-out some of these concepts they mention, especially given some of it is a bit marketing-speak, eg: "Enabling Enterprise to easily integrate with Social Media Streams". I mean... other than being great for buzzword bingo, what does this mean?  Without any expansion on what they're talking about here it could be The Next Big Thing, or simply something cringe-worthy like the integration of ZingCharts into <cfchart> ("cringe-worthy" might be overstating it, but it was a great waste of time because it's just easier to do a ZingChart with the ZingChart API than it is with <cfchart>).

Anyway, getting some more info on what all these features mean would be good.  They don't need to give away any business secrets, just elaborate on what they mean.  Keep us interested in where they're going.  And engender feedback too, which - good or bad - can only help them.

He also mentioned again a shorter release cycle. I'm looking forward to an updater that brings something new to CF10, rather than just urgent bugfixes. There's going to be a re-hash of the installer, support for the current versions of Windows and MacOS and Java7 support coming out before too long... prior to Java 6 EOL in Feb, but that stuff is all "about bloody time", not something new or interesting. Having something positive be released via the updater would be good. EG: take a coupla enhancement requests and implement them. They don't need to be anything major (indeed: save the major stuff for bigger releases), but there's small things in the back-log that could put a positive spin on the updater.

The other part of the post was discussing community initiatives to get ColdFusion's hum back up and running. There were three prongs to this:
  1. Education initiatives. Adobe are going to be running some courses at community colleges and the like, just to get it there more. I've mentioned - more in the context of Railo which really suffers from this - that ColdFusion / CFML needs its marketing applied to outside the CFML community.  I'm already sold on it ("it" being some manner of CFML engine, if nor specifically ColdFusion). So is everyone reading this or any other CF-oriented blog, participating on Twitter mutterings, going to CFUGs or CF conferences. Don't market at those people. Market at people who don't know CFML from a bar of soap. Or people whose opinion of it is stuck in last decade, or even last century. It really looks like Adobe have twigged to this, which is good.
  2. ColdFusion-specific Adobe conference. I have never had any interest in Max as it's always seemed to focus more on the design end of the web spectrum, so it's good that Adobe are looking to invest in CF conference. However I can't help but think it might be better for them to support the existing ones, and expand those rather than starting a new one? I dunno. People on Twitter have said much the same thing. Still: be it a new conference or helping more with existing conferences: this is good news.
  3. "Recharging CF User Groups". I don't regularly go to the UKCFUG meetings in London: I either don't hear about them, or this most recent one was on a night I already had another commitment, so I don't have much to sensibly say about this. However engendering localised interest would be good. I wonder if there's scope to have CF representatives go to other-technology user groups too to present CF? Again, the CFUGs don't need marketing from Adobe, however it might help CF to market to user groups of complementary technologies: not go head-to-head with PHP or RoR at their user groups, but other web design / mobile development user groups?
It was an excellent blog article from Rakshith, and I hope he keeps the momentum going. I think the Adobe ColdFusion team could be more vocal about getting the ColdFusion word out there, and hopefully this is a teaser for something more regular.

Thanks Rakshith.