2 Devs from Down Under

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Episode 28 - Our take on the decline of CFML

November 29th, 2012

So we're taking on a pretty controversial topic, but one that has been talked about a lot in the blog-o-sphere, and something we have touched on tangentially in the past.

Here is the list of articles we discuss during the podcast:

We talk about our perception of the decline of CFML, specifically in Australia and globally, as well as thoughts on whether or not CFML as a whole can pull out of it, what we think the major CFML backers can do about it, and what we think you should be thinking about as a developer in the CFML community.

We expect this to invoke some differing opinions - so while we welcome the discourse, please remember to be civil.


  • Justin Carter

    Good chat :) I think that was a well reasoned and smooth flowing discussion, which is a great effort considering the topic and the potential for ranty-ness!

    Nov 29, 2012 at 10:14 pm
  • David Boyer

    Enjoyed the show, found the discussion was very well balanced and thoughtfully put across. You both made some great points and backed them up with decent observations of the CFML community and others out there. For my own situation, I can’t see much changing any time soon, but I’m always pushing myself to keep reasonably up to date with a few other languages, as you never know what might happen.

    Nov 29, 2012 at 11:18 pm
  • Dave Leeds

    Excellent discussion. It’s nice to hear some solid, well educated thoughts on the state of ColdFusion, without snarky comments. Well done!

    Nov 30, 2012 at 7:31 am
  • Dale Fraser

    Im wondering if you had applied for your ACP again if Adobe might have sponsored the conference.

    However I agree with most of the points of the discussion.

    What would have been good is a clearer direction to which both of you guys are moving to and what your favourite language / technology is.

    Nov 30, 2012 at 10:08 am
  • Mark Mandel

    Thanks for all the kind works all!

    @Dale - The issues surrounding Adobe sponsoring cf.Objective(ANZ) started well before my (lack) of application for ACP came into fruition. That whole saga dates back to ~ January of this year. It just solidified my desire to not reapply to be an ACP.

    Re: “clearer direction to which both of you guys are moving to ” - I had thought we touched on the languages we are both starting to work with (I mentions JRuby, and I know Kai mentioned doing more JS and Clojure as well).

    We also outlined the steps we’d advise for picking a new language to work with that works for you and your team. (We had a whole section on it). Let me know if they didn’t make sense, I’d be happy to clarify further.

    Nov 30, 2012 at 10:47 am
  • Sean Corfield

    Nice, balanced discussion of the issues. Very interesting to see how much you favor Railo but, as you say, pretty much no one has heard of it, even within the (broader) ColdFusion community… we’ll just have to see how well they can spread the word.

    It was great to hear your reasoning behind the languages you’re choosing to work with beyond CFML. Everyone will have different reasons and we should expect to see a wide range of opinions on this (for all my dislike of JavaScript, I think Node.js will have an important position in the new web world, even if it is only used as a proxy for the browser to access a variety of back end services). I really think the shift to polyglot systems is a given and we’ll see modular, communicating processes - rather than monolithic web apps - as you said. In fact, Chris Richardson (”Plain Old Java Objects” author and founder of Cloud Foundry) gave a talk on just that subject to the local Java user group this week!

    Nov 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm
  • John C. Bland II

    Echoing the “good chat” sentiments.

    When I started w/ CF back in 2001, work was slow for me (was new to contracting) and I realized shortly after if I couldn’t get a customer to buy CF…I’d lose work. So I took off and learned multiple languages in the past 10 years. It has benefited GREATLY!

    I bashed C#/ASP.NET then came to love it. Loathed Java then found a great respect for it. Rails was a joke and now it is my de facto. Python (learning it now) was meh but I’m starting to see promise in it.

    The problem with all of those first thoughts is they were based on preconceived notions based on other developers hating on another language. .NET’ers hate on CF, CF hates on Ruby/Rails, etc, etc, etc. It breeds closed minded developers.

    “A closed mind doesn’t get fed.” - Me, regarding idle hands (no work for language X so I am idle)

    Nov 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm
  • Billy Cravens

    Thanks for the mention. Indeed, my tiny little foray into Vagrant has been illuminating. I don’t think any of the popular languages succeed because of the language itself, but rather, it’s the ecosystem. (Imagine Rails without gems) I have a ton of ideas on how we can build that ecosystem, but I can’t help but wonder if that’s the best use of my time.

    Dec 1, 2012 at 3:11 am
  • David

    Hey Guys,

    Thanks for the time spent doing these podcasts.

    Hats off to the both of you (and the team) running cfObj(anz) for the last 4 years. (Gutted I missed this one!)

    Heard someone say the other day: “if you are not learning something new, you are going backwards” sooooo true for this industry!


    Dec 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm
  • Adam Tuttle

    Great episode, as always, guys. I agreed with everything you said, at least on some level.

    One thing I found myself asking was, is it possible to right the ship? You brought up a lot of things that are either lacking in the ACF product, or strategies that Adobe should be using to reach the widest possible audience. But my question is: Assuming they were to do all of that, and hypothetically do it well, do you think we even _could_ see a resurgence of CF in the web-development ecosystem as a whole? Or is the decline too deeply entrenched now, and all efforts (herculean or otherwise) can only hope to slow the process?

    Interested to hear your thoughts.

    Dec 4, 2012 at 2:20 am
  • Eric Pierce

    Great chat guys.

    One hope I’ve had over the years is that if Adobe ever threw in the towel with CF they would at least open source the code. Actually, I’m certain they would increase CF mind share if they open sourced it now and continued to develop the product. Obviously, they’d have to rethink how they can monetize it.

    Maybe I’ll eat my words someday (and I don’t mind if that happens), but I don’t get all the enthusiasm for Railo. I definitely don’t mean any disrespect for those working on Railo; I just feel it’s a niche of a niche.

    Eric Pierce

    Dec 4, 2012 at 5:45 am
  • John Mason

    Great discussion. I think most of us are in the same boat looking at other options and moving forward.

    Dec 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm
  • Mark Mandel

    @Adam, Re: “Or is the decline too deeply entrenched now, and all efforts (herculean or otherwise) can only hope to slow the process?”

    This is a tough question to answer. @Billy touched on this when he said “I have a ton of ideas on how we can build that ecosystem, but I can’t help but wonder if that’s the best use of my time.”

    I think people need to make this decision on their own - depending on their own work position, what they see themselves doing in the future etc. That being said, as I said on the podcast, I think it’s an economy of scale issue - there just aren’t as many people writing stuff on / for ColdFusion to let them catch up to other languages out there, so I think it will be tough to catch up.

    Honestly, I’m personally focusing my energy on other languages at this point and time. However I am part of a team that is maintaining a reasonably large ColdFusion code base, so I expect I’ll still be writing ColdFusion for quite a while longer.

    So I think it boils down to a simple question - what are your priorities? Only you can answer that.

    Dec 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm
  • Glen Rainbird

    When these sorts of topics are discussed it normally invokes a response from the community that is less than civil. More often expletive ridden rants rather than reasoned, fact driven responses.

    The people who respond in this manner need to channel their anger better. This topic should galvanise the community and dare I say ACF into action. But what sort of action? I don’t know exactly.

    I think Mark was onto something when he mentioned the way ACF is marketed - i.e. to management rather than to developers. Management’s engagement with technology is too high level and does not foster the loyalty needed to create a buzz about a technology. Have you seen management at your local User Group meeting? How about a code war, seen management there?

    From what I have seen, programmers treat and defend their favourite language with all the zeal of a fanatic and this is a problem because it throttles their desire to learn new languages. I have started looking into python and found Udacity a good resource for learning. However, there will always be die hard {insert language here} fans.

    So from ACF’s point of view they need to recognise that developers have a propensity for fanaticism because they spend their working day using tools (language|IDE|plugins|extensions etc) to solve a myriad of problems. This is where that seed of fanaticism is sown - so this is where ACF and the community should focus their energy if they want to see it flourish. Charging more for licenses will give you some profit in the short term, but won’t guarantee the longevity of the product.

    Dec 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm