The King is Dead, Long Live the King!... Remarks on the History and Future of ColdFusion

Late last week, Adam Lehman announced that ColdFusion Product Management and Product Marketing would be passed on to a new team, and that team would be located with the ColdFusion Engineering team in India.

I believe my opinion on this is particularly informed/relevant and so while I don't generally like to comment on what is happening with Adobe, I feel compelled to comment in this case.

Many others have commented, some positive (Ben Nadel is making a movie of it!,) some neutral (Sean Corfield says "Reality check... these guys change Product Managers all the time" (loosely quoted... and don't I know that! :)), and some negative (John Mason says "we are all boiling to death and don't even know it!" (again, a loose quote :).) It's nice to see opinions out there. We are a community forged on opinions. Here is mine.

ColdFusion Engineering began moving to India about 7 years ago now. You may not be aware, but ColdFusion 7 was developed in large part, out of Bangalore, India. Program/Project Management was moved there about 5 years ago with the beginning of ColdFusion 8 development. Technical Support was moved to India and Canada about 4 years ago and Documentation moved at about the same time. Moving Product Management and Marketing is really the next logical step in a transition that was started many many years ago.

I believe it is unrealistic in today's global economy to think that an international company like Adobe should not and would not leverage the human resource development it has done worldwide to its economic benefit.

There have been comments that with the product team going to India, the new team will be less available and less knowledgable about the ColdFusion customer. ColdFusion is a global product, and I don't think the folks in Europe or Asia will see this as much of a change. They never had someone on the ColdFusion management team right in their city/state to call up. If they wanted to see someone from the ColdFusion product team in Europe, they went to MAX Europe or Scotch on the Rocks. So, now us North Americans are the ones that have to deal with not having ColdFusion Management in our timezone. I think most people won't see a huge change there. Maybe some of the community leaders that have known Adam for a long time, but you too can meet the new product team and become Facebook friends.

Will the new management be as good as Adam Lehman? or Alison Huselid? or how about Dave Gruber? Tim Buntel? or Kristen Schofield? These people had a lot of history and knowledge with the ColdFusion product and community. They were all experts at what they were doing and I know that they were all hard acts to follow. The fact of the matter is that people change jobs/roles all the time, and new people are recruited or promoted in to replace them. Sometimes moving on is at the choice of the person in that role, and sometimes a company decides that based on the company need. But it is unrealistic to think anyone should stay in a role forever and it is uncapitalistic to suggest that saving money is not a valid reason to move a role to a different location.

I believe this latest generation of the ColdFusion product team has put together a very strong plan for ColdFusion X, and the strategic direction that plan will take the product will propel it into a Modern Age of ColdFusion, just as Adam said. And I can only hope the folks replacing Adam and Alison will understand their customer base and deliver on that plan. I believe that Adobe management recognizes the need to keep ColdFusion strong, and if anything, I think ColdFusion will now have greater support within the Adobe political environment.

We can't tell how this change will affect the quality of ColdFusion X, and really as customers of a product the only vote we have that matters is with our wallet. I guess we will see how ColdFusion X does with sales when it comes out. Until then, I personally hope that the Community Leaders and stewards of ColdFusion will do their part by volunteering to provide feedback as this plan continues to evolve into reality. And I wish Adam and Alison the best of luck in their new endeavors!

The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

Best wishes, Jason

Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
Matt W's Gravatar I think at this point it would help if the new product manager were to introduce himself somehow. Blog link anyone? The sooner the community gets to know "the new guy" the sooner the FUD will dissipate, IMO
# Posted By Matt W | 2/17/11 3:00 PM
Axel's Gravatar This looks like great news to me. I was never impressed about the CF PM team. It always felt they live in their marble tower - completely removed from the world.

* Just look at the documentation. The more details functional descriptions are from 2001 and before - and all the new features are just very superficially explained. Books? I like Ben but he just dominates it - not a great idea!

* Many of the age old bugs, even very rudimentary ones were never fixed

* There are hundreds of feature requests on all kinds of developer blogs with obviously no sense of aggregation and consolidation.

So I think it's a new chance for ColdFusion to get some fresh teams on it.
# Posted By Axel | 2/17/11 3:18 PM
Jason Delmore's Gravatar @Matt - I don't think there is a new product manager at this point but perhaps Adam or someone else could comment on that. There is a new Director of Product Management assigned to ColdFusion, Tridib Chowdury. I am not aware of any blog.

@Axel - As an ex CF Product Manager, I don't recall being in any Ivory Tower, I had an office with a view of the parking garage. :) I know that Adam, and those that came before him, spent a lot of time aggregating the ideas from blogs and other sources. It is in fact a step in the release process to go to have the product team split up and do research on all the ideas out there and then aggregate them into a set of possible features, and then visit with hundreds of customers to get feedback on those features. I think if anything, the team has historically taken too much direction from the community and their feature requests. At any rate, if you weren't happy with the old team's approach, a new team is an opportunity for change. :)
# Posted By Jason Delmore | 2/17/11 4:23 PM
Jake Munson's Gravatar One thing I have wondered about is who are these customers that contribute feature requests to the CF team? I know the CF team does their surveys, but the answers I have put into those never seem to make any changes. I have often wondered if the loudest voice that gets the most attention is the CF consulting community. Maybe it makes sense because those guys probably generate the most revenue for CF. That said, those guys have a very slanted and unique view of the world when compared to corporate CF users (like me) and small developers (small as in company size/profits).
# Posted By Jake Munson | 2/18/11 12:07 AM
Todd Rafferty's Gravatar @Axel: I may have disagreed with some of Mr. Lehman's approach to things, but one thing I don't agree with is that he was unapproachable.

The man broadcasted his email address on twitter every other day. You could approach him on twitter as well. I realize that twitter might not be your avenue of choice for communication, but ask around to others first before writing them off as sitting in the ivory tower and being uncommunicative.

We may have had issues, but I can't say that there was ever a time where he was unresponsive to any of my emails.
# Posted By Todd Rafferty | 2/18/11 6:24 AM
Jason Delmore's Gravatar @Jake - The requests come from all sorts of customers. The product team generates a target market grid which includes corporate users as right in the sweetspot of the target market actually, along with government customers. Then the next on the list may be hosting companies. I would put classic consulting companies behind all of those on the list of target customers. That said, I am sure a lot of consultants donate their time to the prerelease program as community experts, so their opinion should be well heard. It may be that what you want is not what others are saying they want.

If you aren't getting what you want, the best way to get your feedback heard is to engage with the product team. Surveys and blog posts are read by the team, but ultimately the direct discussions and face-to-face meetings decide the strategic direction and then prerelease programs help decide the implementation.
# Posted By Jason Delmore | 2/18/11 9:03 AM
Axel's Gravatar @Todd / @Jason - I'm not saying that they didn't respond. I met you Jason because you were approachable and caring - which I still today very much appreciate.

But as the old saying goes - all it counts are end results. And I guess the processes were too weak to get the job done.

@Jake - yeph you hit the nail on its head
# Posted By Axel | 2/18/11 1:01 PM
Jason Delmore's Gravatar The Product Management job was a very tough one. There are thousands of good ideas and really just not enough time to execute against more than a mere handful of them. Ultimately, as a Product Manager, you make your pitch to customers on the ideas you have collected, get their feedback, make your business case to go build as much of that as you can, and then try to actually build it. At any stage in the process, a good idea can get dropped or deferred. It is just the name of the game.

I don't disagree with you at all that there are a lot of things that should be fixed about ColdFusion. There are old bugs that should be fixed, there are features we all want that we may never see, and there are lots of open wounds we would like to see stitched up. But there is a lot more than one person's job that comes into play. I'll take my lumps. I know what I couldn't get done. But then again, there are a few things that did get done that I am extremely proud of.

Thanks for the compliment as well Axel, I always did care about my job and hope I was approachable when I was doing it. It was a great job, but as the old saying goes, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. :)
# Posted By Jason Delmore | 2/18/11 2:37 PM
BlogCFC was created by Raymond Camden. This blog is running version 5.9. Contact Blog Owner