Someone posted a message on the Atlanta ColdFusion User Group list asking what the recent announcement about open sourcing the Flash Player scripting engine meant when looking at the bigger picture.
Adam Churvis replied with the following:

Among other things, it means that when the time comes (relatively soon), Adobe will most likely wash their hands clean of ColdFusion via the open source route as well, rather than by trying to dump it on another company. But it most likely also signifies that Adobe realizes its Flash-centric development model and tools cannot keep pace with Microsoft’s XAML-based offerings. When you compare the two, Flash-based development looks like an unwieldy cobbled together tinkertoy. And there just isn’t enough Adobe funding available to change that in any significant way, so they “give it up to the people” and let them join in for free.

Before I go any further I must say that I respect Adam. He’s been an active community member for years, he knows his stuff, he is a great developer, and he’s also a really good teacher and author. But honestly, this reply is so off base that it is just plain silly.
For starters, the announcement has nothing to with Flash per se and nothing to do with XAML alternatives, it is about the underlying scripting engine. The scripting engine has been open sourced, and future versions of Mozilla take advantage of this engine. They will run scripts (including JavaScript) faster, developers will be able to take advantage of ECMAScript advancements, and all Web apps will benefit from this (including script heavy apps like Ajax applications). But it has nothing to do with Flash itself Adam, that’s simply misunderstanding the announcement. For an accurate assessment, read Frank Hecker’s post on the subject.
And as for ColdFusion, whoa Adam, where did that come from? I’ll state this quite emphatically – there are no plans to open source ColdFusion or dump it on anyone (and yes, I know some of you would love for us to open source CF, but that’s a separate discussion). The only plans we have right now are the ones we are working on, building ColdFusion Scorpio (which is currently in alpha). So unless Adam has access to information that neither I nor the entire CF team has, the statement about “washing their hands clean of ColdFusion” (and “relatively soon”, too) is not just meaningless and baseless conjecture, it’s probably more accurately described as ignorant rambling (and I sure hope that it has nothing to do with him offering .NET training targeted at ColdFusion developers and with him being a “BlueDragon Alliance Founding Committee” member, that would be a real shame).

31 thoughts

  1. Wow, what a firestorm!
    I just think that shareholder pressures have much more to do with decisions like this than developers’ opinions. For the past nine years our company has been firmly rooted in ColdFusion, you all know that. We still deploy on ColdFusion as well as BlueDragon. We just looked at everything available and tried to guess (like everyone else) what Adobe will eventually do based on what we consider to be the real forces involved, and figured differently from the majority of developers cheerleading ColdFusion, that’s all.
    It’s supposed to be a free country where people can have different opinions regardless of the size of the majority. If you believe differently from me then I respect that. Please respect my right to do the same.

  2. Adam,
    You are absolutely entitled to your opinion. But when voicing an opinion you should state that it is just that, an opinion, and not fact. Your message came across as trying to be authoritative, knowing what would happen, and that it would happen ‘relatively soon’. As an opinion you are free to suggest whatever you feel, but when your opinion starts to came across as fact, well then it needs a response.
    Oh, and as far as ‘shareholder pressures have much more to do with decisions like this than developers’ opinions’, you may be right, but fortunately it’s a complete non-issue as ColdFusion continues to sell well and is a successful business.
    — Ben

  3. Actually the entire comment confuses me from a purely logic standpoint. If Adobe was open-source-ing Flash (which it clearly isn’t but that is the premise of the original argument) because it can’t keep pace with MS and XAML *and* they intend to dump ColdFusion as well….what the heck did they buy Macromedia for? This isn’t a matter of cheerleading CF, it just makes no sense whatsoever and would fly in the face of every analysis of the merger that I have seen to date.

  4. Here’s source link:
    http://www.mail-archive.com/discussion@acfug.org/msg01495.html
    In a followup, I can see how Adam can get to this position:
    "It’s like a bunch of little ants scurrying around in a lab beaker discussing the reasons why that big man in the lab coat is going to feed them soon, because it’s only logical and yada yada yada. But they have no clue that the guy is there to test the effects of heat on ants. They can see him through the glass and they think they know what’s important to him and how it will affect his actions, but they just don’t realize that nothing they’re thinking or doing or saying has any relevance to what that guy is going to have to do in order to get graded on his science project, which is the only thing of any real relevance because that guy is the one with the power to bring things into alignment with what the real Powers That Be demand of him."
    http://www.mail-archive.com/discussion@acfug.org/msg01508.html
    He seems unsure of Adobe’s overall intent, and so regards any end result as possible. But I’m not sure how to help someone coming from such a position.
    Fortunately, Adam and Sterling settled on a sidebet of a family dinner at a fancy restaurant, so everybody’s got their money where their mouth is…. 😉
    jd

  5. "He seems unsure of Adobe’s overall intent"
    I can understand why he feels like this.
    What’s not clear to me at the moment is where Adobe is going with their development tools. They have CF, Flex and soon Apollo which are all able to deliver applications. At the surface, it seems unfocused. Deep down, it seems Adobe is making some very fundamental strategic decisions that will impact CF in the future.
    Flex is the "new hotness" at Adobe. Ben’s own blog entries over the past few months emphasize this, shifting from the church of CF to uttering the new mantra of Flex.
    Apollo seems to be too new to make a rash judgement, but the $100M development fund is a pretty clear indication of where Adobe is going. It seems to me that in 2007, Apollo will again shift focus farther away from CF…..relegating it to ‘old and busted’ (can you tell I like MIB?). Sure Scorpio will give some love to CF, but Lotus Domino and Foxpro still get updates too. It doesn’t mean much at the end of the day if the company has their attention focused elsewhere.

  6. Craig, not sure what else I can tell you to convnce you otherwise, I guess time will tell. And as for my talking about Flex more lately, well, we last updated CF 1 1/2 years ago, and Flex 2 is just a few months old. As we ramp out to Scorpio you’ll see the coverage swing back to be much more CF, and a new CFUG tour, and so on. Don’t read too much into it, really.
    — Ben

  7. Excellent response Ben. (And Adam… Ben is right, when you voice an opinion to the public, your freedom of speach includes the rights of others to give answer to your comment. So look at the post and you will find he was kind, and only said you were off target on this one. Then he supported his statement with facts. It is good to use facts to counter opinions.)

  8. I’ve seen many blog postings (here and elsewhere) that attempt to suggest a "one or the other" perspective relative to CF, Flex, Apollo, etc. I’m not convinced this is an accurate way to look at these products or, more importantly, to predict the underlying technology strategies of Adobe. These products compliment one another and play off of each other. Improving and concentrating on one product, in terms of both capabilities and market penetration, necessarilly increases visibility of the other product(s). If the product in question is a good one (and we all know CF is good), how do you make the logical leap to the demise of the product?
    M. McConnell

  9. OK, One Man’s take on the the whole CF, Flex, Apollo school of thought:
    Having been a CF Programmer from "way back" (read as when Allaire still owned it and renamed it to ColdFusion to begin with), here’s how I take the current play-out by Adobe. Most CF programmers known/have heard that Flex is going to allow us to leverage our existing CF knowledge and code. This is hugely great news to me! Now I find that Apollo is going to allow me to deploy my Flex-based applications to the desktop. Sounds like a win-win all the way around…

  10. Woo Hoo. I was very saddened by the lack of a "ColdFusion is being shut down by Allaire|Macromedia|Adobe" panic at this year’s MAX. It’s late, but here it is.
    Looking forward to next years.

  11. Ben Forta is right; only time will tell. Of course, I have some experience with this. I remember similar people not liking my "opinion" about JRun’s future. What has time told you on that one?

  12. matt before you go getting all "high" on yourself, yes you were right on jrun but you were wrong on your cf editor that flopped, so I guess that means eclipse is gunna get flushed soon as well??? (just cause yours went down the toilet)
    As far as Adam goes, I have no idea why they just dont moved to .net since they seem to be so in love with it. And Bill’s butt kissers just don’t seem to grasp the idea some people would like to have a choice to where and on what they run their applications and that the ms platform is a pretty crappy choice for some people. And with coldfusion as popular as ever I can’t see Adobe abandoning it.

  13. I joined Adobe not long ago …while I can not claim to have the inside scoop …I can tell you there is plenty of CF evangelism inside the company. It’s a significant piece to the puzzle.
    Having been a long time customer of CF …I have a hunch these occasional threads of doubt stem from folks venting frustration about the challenges of evangelizing CF in their own neck of the woods.
    Ciao!

  14. Yes, Adobe should open source CF. One and a half years between releases? Little to no feature enhancements in all that time? Continued erosion of market share and developers to PHP (free), PERL (free), Python (free), Ruby (free), JSP/Java/Tomcat/et al (free), and .NET (also free).
    Or to use my favorite pet peeve, I use CF on Macs for development, and guess what doesn’t work on a new Intel Mac? No telling from the site when (or even if) it’s going to be supported either, which is extremely odd since one of the reasons CF went towards Java was ease of cross-platform support. However, the open source community had an Intel-based buld of mySQL available ONE WEEK after the first Intel Macs shipped. Now THAT"S responsive.
    While we’re discussing responsiveness should we discuss the many, many, many still-open issues with reporting? Or cfdocument/pdfs? Or… never mind.
    The point is that MM/Adobe needs to get away from these huge monolithic multi-year releases, open-source the sucker, and deliver a continuous, timely flow of feature enhancements and bug fixes that will let it, and its developers, compete in the marketplace.
    One and a half years? That’s a decade in web time…

  15. umm, ok Michael….
    lets see "One and a half years between releases" and the next thing you mention is php. Well php has been around as long as coldfusion and I hate to tell you but its Version 5 and Coldfusion is version 7, so some simple math would say that coldfusions releases are quite a bit faster than php. The others i could care less about.
    "I use CF on Macs for development, and guess what doesn’t work on a new Intel Mac?"
    Well it runs on my intel mac and lots of other peoples as well, matter of fact it actually runs smoother and faster on the intel macs then anything else.
    "mySQL available ONE WEEK"
    Yeah and well it only took them like 6 years to add transaction support…….
    "
    The point is that MM/Adobe needs to get away from these huge monolithic multi-year releases, open-source the sucker, and deliver a continuous, timely flow of feature enhancements and bug fixes that will let it, and its developers, compete in the marketplace."
    Again.. like what? PHP???
    Let me remind you again.
    Php 5
    cfm 7
    It aint rocket science
    Now what has php really added that is a good utilization that cfm cant do or that they did it before hand? Im sure there are some, i just dont know and am asking.
    Did they come up with event gateways?
    or AMF remoting?
    i could go on and on.
    you seem upset that a good product may have a cost to it because your release time points are completely invalid. Even .net has been around for what 5-6 years now and its on what.. version 2.
    Html itself is really only on version 5, what other language has put out 7 versions and is still around going strong as ever.

  16. "Flash-based development looks like an unwieldy cobbled together tinkertoy."
    I’ve done both Flex and XAML, and, well, Flex at least works. XAML has the usual Microsoft development thing of working great until you need to do something outside of what the demo the sales (err…sorry…Microsoft Solutions Partner) guy showed, on your own desktop, on a configuration of Windows that hasn’t been custom-built just to make sure the thing works.
    All one needs to do to realize Adobe’s current advantage in the RIA Arena (has a nice rhyme, eh?) is look at the "Compatability Chart" for .NET 3.0: http://msdn.microsoft.com/windowsvista/downloads/products/default.aspx – looking at it, can you even figure out which of the .NET SDK and Windows you’d need to deploy an application to your enterprise? Microsoft can barely keep track of its own incompatibilities, while Adobe is already nicely cross-platform.
    The NetFX3 (.NET Framework 3.0) community site is another great example. It’s shiny, promising great tools to do great things, but if you dig a bit to get to the developer comments, it’s a mess of DLL hell – no one can figure out which versions of what run where!
    Compare this to the simplicity of the Flash stack. Install Flash Player 9. Make a SWF. That’s it. Maybe the simplicity is like tinker-toys when compared to the mysterious web of .NET development, but that’s about it.
    Re: CFMX on Intel Mac OS X
    I *do* think it’s lousy that Adobe hasn’t put out a path that makes the installer work. However, it takes about 30 minutes to get it installed and working with Apache if you follow (to the letter) the instructions at http://webmages.com/cfmxIntelOSXguide.html – they’re great, and (Ben?) they may be able to serve as a guide for how Adobe can get Intel OS X support built into the installer.

  17. My feeling is that ColdFusion is as strong as it’s ever been. The fact that CF and Flex (especially after the 7.02 update) work well together has in my opinion breathed new life into CF.
    That being said I have one major gripe. There are not nearly enough articles, tutorials and sample apps aimed at using CF and Flex together. Creating the cfc’s is not a problem and I can muddle my way through creating the UI but where I run into problems is with the actionscript code that allows you to expose the data generated by the cfc’s and display it via the Flex front end.
    I know that there is the CF/Flex Application Wizard which is very cool but it generates so many files and so much code that it’s difficult (for me anyway) to try to pick apart the code and re-purpose it for my own needs.
    I would like to see some tutorials and sample apps that are straightforward but not overly simplistic that show me how to bridge the gap between my cfc’s and my flex front end. What comes to mind as a starting point is showing is simply populating a Flex datagrid with data from a database.
    I would also like to see a tutorial about using cflogin to log users into a Flex application.
    I am eager to put Flex into action but I get frustrated sometimes when I’m trying to bridge the gap between CF and Flex.
    Ray

  18. I think what everyone needs to remember with Flex: Flex is primarily a presentation layer. You still need CF to do all the heavy lifting on the back end, flex is just the new HTML to allow the user to interact. Coldfusion is far from ‘going away’, it seems more likely to me that Adobe is building products to take advantage of its capability.

  19. Michael,
    What point are you trying to make, exactly? Are you suggesting that open source software is somehow better or more noble than commercial products because it’s free and/or because there are "nearly continuous streams of bug fixes, new features, new functions, etc."? All that indicates to me is that open source products are buggy or inadequate to begin with. Adobe is a business. Like it or not, businesses exist for one purpose and one purpose only: to make money. It is a universal constant and one that cannot be argued. Anyone who believes that software publishers create and support software to push technology forward and/or to create better user experiences is naive. These things are simply the by-products of profit-motivated commerce. There are few more true adages than "you get what you pay for".
    Regards,
    M. McConnell

  20. Dave,
    To say that CF is better because it is at version 7 while PHP is only at version 5 seems to be non sequitur to me. The important thing is what the products do, not their version numbers.
    Justice,
    With Flex, you do not need CF. Yes, CF and Flex play nice together. But, there are plenty of other options, including anything that can generate web services.

  21. Adam,
    As soon as I saw the news I merely saw it as a give and take between Mozilla and Adobe. Remember Apollo needs a HTML engine too. AdobeMacromedia does not make money with the players(mostly), its the adoption rate that drives revenue of the tools. So open sourcing and enhancing the adoption rate makes sense.
    CF is still a player on the backend, all these apps need to talk to somebody to get their data.
    MSFT is the 800 pound gorilla and we all know that, but in the end all the products they create need to feed the beast. (the OS) . Adobe’s future is cross platform.
    Adobe is successfully putting together a real strategy to compete over the next few years with MSFT. You seem to conclude Adobe should stop now and let MSFT walk all over the space it built. I don’t see it that way. I say the we all win with competition. As they say, you are only as good as your competition. So let’s play some ball.

  22. Jeff,
    I didnt say that cf was "better" because it was version 7 while php was version 5. What I said was based on the previous users comment that coldfusion releases are to slow and he was mentioning other languages that I guess he thought were being released at a faster rate, so i was saying that coldfusion and php came out the same year and we are on cfmx7 and php 5. Which would indicate of course that cfm is being released at a faster rate.

  23. Dave, I hope you’re not a developer because otherwise whatever you’re using for logic in your argument scares me.
    Yes, the major version number for PHP, since that’s the one you’re picking on, is 5. Now–and stay with me here–go to their site and examine the release history for the point-releases. What you’ll find is a nearly continuous stream of bug fixes, new features, new functions, new libraries, and new platforms supported.
    Besides, MX6 was a total rewrite. MX7, OTOH added some new functionality to the system but wasn’t a rewrite and did little to the core. As such it could have easily been MX6.5. But no, MM wanted more money from it’s installed base, and bumping the version number is the way to do it. One could almost say they have a distinct incentive NOT to continually enhance their product, and instead to hord features until they can bump the version number again and ring the cash register. 5.0. KaChing. 6.0 KaChing. 7.0 KaChing!
    So, sorry, the fact they’ve run the cash register as often as they could doesn’t strike me as being a feature.
    To continue, if that four-page installation procedure was so easy, then why hasn’t Adobe folded it into a point release by now? Whereas if other developers had access to the source tree, I’m almost positive that someone would have done so, and others gone after the report and document bugs I mentioned and that you, and Adobe, have ignored. Or worse, fixed, and now awaiting V8 so we have a reason to pay them again.
    You’re right. It’s not rocket science.

  24. LOL
    So you are worried about me being a developer because you can’t count and are a cheapo? Thats a problem you have not me.
    Well I think your logic is a bit off yourself. I’m sure if your are including bug fixes and all that we can include those for cfm as well. And if you had read my original reply to your first off base post you’d have seen that i also mentioned .net.
    Personally, you seem kinda like a cheapo to me. Why shouldn’t Adobe charge for major updates and releases? Do you think M$ is gunna give you Vista update for free? Or is Apple gunna give you Leopard for free?
    And yes mx6 was a totally rewrite that placed cfm on top of the j2ee platform which pardon me but php has yet to do anything like that and might be one of the reasons why it hasnt caught on with the enterprise market too well yet.(which i could care less about since i dont do enterprise work)
    "Besides, MX6 was a total rewrite. MX7, OTOH added some new functionality to the system but wasn’t a rewrite and did little to the core. As such it could have easily been MX6.5. But no, MM wanted more money from it’s installed base"
    Sorry but thats just crap, pure crap………
    By moving it to the j2ee platform it did quite a bit for the platform, your comments seem to say nothing new came of it and if thats what you think then you need to get with the program.
    Products are made to be paid for, I seriously doubt you do your work for free and all these people like you that cry if everything isnt free really pisses me off. If you dont like it then dont buy or use it. Quite a lot of people who use cfm never have to pay for it and the ones that do can certainly afford it and since it is a freedom of choice then they can pick it and pay for it if they choose. If you don’t like it then dont use it.
    "To continue, if that four-page installation procedure was so easy, then why hasn’t Adobe folded it into a point release by now?"
    maybe Ben can answer that, personally for me and most others its not a big issue, so it takes an additional 30 seconds to install, sure it would be nice (and im sure on next version an installer will be made) to have an installer but i dont see where Adobe has to drop everything and run to to change things because a computer maker changes their products.
    Would I personally like to see cfm open sourced? No I wouldn’t, actually I’m not sure if you would either, if it was free you probably wouldnt even care.
    Having said that I think it would be a very wise move on Adobes part to maybe make the standard version free so that more hosts and schools could install it and be a direct competitor to php and then only charge for support and the enterprise edition. I’m "assuming" that they mostly make thier money on the enterprise clients so it wouldnt be a huge financial loss and everyone could use cfm. And given that Adobe is already imbedded with their products in these schools it only makes sense to make available and application server that is also theirs.
    "So, sorry, the fact they’ve run the cash register as often as they could doesn’t strike me as being a feature."
    So when one of your clients calls you and wants to add new features to their site I bet you just do it for free right?

  25. <i>All that indicates to me is that open source products are buggy or inadequate to begin with.</i>
    Does that mean that ColdFusion is buggy and inadequate? After all, they continue to release new versions year-after-year that fix old bugs and add new features.
    No, the big difference is that with CF they hold onto all of the new features that are developed over the course of a year or two, until they think they have enough of them to sell a new version. OSS products, OTOH, are much more likely to release new features and bug fixes in a continual stream, as soon as they’re ready.

  26. I am not going to go into the discussion that is being held here because it just makes me laugh really hard.. I’ve been developing CF apps for over 9 years now and this discussion keeps coming back somehow…. if you don’t like CF.. don’t use it.. but stop complaining about it and the crap arguments that it is not evolving.. why is it still going on strong after 10 years…. for all those "free" languages its a simple answer.. because there FREE!… something that is free will off course be used more then something that is paid for… oh.. hmmm Linux vs Windows/Mac… crap.. my whole statement down the drain…
    Still.. i liked the argument about making the standard edition free, for at least hosting providers and school/university departments because that would make sure that ColdFusion as a language will get a much broader userbase in the what I like to call "script kiddy" world.
    Last week I went to the CFdevcon in London, and the only thing that bothered me about the whole event and in the last 2 years is that the focus of MM/Adobe is so profoundly on FLEX / FLASH. Even after seeing the "Scorpio" presentation I am still dissapointed with the new features… because the only thing that’s really new for the language itself is the CFIMAGE tag… that… let’s be honoust.. should have been in there for at least 4 to 5 years now. If I look at the "other" ColdFusion vendor I see a lot more development in the language itself..
    Am I going to switch to PHP / .NET or some other language.. hell no!! these languages cost me in the long run more money then ColdFusion ever did… session / client management, ldap connection, broad range of database support etc etc.. all the things I need for building enterprise level applications are in one and the same product. Let’s not even talk about development time….
    My point being.. yes i will be using ColdFusion in the next 9 years and hopefully more… from which vendor… that’s the question. And for the people that are trying to convince other people not to use CF, because it’s not evolving….. go fetch… please!!

  27. Tjarko, actually, there is a lot more to ‘Scorpio’ then imaging. There is a lot more core functionality (even beyond the server monitoring and .NET integration which we’ve mentioned). I am just as frustrated as you are that we’ve not been showing more of what we’re working on, especially as there is a lot to show. All I can say is wait a little longer untilt he beta starts, based on what the small alpha base is telling us you absolutley won’t be dissapointed.
    — Ben

  28. Ben, and everyone else for that matter, think back to the end of CF 6. Done thinking? Remember people arguing about this same thing? At that time, "Macromedia is going to drop CF 6" but 7 was in the works for some time and was dropping in the next 6 to 12 months.
    This argument is a never-ending one. Nothing of relevance here from me other than the fact that someone always public states CF is/may/will go away.

Leave a Reply