I got to attend AdobeMAX last week in Chicago and I had an absolute blast and I will probably post a couple of blog entries over the next couple weeks about some of the things that I saw and did. One of the neatest things I got to do was participate in a “Birds of a Feather” (BOF) session on Monday night. I have to thank Brian Meloche, who ran the BOF Session, and Luke Kilpatrick who suggested me when Brian said that he was looking for a non-Coldfusion Developer to participate (how more non-CF can you get than a guy that works for Microsoft?).
Coldfusion on the ropes?
During Brian’s kickoff to the session (ppt file) he spent some time talking about the reasons that they were looking to promote Coldfusion. There is a general perception that Coldfusion is either dying or dead. He cited some examples:
- ComputerWorld listed Coldfusion as number 5 on its list of Top 10 Dead (or dying) computer skills. It is listed along with OS/2 and non-IP Networks. It has the distinction of being the newest of the 3 “languages” that was declared dead (COBOL and Powerbuilder were the other 2)
- Software Developer listed it as one of the 12 languages that never took off. Powerbuilder is also repeated in this list, but those were probably the only 2 languages that the typical IT developer would recognize from the list (I have heard of a couple of the others – but most of the list escapes me as well).
- Probably the biggest kick in the teeth was when sys-con announced they were relaunching the Coldfusion Developer’s Journal as the Silverlight Developer’s Journal. This announcement makes no sense to me as the 2 technologies are completely different, but you can see that the Coldfusion guys could take it the wrong way.
The BOF structure
The BOF was run in a brainstorming format, rather than a discussion. The format was good because it allowed us to rapidly through out ideas, but it was bad because we only had an hour to do the full exercise. Brainstorming can be a multi-hour process and in some cases it can be days before the strategies are finalized and written up. As a group we decided on the 3 audiences that we wanted to try and evangelize Coldfusion to: IT Management, non-CF Developers and education (students). We then broke into teams and did the brainstorming exercise for each of the 3 audiences. I was in the IT Management group and we had the most spirited discussion, but were also the ones that failed to complete the full exercise (the spirited nature of the discussions got in the way).
Coldfusion Developers are passionate - I only have to point out that we had nearly 30 people in the room discussing this topic starting at 9:30 at night (after the conference bar closed down) for you to know that they are passionate about their platform.
The Coldfusion platform is probably misunderstood by a lot of people - many people probably think of Coldfusion as a web technology (and it does web well). I think this comes from the roots of the tool when it was strictly a web platform. When the people in my group where describing the benefits of the platform, they described it as more of an integration engine that strictly a web platform.
Microsoft gets a lot of blame - The education audience specifically called out Microsoft for doing “too good” of a job at evangelizing to the education audience:
“One of the largest barriers to entry at schools is the fact that Microsoft has a very active education evangelism program for their technologies”