What really is the future of ColdFusion?

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I've just started fixing a website that was built in coldfusion. We are moving it away from this technology but it started me thinking... where is coldfusion going?
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  • unsure

Posted 8 years ago

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Jamie Simpson, Employee

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Hi drdent,

CF is very much alive and kicking! Centaur (Codename for CF9) is currently in development and will be released sometime in 2009. We can't talk about specific dates just yet.

In addition, at Adobe MAX last month, we announced a new product codenamed "Bolt". Bolt is an Eclipse based IDE of building Coldfusion applications, which is tightly integrated into the server and includes a visual line debugger.

Since the release of CF8, adoption for CF has increased and so has the popularity.

If you google Centaur, there are tons of information you can find out about the upcoming release.


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Actually, CFMX 7 (released Feb 2005) was the release where product adoption saw the first major boost since the "MX" overhaul. Since CFMX 6 (released June 2002, in a down economy) was a re-architecture in Java/J2EE from the earlier CF5 (released May 2001) written in C++, there were few new features introduced and there was an associated learning curve now that the product had a Java foundation.

Problems in the re-architecture surfaced, slowing new adoption of CFMX6, leading to the point release 6.1 (released July 2003) which for the most part corrected all the issues and restored the waning product reputation.

ColdFusion MX 7 was a feature rich, which attracted many new developers, most of whom had begun to grok CFCs and Java integration. The post 9/11 economy had generally recovered as well, adding to an increase in technology spending.

With most product release cycles, there's a decline in sales or tail at the end, and ColdFusion 8 (released August 2007) saw another major boost in adoption over the tail as it too was a feature rich release that provided solutions to many contemporary problems in Web Dev.

Frankly, IMO, nearly all negative connotations (i.e. "Legacy Software") about the ColdFusion Web Application Server are due to anachronistic experiences with earlier versions of the product in the mid/late 90's. Those opinions seem to be expressed from developers that are less familiar with the revisions and enhancements found in recent ColdFusion versions.

Personally, I think ColdFusion is a fantastic product and I love using it. It has an extensive, contemporary tag library on a stable Java base and Web application development time can be short and sweet due to its perpetual focus on RAD.

ColdFusion 9 is well known to be underway and will further address solutions to where technology is going. Furthermore, risk due to proprietary software is mitigated by the release of third party CFML engines which can provide a core of language features if not the full, rich diversity of language found in Adobe's product.
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seconded. I'm a late(ish) convert to CF (started with 6.0 from being a Microsoft guy) and lately I've been doing .NET stuff. I can't believe how backward the ASP.NET world is in picking up stuff that CF ppl have had for a while - esp by leveraging architecture ideas directly from Java. and all done from a dynamic language. I can give you example after example where money would have been saved/product delivered faster if this project was using CF instead of ASP.NET: CFDocumrent format="pdf", the CFPDF series of tags, CFPrint to a server's printer, the gateways (esp the directory watcher), and more.

I can't wait for CF9. the first job I find that will upgrade to it, I'm blowing this popsicle stand and saying goodbye to ASP.NET for good. Voting with my feet.
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charlie arehart

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DrDent, it's really not that surprising to me to hear of someone picking up support of a site written in CF. It's been alive and kicking for now nearly 14 years. An interesting question, as hinted to by Steven's comment, is how old is the code you've inherited? And what version of CF is the server running?

With such a long history, there's certainly a possibility that you may have some really old code that hasn't been updated to benefit from any of the many MANY improvements to the language over the years. Even shops running on a more modern version (8, 7, or 6, which was release in 2001) may not have bothered to update their code. Since maintaining compatibility has always been a major goal of CF, many shops have not had to "bother" upgrading their code, and sadly it means that they have not taken advantage of new features, improved coding approaches, and a world of tools, frameworks, and other related technologies.

Like Steven says, so many have a bad impression of CF, and as someone who's been in it for now 12 years, I've seen a lot of that bad PR and lamented it as not deserved, especially not in the past several years. Sure, anyone can write a bad app in any language, and with the complexity of web apps it's also easy to be lax in setup/config/admin of a CF server (and the related web server, database server, and so on) to end up with a sucky system. That's not CF's fault.

I realize that to some ears my words may sound defensive. Like Steven's reply, we just never know who is reading such discussions of CF. Most CFers love it and have stuck with it for years, and many new developers have been come in and will continue to, especially with the new open source implementations, Open BlueDragon and Railo. I realize you've asked "where is ColdFusion going", but it seems important to point out that CF is no longer JUST the Adobe product, which should be compelling to many.

Still, far more are perfectly happy with CF itself, and you've heard about the upcoming Centaur release. BEyond that, Adobe also announced a roadmap for additional releases planned for 2010 and 2011. All this spells a very bright future for CF.
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I've used CF for about 10 years. I think it's fantastic. It does more work with a lot fewer lines of code. Problem is the masses don't think so. Whether they are right are wrong is not the issue but if most people don't use it, it will remain where it is today. I also use php, which is not as nice but people like me better when I use it. This is business and we have to do what clients want and they want what everyone else has.
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Yes, we are having the same issues. Customers understand that .net and PHP are out there, but few have heard of CF. Less resources are around to build a project team and when they are available its expensive.
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Eric Twilegar

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The real issue is price. Everything is else is free...not really...but doesn't have a direct price tag.

.NET is free with Mono and most companies have Windows Server 2003/8 so it seems free.

.PHP, Java, Ruby, Python, Scala, and many many more are free. Have free IDEs, have free servers and so on.

Now if you are developing in PHP you are likely going to spend more time solving the same problem. How much is subjective for sure especially when the .PHP dever thinks CF is a piece of crap even though they've never used it.

Even though CF might save time developing if you have a 10+ server cluster serving up your app the saving go out the window.

There are also free alternatives to Adobe CF which have minor differences and usually lag in features with the main Adobe releases. This might help the community.

Next is the whole Standard vs. Enterprise crap. Why Adobe still clings to this I will never know. I guess there are plenty of firms willing to drop the dough. I think if standard included everything as Enterprise and cost 200 bucks a server adoption would start increasing.

In recent times also CF is starting to support a syntax that is like Java, JS, C, etc. I actually really like the tags for a lot of things...sure m sure plenty will pay some money for support and maybe the latest and greatest features...but at somepoint gateways need to fully part of standard with no limits.
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I used to code in CFML, but the only reason was because I sold my clients on the power of it. I don't have the energy anymore and besides, .NET rocks.
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If you just want a job, the PHP or .NET or going to make that easier, but if you are a freelancer, or run a web development firm as I do, you can't go past CF for profitability.

I've been in this game for 15 years, have tried PHP, .NET and Ruby more recently (and have to admit, I did enjoy Ruby), but none of these come even close to CF when it comes to ensuring nice profits, and happy clients.