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Why ColdFusion refused to die

My interest in ColdFusion came about when I worked as an agency recruiter; someone asked me to find a ColdFusion Developer and I pretended I knew what it was.

It turned out to be my first placement, and I developed a soft spot for this underdog of the programming world.

Around seven or eight years ago, web analysts began to predict the demise of ColdFusion or CFML. For the uninitiated, ColdFusion is an application development platform and language that came into being in the mid-1990s. Its founders sold their company to Macromedia in 2001, which itself was bought by Adobe in 2005.

Users began to desert CFML, often complaining about the steep costs levied by Adobe. Open source engines such as PHP were growing in popularity The death of ColdFusion was predicted, but never came about. Lots of developers retrained in other languages, but soon found that those remaining as specialist CFML developers could command better salaries.

So what kept it alive?

Open source

According to Ian O’Sullivan, Senior Developer at Wavteq, “CFML still exists mainly because it has gone open source via engines like Railo and BlueDragon… and the very powerful open source CMS, Mura, has also helped most likely.” Companies and freelancers now have the option to use CFML without incurring huge costs. The advent of open source has forced Adobe to respond with more care, attention and investment when it comes to ColdFusion.

CFML aficionados believe that as a language it is faster, simpler and more powerful than PHP or .NET.

Users love it

CFML aficionados believe that as a language it is faster, simpler and more powerful than PHP or .NET. Also a competent developer can learn it quickly, so companies that use CFML can hire experienced PHP developers and expect that in a matter of weeks, their new recruit will be able to work at a reasonable pace.

Cross platform

ColdFusion was rewritten as a J2EE application with version 6 (version 12 is in development now). The open source CFML options were similarly developed, which means they can all conceivably run on any literal or virtual system which supports Java.

Veteran CFML developer Alan Holden recounts “While at my first startup, we moved our entire ColdFusion code base from Microsoft to Linux with only a few lettercase & SQL hiccups. In my opinion, executives who winced at the cost of CFML either ignored the open source entry option, didn’t understand the long-term value of platform independence, or failed to account for the thousands in OS licensing fees they pay annually – in order to run .NET. They seem to be getting a little smarter about the bigger picture lately”.

So, it seems that ColdFusion will probably see a resurgence, largely because many companies using it have become exceptionally successful, at at least proved to be resilient. It would be great to get some thoughts on what the future is for CFML; any takers?

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