The Ever Present Need for ColdFusion

I spent the day on the show floor at FOSE, the Federal Government tradeshow in D.C. Lots of ColdFusion interest (as well as interest in Contribute, Flash, Breeze, Flex, and more).
For me, the most important part of all the ColdFusion discussions and interaction was the reminder that ColdFusion must remain true to it’s origins, simply making developers productive. Most of the ColdFusion interest was from individuals wanting to really simple and basic things, creating dynamic content, implementing basic database integration, providing basic access control, creating dynamic user relevant menus and nav bars, and so on. Ironically, this is all stuff that was doable in ColdFusion 1, and 8 years later ColdFusion is still the easiest and most accessible way to solve these problems, no other product or language comes close to ColdFusion for this demographic and need. And it is a need that has not diminished at all. Often, all that we hear are the needs and demands of the top tier developers, those who needed SUPER and bemoan the behaviors of ‘this’ within CFCs and want more access to underlying Java. And while we must continue to make these developers productive, giving them the tools they want and need, at the same time we must be cognizant of ColdFusion’s core value proposition, it’s original mission, a raison d’etre that is as legitimate now as it was almost a decade ago.

13 responses to “The Ever Present Need for ColdFusion”

  1. seancorfield Avatar

    It’s a very fine line between simplicity and power and I think ColdFusion does an incredible job. Folks with nothing but an HTML background can pick it up and solve real problems at one end of the scale but also folks at the other end of the scale can create complex enterprise-class applications with clear OO designs.

  2. Nathan Dintenfass Avatar
    Nathan Dintenfass

    Amen. As someone who started with ColdFusion 1 and now cares about things like SUPER, I am a case study in the power of CF.
    I wonder, though, if MACR views these novice users as a sustainable path for growth given all their emphasis on accomodating the sophisticated/enterprise developer?

  3. Ben Forta Avatar
    Ben Forta

    You both hit the nail on the head, it is all about balance.

  4. Kevin Avatar

    As a relative novice to ColdFusion, one of the things I most appreciate is that it makes things clear and understandable when trying to handle basic tasks like running a query and displaying information. It is much simpler than something like ASP yet I can already see how I can start to expand into more complex programs and functionality. I’d hate to see this accessibility get lost, I think it would discourage new users from starting up with CF and that would be a shame.

  5. Roman Avatar

    I guess the challenge I’ve always found is convincing clients that as applications increase in complexity, the strengths of ColdFusion are somehow diminished. I think ColdFusion (which is an extremely powerful and capable RAD platform by my account) suffers in part because it is so accessible. Just about anyone with HTML programming experience can build a dynamic web page in ColdFusion within just a few minutes. That said, a fair bit of ColdFusion apps are poorly coded, plagued by spaghetti code. But this is no different than many ASP and PHP web apps that I’ve seen.
    The folks at Macromedia do a great job of balancing a truly accessible development paradigm with ColdFusion while, necessarily, embracing elements that more sophisticated developers require. Keep up the good work!

  6. Roman Avatar

    I meant "…the strengths of ColdFusion are NOT somehow diminished."

  7. Roman Avatar

    I meant "…the strengths of ColdFusion are NOT somehow diminished."

  8. Craig Avatar

    This is exactly what I want to hear.
    But in the world of Ecommerce, they seem driven to be using whatever the newest technology platform, regardless of it’s fitness for their needs…
    Which is sad, since ColdFusion is so beautiful.

  9. Marc Schipperheyn Avatar
    Marc Schipperheyn

    Why can’t we have both?
    I love the speed with which I can write great software with Cold Fusion (as opposed to the drudgery of doing mundane things in Java). I hate the fact that I could write better, more efficient software if I could use more of the underlying Java APIs (like interfaces, static methods etc.).
    Marc Schipperheyn

  10. Ben Forta Avatar
    Ben Forta

    Kevin and Marc, I agree entirely, that was my original point. It is all about balance. We need both, and need to tread carefully and cautiously.
    Roman, you are exactly right. ColdFusion is kind of in the same boat as Visual Basic, which is laughed at by "real" programmers, but which is used by just about every major corporation in the world for critical applications. Having said that, in my experiences this has become less of a problem ever since ColdFusion MX was introduced, sitting on top of Java (and, in many ways being simple Java services and a Java code-generator) has eliminated much of that resistance.
    Craig, the e-commerce space has never been where CF does well. Sure, it did ok there in the .COM era, but that was an exception, not the rule. Most of CF development happens on intranets and extranets and portals, internal stuff, and that is what CF is best at.

  11. Craig Avatar

    Why not ecommerce?
    I think the problem is most ecommerce platforms, that were built to address all problems, were not based on the reality of what diverse data/processes each ecommerce site does.
    And I think if we had higher standards, and best practices in ecommerce using Cold Fusion. We’d have a much better way to keep those ecommerce sites.
    I know because this is my battle, in trying to keep coldfusion for the company I work for.
    Because ecommerce is where the money is, isn’t it?

  12. Roman Avatar

    I agree, why not ColdFusion?
    I think the lack of ecommerce sites built of CF has less to do with the capability of CF than the lack of best practices and maybe even evangelism. As Ben noted above, with the introduction of CFMX, and the gains within the community toward introducing OO-thinking into CF, that argument becomes less and less plausible (if it ever was one).
    I think it boils down to a Hosting issue, and a certain level of ignorance or stereotyping of CF in the non-CF community. E-commerce is where the money’s at, and with tighter integration with Flash and its Java core, CF could really cement itself as THE e-commerce platform.

  13. Ben Forta Avatar
    Ben Forta

    Craig, I don’t think it is where the money is right now,well, not most of it. But …
    I think it is several things …
    1) CFs Windows origins (and not being supported on other platforms until CF4.x) hurt it in the hosting arena.
    2) Cost is a big factor in low-end hosting (which is where most of the simpler e-commerce offerings reside).
    3) There still is a "CF is entry-level" mentality, although less of it than there used to be.
    4) For the low-end, packaged solutions or fill-in-the-blanks-online type offerings are more popular. Whereas on the high-end, developers will likely shy away from CF.
    This are generalizations, but they are reality too. CF has always done best in data presentation and reporting apps. That is not to say that it cannot be used for e-commerce, it is, but that has not been the sweet spot.

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