An Open Message To Gert Franz And Railo

Last week Gert Franz, CEO of Railo, announced that Railo 3.1 will be open sourced, that the new LPGL2 licensed project will be hosted at, and that the JBoss community will be contributing to the enhancement of core functionality.
I’ve known Gert for a long time. We first met in Zurich back in 2001, and out paths have crossed repeatedly over the years. Gert has always been professional, respectful, and forthright, despite the fact that he had created a ColdFusion clone (and thus was a competitor). Gert has repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to the ColdFusion community, and has made a point to never be antagonistic or divisive, and to always be open and honest, despite us being competitors. In fact, before he made the announcement last week, he requested a meeting with the ColdFusion team leaders to give them advanced notice and to chat about positioning and the future. He even asked me to eyeball the joint JBoss Railo press release, just to make sure that it contained nothing objectionable or unnecessarily divisive. I’m not a fool, and I know that Gert’s actions are not entirely altruistic – at the end of the day he has a business to run and needs to do what is in his business’ best interests. But at the same time, he has gone out of his way to balance those interests with those of the community in general. He has never badmouthed ColdFusion or the community, he has never tried to sell his product by putting down ours, he has never actively tried to drive our developers away from the core platform, and he’s always tried to sell his product on its strengths, playing fairly and honestly. And that’s not something that I can say about all of the players in this space.
Could the JBoss Railo relationship impact ColdFusion sales? Yes, of course it could. So why am I not worried about Railo’s new announcement? Why do I think that this is actually a very positive direction? Because unlike some other relationships, this one does indeed have the best interests of the community at heart. Neither Railo nor JBoss see ColdFusion apps as legacy, and they don’t see their only business model as in converting ColdFusion developers to Java or to .NET. Rather, they see the value that is CFML and the ColdFusion community, and they want to enhance it and expose it to the wider Java community. Which means that very realistically this relationship could significantly raise ColdFusion and CFML awareness, and could enhance ColdFusion’s reputation and visibility, and could even help grow the size of the community and the number of deployments. And at the end of the day, if that were to occur, then the entire community would benefit, including ColdFusion and its customers and users.
So Gert, I wish you and your team much luck on this new endeavor. And I am looking forward to working together with you to further the interests of our respective companies, while at the same time ensuring a thriving future for ColdFusion and the ColdFusion community.

21 responses to “An Open Message To Gert Franz And Railo”

  1. Sam Farmer Avatar
    Sam Farmer

    Good to hear. The battle between Adobe and Ralio is going to be fascinating over the coming years. There’s never been a better time to be a CF developer thats for sure.

  2. Adrock Avatar

    @Sam : I hope this won’t become a ‘battle’ at all. I believe Adobe and Railo can work together to expand the CFML community without competing.

  3. Sam Farmer Avatar
    Sam Farmer

    @Adam: Fair enough. I didn’t mean to imply a negative with the use of battle more that it should be a healthy competition over what new features to add, etc.
    Its _great_ to hear that the two companies get along. And that it should help expand the

  4. Sami Hoda Avatar
    Sami Hoda

    This is great news. Glad to get your view in as well Ben. I feel the CF space has been once again reinvigorated.

  5. Neil Middleton Avatar
    Neil Middleton

    Nice post Ben, couldn’t have put it better myself.

  6. Andrew Muller Avatar
    Andrew Muller

    These are great words Ben, it’s interesting to hear some details about the Railo guys and their approach to their product – I think that others in the industry should take a moment and think about how they interact with their competitors…

  7. Brock Baxter Avatar
    Brock Baxter

    Not to rain on the parade, but I’d like to say this: Since when has there been a "CFML community?"
    Hear me out: I know there are other companies (or groups) trying to make open sores versions of Cold FUsion, but let’s face it: it’s an adobe product. It’s a slap in the face for these johnny-come latelies to show up and put out competing products and then turn around and try to say there’s a "CFML community." Adobe should sue them.
    I know we all like to get along, and that’s a good thing, but I think we’re being led down the primrose path by people that don’t have Adobe’s best interest at heart. All this has led to conversations about "should Adobe give CF away for free" and "adobe should open source everything"), which to me are "giving aid and comfort to the enemy."
    I’m sorry if I sound angry, it is because I am. This is war adobe, let’s not take our game face off yet!!

  8. Peter Tilbrook Avatar
    Peter Tilbrook

    That is a very impressive attitude by Gert I have to admit. Funny how this post comes the day after New Atlanta’s Vince Bonafanti called ColdFusion applications "legacy". My my. 13 yeard old mature technology or updated this year and a new version probably already on the way is "legacy"?

  9. ziggy Avatar

    I’m just curious, what’s the difference between BD saying it has features/prices that are better than CF and Railo saying the exact same thing?
    Isn’t the real complaint about BD’s helping people move to .Net? As far as crimes go, it isn’t even one. If people need that service they’ll take them up on it; if they don’t they won’t. Who wouldn’t drop CF for .Net in a second if it helped you do what you need to do better/faster/cheaper? And who except a competitor would complain if a business helped people by providing that service?
    Seems the test is "loyalty" here, which, giving were talking about selling software to help people do what they want – mostly commerce -, and not family, doesn’t make much sense at all. It’s just business.
    Btw, I have no dog in this race. I’ve used CF, BD and have thought about buying Railo in the past.

  10. Mike Brunt Avatar
    Mike Brunt

    I sort of have a privileged knowledge in some of this as I was on the Open BlueDragon Steering Committee until the weekend. Funnily enough, I had blogged last week as to how happy I was to be there because of all the consideration from all members of the committee to the needs and aspirations of the ColdFusion-CFML community. So there is no doubt a genuine sense of a community on that committee and they truly care and there is no doubt in my mind that a community exists.
    It is just that belief that prompted me to resign because I do see a total conflict between helping the community to expand and thrive (which I genuinely believed OpenBD would do) and at the same time assisting others to move away from "legacy" ColdFusion applications to "modern" platforms like .NET and Java. In addition, as it was explained to us, the model pursued by the OpenBD initiative is similar to that pursued by RedHat-Fedora. One part being community supported with the logical thought of feeding good ideas-innovations into a commercial product. It is this which I found particularly difficult to reconcile after the "legacy"-"modern" blog post, which has since been modified and those words removed, which I applaud. However, the fact that those words were there in the first place and the fact that I make a good living because of Allaire-Macromedia-Adobe-ColdFusion and JRun made me vote with my conscience at the end of it all.

  11. Brad Bourne Avatar
    Brad Bourne

    Adrock lets not lie to each other. Whether through PR, value added features, performance or ease of use, it IS a competition/battle. If the end goal is to increase the exposure of CFML then Railo is by leaps and bounds kicking Coldfusion’s butt. To be honest, I’ve never much liked the core Coldfusion community. I’ve grown weary their animosity. They are in my opinion brats with a false sense of entitlement, and yet they play victims quite convincingly. So, I am eager to meet the new CFML developers that have not come from the proprietary walled gardens of Allaire/Macromedia/Adobe but from the expansive and open source fields of JBOSS. Long live CFML – It’s about time someone picked up the ball…

  12. Todd Rafferty Avatar
    Todd Rafferty

    @Brad Bourne: Who kicked your puppy to make you so miserable?

  13. Gert Franz Avatar
    Gert Franz

    Hi Ben,
    thanks for the post. Really appreciate it. I have a small answer to you in my blog:
    Was good to see you.

  14. Anon Avatar

    I was at the SOTR conference to witness both Ralio’s announcement and Adobe’s reaction. I really like the response that Adobe has given so far. Namely, if Ralio is courteous then Adobe will be courteous.
    I think Gert was extremely smart in his approach to this (both getting in bed with Jboss/Redhat as well as not burning the bridge with Adobe.
    To those who are surprised by Ben’s courteous public response to the Ralio announcement, consider this: Adobe constantly pushes back on developers who want more language and syntax level features and prefers to build major manager-targeted features. IE: cfdocument, cfpdf, cftoaster, etc. To listen to the community, many people don’t need these features and they’re too expensive for them.
    So what does that lead us to? Adobe doesn’t (strongly) want to continue developing the core language while Ralio does. Ralio’s does and it’s implementation is fast, extensible, LGPLed, and doesn’t overlap the things that Adobe care’s about. Namely, RIA.
    So, Adobe now has the ability to solve a number of problems in one fell swoop: Because Ralio is LGPLed they can actually build RIA and Adobe-centric features on top of a core that is technically someone else’s responsibility. They can sell it too. And they get an improved architecture (over what a bunch of c++ developers did for their first Java app).
    Oh, and those people who have been asking for a free CF version now get it… but less the features that Adobe wants to sell. And we could all share the same core. And other companies can get into the mix too, to create their own distributions or extensions on the language.
    We all win: Adobe, Ralio, Community, Business.
    That’s of course true only if Adobe realizes this opportunity!

  15. Chong Avatar

    Its good to know that Adobe and Railo are courteous competitors… I think history has shown that two major competitors in any technology usually creates a better eco system for the technology itself. The customers wins due to better value (and better performance) and the relatively fast pace of innovation by the competitors. Also competition usually stirs up exposure. More exposure = faster route to critical mass… It looks like a win win situation, lets hope for everyone’s sake Railo succeeds and survives.

  16. AJ Mercer Avatar
    AJ Mercer

    I have been one of those in the camp that beleives CFML needs a free version to compate the likes of PHP and ASP. I believe Railo are able to fill that roll and even more so now that have joined forces with
    I think there is enough room in the CFML market for Adobe and Railo to co-exist, and this announcement will only stenghten CFML in the web space.
    Two thumbs up to Adobe for welcoming Railo into the CFML world.
    Next stop – CFML standards

  17. noname Avatar

    Didn’t JBoss put JRun out of business? Why won’t Railo/JBoss do the same to CF? and JBoss aren’t exactly known for playing nice–there have been quite a few public dust-ups amongst JBoss, Sun, and BEA in the past. It seems your blog post is more of a sideways slap at New Atlanta than a true welcome to Railo/JBoss. You seem to be welcoming Railo/JBoss under the theory of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and trying to cast Railo/JBoss as the enemy of NA/BD. Would you have welcomed Railo/JBoss so openly if OpenBD hadn’t already been announced? I think maybe not. You shouldn’t assume Railo/JBoss is the enemy of OpenBD, or that Railo/JBoss is going to be a friend of Adobe/CF. In spite of all the nice words you and Gert might say publicly, open source projects and commercial products are natural enemies. There’s a much more natural alignment between OpenBD and Railo/JBoss (minor and easily resolved differences between LGPL and GPL notwithstanding) than there is between Adobe/CF and either open source project. Beware of letting the lion into your living room…

  18. Ben Forta Avatar
    Ben Forta

    noname’, as a rule I don’t bother replying to anonymous comments. But I’ll make an exception this time just to tell you that you make some valid points, points worth discussing had you not been hiding behind anonymity.
    — Ben

  19. AJ Mercer Avatar
    AJ Mercer

    > Posted By AJ Mercer | 6/10/08 9:36 AM
    > Next stop – CFML standards
    All aboard the CFML Standards Express
    Next stop – world web domination

  20. Mike G. Avatar
    Mike G.

    Very good article, i have to say that it’s quite an impressive attitude by Gert! Great discussion following, some pretty strong arguments! I’ll take a look at that battle between adobe and ralio on <a href="">google</a&gt;!

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