It’s almost impossible to type ColdFusion into a search bar and avoid a pop-up suggestion, ”Is ColdFusion dead?”
- The story behind ColdFusion’s position in market share
Developers who prefer ColdFusion, and programmers in general, tend to be subjective around this type of topic that calls for the comparison of different programming languages. Young programmers like to compare it with PHP in open discussions. We’re going to lay out some facts, and try to remain objective on this.
The rise in popularity of Lucee – CFML open source
Asking the right question can lead you to the answer you’re looking. Several crucial points related to this popular discussion can shed light on this topic.
Many programmers see Lucee as a platform that offers modern coding of a good old CFML. The stats from the last survey developers took to show that Lucee is more popular than ColdFusion 10 or 2016. Of course, stats refer only to the people who filled out the survey. However, we take it that many people within the community will read about the popularity of the Lucee 5 and start using it themselves.
Traditional CFML framework has a younger open source platform, which is continuing the legacy of CFML; a rapid development of web applications via .cfm and .cfc files. The most of the tags are gone, “components” transformed into “classes,” and they added a bunch of new features. Developers can run CFML apps in legacy mode, and using Lucee’s new dialect enables them to make all enhancements to the application. Die-hard followers of CFML can be grateful for Lucee’s progress and anticipated growth because it equals the first step towards a larger CF developer community.
It's interesting to see which versions are compatible.
- Railo at this point has no support.
- Lucee 4 has support only for security fixes, but it does not see enhancements, that's all going to Lucee 5.
- Adobe stack, CF 9 was still a decent chunk of users, that's already outside of the support window, and
- CF 10 is coming right behind.
- And CF 9 went end of life on 12/31/14, over a year ago now. That means no more security fixes.
- CF 10 is just a very short period away (5/16/17), so very soon there's going to be quite a chunk of Adobe CF users that are outside of the support window, which is a little scary. That means not just the support, but also no more security hotfixes are like driving a car with no brakes and praying that nothing comes on the road that you need to stop for. (see Adobe Lifecycle table for all versions)
Gert Franz has an interesting answer to a question “why are you proud to be using ColdFusion?” He started from Java Delphi and decided it needs improvement. You can listen to the whole answer here
2017 State of CF Union survey
Every year, programmers who are using ColdFusion take a survey. Results of such surveys provide essential information about current state of the CF community. People can view and share the results which among many others confirm. Take a look at the highlights of this year’s survey below. The most popular type of CFML Engine developers are running is Lucee 5, while the use of Railo is shrinking more and more among survey takers at least. It all comes down to the ongoing support; Railo has no support, and for Lucee 4 you can only get security fixes.
The span of browsers/client platforms developers support in their apps is huge; they pretty much support every possible browser out there. Only government intranet sites may support only one particular browser.
The most popular CSS frameworks are ColdBox, which continues to increase the number of developers who are using their framework every year.
- Which conferences will/did they attend this year?
- What miscellaneous frameworks/tools are they using?
- What monitoring tools are they using?
This year’s survey pointed out lots of interesting facts.
Read the full report here.
Adobe has been releasing updated versions of ColdFusion for the last 22 years, constantly adding new features and making sure that coding is faster and simpler with every new version. However, looking at a market share, it’s not as popular as PHP, Java, ASP.NET, Ruby on Rails, Perl and Python.
When I was at IntoTheBox Conference I talked with some of the speakers there, and it was interesting to hear their comments about ColdFusion, why are they using it (still) and why they think it is a good (if not the best) option.
It has gone through a lot of changes, and it has a lot of history. Some might say that’s a bad thing, but I like to think that this only means it has improved so many times, and for many years so far. Besides my opinion, it has proven to be a quality language to use. It has gotten to be easier and easier to use it. Everything is just a few tags away.
“You can create so much stuff with it. It is competitive as any other language. The language itself is very versatile, and Ortus (solutions) has invested so much because we believe in it…”
A very interesting story is by Teddie Tapawan. He stopped using the CFML at some point, but he forgot to erase this from his CV. At one moment, he got a job offer just because of that fact! He is now 100% sure that it is coming back and is very much alive and in use. Here’s the video of how he saw it.
Adobe tries to indulge everyone offering standard, developer, enterprise, or express version of ColdFusion as far as the price and the purpose goes. Then we have PHP and all other open source languages that are free. Price is the primary factor of why all other programming languages are sharing the biggest percentage of the market. Also, the market share doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of ColdFusion because it’s not in the same league. CF has more of an elitist status. Market share doesn’t tell the whole truth about the revenue based on ColdFusion sales. Adobe is constantly showing an increase in sales of various language’s packages in the last several years. Someone spending that money on a programming language is aware of its capabilities and benefits. The true niche of ColdFusion lies in enterprise buyers who spend $100k+ on various other software (Windows, Hubspot, MS SQL Server, etc.).
The highlights of the 2016 version
With a few changes in the application settings, you can improve the performance of your existing applications up to 30%. Here’s the white paper containing all the details (whitespace management, CF loops performance, etc.).
ColdFusion Enterprise has a new security code analyzer, which scans CFML application searching for critical weaknesses and provides details about the degree of vulnerability and suggestions for fixing it.
This version has an improved PDF and has added capabilities to clean up PDF files before external sharing. Other new options include:
- Creating and extracting PDF metadata
- New update of archiving format support (compatible with any future version of Acrobat Reader).
- The functionality to redact a PDF (using redaction to secure sensitive information in a PDF from being visible to non-authorized users)
API manager is a new segment which helps quick management, security, and monitoring of either REST or SOAP-based API’s. Enterprise-class API is simple to use. It can provide all the features associated with a PHP or an ASP.NET. API as much as a CFML-based API. This white paper details the scalability and low latency.
While Java, Ruby, and Python all have MVC’s, ColdFusion’s built-in MVC provides a wide span of available features (caching, logging, dependency injection/AOP, and testing). The overall quality, readability and easy-to-maintain code generated through this MVC is as good as any other framework and programming language.
ColdFusion has its place among developers
Does ColdFusion suit your needs?
The answer depends on the purpose. You should ask yourself which web development language will help me produce feature-rich Internet applications. Coldfusion is a perfect tool for creating a dynamic website, thus creating the best advantage for the users. It’s considered to be an innovative tool that can provide maximum results for the clients; whether it’s a small business or a huge company.
“It is a language that makes me the most productive and I can build so many applications with it in LESS time than in other languages… always coming back to CFML for rapid application development.”
Luis Majano, @ IntoTheBox Conference chat
Small web development companies could have the biggest benefit from using ColdFusion. However, I have never understood why PHP/ASP appear to be cheaper when they use 2 to 3 times more in programming time. Small companies don’t have big teams, usually up to 6 people. That leaves you with less time to take on another client. If you use ColdFusion, you can save 60-75% in time on any project, starting from scratch. Since it gives you time to spend on new projects even with the tight budgets, your profits go up.
Most importantly, it keeps the pace with the recent trends in technology. With every new version released Adobe tries to expand the list of new features, even more than their competitors.
Can Adobe Coldfusion assure a higher value and meet any performance demands?
There isn't any better programming language for handling the development of complex applications. Some developers are calling it a “Swiss Army knife.” Easy web services implementation, dozens of functions, image and PDF tools; it’s a power with ease. Speed is the key for small and medium-sized companies. With ColdFusion, you’ll get more done in less time and by putting less effort, especially when it comes to ongoing maintenance.
Vision is very important. Is it fully capable of delivering any web development project regarding prototype’s design, integration, implementation, testing, launch?
The fact that the majority of US Federal services still use ColdFusion as well as Pepsico, BMW, Apple and other Fortune 500 companies internally, tells a lot.
Adobe ColdFusion Conferences
The place that gathers the entire CF’s development community, where the registered visitors can talk about everything related to ColdFusion with their colleagues and speakers. Las Vegas was again chosen to be the epicenter of this year’s Adobe summit. Members of ColdFusion’s development team are often among the keynote speakers, and you could hear about the changes they made and plans for this programming language. Last year’s workshops focused on security and API development. If you find yourself near Houston around 26th April, there’s a brilliant workshop and conference organized by Ortus Solutions.
Overall, the annual ColdFusion conferences is a perfect opportunity to do a lot of networking, and a chance to monetize their efforts.
How does Adobe ColdFusion hold up against its competitors?
The reason why so many developers still love/won’t give up ColdFusion is that The most usual web application tasks are easy to create in ColdFusion because those applications require a simple syntax. A built-in iterator with grouping offers fewer lines of code than PHP. Working in CF requires only 20-30% of the PHP code to write the same thing.
Many developers have shared their experience about having spare time as they finished coding earlier with ColdFusion. They can then test and improve user experience, instead of typing rest of the code’s additional lines in PHP.
As we already pointed out, the maintenance is easy because less code means fewer bugs to fix. A clear benefit is that you could invest your team’s time and your money in adding new features, instead of frequently maintaining it.
Third party ColdFusion support
Solid third-party support comes from several sources for different purposes within the language. FusionReactor works on providing a superb Java server monitoring tool, which helps you detect any flaws in your code and work on improving its performance and user experience.
Foundeo offers great tools for applying ColdFusion hotfixes and blocking attacks on your servers. Right now, you can use their free web service called HackMyCF, that can scan your entire server and points out security weakness that needs removing.
Ortus Solutions is an amazing source of ColdFusion box products, open source, and commercial support. Between these three companies for third-party ColdFusion support, there isn't much you can’t get.
When we sum up all the facts we talked about, ColdFusion is very much alive at the moment. Despite what non-CF developers may think, there are countless annual conferences and camps held, new versions of the language constantly introduced, and still used by most top rated company websites on the planet. Besides, it offers an excellent ROI with increased productivity for medium to large-scale companies. Rapid development in ColdFusion increases the productivity of a single developer by 30%, and that percentage goes up when we’re talking about the whole team. Your staff will not spend much time than it has to on clearing bugs and maintaining complete functionality. Our humble assessment is that CF more than alive right now, and probably will be for the unforeseeable future. The only thing that’s going to be dead is the “Core Support” for CF 10. It ends on May 16, which means that Adobe will not be releasing any more Security patches and updates for this version.
The community is very active. The biggest one currently is CFML Slack, which has a few thousand members. It is very active, and this proved to be a great place to post questions, share ideas and interact with other fellow CFers.
Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups are also very good for the same thing. Twitter hashtag is #CFML and #coldfusion, but #Lucee is also mentioned a lot. There are more than a few CFers that are very active, and you can get a lot of great information from them. Brad Wood, Charlie Arehart, Raymond Camden, are only some of the people that are on my top list. For a full list, you can read this article
“A lot of companies don’t want to modernize and are still in “legacy hell.” Modern tooling, introduction to micro-services will propel CFML into the next level.”
Luis Majano, Ortus Solutions
ColdFusion is sometimes considered a less cool and less “sexy” to code in, unlike some other languages like PHP, Java, etc. That is a very big part of re-establishing CF as a leader. Developers often have shame-y tone when talking about CFML. It is the reason, the main point that is changing. Hopefully, once the developers start being the evangelists of their products, and of the ColdFusion, their apps and other stuff they’ve created gets promoted better, louder, CFML will also become more popular. It is wrong to think that one should be just humble and do their thing without self- promoting and similar stuff. You’re promoting not just yourself but also advocating for the CF, and thus making sure ColdFusion stays alive. Unless you have good skills in other areas, you might want to think about promoting your skills. 😉
And to continue learning how to make your ColdFusion apps more modern and alive, I encourage you to download our free ColdFusion Alive Best Practices Checklist.
Because… perhaps you are responsible for a mission-critical or revenue-generating CF application that you don’t trust 100%, where implementing new features is a painful ad-hoc process with slow turnaround even for simple requests.
What if you have no contingency plan for a sudden developer departure or a server outage? Perhaps every time a new freelancer works on your site, something breaks. Or your application availability, security, and reliability are poor.
And if you are depending on ColdFusion for your job, then you can’t afford to let your CF development methods die on the vine.
You’re making a high-stakes bet that everything is going to be OK using the same old app creation ways in that one language — forever.
All it would take is for your fellow CF developer to quit or for your CIO to decide to leave the (falsely) perceived sinking ship of CFML and you could lose everything—your project, your hard-won CF skills, and possibly even your job.
Luckily, there are a number of simple, logical steps you can take now to protect yourself from these obvious risks.
No Brainer ColdFusion Best Practices to Ensure You Thrive No Matter What Happens Next
Modern ColdFusion development best practices that reduce stress, inefficiency, project lifecycle costs while simultaneously increasing project velocity and innovation.
√ Easily create a consistent server architecture across development, testing, and production
√ A modern test environment to prevent bugs from spreading
√ Automated continuous integration tools that work well with CF
√ A portable development environment baked into your codebase… for free!
Learn about these and many more strategies in our free ColdFusion Alive Best Practices Checklist.