Things ColdFusion is not... and... Why ColdFusion isn't free...

This is a bit of a long-winded post... but I think the juice is worth the squeeze.

I've been asked many times recently... "Why doesn't Adobe open source ColdFusion?" In return I always ask, "Okay, if Adobe open sourced ColdFusion but still charged the same amount, would that work for you?" Which always gets a chuckle. The person asking the question really meant a different one for which open source is a euphemism... "Why isn't ColdFusion free?.. All these other languages are free."

    The answer... ColdFusion is not a language... but it does provide a language.
I've also heard people say... how can ColdFusion compete with JBoss when it's free? Or even the opposite... "how come you don't charge more for ColdFusion... it's way better than the other application servers"
    The answer... ColdFusion is not an application server... but it does include one.
A few other things ColdFusion is not:
  • ColdFusion is not a reporting tool but it provides a lot of built-in reporting capabilities.
  • ColdFusion is not a PDF generation or Forms tool... but it generates PDFs and handles PDF Forms.
  • ColdFusion is not an RIA environment, but it allows you to quickly and easily build RIAs.
  • ColdFusion is not a server monitoring tool but it provides one.
  • ColdFusion is not a debugging tool but includes a line-level debugger and all of the infrastructure to support it.
  • ColdFusion is not a search engine but it includes a full featured search engine.
  • ColdFusion is not encryption software but it comes with almost every encryption algorithm.
    ColdFusion is not just another language... ColdFusion does not fit into that mold!
Which brings me to... "Why isn't ColdFusion free?"
    Well, let's go through the features I just mentioned and you can feel free to tell me where my math is wrong:

  • Basic CFML (you know... loops, iterators, yadda yadda.... The stuff that's free with some other languages) - sure... let's call this FREE... I'm not sure I agree the other guys are FREE... so much as the price is built-in somewhere else or you need to pay for support... but either way, let's just say the core language is free.
  • Application Server - $1798 - The cost for a Jrun 2-CPU license (already more than the price of ColdFusion Standard...)
  • Reporting Tools - $4500 - Jasper Reports Developer Gold for 10 developers (your cost will vary)
  • PDF Generation and Forms - $1399 for just the basic 3rd party tool... lots more for comparable products (especially ones by Adobe... after all, there is no better company to get PDF from)
  • RIA Development - EXT JS is $6,999 for Enterprise license and Support... It's hard to talk about the price of Flash and Flex these days... but there is a cost there too
  • Server Monitoring - FusionReactor is $599
  • Debugging - Fusion Debug is $249
  • Search Engine - Prices vary... but Verity would probably cost you tens of thousands on your own
  • Encryption Algorithms - Prices vary here too... but I believe RSA BSAFE will also cost you tens of thousands

So what would all this cost you? Just these 8 features would cost you 20-50 thousand per server just to start... we've negotiated, implemented, integrated, tested, and support all of these features and so many more. What's it worth to you to know all of the components of your application are compatible? What's it worth to know that hundreds of thousands of developers are building their applications using the exact same set of libraries? What's it worth to you to be able to call one company and get support for anything and everything you are using to build your applications?

    To me... the answer is a hell of a lot. And I'm not saying that because I work for Adobe... I've always believed that CF was worth many times what I paid for it.
Why isn't ColdFusion free?... I can see Adobe making the core language for ColdFusion free some day... but seriously... nobody uses ColdFusion because it's easier to do a loop with tag syntax. We buy ColdFusion because we don't have to buy anything else! We buy it for all of the built-in services and tools it provides. We buy it because all of the messy parts of building an application development framework are taken care of.

So, I have two questions?

  • For those of you using CF... do you see these tools and services as the value? Or is it something else?
  • For those of you that may stumble onto my blog that use a different technology... if there was a package out there that had all of the services and tools that CF has (and I really only named a handful of the hundreds), but you could use your favorite language... wouldn't you want it? Would $1,299 really be too much to pay for all of that?

Because really, when it comes down to it... the language syntax is unimportant. The important part is being able to focus on developing great software.

ColdFusion is... a solution to most of your application development needs.

As always, I'd love to hear your comments,
Jason

Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
Terrence Ryan's Gravatar Just want to subscribe to comments.

But, whether or not I agree with all you said here, this is an awesome level of commentary coming out of the CF team. Thanks, Jason.
# Posted By Terrence Ryan | 11/10/07 3:35 PM
Scott P's Gravatar I think they are completely different customers, the folks that understand the extra third-party applications that are integrated into ColdFusion and the incredible advantage that provides us over other languages versus the guy who wants to run a blog for his family or build a basic application for his small business, to whom yes $1,299 is a lot of money.

You hinted at it but offering a free core language version ColdFusion would be great. Personally it wouldn't keep me from making any license purchases but would allow me to use ColdFusion is places that I can't currently for financial reasons.
# Posted By Scott P | 11/11/07 7:02 PM
Matt Riley's Gravatar This post clearly describes everything that the ColdFusion platform has to offer. I think what Adobe needs to do is convince technology decision makers that when ColdFusion is purchased, they are getting more than a language. They are getting a complete platform of server side technologies that has a very low cost of ownership.

The community will always support ColdFusion but if technology decision makers are not behind ColdFusion, I fear that our ranks may start to diminish as some are forced to use other technologies on a full-time basis. I don’t want the future of ColdFusion to be limited to the independent contractor and small business market (not that there’s anything wrong with those markets since I’m a part of them). I would like to see the number of large enterprise businesses that use ColdFusion double or triple. For me, that would be proof that big business has a better understating of the platform and the value it has to offer.
# Posted By Matt Riley | 11/12/07 11:35 AM
Ben D's Gravatar Hi Jason,

I agree Coldfusion is comparatively great value for money, but when you say 'syntax is unimportant' I disagree. Coldfusion is productivity tool, so it matters not only that Coldfusion brings Verity to the table (for instance), but also that developers can therefore use Verity easily. Its important too that new and experienced Coldfusion developers alike are still getting that productivity boost.

When someone asks for a seemingly minor syntactical change, it might be because that one syntax change will save them 10% of their coding effort, or make their code easier to manage, or allow them to remove an ugly loop from their code. From your point of view changing the syntax might stop users from leaving Coldfusion, or encourage other users to start. And all of us benefit from that :)
# Posted By Ben D | 11/15/07 10:10 PM
Jason's Gravatar @Ben

Thanks for your comments!

I wasn't trying to say that syntax can't improve productivity and make things easier... in fact this is one of the big selling points of ColdFusion. What I was trying to suggest is that a loop is a loop... a try-catch block is a try catch block. I think a lot of developers using other languages see the tag-based syntax of ColdFusion as different... and my point is... it's just the language that's different! Who cares if you say

<!---start code block --->
<cfif true>
<cfset bar = 1>
<cfelse>
<cfset bar = 2>
</cfifc
<!--- end code block --->

versus

<!---start code block --->
if true {
bar = 1;
} else {
bar = 2;
}
<!--- end code block --->

I recognize that the second one has fewer characters... but the real bang for the buck is when I say
<!---start code block --->
<cfexchangecalendar action = "get" username="foo" password="bar123" server="127.0.0.1">
<!--- end code block --->

Let's see you try to do that with PHP! :)

My point is that being tag-based is unimportant when you compare it to the productivity gained when you go to use the built in services.

I am completely for continuing to improve the ColdFusion core language syntax. ;)

Jason
# Posted By Jason | 11/15/07 11:05 PM
Dan Wilson's Gravatar "but seriously... nobody uses ColdFusion because it's easier to do a loop with tag syntax. We buy ColdFusion because we don't have to buy anything else!"
--priceless

Thank you for the well written article. Too often it is viewed as just another language in a sea of languages. It is nice to see ColdFusion represented with research and a cost breakdown of integrated libraries and capabilities.

DW

BTW: WebCharts3D was not in your list. I imagine that adds an additional cost layer.
# Posted By Dan Wilson | 11/16/07 5:51 PM
Sean Corfield's Gravatar I think it's also worth bearing in mind that ColdFusion (shared) hosting is pretty reasonably priced and the differential between CF hosting and the "free technology" hosting is often only a few bucks per month. Even if you're paying an extra $100 a year for a shared CF plan vs, say, a PHP plan you are getting a huge value-add with CF. And cheap CF hosting can be found fairly easily these days.

Looking over the list of features, not many of those directly affect much of what I've been doing with CF in the past (but AJAX will play big moving forward) but you don't mention the high-level SQL handling which is a big productivity boost compared to most "free" technology and you don't mention event gateways (which have been a huge part of several of my projects).
# Posted By Sean Corfield | 11/16/07 6:47 PM
Christopher Wigginton's Gravatar What is the current 15 second elevator pitch for ColdFusion? GO! tick... tick... tick...
# Posted By Christopher Wigginton | 11/16/07 8:02 PM
Jim Priest's Gravatar It's Friday so I'll play the 'Bad Cop'... :)

For one I'd argue that several of these 'features' very few people use. Verity? Too difficult to setup and configure (esp. vspider). Exchange? I don't know - maybe too new but I certainly haven't seen a deluge of posts about people rushing to implement it. Server monitoring - if I'm hosting - that is the hosting companies responsibility. PDF - again too new.

For my daily tasks at work where I've been using CF for awhile now I mainly use the "Basic CFML" for 90% of my daily tasks. Maybe some charting. But I work for a huge corporation so the price argument there is moot - we are entrenched in CFML and the cost of CF (however high) is negligible compared to what it would cost us switch languages.

Blogging? Shopping cart? CMS? I run all of these using free, open source platforms and have no need for any of ColdFusion's advanced features so why should I spend a few more bucks a month on something I'm not going to use? So for me - a less expensive "Basic CMFL" would be ideal.

If your application requires and makes use of these advanced features than I'd say it's well worth the cost - if not - then I'd say ColdFusion is overpriced compared to other languages available.

The open source matter is another can of worms entirely. :)
# Posted By Jim Priest | 11/16/07 8:15 PM
Jake Munson's Gravatar I agree with Jim. I rarely, if ever, use those features you mentioned Jim. If people want them, make them pay for them. But give the rest of us a break, already. ;)
# Posted By Jake Munson | 11/16/07 8:49 PM
Jake Munson's Gravatar Oops, I meant to say "I rarely, if ever, use those features you mentioned /Jason/". :\
# Posted By Jake Munson | 11/16/07 8:50 PM
Syed's Gravatar Yea, totally agree with Jake. ColdFusion does have features, but most of
them are not used in daily programming tasks.

Simple web programming doesnt require to have pdf, flash forms, and monitorying
features, for a normal one programmer, it is better to have it something free.

^The features you listed Jason are good to have in pocket, but again, most
of the features are used by businesses that are running. They already have money
to afford those features, so they can even buy standlone features as needed.

I completely disagree with you, coldfusion should be free.

As for the open source, its not even free, how can it be open source :), first
make it free.
# Posted By Syed | 11/16/07 11:23 PM
Andy Matthews's Gravatar I use ColdFusion because I like the language. I use it because it was the easiest for me to understand, and to jump into and start writing apps. I've never used charting, the exchange functionality, the pdf manipulation, the reporting, or many of the other more advanced features of ColdFusion. But I'd still pay for it as the core language makes me more productive. I don't care that it's not free...I just wish Adobe would put more marketing dollars into helping people realize all of what you just typed up.
# Posted By Andy Matthews | 11/16/07 11:27 PM
ziggy's Gravatar I'm another who has never once used any of the expensive modules you mention. (Also, ext is free in most cases, btw, and the cf implementation is horrible anyway.)

I strongly disagree that there is little difference between cf hosting and "regular" hosting. Few cf hosts around and expensive.

Coldfusion is not free because they focus on enterprises and entrenched customers. Currently I use Bluedragon because vastly cheaper per month with my host. I think in the future I will buy Railo myself and use that. Until the open source Smith Project cfml server is up to speed :-)

At some point we may see Adobe forced via competition to release a basic version for free, and sell the wiz-bang version to enterprises. But until then, they make more money this way and that's why it isn't free.
# Posted By ziggy | 11/16/07 11:56 PM
David's Gravatar I can't believe I let this one slip under the radar for a full week!

Look, if you want CF without the great features, use BlueDragon. If you want something free to do a basic web site - use PHP. You're right, you don't need ColdFusion to do the odd SQL query.

However, if you want to develop high quality web based business applications, then I disagree with the assertion that you don't need all of the ColdFusion features. Paper, no matter what you've heard, is still alive and well in Corporate America (and in the home!), so PDF and reporting features are very much needed. And really, there isn't enough room for me to talk about the newest CF 8 features, and how they make us business competitive.

While I would LOVE to see all of these features included for free (or as close to it as possible), the truth is that none of these features would be available at all if there wasn't a revenue stream. Quality costs. I've done cost comparisons of CF Enterprise vs. other competing platforms for versions 6, 7 and most recently, 8 - each time the math adds up in favor of CF, and that's before we even get to the subject of productivity and steep learning curves.

+1 Andy. Let's ramp up the marketing. On second thoughts, maybe don't. Because using ColdFusion allows me to gain an edge on my competition. Better features, delivered quicker.

And the cost? We're talking single-digit %age (per annum - I'll be somewhat vague, if you'll allow me) of our total development team costs - and that's a fixed fee, as we grow (as we have been) the percentages come down. That's a small price for a large competitive advantage.

Ask yourself this - would you be better off without ColdFusion? I wish there was a tool out there that did everything CF did, and was for free, but not in this version of realty.

Great post Jason - always good to get some deeper perspective on CF.

Cheers,

Davo
# Posted By David | 11/17/07 1:03 AM
Sean Corfield's Gravatar @Syed, open source != free. In fact they really have nothing to do with each other. Lots of open source software is not free and lots of free software is not open source.

@various...

Judging the feature list on what you've used in the past isn't as valuable as judging it on what you *will* use in the future. RIAs are coming whether you like it or not. The AJAX stuff and the Flex integration stuff are going to keep ColdFusion current and provide CFers with a great way to build what clients want with ease.

@Jason, a little unfair to put in server monitoring at $599 when it's only available in Enterprise edition :) ...and how many small businesses are paying for Java application servers these days when JBoss is free (despite it being such a PITA to work with and not actually being as full-featured as JRun).

The cost of CF is always going to be an issue for a lot of people, fairly or unfairly. For enterprise class users, it's never an issue - CF8 is still way cheap on an enterprise level - but outside the enterprise, it's tough if you actually try to sell "technology" rather than "solution"...
# Posted By Sean Corfield | 11/17/07 1:04 AM
David's Gravatar Ziggy - not sure your location, or what you term "expensive", but a quick search of "ColdFusion Hosting" found me hosting starting at $5. Am I missing something?

Cheers,

Davo
# Posted By David | 11/17/07 1:12 AM
Syed's Gravatar Searn, i know that every free software is not open source, and every open
source is not free. I meant to say, if coldfusion is free, it would be better, for
everyone.

Searn, i never complained about anything. The ajax is a must for coldfusion.
And i truely think its one of couple good features. As for the RIA, i think it is good too, but how about charging extra, would be a good idea. Whether its the future or not,
not many people using it, atleast from my point of view.

cf is good for exterprise, but again, other languages are on the same level too.
The point was, if coldfusion is free, it would have better chance standing
against other langues.

Davo, where did you find $5 hosting, cf8?
# Posted By Syed | 11/17/07 1:16 AM
David's Gravatar Syed,
Here is the link to $5 hsoting: http://hostfolio.com/web-hosting-plans-coldfusion....

I must respectfully disagree with your assertion that "if coldfusion is free, it would be better, for
everyone. " The features that we talk about as being selling points would not be available, if it were free. There would be no revenue stream to pay for the kick ass features.

CF *is* good for the enterprise, and there are other languages on the same level, but those languages cost more money to install and deploy than ColdFusion. Look at the BEA and WebSphere productivity suites.

ColdFusion is niche - I don't have a problem with that. I think my investment in the language gives me a competitive advantage, and so I don't care if my competitors don't use it (I'm sure Adobe minds ;-)

ColdFusion won't go away just because it's niche - it will be dropped as a product when it stops earning money, and all signs point towards a healthy and expanding product base. So, with respect, I don't see how "free" CF would be better for everyone - I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with you there.

Cheers,

Davo
# Posted By David | 11/17/07 1:39 AM
Roger Benningfield's Gravatar I know Jason's speaking for himself and not Adobe, but still... to be honest, this post depresses the hell outta me. It strongly suggests that the language and community I've stuck with for nine years now is pretty much done with the likes of me.

I build public-facing web apps. I don't do PDFs, I can write my own Javascript, I prefer Lucene to Verity, and as for Flex... man, the world needs less Flash, not more. I want a fast, solid CFML engine, not an ever-expanding collection of value-adds aimed at someone's corporate intranet.

Not that I begrudge Adobe their gold-standard niche market... if there's money to be made there, go for it. But throw the rest of us a bone and keep us in the fold. Bring back the CFExpress concept somehow, or help out the Smith folks with a few choice code donations. Hell, absorb Smith and call it CFExpress! For that matter, fork the CF7 codebase, strip out the licensed stuff, and call *that* CFExpress.

Or I could stop being lazy and go teach myself Ruby or Python. :)
# Posted By Roger Benningfield | 11/17/07 3:59 AM
ziggy's Gravatar >>The AJAX stuff and the Flex integration stuff are going to keep ColdFusion current

Well, I still hate Flash apps and you don't need Coldfusion to do Ajax. And all of the built-in GUI stuff is terrible, unless you like simple pages weighing 700kbs. IF there were some well-thought out helpers, OK. I haven't seen anything yet that isn't much better done outside the CF code.

>>a quick search of "ColdFusion Hosting" found me hosting starting at $5. Am I missing something?

Yeah, like a lot of hosts and really good features for cheap just like you see with non-cf hosting. Especially overseas.

>>I don't see how "free" CF would be better for everyone

A good free version would generate a mass of users. Try to sell a CF app - who wants to buy it when they find out they have to hunt around and then pay extra for "special" hosting? Adobe can still do the enterprise thing for serious money. Best of both worlds?
# Posted By ziggy | 11/17/07 4:24 AM
Gus's Gravatar The logic that because there are free solutions available Adobe should make Coldfusion free is absurdly flawed.

Do you build websites and applications for your clients/employers for free? Why not? Using your logic, they can build a free website with Google Page Creator so you should be building them a website for free.

Oh yeah, and there is no charge for hosting it, so all you hosting companies out there should not be charging for hosting.

With your logic:
IBM should give away Websphere because JBoss is free.
Apple should give away Leopard because there are open source operating systems.
MS should give away MS Office because there are open source alternatives.
Adobe should give away Photoshop there are open source alternatives.

To put it simply, no solution is going to be right for everyone. If your career is dependent on free software and $5.00 hosting, Coldfusion is not the right solution for you.
# Posted By Gus | 11/17/07 8:29 AM
Jim Priest's Gravatar Gus - I don't think anyone is arguing against the high cost for enterprises who use all the features. And yes - I've built sites for myself, my wife, and several non-profits - all for free.

What would be nice is a lower/free alternative so people could build basic personal, non-profit, or small business sites on ColdFusion. This would also tie in well with the educational, young developer market (see Ray Camden's recent teacher interview).

Personally I run Ubuntu, Open Office and the GIMP because I don't need (or care to pay for) the features in the software you mentioned. Am I missing out on anything because it's all free? I don't think so.

I REALLY like the idea of Adobe supporting a project like Smith - that would be the best of both worlds and would earn a lot of kudos from the open source world as well.

As Sean mentioned - free != open source. But free does not necessarily mean you give up your revenue - look at companies like MySQL - they offer a free alternative but also charge for support and additional features. I don't see why the same business model wouldn't work for ColdFusion. Want basic CFML and that's it? Free. Want PDF, Exchange integration, reporting, etc. Then pay up and we'll provide support as well.
# Posted By Jim Priest | 11/17/07 8:52 AM
John Farrar's Gravatar OK... "Why isn't there a ColdFusion COMMUNITY EDITION"?

(BTW... you said many things CF isn't, what is it exactly in your mind? You left that part out!)

This would include...
* Basic CFML (See Jason's main post for details. NOTE: We have to pay for support with about anything Adobe offers for ColdFusion also for individual users, so the support argument is not meaningful.)

This would not include...
* Application Server (See Jason's main post for details. ??? I use Adobe solutions for 100% of my deployments. Yet, it seems there are other companies who have solutions less than this price that you can deploy CF on... even another CF language vendor.)
* Reporting Tools (See Jason's main post for details. #NOTE: IF someone uses this, which I do, this is valuable. But how many shops have 10 developers? Please!!!)
* PDF Generation and Forms (See Jason's main post for details. NOTE: Let them pay up for this feature alone!)
* RIA Development (See Jason's main post for details. # NOTE: Small shops don't need the "Enterprise Lisc." so the pricing here isn't universally applicable. And the last I looked CF doesn't offer a full lisc. for us does it? Does having CF lisc. mean we have a full lisc. for EXTJS?)
* Server Monitoring (See Jason's main post for details. # NOTE: It ONLY comes in enterprise anyhow. And you can get alternatives it in lesser versions for much less than stated value.)
* Debugging (See Jason's main post for details.)
* Search Engine (See Jason's main post for details. NOTE:Again... how many actually use this? It's great if used and there are issues, but that wouldn't effect a COMMUNITY EDITION.)
* Encryption Algorithms (See Jason's main post for details.)

Bottom line is this could be repackaged without the bells and whistles fine. No Reporting, No PDF Generation, No RIA AJAX built in, No Server Monitoring, No Debugging, No Search Engine, No encryption. Has it ever occurred to (other than we suggest it over and over) Adobe that the greater presence of CF that would come from this would drive more purchases of the pay versions with all the cool features I enjoy?

I agree that PHP and dotNET are roll on cost to the free platforms. I think CF is a great value.

Facts you FAILED to mention.
* When we bid a contract we loose sales because there is no free version.
* There are many sites built on PHP and dotNET that did not cost anything other than the resources that already existed in the company. If CF was purchased it would have increased the cost of the project. (Until people found out it took less time to build and maintain CF.. so the ROI would offset the cost of the purchase.)

These hot features that we all buy because that is "... nobody uses ColdFusion because it's easier to do a loop with tag syntax. We buy ColdFusion because we don't have to buy anything else! We buy it for all of the built-in services and tools it provides." If Adobe made a free version, and your thinking is right then making a free version of CF would only eliminate the number one objection to CF. Thereby opening the door for more people choosing to buy up for the features. So either you are right and ought to make a free version to get more sales, or your thinking isn't complete. Your argument doesn't hold water when you consider that one argument you make. Making a free version with your thinking could ONLY increase revenue!
# Posted By John Farrar | 11/17/07 9:58 AM
Jim Priest's Gravatar I remember on one of the "ColdFusion is dead" threads I mentioned a-la-carte pricing and I think someone (Tim Buntel?) indicated they had looked at that - and no one liked it... (I can't remember his exact response).

So Adobe - throw some support at Smith, and release a free, basic, open source version of the base CFML application server. Develop an educational program - get it in the hands of high schools and colleges. These will be the people when they graduate and get hired - that will come back and shell out $$ to run CF in their companies.
# Posted By Jim Priest | 11/17/07 10:27 AM
John Barbic's Gravatar Jason,

I'll just answer your questions directly.

The tools and services are a value of course, but I have something else for sure. I'd like to make the assertion that CF can be viewed as another Java web application framework. If you're developing any kind of enterprise solution, or even a if you're not, and your weapon of choice is Java, you have to solve a number of problems in order to develop rapidly and robustly. Open-source Java is getting better, but there is simply no comparison to CF when it comes to being able to develop meaningful bits of useful functionality fast. Another way of saying it, is that CF abstracts a lot of tedious Java complexity into a useful set of tags and idioms that allow the developer to focus on delivering functionality. At the same time, it does not prevent the developer from going directly to the base language when the need presents itself. What I am saying is that the cost of CF to an organization interesting using Java is trivial compared to cost of developing their own in-house framework that provides the same set of tools.

So then, the answer to the first question is my way of answering the second - No!.

-john
# Posted By John Barbic | 11/17/07 11:17 AM
David's Gravatar So everyone is pushing for an Adobe free version of CF - but hasn't New Atlanta Blue Dragon cornered that market? Hands up - everyone who says they just need the bare bones CFML syntax, and uses Blue Dragon. John (Farrar) - wouldn't this put you on an equal footing when bidding on a contract? (Quote: "When we bid a contract we loose sales because there is no free version."). Oh, and BTW, we use BlueDragon in my company, for an internal application, that doesn't need all the bells and whistles. Works out great. Why would Adobe compete in that space?

@Ziggy - I did a VERY quick Yahoo! search and found $5 ColdFusion hosting, I'm sure with a little time, I could find many more.

@Gus - +1 dude, no make that ++1 - great points.
# Posted By David | 11/17/07 12:21 PM
Mike Kelp's Gravatar What I would like about a free version for education:

I think ultimately the reason that a free version would be appreciated is simply so that we can get others into CF and use it everywhere ourselves knowing that upon any need of the really powerful features we could purchase a paid for, feature complete version.

Personally, just a free for educational use version would be a powerful thing in particular, more schools with servers for their students to learn on, more teachers teaching CF. Hell, I would teach a CF class for free for a college near me if they would let me. That's how much I love the CF products (by Adobe and others) and this community. You have many other people, like me, who know that you can only be loyal to a tool as long as it does the job and does it right, but are pretty fanatical about helping others find that right tool where it fits. What I would give to be able to show this to other CSCI majors and show them that you can really love a job in web development, without writing so much code, in a language that treats the entire purpose of web development as the reason for its existence, not a side feature in a general purpose language. This is what I think Adobe is missing out on.

To illustrate, I went to school at the University of North Texas as a CSCI major. My entire four years there, I met one CF developer, the guy that showed me CF. I convinced a teacher to let me do the web project he wanted done in PHP, in CF instead. He loved my code and I did a semester long project in two weeks thanks to CF with a very small amount of code compared to everyone else, while I was reading the first WACK to learn the language. Seriously, I turned in a stack of paper 1/4 the size of any other student in a class of 40, many of which had already been using PHP for years. While I was in school, I showed CF to another developer who now works for me. Post graduation, I have shown it to a Computer Engineering graduate and have him working for me as well. Personally, I believe if there was a free educational version, I honestly could have convinced them to do at least a CF class and get CF in the heads of a huge number of college developers.

Why so few college students using CF? Because CF is never shown as an option to them. When teachers evaluate the languages to show their students, they can't use an option they can't afford. When I show teachers and other students how easily I work in ColdFusion and can focus on the really unique problems that my clients have, they are amazed, but they can't put a server up for their students to have a site to play on or do their projects on.

Currently, in the CF community, the most capable developers seem to be those who have used CF for a long time and learned as they went, or the very few that are already familiar with programming concepts from school that landed in CF. I really want to see the latter increase because it can increase much faster than waiting for people to age in their development.

Please, if you know a way I can do this in the current model, contact me, tell me who to contact...because I stay up with the schools around me and would be glad to show it to others in the greater area as well. Right now, I just don't see much chance for acceptance with the current licenses. Yes, I am a CF user, practically begging for the opportunity to convince schools and students to give CF a chance and telling you how I think it could be done.

Why I don't really care to have free for all purposes:

Seriously, you can develop for free, and hosting, even if it does cost more at all, is only $2 more on any account at GoDaddy, and I use CrystalTech for $17 a month because their are no tag limits, and I get really good tech support. If your income is hurting so much that you and your client can't do that, why the heck are you making the site at all, let alone for free labor?
Avoid purchasing 2 sodas at a vending machine in an entire month and you have your CF upgrade on GoDaddy, done. I have worked for non-profits, universities, my family, other people's families, and not a single one of those has had a problem with hosting or purchasing CF if they are made aware of it by their developers, even if they had never heard of CF before. It's providing it to the students that is hard because there is no specific funding for that.

As usual, sorry for my long-windedness and perhaps, fanaticism.
# Posted By Mike Kelp | 11/17/07 12:28 PM
John Farrar's Gravatar David... you better review your "Free" BlueDragon lisc. It isn't universally free unless it changed. If that is incorrect then that is something worth noting for sure. (Yet, somehow it doesn't seem likely that BD is kicking out a 100% free product to boost Adobe sales.)

Now BD does offer some excellent deals where you write products written with BD server and you can distribute them as a package for very reasonable price. Heh, I think we have a better chance getting Adobe to give us a free version of the Pro/Std CF then that happening. Yet, I am open to the possibilities!
# Posted By John Farrar | 11/17/07 2:43 PM
David's Gravatar Hi John,
Their product matrix says "free" as long as its not a packaged/distributed application, and their Sales Rep has twice visited our user group in the past two years and re-iterated the "free" stance. However, I will research the matter to make sure we are within legal limits (that being said, it was a plan in 2008 to upgrade to CF8 to take advantage of all the new features).

http://www.newatlanta.com/products/bluedragon/prod...

Thanks for the heads up.

Davo
# Posted By David | 11/17/07 3:00 PM
Sean Corfield's Gravatar New Atlanta changed their license around the 6.2 release so that it is no longer free for commercial use, only free for non-commercial use but it's not quite clear what they mean by that:

"...development, testing, non-commercial and non-governmental deployment purposes."

"BlueDragon Server may not be: i) bundled or distributed with yours or any third party application(s), ii) used to provide commercial web hosting services or, iii) used to provide commercial services in an Application Service Provider (ASP) environment, ..."

They do specifically call out SSL in relation to commercial use but it's not clear whether you could legally run a commercial / business website on the free edition if you had no secure sections of the site...
# Posted By Sean Corfield | 11/17/07 4:34 PM
Scott P's Gravatar While I'll agree that we can find cheap hosting, some of the apps I'm talking about missing out on for the small businesses are intranet type apps where cheap hosting doesn't really help me. I need it installed locally.
# Posted By Scott P | 11/17/07 5:05 PM
Adrian J. Moreno's Gravatar Dugg: http://digg.com/programming/Things_ColdFusion_is_n...

I'd like to bolster Mike Kelp's arguments about CF in education. Mike graduated from UNT within the last few years. I left UNT in 1999 for a full time ColdFusion job.

I started using CF in 1997 while working for the School of Visual Arts. It wasn't affordable for SOVA to buy their own CF server, so I was given an account on the single CF server the computing department had. In the years since, ColdFusion has become more widely used around UNT (check out http://unt.edu), but I'm sure that FrontPage, or whatever MS product has succeeded FP, is still the website product of choice for the majority of campus departments.

Before I left UNT, Microsoft had a blanket license with the University. Students could buy most any MS product for the cost of burning a CD at the computing center. The bulk Adobe licenses made it very affordable for the University to install Photoshop and other Adobe programs across multiple computer labs using some kind of concurrency system to make sure only X number of users were running the program at any time. The "Academic versions" available to students (full versions not for commercial use) were very affordable too.

If you go to http://www.adobe.com/education/purchasing/educatio..., you'll see that Adobe still has some serious discounts for students and academic institutions. But even at discount, CF Standard (at $860) isn't going to get it installed on the student development servers. Not as a standard program, at least.

When most students leave UNT, or most any other University I'm sure, they know how to use MS-Office. Many even know how to use Photoshop or at least what it is. Ask any group of students about C++ or Java and I'm sure you'll have at least one that can tell you its a programming language. Mention PHP and someone will know you can make websites with it.

Ask any group of students about ColdFusion and they'll tell you about nuclear energy or start quoting Star Trek.
# Posted By Adrian J. Moreno | 11/17/07 6:02 PM
Dan Wilson's Gravatar Very interesting comments. Throughout my career, I have been developing applications for the enterprise. This means I have been a user of the 'advanced' features of ColdFusion. Just recently, our team delivered an Executive Dashboard (Heavy CFChart Usage) and a Legal Document Workflow application (PDF). Both applications are quite complex, well loved by the client, and were delivered in record time. Thank you Cold Fusion.

I see the value in paying the small ColdFusion Tax. I value the value of ColdFusion to the point I even invested my own personal funds to purchase CF Enterprise.

I can also understand how a free albeit limited version that was solely language centric could have its use in further developing the ColdFusion community. That said, there are alternative CF Engines, such as Railo, to fit that need.

A free version might also be of benefit in such circumstances where ColdFusion is the underlying engine for a software product. This is a harder sell to me because the cost of the License offsets a certain amount of developer effort on development (initial cost) and maintenance (future cost). Maybe you feel it a bit unfair to pay a royalty to Adobe for each product sold. In all but the lowest price tiers, $1200 cost can be absorbed. Are you sure you are in the right tier?

Finally, Blue Dragon has been a 'competitor' to ColdFusion for many years now. Apart from being first on CFThread, and CFMP3, I haven't seen much innovation from the Blue Dragon camp. Innnovation drives the product onward. Innovation is expensive. I don't see many ways a free product will help add to the further development of the product.

I could be wrong.

DW
# Posted By Dan Wilson | 11/17/07 6:43 PM
David's Gravatar Hi Sean - I've read many sections of the site, and it says everywhere that deployment of BD server is "free" - I can understand them not wanting to allow you to package and sell products based on their free CFML engine.

Still, I'll have to investigate more to make sure we're in compliance - thanks.

@Scott - As a matter of interest, what order of magnitude are we talking about for these intranets? 5k, 10k, 20k? And maintenance/upgrades?

DW - great points - I see a free version of BD that's just plodding along, and is devoid of any major innovation. For a while there it was just trailing CF, and billing itself as a cheaper alternative. But CF8 just blows it away. It's hard to justify major investment to a product thats free, right? So, why do some people think it would be any different if Adobe adopted the same business model?

Cheers,

Davo
# Posted By David | 11/17/07 7:58 PM
Jim Priest's Gravatar "why do some people think it would be any different if Adobe adopted the same business model"

Oh it's just fun to speculate. I've been developing ColdFusion since there was a ColdFusion and this same topic comes up every few years. To be honest I doubt Adobe will ever do anything other that what they've been doing. ColdFusion always has been and always will be the ugly duckling of the programming world :)
# Posted By Jim Priest | 11/17/07 9:29 PM
Alex Hubner's Gravatar I found the post a bit arrogant. The rhetoric makes me believe that asking for a free ColdFusion version is an absurd. Something that we, as CF developers, should forget for good. It sounds that Adobe (and Adobe representatives) are telling us to forget everything we know about ColdFusion, how to market and sell it in the "battle field". It sounds that we should stop complaining and accept ColdFusion and its price as "gift", not as any other Adobe product (lets say... Flex). If ColdFusion is so good and so cheap, why its not the leading server technology tool/product/whatever (and I'm not considering the open/free ones)? Are we so stupid that we can't see the true behind the numbers?? Are our customers wrong when they say CF is expensive?? According to what I've read here, yes, we are all wrong!! That's what this post makes me feel about... and thats sad, especially when it cames from the CF product manager.

As for the math, prices, listings and the whole logic/arguments behind this post I have to say that IMHO (read again: IMHO):

1) Application Server (Jrun): I don't need it (specially after Adobe dropped it...errr, sorry, "ended new feature development plans"). As long as CF stays a J2EE compliance application, I can run it atop of Tomcat/JBoss/etc;

2) Reports (Jasper): What about DataVision, Pentaho, OpenRPT and many other similar products (cheaper or opensource)? Can't they be bundled with CF? I'm sure it can, just as other opensource products that are already bundled in ColdFusion - ie. Apache Axis).

3) PDF Generation. Seriously? There are plenty of alternatives out there (expensive/cheap or even free)!! PDF Forms? Sorry, I never used and I don't see it many people filling PDF forms... Sell it for the Enterprise, they love paper... And don't forget: what about LiveCycle? Is ColdFusion going to replace it as the Adobe PDF server solution? I don't think so.

4) RIA Development? Same question: is CF going to replace Flex? ExtJS for $6,999??? Are you kidding me? Sorry, but for me, as a commercial developer, it costs only $219 for unlimited use/clients... maybe for Adobe it costs $6,999, but isn't because Adobe is selling it bundled with a product like ColdFusion? I don't now, but I know much does a CFEnterprise licence costs. And finally, lets be honest, you can't use the full ExtJS features with CF. ExtJS Implementation in CF is very basic in many ways. What about Yahoo! User Interface Library (YUI)? Free. JSON? Free. Spry? Free (as long as Adobe keeps it that way). Flex? Well... "free". A parenthesis: why not make an free "Coldfusion SDK" just Adobe did with Flex? What happened to Macromedia/Adobe to change their minds so radically about Flex licensing and market positioning? What happened to the technology after that? Did it grow up? Did Adobe made more or less money with it? Can the same happen/be applied for Coldfusion? Why not?

5) Server monitoring? Why do I need this? As a developer my concern is to write good code, not to monitor a server. Sell it to the hosting companies or for those companies that can't make their developers write good and steady code (or use a stable product)... Ouch! Yes, despite of the many critics in that particular area, I'm not saying CF is a unstable product, it is not. But I'm pretty sure that Server Monitor feature in the CF8 is here because CF gets a lot of trouble when it cames to performance. And it's not me that is saying this bul*!! Is the people that buys ColdFusion and asks for a server monitoring tool. For what? Ask them...

6) Debugging? Hmmm, nice one, but sorry, this is not a "plus". Ok, CF has very good debugging capabilities compared to other "Basic interpreters/compilers". But the truth is that any decent language interpretor/compiler offers debugging.

7) Search Engine? You mean Verity? Sorry, I do prefer Lucene and other better (and newer) products/technologies. I never used Verity or K2, seriously.

8) Encryption algorithms? Like in SSL, if i want a SSL "brand" to make my customers feel safer, I'll buy a CertiSign certificate. Sell it for those who want (and need this). And can provide a good level of security using the basic/open/free encryption algorithms available.

You forgot to mention .NET integration. But again, that's something I personally don't need and I'm sure we can make it in different ways (otherwise Macromedia will not make .NET integration as a selling point/argument for previous CF versions as it did it - as long we have webservices, CF can be integrated to any technology)... (and be sold like that)

Bottom line is: ColdFusion is definitively a great product. But it's time for Adobe to rethink its licensing, versions, prices and market positioning. I also think its time for Adobe to listen to what developers has to saying (and they do it for very long time. For me, this post is an indication that in fact the prays and complains bothers Adobe executives somehow and its a good thing (not exactly the way it was done by this post).

I believe that what they made with Flex is a good start. Why not?

Sorry for the irony and sarcasm, but I didn't like the approach Jason took. Maybe it's because my English (and understanding) is not that good. Its just that it doesn't feel right for those (like me) who ask for changes in that particular area. We're not that wrong. Trust me.
# Posted By Alex Hubner | 11/18/07 12:50 AM
David's Gravatar Alex - I thought Jasons post was more of an explanation, rather than a scolding, but that's just me. Plenty of people have disagreed and disagreed again with their comments.

Just MHO. Cheers.

Davo
# Posted By David | 11/18/07 1:58 AM
Ben D's Gravatar @all:

My experience is in Enterprise intranets, and my perspective is completely different. We don't use all of the features of Coldfusion, but I can safely say that we made back the cost of the Enterprise licenses within a few weeks. The simple reason is that labor costs are ongoing, while the license purchases were a one off. With CF we do not need J2EE experts, security experts, Lucene experts, etc. We only need to employ CF developers (even they are tough to come by, however).

@Alex:

"Server monitoring? Why do I need this? As a developer my concern is to write good code, not to monitor a server...Is the people that buys ColdFusion and asks for a server monitoring tool. For what? Ask them..."

For what? To isolate the crappy code that you just wrote because you didn't use the same tool to profile your application! :)
# Posted By Ben D | 11/18/07 9:43 AM
David Mc's Gravatar The article provided another view, which was interesting.

At my work we started out using CF 4.5. Every version of CF since then has been better. Good job development team!

CF 8 is very interesting. We were using 3rd party PDF tools and now it is easier. CFImage is useful. The JavaScript widgets are good for our Intranet, they are easy to use and we do (but they are too big for the external websites). We make use of some of the non-core features.

The change in the BlueDragon license left a bit of a bitter taste as we had started using it. We replaced one app with CF and the others are now stuck at the old version with the old license.

A free version would be great. An open sourced version even better. It would, I believe, accelerate the spread of CF. However, it is Adobe's product and that is up to them. I obviously feel that there has not been a reason to change our application server at work. I do keep my eyes open for technologies and tools for other projects (commercial and non-commercial). That is where a free version would be useful.

My 2 cents.

David
# Posted By David Mc | 11/18/07 2:52 PM
Dan Lancelot's Gravatar Particularly in response to Mke's comment about use of CF within educatioal sector...

As far as using CF for development, CF Server is free for access from 2 IP addresses.

Best practice would dictate that CF development should be done against a local server anyway - rather than a shared development server.

Is there any reason why this could not be used within the educational sector. Addmitedly a slightly better spec of machine is needed for local dev than remote - but not that much better (certainly I normally find CFEclipse far more of a drain on resources than CFServer on development machines)

I have set up a virtual machine (using VMWare Player) running ubuntu, CFEclipse, Apache and CFServer 8 - and this runs quite happily with 750 mb RAM assigned to the virtual machine, on a 3 year old centrio 1.6Ghz laptop. This runs everything I need, except a DB server - I connect to a shared development server for this.

Could a solution like this potentially be used within the educational sector?
# Posted By Dan Lancelot | 11/18/07 5:53 PM
Jeff Gladnick's Gravatar I think Railo fills a nice niche here, its a slimmed down, super fast version of the "basic CFML" you described, which fits about what 80% of the CF community needs. If you need more advanced stuff, like flex connectivity or the RIA stuff, go by CF standard from Adobe, its still a great value for what it was.

But Railo can give you everything you need, for most users, for free, or 200-300 bucks
# Posted By Jeff Gladnick | 11/18/07 8:46 PM
Tyler's Gravatar @Alex Hubner

Coldfusion is not stable. i have yet to install Coldfusion and have even acceptable stability. I am forced to use Coldfusion because of the company I work at and would happliy move to another language if we could. Some issues I encounter are:
1. Persistent JRUN errors (memory usage is terrible)
2. null null errors. Seriously, how do these exist. Sometimes i feel that we upgrade to newer versions of Coldfusion (forking out silly money) just to get some updated error catching.
3. Output buffer locking. I am glad that we are running Fusion Reactor now because before when the server hung we had to restart the service. Now I just have to kill all the processes. All the time I get pages that would never time out.

Now here's some good things I like about Coldfusion.
1. cfquery is damned easy and other languages should strive to implement queriying a database this easily.
2. The integrated apps such as cfchart and cfldap. Although they are not as robust as I would liek them to be they make simple things simple. I would recommend that Adobe find some way of letting developers extend these features in someway.
3. cfloop over a query. Another forehead slappingly easy way of working with data.

Things I don't like about Coldfusion:
1. Why doesn't cfloop have the group attribute? It really sucks to have to close out a cfoutput just so that I can use cfoutput query,group.
2. Verity really sucks. Sure it's worls for indexing some files but vspider is what any site really needs and it's implementation bites. As they say, s**t or get off the pot. How about some kind of extensibility in integrating other products?
3. The community. Where is it? I always feel like I have to reinvent the wheel when writing code. cflib is nice for finding simple udf's, RIAForge can be cool 1% of the time but how come when I use PHP I can find anything I want to do what I want? why is it that the CFDocs are so incomplete? Just so Ben forta can sell another few books?
4. Has the cfloop inside of a cfloop bug ever been fixed?
5. cfmail is so unreliable. One error log is the only info you'll ever get info from on what's going on with the e-mails your trying to send. Adobe should just buy activmail from zrinity already.
6. cfpop so slow. cfx_pop3 anyone.
7. why are all the includes in the cfide directory? Might I suggest creating a thord cfincludes directory cause it just seems a little unsecure to me.

Not really a Coldfusion problem but def a macromedia/adobe problem. (I'm on a ranting roll)
Dreamweaver is terrible. Stop creating bloatware. If they took half the time they spend figuring out new useless features for a silly WYSIWYG editor fixing the bugs they might have a usable product. I'm a coder so I'm a little biased and I'm sure that more money comes from the WYSIWYG side.

I have tried using Dreamweaver several times and each time (not counting the failed installs and constant crashing) I uninstall it out of frustration. I currently use Homesite because it is atleast a little more stable and a lot more code centric. Plus FTP doesn't die whenever I try to use it.

Come one guys give us Homesite 6+ please, and don't you dare bundle it with Dreamweaver again. I'll give the developers a hint. Take what you currently have and perfect it. Look at Textmate for ideas on how to write an IDE. Listen to developers, Homesite and Dreamweaver are two seperate products and should stay that way (unless somehow the Dreamweaver team makes a good IDE) Oh and eclipse is not a webapp IDE I'm sure it's great for compilable projects but trying to use it for CF is not that fun. Maybe just take Visual Studio's code editor, add in some Homesite bug fixed file management and a little bit of Textmate's extendability and yay, the perfect IDE.

Sorry for the off topic, omce I pop I just can't stop.
# Posted By Tyler | 11/19/07 12:34 AM
duncan's Gravatar Spot on with everything you say, except "PDF Generation and Forms - $1399 for just the basic 3rd party tool". Last time I checked, iText was free. Isn't CFMX 8 still using iText for all the PDF work?
# Posted By duncan | 11/19/07 5:31 AM
David McGuigan's Gravatar If ColdFusion were a girl, I would marry her.
# Posted By David McGuigan | 11/19/07 5:38 AM
David McGuigan's Gravatar Dreamweaver effing rocks son. Its advanced code coloring capabilities and BEST IN CLASS code suggesting make me literally write code (don't use the WYSIWYG tools at all except to speed up the selection of heavily-nested elements) about 6 times faster than you do. And all of your friends. Put together. I know, it sounds lofty, but seriously. Sit down and race me. Grab all of your favorite IDEs, give me a copy of Dreamweaver 8 even, I won't even use CS3. And then you'll be like, "Wait, I'm on line 3." And I'll be like, "Wait, I've been done for about 10 minutes and am on the phone with your mother." And you'll be like, "Dreamweaver? DREAMWEAVER?!?!?"

Seriously. Install virtualization software if your Dreamweaver installs are that conflicting/crashing with your other software. Or get a dedicated workstation you can devote to it. A Dreamweaver box. It's that worth it.
# Posted By David McGuigan | 11/19/07 5:45 AM
Tony Garcia's Gravatar I have to agree with Dan Lancelot in addressing Mike Kelp's concerns about CF in the educational sector. Why do you have to buy a "real" license to teach Coldfusion?
I took a ColdFusion class as part of a web dev certificate program a few years ago. All of the workstations in the class had the (free) CF developer license installed and we all worked on our local machines. It worked out great.
# Posted By Tony Garcia | 11/19/07 8:09 AM
Troy Allen's Gravatar To all those who think it SHOULD be free, let me ask this one question: If it were free, from where would Adobe derive the revenue to justify continuing to upgrade and support the product? CF is so easy, and the platform is so stable, I really do not see enough money being generated simply from "paid support contracts". Furthermore, the best development tools right now for CF are DW and CFEclipse (although I am still using a highly customized version of HomeSite 5+ myself). DW is already an Adobe product, and CFEclipse is free. So there is no new revenue stream there either.

I am happy with CF just the way it is, and for the most part the pricing as well. Standard might benefit from staying below $1k (even $999). But Enterprise is priced very well for the market in which in competes. I did like it when we had CFExpress available for those "small/personal" projects. But as others have already posted, CF hosting is dirt-cheap, and I can get a great Virtual Private Server for under $200 per month. That way I have complete control of my "server", and I can host multiple applications/customers on it at once. Most of the time, however, the customers are more than willing to pay the $200 per month for their own VPS.

One final note about pricing and the list of features that Jason provided: I do have a small beef about the lack of any Server Monitor with the Standard Edition. Adobe should provide at least the basic monitoring probes and the ability to cancel a single thread manually in the Standard Edition. They could still leave Multi-Server Monitoring and all the "deep probes" as an Enterprise-only feature. After spending $1,250 for Standard Edition, I just don't feel like I should have to drop another $600 for adequate monitoring of the server.

I think we developers are starting to get spoiled by all of the "free" stuff out there. Sometimes to get the best tools for the job, we have to spend some money. I have been spending money on CF for a decade now because it is the best tool for 99% of my jobs, and I plan on continuing to do so. I already worry about CF not making enough money for Adobe, resulting in them dropping the product altogether. That would be a dark day in my book.
# Posted By Troy Allen | 11/19/07 8:38 AM
Jason Delmore's Gravatar @All

These are spectacular comments... please continue to post... I assure you this post will be read by influencial people...

Also, I wanted to make it clear that I was in no way suggesting that there could/would never be a free edition. In fact, the first part of my discussion around it was "I can see Adobe making the core language for ColdFusion free some day". Anytime I post, it is not to show a decision has been made... it's to get feedback to help solidify or adjust my opinion... and to get from you the arguments that I need to make if I want to help make these changes.

Here are the arguments I see for a commercial free edition:
- ColdFusion would be used more in basic applications
- and it would be used more in contract settings (you need to bid out developing a site for someone... and can't eat the cost)
- The hope is that this would increase the number of developers using it over time...

Here are the arguments against a commercial free edition:
- CF would lose revenue from hosting markets, and from basic sites running Standard today
- The tag-based nature of CFML is fundamentally different from the script syntax used in many other languages... so we're not going to get the PHP developer just by making it free
- Macromedia did a CF Express edition (and CF Standard for $699)... and they did nothing to increase the number of developers... just reduced revenue...

To be clear of my intentions... I AM A CF DEVELOPER!!! As a CF developer, I want CF to be free too. But more than wanting CF to be free, I want the business of CF to be healthy so that we can all enjoy having this language around for years to come. I'm being honest when I say, as the ColdFusion Product Manager, I am on the fence as to whether a commercial free edition would be good for the health of ColdFusion. It seems like a very grey area to me...

There were a lot of things that cost quite a bit of money that I didn't mention for the simple fact of keeping the article shorter. One was mentioned by Dan Wilson... WebCharts... there are several others and we are still increasing that list... we also leverage several other Adobe products that we still treat with the same respect... Adobe needs to make money to pay for that development as well... not just the core CF development.

Someone pointed out iText... well, you can see an iText.jar in the lib directory so that's clear that CF does use iText... but the PDF features of ColdFusion use CONSIDERABLY MORE than just iText. I think some of you may be underestimating the effort that the CF team puts into this product. CF is not an inexpensive product to produce... in any way.

Doing a free edition the right way would take a lot of time and effort that would detract from innovation within the product. You can't just say "here's a free version"... editioning is very complex... among other things, it would require touching almost every file in the product. Some of the other languages or clone products out there don't have that complexity, either because they were able to build from scratch with that in mind, or don't have existing contracts or production costs to deal with...

I don't have an answer... I do think a free edition of some sort would be very expensive to create (which is ironic really).. and would be helpful in some areas and harmful in others...

Please keep posting your thoughts... and helping me form mine.

Thanks!
Jason
# Posted By Jason Delmore | 11/19/07 10:35 AM
Jake Munson's Gravatar @Jason

I'm glad to hear that you guys aren't opposed to a free edition. And I want to clarify for some of the others that have posted, we are talking about a free EDITION. I don't think it would be smart to give the whole thing away, for the very reasons you guys point out. But a low end free version is a different story.

One thing that I think should be considered, if a free version is ever attempted, is marketing. It probably goes without saying, but in order for Adobe to see increased profits from a free version, they'd have to run an aggressive marketing campaign. Something similar to what's been done for Flex/Air, and the CS3 launch. I could be wrong, but it seems that to date ColdFusion has never enjoyed such a marketing blitz, and I think it would be interesting to see the results of such a campaign. Because releasing a free version alone won't really help, if all of our kindred web developers don't know about it.
# Posted By Jake Munson | 11/19/07 10:58 AM
Alex Hubner's Gravatar @Troy: Adobe released Flex SDK for free. Who do you argument that in terms of revenue for Adobe?

@All: I think Flex is a good example/path to follow. Why Adobe released the Flex SDK for free?

What about making the same for ColdFusion? Release the core/compiler with some basic features that depends only on opensource 3rd party products/technologies for *free* (not opensource - see ahead!) and sell one (or various) "enterprise" package(s) containing all the advanced settings (including security, searching, JDBC drivers, RIA forms, Exchange, etc, etc), much like what happens with Flex and it's components (Data Components for instance). Ah... And of course... this also makes a good excuse to build an IDE (a long-time CFdevelopers demand) and sell it, just like Flex Builder... ;-)

Regarding Opensource ColdFusion: I don't think thats a good idea. Unfortunately I think that our community is not big enough nor have the technical expertise (of course, there are many exceptions) to maintain a product such as ColdFusion whitout a heavy dependency on Adobe or any other big software company. CFEclipse as a good example. It's opensource and its widely used/adopted among us, but it gets very few effective (read: people who know how to code and incorporate new features, fix bugs, etc) help from the community. Mark Drew is the one that makes almost everything on the project.

But when it cames to release ColdFusion as a free compiler/library just as Flex SDK is, I think it's a very good idea. Microsoft did that with .NET framework, many others did (including Adobe with Flex)... why not making the same thing with CF? I believe that the immediate loss of revenues can be compensated on the medium and long term (including support, although I don't think this is expressive). If Adobe see a future for ColdFusion as a product/technology, not as another good-selling product, I think thats the best it can do. But that's is only my opinion, and I might be wrong. Would be nice to see other comments.
# Posted By Alex Hubner | 11/19/07 11:26 AM
Ali's Gravatar Excellent Post Jason.
I have been a CF developer for 10 years.
The fact that I've lasted that long and advanced my career, using CF is testament enough
for me personally that it IS worth all the hype.
I think the way you laid out the price tag, of all the components that come in the CF package
speaks for itself.
# Posted By Ali | 11/19/07 11:56 AM
David's Gravatar @Jason,
Thanks for the post - it's great to get your insight into the matter. Interesting about CF Express - I never knew that. Obviously "free" isn't enough, it needs to be free AND kickass to attract developers. Beware the "yeah but" people out there. Every positive can be spun as a negative - I can see the headlines now "Adobe releases sub par web server product - thinks it can attract developers". It was like the linux zealots, when Flash/Flex was released (late) for Linux - "Yeah but...it's not 64 bit" was all they could say. It's interesting the scope of the task, you mentioned. Is the juice worth the squeeze? If the upgrade from 8->9 is as good as 7->8, charge me!

Having said that, there were some great suggestions made here, the two I like best:
1) Free licenses to Education - with some obvious caveats, of course - as in, it needs to be used for education!
2) Support of the Smith project (or something like it).

I'm sure devoting real resources to the Smith project would benefit it immensely, be some goodwill to the community, and give Adobe the chance to point developers to a "free" version, without having to go through the "edition" process you mentioned in your post, with the existing CF codebase.

It would also make a statement - Adobe isn't afraid of a scaled down free version of its product. The real meat is still in the boxed product, and when your business needs mature past the basic CRUD level, you can easily upgrade.

Just MHO.

Cheers,

Davo
# Posted By David | 11/19/07 12:10 PM
David's Gravatar Alex - you're quite right in trumpeting the success of Flex. At MAX this year, before his presentation, Jeff Tapper asked how many people were using Flax Builder, and he said that about 95% of people in his presentations were - so, it seems obvious that people are willing to spend money on software that makes them productive.

The problem, however, is that Flex is a different business model. Give the framework away for free, and create IDE products so good that people will want to spend money purchasing it.

As far as I see - and please someone correct me if I'm wrong - Adobe would need to take a radical change to its business model to mimic the Flex example. Make the server portion free, and sell a kick ass IDE. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with doing that, but it should be noted that getting there is a huge task, and the risk to the business is significant.

If it was me, you'd need to do more convincing!

Cheers,

Davo
# Posted By David | 11/19/07 12:11 PM
David B's Gravatar I think the real reason why there isn't a free version of CF was not discussed in the original post, but in a later response. Allaire/Macromedia released a free version (CFExpress) and didn't make any money from it. I'm sure short-term sales reflected this, although I'm not sure it accurately reflects the long-term benefits for CF. We'll have to accept that statement and assume past is a predictor of the future.

So is there a legitimate business case for a free/cheap CF version now? The CF clones, BlueDragon, Railo, etc. are already out there so why should Adobe even bother? If I start my project in a cheaper clone and it works, why would I move up to CF. And if I run into compatibility issues when I try to move to CF, how do I solve that problem - rewrite a bunch of code? or abandon CF and work with the clone vendor will implement whatever feature I looking for from CF. Adobe loses these customers that become entrenched in a clone.

Until Adobe releases a language standard for CFML (that'll be the day) then CF is the reference standard. Sorry clones, but I'd rather go with CF than a company attempting to reverse engineer. Not to mention, I'm pretty sure Adobe will be around in a few years. I'm not so sure about some of the clone projects out there.

So back to making money - or at least not losing money. What's a basic version of CF worth to me? Well PHP is free but I think CF is much easier so even for a basic project that's worth something more to me. ASP/ ASP.net is neat (especially with the free Express IDE thrown in), but that is somehow worked into the cost of an OS. Lees than $200 for IIS on XP Pro or Vists Business with 10 concurrent users, or $400 without user limit. If I'm just looking to interact with a database on an intranet, then in an office that is deploying MS Office, the incremental cost for an Access license is in the $100 or less region. (And that's actually pretty easy to get basic functionality out of.)

So, lets start the bidding. I'll pay $100 for CF with basic tag support like database (CFQUERY) and file (CFFILE) interaction. No usage restrictions (i.e. full commercial rights) but throttled to 10 concurrent users. When I want to scale up, because the application is indispensable but overloaded, I'll pay to move up to Standard and know I'm 100% compatible. What's your price point and feature set?

David B
# Posted By David B | 11/19/07 1:07 PM
Jim Priest's Gravatar CFExpress was just bad. There were so many basic tags not supported it was useless. I'm sure you could dig through CFTalk archives to find out more...
# Posted By Jim Priest | 11/19/07 1:16 PM
Jake Munson's Gravatar @David,

You successfully made and refuted the clones argument in the same post. Sure, we can use one of those guys for free, but there's always the compatiblity issue. Not to mention, those guys are not known outside of the CF community. If you ask a PHP/ASP developer if he's heard of ColdFusion, most will say yes. Ask them about BlueDragon or Railo, and you'll get a blank stare.

The reason this is relevant is when you start talking about market share. ColdFusion has a very small slice of the market. Every time I have presented ColdFusion to a group web developers, they ALWAYS say it's too expensive. If Adobe truly cares about market share, they are going to have to get over that hump, some how. Is free the best answer? Not sure, but it seems like it. And I'm not even sure Adobe cares about ColdFusion's market share...
# Posted By Jake Munson | 11/19/07 2:15 PM
Roger Benningfield's Gravatar "CFExpress was just bad."

Yup. Wasn't it limited to Access datasources? That's exactly the kind of thing that destroys credibility rather than building it. A CFExpress 2K8 would need to work with at least MySQL, and preferably avoid Railo's single datasource restriction. It would also need to retain CFFILE and CFHTTP, at least one of which was missing from Ye Olde CFExpress.

When CFExpress was announced, I remember getting momentarily excited... and then thinking, "I can't even access the filesystem with it? You've gotta be kidding!" Poor implementations of good ideas are always frustrating.
# Posted By Roger Benningfield | 11/19/07 2:22 PM
Dan Wilson's Gravatar The argument about ColdFusion being 'too expensive' is spurious.

*Anything* that is not free can be looked at at 'too expensive'. In marketing, they teach that unless the customers think the price is too expensive, it isn't priced high enough.

ColdFusion might be 'too expensive' to dominate the Web Programming landscape, I'll agree to that, though it is quite late in the game to try and take over the Web Programming world. ColdFusion fought that battle in the late 90's and did not win. It has been relegated to a Rapid Development Framework with corporate support and handily wins that category.

It makes sense to give a product away when a competitor relies on a comparable product as a strategic product and damaging that competitor reduces their ability to attack ones one strategic products. Right now, web programming platforms and languages are already commoditized. Adobe is one of the few vendors that makes money on a Web Programming platform and one of the most to lose by making ColdFusion free.

If I ran Adobe, I would not focus on the individual web page builder who needs a contact form, I would focus on the enterprise that has money to spend, and lots of disintegrated systems. The kinds of developers needed for this aren't coming from the 'I build Contact Forms' type developers. Trust me, Adobe has enough swag hungry people clamoring for T-Shirts.

I would keep giving hooks into such compelling products as Flex LiveCycle DataServices expecting to drive sales of these more expensive and unique products in the marketplace.

If, by chance, Adobe saw strategy in the "I build Contact Form" guys, buy out Railo, make it the R&D wing of ColdFusion and use a model such as Open Solaris. Sure the code isn't as concrete and solid as Solaris, but man does it get awesome QA and a rabid fanbase.

Adobe isn't a loose knit Open Source organization, it is a publically held, for profit corporation. It must act as a responsible publically held corporation and stay accountable to the shareholders else risk being bought out by the competition. If you don't agree with what Adobe does with ColdFusion now, what would you expect Microsoft to do if it purchased Adobe?

DW
# Posted By Dan Wilson | 11/19/07 2:40 PM
TJ Downes's Gravatar While I definitely see the "free" side of the argument I would be willing to be most of these folks would kick themselves for not having at least some of these features in any project they worked on.

Myself, i see $1300 as a very reasonable cost. In 10 years of CF development I have never really had a need for Enterprise, and Ive build dozens (at least) of applications and sites. I paid for my first copy of CF out of pocket and never once thought it was too expensive. For the amount of time it saves me on each project I can justify that cost many times over.

Clients too are impressed at the speed in which I can develop applications, and even moreso with the functionality I am able to build. With Flex popularity increasing rapidly it has become even easierr to make a case for CF to clients.
# Posted By TJ Downes | 11/19/07 2:50 PM
david buhler's Gravatar Why did I choose Coldfusion?
I chose Coldfusion in 2001 when I decided to change my Flash website from a static website with some simple information, to a website with a database, where people could add and update content.

What does that have to do with Coldfusion?
In 2001, I found a great Flash/CF example+article on the Macromedia website with well-written documents and sample code. CF was the fastest way for me to pick-up a scripting language and build a website. I had a great first experience with Coldfusion. It made me feel smart and capable.

7 years (and 25lbs later), my experience isn't as positive as it was back then.

I'm a Flex Developer, and the tools and experiences AS 3.0 and Flex has taught me have influenced my preferences.

IDE:
I value a good IDE. It saves me time. For the $1300 I just spent on CF8, I want an Eclipse IDE that stops me from making mistakes, just like the Flex Builder IDE does. For example, a CF IDE should:
- validate the scope of my variables.
-tell me what class paths are invalid before I run the script.
-provide name-spaces to classes as I type.
-give me real refactoring because refactoring saves me time, especially in a real Agile environment. I want to drag methods and classes around when refactoring, and all of my name-spaces should update themselves. I should be able to rename Class names, and a real IDE should update class references.

Syntax:
CF is verbose, but that's okay, provided the verbosity provides clarity, but with CF, it doesn't always make sense. Many of the CF Tags need to be updated (CFSET and StructNew() don't make sense to developers coming from other languages).

Syntax:
The syntax was cool when HTML ruled the web.

Now, HTML is out. XHTML is in. XHMTL is XML, and XML makes sense to everyone, including entry-level programmers and veteran programmers. By migrating CFML to an XML syntax, the language would be easy to learn and would provide a visual hierarchy about what code is doing.

Attributes and Features
CF has too many attributes that no one uses. CF has too many features no one uses (Flash Forms, anyone?). Backwards compatibility slows me down when I have to scroll through tags and docs that are, and will always be, irrelevant to me (Who uses the Java applets?).

CF Admin and Configuration:
Configuring CF takes too much time. It's too complex. It frustrates me. It makes me feel bad. I want configuring CF to be simple. I want combo-boxes and check-boxes, not XML files and hours pouring over docs. I want to define a virtual local site in ten seconds, just like I can with Ruby.

When it comes to cost, I'll pay well for any platform that helps me make a better website, faster. Flex helps me deliver a user experience that is richer than what my competitor offers. So does Spry. For me, I need a better user-experience with my middle-ware.

Cost:
If you're stressing over the $35 a month for hosting a website, you should skip the $90 a month Latte habit or drive slower to work. Trying to point-fingers at cost makes no sense to me, since the tool we're choosing is chosen based on features and productivity. I paid more money for my car because I wanted more features. If cost ruled every purchase decision I made, I'd live in a box and take the bus to the office. People purchase products based on status, convenience, and experience.

Price does not tell the CF story. Price is not the problem. The developer experience is the story and the story is the problem.
# Posted By david buhler | 11/19/07 4:52 PM
Adrian J. Moreno's Gravatar re: Education and "real" licenses

Teaching CF doesn't require the license, publishing a CF site does. Most Universities have public-facing student and faculty web servers and that's where a real license would be needed.

I and many of my friends landed our first jobs due to our student sites. Yes, there's affordable CF hosts now, but students aren't going to cut into their beer money to host a website. :)
# Posted By Adrian J. Moreno | 11/19/07 5:47 PM
Neil Middleton's Gravatar Only two points to make (and they may well have been made already)....

1) We all know the details of CF, and how much value it provides, but no-one else seems to... GET THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT TALKING ABOUT COLDFUSION. Get the general opinion of CF in line with what you describe above. Do this, and not only will you sell more, but maybe even reduce the price even more! I'm fed up with reading non-CF devs talk about CF in a way that shows they've not heard about it since CF4.5. This is really a big problem for CF today.

2) Give options to remove functionality. For instance, I might not want Verity or PDF functionality - so give me the option of knocking off 20% and give me a special license key.

For me, the problem we have at the moment is that to the ignorant (i.e those that pay the bills), there is still a several thousand dollar difference between CF and something like PHP/ASP.NET, and both are better known and widely available. This needs fixing from an awareness point of view, before CF becomes truly marketable by the small web shops where it will make the most difference.
# Posted By Neil Middleton | 11/19/07 6:14 PM
Jim Priest's Gravatar "students aren't going to cut into their beer money to host a website."

Who says that's just limited to students??? :)

"I paid more money for my car because I wanted more features. If cost ruled every purchase decision I made, I'd live in a box and take the bus to the office."

But that is exactly the point - you paid for extra features you desired. But others are happy to ride the bus, or even walk to the office. Right now with ColdFusion you are forced to drive the Ferrari. :)
# Posted By Jim Priest | 11/19/07 6:47 PM
Jake Munson's Gravatar Ran across this article that's relevant to this discussion:
http://www.news.com/Software-licensing-costs-predi...
A salient quote: "Although Gartner says open source won't topple the likes of IBM and Microsoft, the firm believes that it will put pressure on traditional software margin structures, particularly in areas such as servers, operating systems, development tools, and database technologies."
# Posted By Jake Munson | 11/19/07 7:16 PM
Mark Cadle's Gravatar I have to jump in here. I own a corp. that developes for the niche everyone is talking about. In my opinion, CF is way too cheap. The reason why I continually push CF on my clients is efficiency and productivity. I know everyone has said that they don't use certain features in CF like PDF, reports, etc.
But you could if you wanted! There are so many features in CF 8, I lost my mind reading it all. The advatages I now have to compete with big businesses for these contracts. CF allows me to offer amazing capabilities that others can't. Automated PPT type presentations utilizing Adobe Connect
built into CF - <cfpresentation>. As for efficiency, this has really been missed but Jason wrote of it. The fact that my developers can write a complete smoking RIA in a quarter of the time it takes the same number of developers to write a similar app in dot NET, is priceless. Yes, I do have both
developers employeed. As far as personal sites go, I have several and I use CF for all of them. Do I use the reporting capabilities or the live cycle stuff, no, but I have been thinking of how I can.

CF is such a bargain to the developer community, we should all be greatful that Adobe has decided to sale it for so cheap. Finally, I say this, in my opinion, CF has the best developer support out there. You can ask the people that actually wrote CF questions on all of their own sites and they actually
respond. You can talk to Forta, Buntel, Horwith, Nimer,Harmon, Jordahl, etc. Some of these are not Adobe employees but they are the best in the business. My dot NET guys are always complaining of lack of resources and needing me to pay for something so they can get an answer to a question.
Never with Adobe have we had to do this.

ColdFusion is the greatest platform ever developed and it runs numerous governments and I know, because I have written many of the applications.
# Posted By Mark Cadle | 11/19/07 11:41 PM
Mark Cadle's Gravatar Sorry for the crap grammar above. For whatever reason, as I type I can't see
past a point and have to hit enter to start a new line regardless if I stretch the
window or not.
# Posted By Mark Cadle | 11/19/07 11:49 PM
Mark Cadle's Gravatar One last thing, I can say for too certain as I have not done it, but what does take to get a smiliar platform up and running. I know you can use JBoss, but what if you want to use verity? Can I use all of that on IIS?
Then I buy some sort of PDF form reader, will it interact with everything else? The low low price of CF provides tons of value of not having to struggle through difficult installation and configuration of different
platforms. I am so thankful that CF has everything already integrated into one package that I can just insert the CD and deploy. I have never had an install go bad. I would venture to say it is almost flawless.

Thanks and sorry for the multiple posts.
# Posted By Mark Cadle | 11/20/07 12:04 AM
Scott P's Gravatar Since free was kicked around, what about the idea of a developers license for an application. I purchase the license and then can run X of my apps on X different servers. That would let me install it locally on the mom/pop real estate office to help track inventory and sales.

You (adobe) stills gets the sale of standard version to me but I can install that version on X servers. Maybe that comes with 10 deployments.

Could also raise the limit of ip addresses to 25 or even 50 for the development version.

I'm just brainstorming new ideas that could benefit us all.

Thank you for reading the comments.
# Posted By Scott P | 11/20/07 1:05 AM
Sean Corfield's Gravatar Re: BlueDragon "free" licensing. I asked on the BlueDragon list and Daniel Ganter essentially said any corporate that wants to use BlueDragon needs to pay for it. So... BlueDragon is *not* free for corporates... Davo?
# Posted By Sean Corfield | 11/20/07 2:18 AM
Harry Klein's Gravatar Just subscribing to comments
# Posted By Harry Klein | 11/20/07 7:47 AM
David's Gravatar Thanks Sean - I assume that applies retroactively (we installed about 2 years ago) to prior versions of BD? Truth be told, this product (the business application) is either going to be discontinued in 2008, or we're going to to continue it and upgrade functionality. If it's the latter, we'll be upgrading to CF8 - something I hoped to do anyway.

Still, it's an interesting decision by New Atlanta - I'm not sure what the selling point for BD server is now (is it $)?

Thanks for following up.

Davo
# Posted By David | 11/20/07 9:47 AM
David's Gravatar +1 Mark

I think someone else mentioned this before - Theres running with the crowd, and then there's leading the client. We use CF's functionality to provide solutions to clients that they haven't thought of yet. CF reporting was available on CF7, but we're finally getting around to integrating it into our products. The Clients LOVE reporting! And PRINTING reports! Drives me nuts, however, with CF, we have a solution. That's what it's all about, to me.

Words like "expensive" are relative. Mark Cadle thinks CF is "cheap" others take the opposite view. What is the total cost of ownership for CF - that's the question. The licenses, plus the time to develop solutions.

Cheers,

Davo
# Posted By David | 11/20/07 9:52 AM
Jake Munson's Gravatar @Davo

I agree with this: "Words like 'expensive' are relative. Mark Cadle thinks CF is 'cheap' others take the opposite view. What is the total cost of ownership for CF - that's the question. The licenses, plus the time to develop solutions."

You and a few others are arguing the point from a contractor's point of view, and apparently in most cases (if your client agrees), the TCO is better than ColdFusion's competitors. However, there are definitely cases where TCO doesn't matter. This is where I think this conversation breaks down. You guys have very valid points, for YOUR needs. But there are a lot of other business cases out there, or non-business cases for that matter.

Hobbyists, non-profits, little kids learning programming, these are all cases where $1300 is out of the question. These people aren't even trying to make money, so TCO is irrelevant. Yes, I know that you can host ColdFusion without paying for a license, but the problem is these people don't know that. All they know is that "ColdFusion is expensive" because that's the message that everybody else in the world is saying. Regardless of the truth, ColdFusion has that reputation in the developer world, and I'm not sure the best way to fix that. Is it releasing a free version? Sure that would fix the immediate problem, but then we've got to get the word out. Right now, ColdFusion seems to have a small marketing budget, and unless that changes, I don't know that any of this matters.
# Posted By Jake Munson | 11/20/07 10:36 AM
David's Gravatar @Jake - you're entirely correct, in that just about all of the replies to this post have been about personal needs. A large number of people said they don't need all of the bells and whistles, some one else doesn't need reporting, another person doesn't need verity, etc, etc. I see, and accept those arguments - they are good reasons to argue the need for a "free" version of CF (I've tried to put that word in quotes were possible, because, let's face it, someone is going to pay, at some level).

The open question is, is it Adobe's responsibility to provide that? Are hobbyists the target market, or is it professionals? If you get the hobbyists and the dorm-room developers on board, will it grow your core product? I'm not convinced it will, and I'd guess the majority of decision makers at Adobe are of the same opinion (or, in theory, they would have had a "free" version available by now).

The risk to the business seems significant - if you've read Jason's reply - and cost is high. And the worst of both worlds would be an express version that doesn't gain traction and lack of progress on the paid product that would piss off people who are willing to pay for a product that consistently stays ahead of the curve.

Now, my minds here to be changed - as I'm sure Adobe's is (the latter being more important, of course!), however, people who want a "free" version are going to have to present a better argument than "because I want it", or "I don't use that feature anyway". I hear people who say it puts them at a competitive disadvantage, and I accept that - it's a difficult position to be in. But please hear me, and others when we say that the willingness to make the investment in CF gives us a *very* significant competitive advantage.

From past experience, it would appear that an "express" version didn't do anything for the platform as a whole - do we think things have changed? Why? Tell me, why does New Atlanta not offer a free CF server any more? And if it was free in the past, why weren't people using it en mass? Where was the outrage when they changed their licensing? I didn't see the bulletin boards or the blog's light up with activity? Were people using this free CFML engine to begin with? If not, why not?

I've been involved with ColdFusion for 8 years now, and for just about all of that time, I've seen the language FUD'd by others. Chief amongst them was the threat that Adobe / Macromedia was going to drop the product.

Wrong. They have been consistently wrong for 8 years, and you wonder how much rejection they take! (alot, it would appear).

So now, it seems that those clamoring for a "free" edition of CF are saying that if you don't give us what we want, the future of CF is at stake. I'm sorry, I don't see the argument. I'm a reasonable person, change my mind. But please, come up with a more conclusive argument.

Sorry for the long reply - I just wanted to state my position, and I hope you see where I am coming from. In a previous reply I suggested Adobe support for the Smith project - I thought that could be a decent compromise for both sides, but no one picked up on that, so maybe it's not acceptable.

Cheers,

Davo.
# Posted By David | 11/20/07 12:11 PM
Jim Priest's Gravatar @Davo - I don't think anyone has said the 'free' version is the future of Adobe or else. I believe most people think a 'free' version would help bolster a somewhat stagnant CF. Is CF growing? Maybe. Adobe won't release any facts on those matters so it's tough to say.

My question is where are all the cool CF apps? Where is the Facebook? Basecamp? Digg? Twitter? If CF is so fast to develop in - why aren't more people using it to develop these popular apps? Instead they turn to free, open source alternatives (PHP, Rails, etc). Is it because they are free? I'm not sure - it would be interesting to interview some of these folks and discuss why they chose the language they did.
# Posted By Jim Priest | 11/20/07 12:35 PM
Joerg Wilcke's Gravatar Hey Jim,

there are new solutions for social networking, user generated content portals etc., please see www.contens.com/relate

Feel free to contact me, if you have any questions regarding our social network solution...

Best regards

Joerg Wilcke
CONTENS Software
# Posted By Joerg Wilcke | 11/20/07 12:47 PM
David's Gravatar Hi Jim - I don't know why the creators of those apps used the language they used. I read in an interview with one of the "cool app" creators a question like that ("why did you use PHP" - I can't remember the app, or the language, to be honest), and the answer was FAR from prophetic. It was something like "I dunno, we just did". It doesn't bother me - it makes me feel far better about CF to know that Bank of America uses CF more extensively than facebook. That's my bias, I guess.

If the argument is "Adobe doesn't market enough" - then I agree wholeheartedly. And I'd personally prefer to see them spend the time and money targeting the upper echelons of corporate America / EMEA / ANZ with a consistent CF message, than see them spend time on a "free" edition.

Again, just MHO.

cheers,

Davo
# Posted By David | 11/20/07 1:34 PM
david buhler's Gravatar @Jake

I agree that the world-view of Coldfusion is that it's expensive. People have very little time to understand a message. If a product costs a dollar while another is completely free, low-cost hosting is irrelevant. The product has a stigma that fits into a common viewpoint. If you were to offer a free version of the server without any bells or whistles, the product would fit the perception of free, and that would give it a marketing advantage. As it is now, to offer a product with a follow-up explanation (but you can host it really cheap, I swear), you have already created an obstacle that has to be overcome, an obstacle your competitors don't have.

When it comes to most web apps, people upgrade as they go. In Agile Development (Extreme-Programming), people develop the application requirements as the business needs become known. During the first few months of development, "Whatever is fast and cheap" tends to be the main objective.
# Posted By david buhler | 11/20/07 1:41 PM
david buhler's Gravatar Ask yourself why someone chooses a product.

@Davo
I interviewed with a company in Virginia Beach, VA in 2004, to work as a Flash Developer. They said they were migrating from CF/MS-SQL to PHP/MySQL to reduce cost. That meant the company was hiring PHP developers and a MySQL Admin. The current developers and new-hires would be reducing their own job security if they advocated using a language they weren't familiar with.

From 2002-2004, I worked at a company in Reno that used ASP Classic. I tried to get the company to switch to CF, but my boss wrote ASP Classic, and he saw CF as a threat to his job security and quickly dug-up all bad CF Press to undermine my efforts.

The last two companies I worked for (both Fortune 50s), wrote all applications in Java. Those two companies would never commit to a Sea Change for no known benefit.

I took a marketing class, once. We had to put pictures of our competitors' products on a poster-board. Then, we had to get up in front of the class and answer, "Why is our product better than each competitor's product."

Relevant to this discussion, why is CF better than its competitors?

Jason lists 7 points above, for why people should consider CF. It's not an answer, though. It's a list. A list is not a message. A list doesn't fit into a world-view.

I drink coffee each morning because I need caffeine, not because I'm thirsty, and because I want to get out of the car for fifteen minutes, and because I want to see the hot barrista. If someone asks why I am stopping for coffee, they'll understand a single answer, a single message, but not a collection of messages and arguments.

Coldfusion needs a single message that is easily understood by developers, business owners, and managers. For example:

-Coldfusion is an integrated development platform, with one tool for coding, debugging, deployment and run-time monitoring. (note: "Platform" is jargon to management meant. An incredible authoring environment with an integrated Admin would be more 'real').

-Coldfusion is a beautiful development experience because it has the most intuitive authoring environment, naming conventions, and the simplest Administration system available.

As it is, I don't see a single, cohesive message about why I should choose CF over competitors that have a defined message:

Java (enterprise-level)
PHP (free)
Ruby (OOP)
.Net (M$ integration)
Python(Google uses it).

DB
# Posted By david buhler | 11/20/07 2:20 PM
David's Gravatar David Buhler - we're in total agreement. CF needs a marketing message, and it's where Adobe should spend its time, effort and $'s.

Your three examples seem to rooted in the fact that CF lacked a marketing message. The BIGGEST expense a company has is their people. $1299 pales in comparison. And you're right, a developer would be mad to suggest using a tool that they know nothing about. Marketing needs to go above the heads of developers, and straight to management.

Jason - you hearing this?

Cheers,

Davo
# Posted By David | 11/20/07 2:34 PM
Justin Carter's Gravatar I think this article (and the comments that have followed) is a perfect example of why there should be a free version of ColdFusion.

As CF developers we see value in what ColdFusion provides - but the point is that developers outside our community don't! The pricing of ColdFusion *does* create a barrier to adoption. Let me give you a few scenarios to show why...

Say I want to make a large, complex application that serves hundreds (or thousands) of concurrent users. I could use PHP because it's free, widely used, performs well, and that's all great. Or I could use ColdFusion Enterprise Edition and take advantage of clustering, a whole bunch of enterprise features and countless other productivity enhancements, and that's *really* awesome. We'll also say this project has a decent budget and a team of experienced developers behind it who have been doing this for many years. But hang on, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves, this isn't where we started out as programmers...

Say I want to make a decent sized app, in-house that will run on our LAN, with only several dozen users. Again I could use PHP - freebie, nice. Or I could use ColdFusion Standard, and the boss would agree to pay for the license because I'm just that good at convincing him it's worth it, and it provides some features that we don't need but might want to use in the near future - also nice! There are just a couple of developers working on the app, and they're reasonably experienced with their language of choice and see no reason to change. But again, this isn't where we started either...

Say I want to make my first few database driven websites, or small applications for a friends small business. I've done a bit of console programming and scripting, made some static web sites, and am feeling good about jumping in to web development. After a bit of research, PHP is proving to be very popular and seems easy to learn, Java seems a little bit complex, and ColdFusion looks alright but there is no way I can afford $1300, and I don't really want PDF generation or a search engine or reporting tools or anything else that sounds expensive. And people keep telling me it's dead :( (those ignorant b*$%^#$!).

The problem I see here is that many developers will get a *very* negative impression of ColdFusion from the word go. It costs a *lot* of money in the eyes of a student or young developer, it seems to suffer from a bad image, and it has a whole bunch of features that you can't see an immediate need for but have to pay for even if you want to do basic stuff. Whereas, in the eyes of a student or young developer, other languages/platforms seem to work in reverse - you get the language for free, there are a number of very popular languages to choose from, and if you need some advanced components you can usually pay for it later.

This negative impression is a problem because I think that once you evaluate a product and don't like it (for whatever reason) you rarely go back. ColdFusion is doubly hurting here, because many of the criticisms over it lacking certain language features or speed or anything else have very much been overcome in the last few years, particularly with CFMX7 being such a solid release, and CF8 taking power and productivity to new heights. If the myths aren't dispelled and the product isn't heavily marketed to developers outside our community, it's pretty likely that we won't see much growth in developer numbers.

Now this is just my personal opinion, but I think it's silly to ignore students, young developers, or even the more experienced developers that currently build simple web sites and applications. These are potential customers, maybe potential enterprise developers, but they will never be customers if there are barriers to entry that make ColdFusion the undesirable option, even if it's only when they are "just" starting out.

And as far as the alternatives go, we ColdFusion developers know that BlueDragon, Railo and Smith exist, but people outside our community (particularly young developers) most likely do not. And then there is the consideration of tag compatibility, and some of these alternatives have price tags and well, and by this stage it all just gets too hard and annoying to bother with, because they aren't "ColdFusion" and they aren't "Adobe" :P

So... that's my 2 cents worth. I would just like Adobe to consider that (seemingly) positioning ColdFusion as "enterprise-only" could be a bad thing, and I think there is an opportunity to capture developers with a free version, who will then progress on to be a happy, paying customer of ColdFusion Standard and Enterprise Editions :)
# Posted By Justin Carter | 11/20/07 8:20 PM
Sean Corfield's Gravatar *puts on devil's advocate's hat*

Oracle is free for development but expensive for production deployment but it is successful. Lots of people use Oracle and they pay the $$$ because it is supported by a big blue chip company and lots of enterprises are very happy with it.

Repeat with "Oracle" replaced by "Microsoft SQL Server". Repeat with a number of different products.

There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with this sort of pricing model per se...
# Posted By Sean Corfield | 11/20/07 8:48 PM
Jason Delmore's Gravatar @Davo - I'm hearing it for sure. :)

A consistent message would be nice... but I'm not sure we could distill it down to one cool catch phrase like free, enterprise, oop, etc. If there was anything, it would be "easy"... and to be honest, I'm not happy with "easy". Yep, CF makes things easier, but its also extraordinarily powerful. "Easy" suggests a room full of monkeys could crank out a website that works but can't be maintained. "Easy" is probably the worst thing for CF, because its continued success actually comes from being "Powerful". We internally always use the phrase "Making hard things easy".

I also don't think that Marketing $$$ is necessarily the answer. I'm trying to be honest here. Marketing can always help. But, I don't think there are millions of developers in other languages that would change their chosen language because they saw a cool ad in eWeek. ;)

There is still a lot that can be done to make CF better, and to position CF better against other products.

I admittedly have a bias towards solving problems with software solutions. :)

I do think a free edition is interesting and agree that Oracle did the right thing with their Express Edition. But I also don't think ColdFusion's market has been as commoditized as the database market (again, I don't see CF as just a language.)

ColdFusion suffers from one thing... it is already a very successful product. Anytime we talk about changing the business model, we are talking about risk versus reward. With "free", the risk is you devalue your other offerings. (Why pay $1299 for something moderately better than the free thing?) The risk is very measurable... you look at past sales and current sales and figure out... this move cost us X million dollars. The reward is extremely unmeasurable. The reward is a developer growth rate higher than what you think it would have been without a free edition. Aka. Someday in the future more people used it than you thought would. Also, Ferrari wouldn't go down market hoping that they could get more people into Ferrari's in the future.

The best argument I have heard for a free edition was commented by David Buhler.
"When it comes to most web apps, people upgrade as they go. In Agile Development (Extreme-Programming), people develop the application requirements as the business needs become known. During the first few months of development, "Whatever is fast and cheap" tends to be the main objective."

I completely agree with this.

I am stating some opinions here, but again, that does not mean in any way that I have a hard stance here. I really love seeing your comments and am sincerely paying attention to all of them. I have seen great arguments for each side and can honestly say they are really insightful.

Thanks again everyone and please continue to voice your thoughts!

Jason
# Posted By Jason Delmore | 11/20/07 10:46 PM
David McCan's Gravatar Davo, you asked where the outrage was when New Atlanta discontinued its free version? I was disappointed with their move and pissed off in the way they did it. To my thinking it would have been more honest to say we changed our mind then to tell me that they "always more or less intended that if you made money from their product they should too." They went about the license change in such a way that, as shown in this thread, people still don't know its not free. We expanded our use of CFML when New Atlanta had a free version, writing in-house reporting and task tracking programs. BTW, I believe if you have a copy of the free version you can still use it as it came with a license that said it was free. I don't think you can retroactively change the license. However, you no longer have the upgrades and fixes.

My recollection of CF Express was that you could not connect to databases, which pretty much made it useless.

I agree that $1300 is a good price for what we get. CF rocks. (Kind of off topic, but I think that the price of Flash and DW are through the roof.)

In terms of adding value to CF Server for different pricing editions that might lead people to move up from a free version, integration and extensions to other technologies is an obvious route. For example, XMPie is a product (owned now by Xerox) that integrates DW and InDesign, print, email marketing, and website landing pages. Most of that is in Adobe's backyard.

As mentioned before, I am keeping my eyes open for a free alternative that I like for those projects that don't warrant the $$ (personal, hobby, or skunk projects at work that don't have a budget).

In terms of education, why not give educational institutions free use of CF Standard? That would give students a chance to learn it in classrooms and I believe it would quickly spread. ColdFusion is perfect for teaching how to make dynamic websites and what community college in its right mind would not use ColdFusion?

David
# Posted By David McCan | 11/20/07 11:39 PM
Fernando Segalla's Gravatar In my opinion that's what Adobe should do:

From now on CF is free for:
1 - Companies that give away their products and services
2 - People/programmes that work free

I use CF since version 3.0 and CF is a marvelous tool, it is worth any cent it costs.

If Adobe decides to make it free, we all shoud start a campaign for free Ferraris, and I will be the first to get one, this is my ideia.

Segalla
# Posted By Fernando Segalla | 11/21/07 1:35 AM
sam Farmer's Gravatar 1. CF is extremely cheap. Virtually all applications can run on the Standard license which costs $1300. That version will last you two years so its $650/year. Most development teams have two programmers so its $325/year per developer.

But its gets better. When a new version comes out its $649. Which is $325/year. So with two developers that is $162/year per developer.

Thats cheaper than FlexBuilder!

2. I would like to see a change to the developer license to allow it to work from more IPs. I have a set up with a couple of virtual machines to test different configs/browsers and quite often get caught up in the license exception and I'm doing nothing but development.

This could also be expanded to a free small team license that would allow for 5/10? IP addresses and allow CF to run intranet apps for small teams.

3. @Jason: I would say ColdFusion is not JUST...
# Posted By sam Farmer | 11/21/07 10:27 AM
ziggy's Gravatar The fact is "ColdFusion is the greatest platform ever developed" - according to those who use it.

The fact is everyone else thinks it is dead/overpriced/irrelevant.

Obviously Allaire/MM/Adobe have badly screwed up somewhere because those two "truths" don't fit well together.

So how could that be? Well, seems to me they haven't cultivated the market as a whole. And you cultivate the market as a whole in this area by getting people involved in your community and trained in your product early on and build up mass. The only way to do that given the market is with a free version. Then Adobe get to take a small piece of a large and healthy pie (enterprise versions, support, IDE, etc.).

One BIG misunderstanding is that Adobe shares community concerns. They don't. They care about making money. So, if they are making it hand-over-fist in their small niche, they see no need to change their model at all.

Many think their revenue model has to shrivel as the lack of cf resources (community, apps, programmers) slowly dwindles compared to the competition. There's a reason I just installed wordpress and might be forced to start some work in php, which I've never done. (Almost any app I look at using or buying these days is done in php or asp. Who in his right mind would use a semi-OK free cf app or buy a cf app unless already using cf???)

I think Adobe will cling to their tiny niche market as long as they can even at the expense of the community - which is to say again, we have different interests. If people really want a free version, well, if you know some java you better go and build it yourself rather than wait for Adobe: http://www.smithproject.org/ Personally, I'll probably end up buying Railo.
# Posted By ziggy | 11/23/07 12:46 AM
Jose Diaz's Gravatar Yeah I agree it's a great article and about time too. I would agree that it would be worth while Coldfusion being modular in sales,
the core language for free and any other modules like reporting or verity are plugins you can purchase.

It really annoys me the bad press CF keeps getting it's an awesome product and has an awesome community.

Good work Jason :)
# Posted By Jose Diaz | 11/23/07 5:16 AM
Luke's Gravatar i've used CF for years. its a great product and even though i don't use all the features all the time its good to know they're at my finger tips.

one example might be when you're in a meeting and big boss man says:
"what we want is such and such report out of active directory, from multiple servers... infact, i'd like it as excel and we need it as a PDF aswell for management who like to print stuff for their pointless meetings"... and i'd be like
"okay, it's gonna be tricky and might take a me a few day but i'll take a look" (laying it on nice and thick)
a couple of hourse later big boss man gets a URL with it all neatly done including with some plush icons i had left over time for.

yeah. i think those moments are worth paying for... anything to not stay after hours! long live CF!

cheers,

Luke
# Posted By Luke | 11/23/07 5:30 AM
David Buhler's Gravatar I see a potential problem if this discussion sees the Coldfusion pricing structure as the solution, instead of part of a larger discussion. The pricing model is irrelevant to a large degree. A free version overcomes MANY of the initial obstacles. However, suggesting a free version is the answer overlooks a core set of marketing issues.

If Coldfusion Standard was ten thousand dollars, would I pay for it? Yes.
If Coldfusion Standard was ten dollars, would I buy it? Yes.
If Coldfusion Standard was free, and all options were a-la-carte, would I buy it? Yes, and just the Server Monitor.
Given all of the above, would I talk about the product to my friends and coworkers? No. There is nothing really great to talk about. A free version only removes some of the major obstacles.

The community message I hear is, "If the product is free, people will talk about it and use it more than the other free platforms." You can't, however, position yourself right next to your competition and say, "Buy me because I'm just like them!" Remember the girl in high-school who changed her hair and wardrobe to look just like her best-friend?

PHP (LAMP) cornered the market because it appealed to everyone who believed corporate America was the devil...and free, open-source software was all that was 'good' in the world. That was worth talking about.

Ruby appeals to everyone who wants to put on their resume, "I understand pure, Object-Oriented Programming. I'm smart. I have proof because I know Ruby on Rails." That was worth talking about.

Coldfusion needs something to talk about, too. Coldfusion needs to stand out. If Adobe were to quadruple the price of Coldfusion, THAT is something worth talking about. People would talk about a six thousand dollar pricing structure a lot more than a 'free' Coldfusion. Making Coldfusion free lessens the up-front risk and stigma of cost over-runs, but a free product means very little to the success of CF. Making Coldfusion free at this point, would simplify the lives of current developers working with clients, but it would do very little to improve adoption by new users.

I recommended Ruby to my friend the other day. He wants to learn a programming language. He said, "Why Ruby?" I replied, "Because you can go to the website, click one button, and you'll have downloaded everything you need: database, server, etc." That's something worth talking about.

@Jason
Perhaps creating an image of 'easy' adds a remedial aura to the product that is best left avoided. If I worked at Adobe, I would ask, "What can we do that would take this product to the absolute edge of technology? What can we do that would make Coldfusion worth talking about?" Coldfusion doesn't have to be everything, to everyone. But it has to do something remarkably well (or remarkably different).

Chevy has a new car coming out (Malibu). People are talking about it because it's beautiful. They talk about it because the quality is better than any car at that price-point, with attention to detail that no one has seen from the General in 40 years. It's worth talking about. You may despise all Domestic cars, but the Malibu will be a conversation piece, a constant comparison, for many years to come. The Malibu may be the single product that saves GM.

We have many competitors. Our customers tell us that they like our product more than our competitors' products. So what did we do right? We took a long, complex, and difficult task, and obsessed over every detail (every day, for 18 solid months) to simplify that one task. Our application may look simple, but making it appear that way required tens of thousands of lines of code (and my girlfriend's long stares late in the evening). That ONE solution, regardless of all the features within the entire product, is worth talking about.

Coldfusion needs to give people something to talk about.

Finding a solution to Coldfusion's growth/survival requires a focus. Consider:

What's NOT worth talking about?
-Having more document integration features than anyone else (limited appeal)
-Having the lowest price or being free (been done, already)
-Having a built-in framework
-Having more AJAX integration features than anyone else (been done, already)
[added items go here]

To challenge (heck, even beat!) Ruby, PHP, and .NET for user adoption...what IS worth talking about?
-
# Posted By David Buhler | 11/26/07 4:06 PM
Jim Priest's Gravatar Seeing "Chevy" and "Beautiful" in the same sentence is great marketing. :)

I think after 10+ years - ColdFusion offering a truly "free" version would be something to talk about. Open source (via using something like Smith) would be worth some bonus points as well. But as you said - it'll be a tough sell because they are so late to the game.
# Posted By Jim Priest | 11/26/07 6:30 PM
ziggy's Gravatar >>-Having the lowest price or being free (been done, already)

It is worth talking about when the one reason that continually comes up for why people never even try or start with coldfusion is the "high price."

A free version would still be great compared to php and other solutions.
# Posted By ziggy | 11/26/07 11:56 PM
Justin Carter's Gravatar I second Jim's statement: I think a free (Adobe branded) version of ColdFusion is *totally* worth talking about. I can already see the hype the headlines would generate :)

For the record I don't think CF Standard should be free (nor do most of us here from what I can gather), but there is more than enough room for a free version and I am convinced a free version would result in further adoption of paid versions in the future. I know I would have given ColdFusion a chance a number of years earlier if the price tag wasn't so hefty (to me). Developers have to start somewhere, and to a lot of young developers "if it ain't free, it ain't an option".

It still stands that there are some situations where you can't use ColdFusion because of licensing issues. In-house apps in a small business, at home, in non-profit organisations, educational environments (until recently?) or other small deployments for simple applications or websites that don't need enterprise features and where external hosting may not be appropriate or affordable. It's almost a slap in the face not to be able to use ColdFusion as your web development plaform of choice just because the licensing model doesn't fit your needs, even though you've invested years into learning the platform, when the same problem doesn't exist with other languages! The customer is always right, right?

An express version sans the enterprise features and with a "hosting companies can't use this version" restriction (maybe?) would fit the bill, and would remove the barrier to entry that is the price. Once developers taste the power of ColdFusion they will *want* to throw money at Adobe for the other features when they progress to larger, more feature rich apps!
# Posted By Justin Carter | 11/27/07 12:36 AM
Boyan's Gravatar Jason, good article and the most comprehensive list of reasons I have seen to why CF is not free.

However, I don't see why there can't be a free version for personal and/or non-commercial use. I have done work with Perl, ASP, PHP, JSP, Ruby and .NET besides for ColdFusion. For all of those I do not have to spend any money on application servers, IDE's and/or hosting. I do not buy the argument that you need a Windows license since you most likely will need one for ColdFusion anyway. So what is my motivation to write/use ColdFusion outside of my work environment? I definitely cannot afford the $1299 for the standard edition of CF8 or even the ~$700 for CF7. I would like to host some personal and community related web sites but I have to either for over the $1299 or pay for a hosting plan. I am not making any money of the kind of stuff I would like to do so as of now I rather use .NET or something else since I can host it from my home PC, under Windows XP for free.

So, now I realize why ColdFusion is not free and the amount of stuff that is integrated in it. It is a great price for all the features and them working together. However, why does that exclude the possibility of a free version for personal/non-commercial use?
# Posted By Boyan | 11/28/07 12:50 PM
Jason's Gravatar @Boyan
Nope. It doesn't exclude anything. I personally would like to see a free edition that fosters new developers while not degrading ColdFusion as a whole. There are a lot of issues to work through and they may be too difficult to work through in a way that doesn't risk the health of ColdFusion in general... Adobe/Macromedia tried in the past and it was not very successful. But I'm hoping that this type of level-headed feedback and communication from the community will help!

@Ziggy
I don't think it's at all fair to say "Adobe doesn't share community concerns"... The people I have come to work with at Adobe are truly dedicated to the ColdFusion user base. I honestly believe you cannot find another company as dedicated to their user community as Adobe. If you're on any of the prerelease programs or have any access at all to the CF team, you will find them responsive and engaged. These are people honestly dedicated to changing the world in the way that they can. Use an open source project if that's better for you. I certainly understand the motivation and don't have a problem with people making software for free. But don't say that Adobe doesn't care about the community, ask any team member and they will tell you that they do what they do to make the world a better place.

Hopefully the attention given to even a personal blog gives some indication of that level of sincerity.

Cheers, :)
Jason
# Posted By Jason | 11/28/07 3:52 PM
David Buhler's Gravatar "Adobe doesn't share community concerns"

I read that as, "The Adobe Coldfusion team isn't as transparent as team members on other Adobe products, or teams from other organizations."

I think the community appreciates this kind of feedback:
"Adobe/Macromedia tried in the past and it was not very successful."

People like being 'in-the-know', especially when the decisions made behind closed doors will affect their daily lives.

I think Jason's blog and Kristen's blog is an attempt to change that thinking. Now, if we can just get Kristen to skin her blog... ;)
# Posted By David Buhler | 11/29/07 1:36 PM
David's Gravatar Server virtualization, a la Amazon Web Services, could really be the death
knell for ColdFusion since Adobe will want you to pay for licenses on each
virtualized environment. For example, I want to build a start-up business
using ColdFusion and Amazon Web services. I want to use Amazon so I can
scale infinitely. But every time I add a virtual "box" to handle more load
I have to pay for CF again?? That's not going to work. That's why free
soruce programs will dominate. Anyone have a response to the license issue for
virtualized environments yet? I like some of the ideas that Adobe offer a free
version of CFML only, but I still want to know how to handle CF Server on virtuals.
# Posted By David | 12/14/07 12:10 PM
Jason's Gravatar @David,

This type of virtualization is new to everyone... nobody has really figured application licensing out yet, including Amazon and EC2 is still in beta. I swear, if I hear about another thing being the "death knell" for ColdFusion I will go completely insane! :) I agree it's something that needs to be worked out. No more death knells! ColdFusion is here to stay!

Cheers, :)
Jason
# Posted By Jason | 12/14/07 11:49 PM
Jake Munson's Gravatar @Jason,

I am very confident that ColdFusion will continue to be supported by Adobe, for as long as necessary. But I think the point that David is making is that your customers may not stick around. I mean, how long can you truly hope to last when your competition gets better all the time, and they don't charge for their product (at least, not directly)? I think there will always be a small loyal fan base, as there is today, but will that dwindle over time, if the licensing and pricing doesn't change to match your competition? Only time will tell, I suppose...
# Posted By Jake Munson | 12/15/07 12:32 AM
David's Gravatar @Jason

Don't get me wrong, I've been using ColdFusion for 10 years and absolutely love it, but having all my eggs in one CF basket makes me worry a little more these days. I've
mentored several of my friends in ColdFusion, and now they make great money at work and love it, too, so I hope its around forever for everyone's benefit. If you can
figure out the license issue so Adobe still makes money, but isn't a burden for the average internet start-up guy (like me), then that's great.
# Posted By David | 12/16/07 12:58 PM
Ben D's Gravatar Coming back to this post after so long and reviewing the comments, I've changed from ambivalence on the issue of a free version of CF to active opposition.

As Jason said, creating and supporting a new version - particularly one which could depress sales in the short term - would be very expensive. Do you really want Adobe to spend a significant fraction of their Centaur budget on a gambit that might work? If we offer a stripped down version to users, what part of the essence of what makes CF great are we attracting them with? CF has some brilliant language idioms (like loop=query) but it has some stinkers as well.

At the same time, if you reduce your general Centaur resources to create the new edition, will the new release be grabbing headlines or receiving the sort of copy needed to raise awareness about the free version in the first place to get soonest possible shift in market penetration?

To me it seems increasingly like a huge gamble.

The safer approach might be to find and develop those killer new features that only CF can realistically provide. That is what people should 'talk' about. And the more people who talk about it, the more times someone will take the next step and download the development edition. And if I'm going to be selfish, its here - in the development of new server-side features - that I would like to see continued development and improvement.
# Posted By Ben D | 1/26/08 8:55 AM
David Smith's Gravatar Ben, it is a chicken or egg scenario. How do you "develop those killer new features that only CF can realistically provide" when individual developers have to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to do it in CF? Most CF users are probably employed by a company or organization than can afford it, but I don't think real innovations are going to come from that area. Innovation, like youtube (as cliche as it sounds) comes from individuals IMHO. Innovation also comes from start-up companies, and if they can get something for free they will.

All that being said, again, I love CF and plan to start something up with it, but only because I've been using to 10+ years and can program without thinking. A new guy is going to follow the path of least resistance, and that path is a free one, my friend.

I think a perfectly reasonable solution is to offer a free version of CF that has all the bundled stuff stripped out...mail, search, task scheduler, reporting, pdf integration, and clustering (in the case of Enterprise). The paid version can remain exactly as it does today.

By Jason's own example above, the basic CFML language is already comparable to the others. So let it be an a-la-carte software. Buy what you need, get for free what is already free with other programs.

Smithproject.org and Ralio are essentially already open-source CF with the extras stripped out.
# Posted By David Smith | 1/26/08 6:08 PM
aien's Gravatar yeah, me too, i wanted to learn ColdFusion before but since our university used free and open source stuffs (linux os, open office, php, java, mupad, yacas etc), i have never experienced using it. i guess a free edition that could be used by students as a learning tool would be great
# Posted By aien | 2/15/08 5:01 AM
Judith Dinowitz's Gravatar @Tyler:
It doesn't look like you've checked around far for the community, as there are a number of very popular and high-trafficked websites out there, all based on the community. House of Fusion is the first that comes to mind. It's been around since 1996, with the high traffic ColdFusion-Talk technical list, among others. Fullasagoog has a massive list of ColdFusion blogs. Any search for a question on ColdFusion will bring up, at the very least, a handful of sites, all focused on the language, so I'm a little confused when you ask where the community is. If you're talking about Usenet, then good luck, because there is no ColdFusion community there. If you're talking in print, there's the Fusion Authority Quarterly Update. If you're talking conferences, there's cf.Objective(), CFUNITED, and a number of others, including Adobe's MAX.

What do you consider community?
# Posted By Judith Dinowitz | 3/23/08 12:01 AM
Cathy Shapiro's Gravatar As I read through this thread, I get angry. ColdFusion is easy to learn, and robust enough to deliver everything I need. The person who said "Who needs Verity search?" and "Who needs to be able to generate pdf's?" shouldn't even call himself a developer. Those are basics these days.... and while all your other "free" languages are sitting on their laurels collecting dust, Adobe is improving ColdFusion to make developing faster and easier. Get real and quit complaining about the price. $1299 is a SMALL price to pay for such a wonderful development tool.
# Posted By Cathy Shapiro | 4/1/08 12:52 AM
Michael's Gravatar I have used ColdFusion and I must say that it really started to improve and in fact is the best wrt improving and adepting to the market! Price? Who cares about the price when the product is more than good!
# Posted By Michael | 4/6/08 10:32 AM
Namibia cars's Gravatar To develop it's one thing, but to sell - it's different) You might have the best product around the world and to be without income( Right time, right place, right people.
# Posted By Namibia cars | 4/7/08 12:14 PM
Ben Davies's Gravatar @jason:

I'm sure you've been asked for comment about the BlueDragon open source announcement any number of times. One thing I wonder is how this announcement helps Adobe to understand what their ColdFusion really is.

Adam Haskell blogs about it here: http://cfrant.blogspot.com/2008/04/why-adobe-shoul...

I've never used BD, but their planned sandbox arrangement (leaked on the same blog) sent a shiver down my spine.

Even if Adam's ideas could never happen, his post really makes me think about this blog entry and every thing you say Adobe CF is and is not. Open source BD is something to watch.

So does this announcement make you think more about exactly what Adobe ColdFusion is, or what it could be? Interested.
# Posted By Ben Davies | 4/8/08 7:08 AM
Jason Delmore's Gravatar @Ben:

I honestly think its too early to think to have an opinion on what the BD announcement means to the community.

I do believe that ColdFusion customers see value in the "Platform" vision for ColdFusion. One of the key selling points from my perspective is getting everything you need from one vendor with your specific needs in mind.

In the words of a man named Forrest.

That's all I have to say about that.
# Posted By Jason Delmore | 4/8/08 11:52 AM
David Smith's Gravatar Jason, any chance CF9 will integrate with AIR? That would definitely keep the platform value high IMHO. The fact that Adobe owns ColdFusion means there is the potential for CF to integrate with everything Adobe, and I like that.

Also, I think it makes sense for Adobe to offer a stripped down version of CF for free in order to stay competitive, especially since there are free CFML frameworks already out there (i.e., http://www.smithproject.org/)

On a separate topic, before I release it I am looking for someone to test my step-by-step guide to installing ColdFusion on Ubuntu using Amazon Web Services. Preferably someone who has never used AWS before. If you are interested, please contact me through my RIAForge project at http://awsconsole.riaforge.com (less spam that way). Thanks.
# Posted By David Smith | 4/8/08 4:27 PM
lion's Gravatar A great list of arguments which I will surely use.

I'm a believer ever since Allaire days. I used to be Clipper developer in the post web period so that will explain alot about my affinity with this package.

It should not be free because we need more and more features now the web moves forward.
(I was one of the exchange connectivity beggars)

The whole free issue is weird, developers do not come for free and in my experience 25 years, all the free development environments usualy cost me more in man hours when building complex business applications.
# Posted By lion | 4/10/08 9:20 PM
Jay Pandya's Gravatar I want to say that it must take this price.It have that type of future in it.I really love all feature.
My simple question is where you find all solution under one roof?
Adobe 8 have that all,.Net and Java and php all in one with all sorts of database with image manipulation and ajax and flash and captcha support in built.

As a developer let me say that it is really cost very much less for development so it should take
# Posted By Jay Pandya | 4/11/08 5:39 AM
izolasyon's Gravatar thanked post
# Posted By izolasyon | 5/1/08 8:56 AM
RB's Gravatar Wow... Jason please contact me off-blog, I need to talk to you about something. Ask Sean Corfield about me, you probably won't recognise my name unless you've been around CF since around '97.

BTW... for others talking about death on this post, the death talk has to stop, this is the reason the death knoll is being tolled. And this is particularly relevant for Australia, the moment we as a community talk about death for CF it gets picked up by our competitors and used as amunition.

There has been a lot of talk here about features not being used, yep in small apps they aren't I agree. My market is a totally different kettle of fish, I'm dealing with Australian Fed Gov, and objections like this are killing CF in that market.

I am across other Adobe technologies including Flex/AIR, and Adobe LiveCycle ES. Enterprise clients want all of the functionality that comes with CF. The Adobe RIA Platform is the perfect choice in an Australian Government enterprise environment.

It is a brilliant technology for delivery of an SOA architecture.

The role of SOA in today's world, and PDF/FLEX/AIR for that matter is to try and reduce paper consumption on the planet.

R
# Posted By RB | 5/6/08 5:03 AM
Sean Corfield's Gravatar Yup, I'll vouch for RB. And she's right about the "death" comments. I've been railing against the CF community lately on this issue - nearly all of the "CF is dead" threads start *inside* the CF community which is a disaster for the language!

Anything that helps support CF in ANZ is a good thing.
# Posted By Sean Corfield | 5/10/08 1:53 AM
Andrew Scott's Gravatar I blogged something awhile ago.

Adobe could get revenue from Coldfusion, but it means adopting a new business model.

Coldfusion Engine should be open sourced.

http://www.andyscott.id.au/index.cfm/2008/4/28/Ope...
# Posted By Andrew Scott | 5/10/08 2:58 AM
Warren's Gravatar I think Adobe should have 3 pricing models
1) Universities - Free to grow the talent pool
2) Independents - Low priced entry with reasonable annual maintenance to promote keeping software updated.
3) Enterprise - Stay with current entry price structure and promote competitive annual maintenance to provide regular revenue streams.

I manage coldfusion programmers inside a Fortune 500 company where the corporate IT department doesn't recognize CF or believe in the benefits from it. I keep waiting for younger college graduates who can help push it to arrive, but we're not seeing them.
# Posted By Warren | 5/18/08 9:34 AM
Jake Munson's Gravatar I agree with Warren, but I'd add one more group of people that need a free option (free as in hosting a real site with more than 3 visitors). Young kids and/or hobbyists. These folks are not generally going to pay $1300 to get started with ColdFusion. I realize that you can get the developer version for free, but that's not good for running a site. Also, hosting isn't always the best answer, there are still people that prefer to run a website from a server in their basement.

These kinds of people also help grow the talent base in the CF community, just like college grads.
# Posted By Jake Munson | 5/18/08 4:14 PM
Suzana's Gravatar I say, it is a brilliant technology for delivery of an SOA architecture.
# Posted By Suzana | 6/27/08 9:24 AM
Vishnuprasad's Gravatar Great info.

Would be more usleful if you could put everything in a presnentaion by Comparing Codlfusion cost with .Net , Java , PHP cost..
# Posted By Vishnuprasad | 8/22/08 3:35 AM
Bill's Gravatar ColdFusion is here to stay for sure!
# Posted By Bill | 8/27/08 2:47 PM
Uma mahadevan's Gravatar Dear All,
This is Uma Mahadevan from India.i am 500% agree with Coldfusion Charges.... And more over there are so many peoples preferring PHP is better 'coz it is open source and lot of communities. But i am sure Coldfusion is best compare than any other. In future Coldfusion will become a No 1 in Web development.
# Posted By Uma mahadevan | 9/19/08 1:46 AM
cars's Gravatar I agree! Nice look page at least
# Posted By cars | 10/2/08 3:13 PM
sklepy internetowe's Gravatar It is realy great designs on this site…… this is very helpfull site for web designers…iam a web designer so i am very happy now !
# Posted By sklepy internetowe | 12/27/08 3:45 PM
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