ColdFusion Community Rumbles in the Jungle

You'd have to be entirely shut off from the ColdFusion community to have completely missed that there's been a bit of an ummm... internal ruckus. This community discord has been over a whitepaper published by Adobe that Adam Lehman posted on his blog regarding "differences" between Adobe's ColdFusion Builder and the open source ColdFusion IDE, CFEclipse.

I seem to have managed to write a blog posts worth in comments on two of the resulting blog posts, so I decided that perhaps I should post them to my blog and round them off a bit with a few thoughts.

The post generated a slew of tweets falling on both sides of the fence as well as on the fence which were followed up by a shortish conversation on the CFEclipse mailing list. After calming himself, Jim Priest posted a remarkably restrained blog post; Adobe wants your lunch money now.

My response to Jim's post was my feelings from Adam's initial post.

I think what I found most galling from the summary more than anything is the insinuation that you aren't a professional developer unless you do use cfbuilder and that cfbuilder gets professional support and regular updates and cfeclipse doesn't.

Neither of those are true. I could use notepad and be a professional developer. The support and development for cfeclipse may not be wage supported, but, even as the summary states, cfeclipse has a large community behind it who provide professional support and cfeclipse does have regular stable releases as well as irregular preview and developer releases between those releases.

I couldn't possible comment on updates that cfbuilder does or does not receive as I haven't used it since late beta releases because of stability issues. What I do recall is that it does not benefit from the built in eclipse update service.

Nic Tunney posted a rebuttal, Adobe can have my lunch money, which has a good discussion of the merits of comparing different CFML editors, ending in a long and good comment by Peter Boughton on an approach that Adobe should have taken when they drew up their whitepaper that would have been less likely to be misinterpreted and more useful as a promotional tool than the posted whitepaper ended up being. It is a view that I agree with entirely.

Time passes. ;) And then Charlie Griefer weighs in with his post On ColdFusion Builder vs CFEclipse and the Sky Falling. Charlie's post gives the ColdFusion Community a gentle but pointed slap "Stop the infighting! It's killing us!" and, again, everything he says is reflects my feelings on the subject. My excessively long comment on his blog says just that and also makes a bit of a half-arsed suggestion towards working together as a community.

I'd just like to say "hear! Hear!"

Every single one of us that develops using ColdFusion has had to put up with some jeering, sneering developer or sys admin professing that their "latest greatest", but inevitably also "outdated" technology, is better suited for the job and "why are you using that ColdFusion rubbish?".

Kev keeps saying that "its just a marketing tool, it wasn't and attack" and he's right, but the wording at the top of Adam's blog post and in the summary are taunting to say the least. Had the white paper compared more than just cfeclipse and cfbuilder or simply expounded the glory that is the feature set of cfbuilder, then all would have been good. Unfortunately, because of these two areas of the post it feels, whether that was the intention or not, that Adobe, the writer of the whitepaper and Adam are belittling cfeclipse, it's developers (even if Denny is gracious enough to laugh it off ;)), it's community and the ColdFusion developer who use it.

Intentional or not, the wording and content could have been better written to help promote the commercial product that is cfbuilder without causing a whole bunch of infighting.

I have no idea why the CFML Steering committee collapsed and I have no interest in finding out, BUT the ColdFusion development community would benefit from a least a modicum of coherence across the 3 most active servers. They are never going to work exactly the same and they never should. They all have their strengths in different areas. However, it would be nice if the core functionality of all the server agreed with one another and that the fixes and extension to those core area are coordinated.

I recently read the Ruby wikipedia entry (after the BarCamp "ColdFusion outdate" blog post) I really liked the fact that Rail is actually used as the bar by which Ruby servers are ratified. jRuby and, the original, Ruby MRI are the only "complete" Ruby servers. Its a shame that we don't have such a stick by which to measure the ColdFusion server and that each of the ever increasing number CF Frameworks tweak their codebase to make sure that they work on the 3 servers.

Anyway, I've written an entire blog post or at least it feels like that. Sorry Charlie.

Basically, as you so eloquently put it Charlie, I agree, the whole community needs to pull together and work together. Intentional or not, we all need to be aware of what we write to avoid causing silly ructions like today's for no real reason because of a few ill phrased words.

There are a few things that came out of the comments made by everyone and places that the ColdFusion community and organisations can contribute;

» Perhaps there should be a full grid comparison of CFML editors.
As it happens Jim Priest has already started working on this, with the intention of posting the grid on the CFEclipse Wiki. If you want to help, join the CFEclipse mailing list and contribute to the thread I just linked to. The CFEclipse Wiki, being part of the Open Source project, can be edited by anyone, so its not like this would be a closed grid only open to CFEclipse developers and supporters. For obvious reasons, you do need to request a registration to be able to edit the wiki. Damn spammers!

» Without the presence of a CFML Steering committee is there a common location to discuss core ColdFusion language issues and changes?
Well actually there is; Alan Williamson who you all should know as chief architect of BlueDragon started a Google group back in February this year called CFML Conventional Wisdom. On this list there are key member from each of the ColdFusion Server developers, including Adam Lehman, Mark Drew, Peter Bell and Sean Corfield.

» Working together as a community
Coming up on December 8th will be the End of the Year ColdFusion Panel of Uber Awesomeness. Adam Lehman will be one of the panelist along with key ColdFusion community members from around the globe. I can only hope that there is at least one Railo and one OpenBlueDragon representative on that Uber Panel. *cough* *hint* *hint* ;)

It should prove to be an very interesting international ColdFusion community event to bring 2010 to a close. Make sure you take part.

» A stick with which to measure a ColdFusion Server.
I quite liked the Ruby measure of it's servers. If you can't run Rails, then you can't be considered production ready.

This is the only part of my thoughts from today that I have no idea where to go with it or if it is even possible at this point. I welcome any suggestion or thought anyone might have on this.

So to try and bring this gargantuan post to an end I'm simply going to quote the last part of Charlie's excellent post :

We're all human and all subject to emotional responses. I'm asking that before we go public with those responses, we take a moment to compose ourselves and consider the response as objectively as we can. I mean all of us. Adobe people. Railo people. OpenBD people. Developers. You. Me.

As a community, we're either going to stand together or die alone.

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