Open Letter to Tim Buntel

UPDATE: Tim Buntel got back from vacation and responded to this blog entry in the comments. He listed a lot of things that they did to market ColdFusion 8 when it was released.

According to Adobe's main product page of ColdFusion, Tim Buntel is Adobe's Senior Product Marketing Manager. Therefore, because I want to make some ColdFusion marketing suggestions, I am hoping he will read this blog entry.

In a lot of public forums over the years, I have been a vocal critic of Macromedia/Adobe, because of the perceived lack of ColdFusion marketing. I do realize that Adobe does a lot of CF Marketing. But I wonder if they do enough marketing. If you think they do, read on.

I read a blog entry about Opera Software's marketing efforts today. The basic idea of the post is to enumerate all of the marketing efforts that Opera currently engages in, because a lot of Opera's users get bent out of shape about the "lack" of Opera marketing.

So I extracted a few of the marketing efforts that Opera uses, and am going to paste them below. I think in most cases, as you read below, you can switch the word Opera for ColdFusion, and imagine the results. Also, most of these marketing ideas would be very inexpensive, when compared to more traditional things like TV commercials. Oh, and by the way...Microsoft does almost all (if not all) of these things. No one can argue that they aren't successful at gaining product market share.

  • For the launch of Opera Mini 4 beta we produced an 'Opera Mini vs. iPhone' video -- it was extremely popular in the blogosphere and on video sharing sites.
  • With the Desktop Team blog, we have made the development process of the desktop browser more open to our fans and followers. This is by far the most popular blog we host on the My Opera Community site. This blog is one of the important places where we converse with you, our users.
  • We send many of our developers, executives and others to speak at and attend industry-related conferences and events (worldwide). The audiences attending these events usually include developers, business contacts, and everyday internet users.
  • As I mentioned above, news stories about Opera in the press don't usually happen by themselves. We have an entire PR department working on getting as much publicity for Opera in the press as possible, in multiple languages.
  • We're currently working on a new affiliate program, where our users get credit (and tangible rewards) for encouraging others to download Opera.
  • We run ads on various tech websites and blogs to promote the desktop browser, Opera Mini and the Wii browser.
  • We have (and continue to pursue) major distribution deals with ISPs and web portals to distribute the desktop browser and Opera Mini. Examples include T-Online, Clix and Onet.
  • We also have booths at many events and conferences, where we demo and talk to people about our browsers.
  • We run the My Opera community site, which has close to 1 million registered members. When potential Opera users consider downloading Opera, and notice our strong community of users, I'm sure this helps a bit in their decision to download and use Opera.
  • We recognize that our users are very talented, and many of them want to help spread and promote Opera. To help those users, we have set up the Choose Opera group where Opera users can plan, execute, and show off group and individual projects that build awareness of their favorite browser*. (*Opera).
  • We want everyone, not just English-speaking users, to have the opportunity to find information about and download Opera. To support that, we've developed localized versions of our website. For example, see ru.opera.com, cn.opera.com, pl.opera.com, and jp.opera.com
  • Our developers, engineers and QA people often join in on conversations with Opera users in the official Opera Forums, Opera's IRC channel and on blogs around the Web. This helps make the culture of Opera more open and accessible.
  • We do outreach on many social networking sites. We are active on sites such as Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, and Flickr

If you are still reading, thank you. :)

I want to finish this post by highlighting another marketing effort that Opera does which Adobe refuses to entertain (for ColdFusion). Opera offers a free, no restrictions version of their browser. The reason I call having a free version marketing, is, well...because it is. The more people you can get to use your software, the more people will be convinced to tell their friends about your software. And residual profits will result from this.

The message that Adobe sends by charging so much money for all versions of ColdFusion is, "We don't really care about you users that can't afford this price tag." And please don't jump into my comments and tell me about ROI. I know what that is, and it's irrelevant to this conversation. There are countless people/companies out there the just plain can't afford to lay down $1300 (US dollars). Think about startups that would be happy to make $5000 profit in one year. Think about non profits that would be happy making $0 in one year. Think about young computer geeks that want to run a personal site on a free hosting service (I was one of those young geeks with no money for many years, running sites on free servers).

Can anybody tell me why any company would want to ignore the millions of free marketing opportunities that I just described? I know Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and thousands of other companies do not ignore these free marketing opportunities. So what is so special about Adobe and ColdFusion?

I am a big fan of ColdFusion, and I am writing all this because I truly hope that we can increase CF's footprint in the web scripting language market. I am doing a lot today to help, by telling all my friends about CF, and by writing free publicly available CF software. I just hope that Adobe starts to take ColdFusion more seriously, and that they show us that they really want to spread ColdFusion's market share as much as their other more high profile products.

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Comments
I have also been openly critical. And while CF8 is a great product, there has been no Marketing in Melbourne Australia that I have seen. I don't consider internet stuff in this statement, I consider adds in Magazines, TV, road shows etc.

It's a little disapointing as I feel that every marketing $ would be recouped in additional sales with such a great product.
I'm not a coldfusion user, but I am interested in Marketing and I am also aware that there are a number of VERY satisfied coldfusion users who are not satisified with the popularity of their tool of choice.

Perhaps another idea is some form of open marketing efforts akin to affiliate schemes where people like yourself and the previous poster execute campaigns such as those listed above and get rewarded directly from Adobe for such efforts. If there were some means of tracking the success of such campaigns (e.g. clickthroughs, discount reference codes etc) even better. I appreciate there'd be a lot of political red-tape to cut through with that but the only alternative is leaving it up to Adobe who don't seem to want to priroitise it from what I can tell from the community.
Let me preface this by saying that I am a ColdFusion developer, and while I would love ColdFusion to gain more market share I really do think that this is like comparing apples to oranges...

Opera has an infinitely greater potential user base than ColdFusion. It is a much cheaper consumer-focused product, whereas ColdFusion competes very much in a niche market, vying for corporate budgets. I'm not saying that CF is more "niche" than say PHP or RoR, but the number of people out there looking to buy into a server-side technology is much smaller. Add to that the fact that (I hope) most server-side developers are intelligent people who would thoroughly research their purchase of (and commitment to) a technology.

Don't forget that Opera is a flagship product, whereas ColdFusion is just one of many Adobe products. Although I don't have access to any figures I'm sure that annual profits from Photoshop (for example) must outweigh those from ColdFusion licenses by an order of magnitude.

Unfortunately the bottom line is that this is all about business, not evangelizing. That having been said, I agree that it would be nice for Adobe to market ColdFusion more aggressively. I just don't think that many of the above strategies are applicable.
Well - this has been kicked around forever. People blamed Allaire, then Macromedia and now Adobe. I don't know why they don't market CF more heavily. Someone will post here about the recent tours, etc - but that was targeted at existing CF developers. Why is there no CF Derby similar to the Air Derby - they are tossing out $100,000+ on that one so they obviously have money to burn. It's a shame because CF IS such a great tool - but Adobe does nothing to promote that fact. And they wonder why the "ColdFusion is dead" statement occurs every few years....
Hey Jake, good job. I think your comments about a free, or at least much less expensive, version of CF are right on, and I've written to Adobe in the past suggesting the same thing.

I think James has some good points too, though, in that Opera and CF are aimed at two very different markets, of vastly different sizes...but still, your suggestion about better marketing is not lost.
When I first started with ColdFusion back in 1997, the cost of entry to run ColdFusion was $500. All I wanted was something to easily publish a simple query into a Web page, and ColdFusion was clearly, and by far, the simplest way to do that. I was on a shoestring budget at that time; if that were today, and it would cost me $1300 to run that simple query, I would probably instead be a PHP or JSP developer. I think a low cost or free "loss leader" type option -- perhaps limited to two threads -- would bring a lot more new developers into the fold.

The number one thing Adobe needs to communicate to those outside the community is that ColdFusion is not a dead nor dying language; and somehow dispel rumors that CF is reaching end-of-life. I get very tired of hearing surprised responses like, "ColdFusion? I thought that language wasn't supported anymore" when I mention it.
I agree with most of your comments, but let me play devil's advocate for a moment. Opera only has one product...Opera. Adobe has what 30? 40 product lines? They've shown by their actions that ColdFusion is simply not as important to them as Photoshop, or Illustrator, or for God's sake, even Flex.
I want to respond more later - this is just a short reply to Daryl B. Daryl - if you were on a shoestring budget - wouldn't you be using an ISP/shared hosting? You wouldn't even need to buy CF then. There are many very affordable shared hosting options for CF
James,

You said, "It is a much cheaper consumer-focused product, whereas ColdFusion competes very much in a niche market, vying for corporate budgets."
Microsoft competes very aggressively in that same niche market. But guess what? They are much more successful than ColdFusion. Go read my blog post again for reasons why Microsoft succeeds where ColdFusion fails.

You said, "Add to that the fact that (I hope) most server-side developers are intelligent people who would thoroughly research their purchase of (and commitment to) a technology."
I strongly disagree with this statement. I have been in the corporate world for a while, and most of the time software decisions are driven by personal bias and/or politics. I wish that weren't true, but "you can wish in one hand..."
Jim,

You said, "It's a shame because CF IS such a great tool - but Adobe does nothing to promote that fact. And they wonder why the "ColdFusion is dead" statement occurs every few years...."
Every few years? I hear that comment in major trade publications just about every month these days. I'm sorry for being blunt, but if I were Tim Buntel, I'd be deeply embarrassed by this fact.
pcbrown,

You said, "I think James has some good points too, though, in that Opera and CF are aimed at two very different markets, of vastly different sizes...but still, your suggestion about better marketing is not lost."
Marketing is marketing. This "apples and oranges" argument is irrelevant. If you go to any Marketing 101 course, they will teach you how to /market/ products and services. The principles of good marketing apply to EVERYTHING. ColdFusion is not a stand-alone island that needs special treatment. Lets face the facts, the marketing efforts behind ColdFusion today and yesteryear have been a failure.
i've been a coldfusion developer for about 11 years now, and i love the product and the community it's spawned. but i'll agree with jacob here (and others who have publicly lamented the lack of a strong marketing effort around coldfusion).

i was fortunate enough to attend flexcamp in S.F. a few weeks back and boy lemme tell you... the efforts that Adobe is putting forth in marketing flex... it's amazing (to the point of almost being embarassing). everyone who attended received copies of flexbuilder 2 with charting, and the o'reilly flex book. not to mention the free beer and whatnot :)

i don't think it's a secret that some folks who have flex related items on their adobe wish lists have had those items purchased for them by adobe.

then of course there are things that have already been mentioned, like the AIR bus tour.

i recognize that the RIA "niche" is big and stands to get bigger, and adobe's doing what they can to claim that space early. I don't disagree with the rationale behind this.

It's just hard to see the company that owns coldfusion throw that kind of money and time and effort into marketing flex and AIR, when coldfusion developers seem to be suiting up on a weekly basis to fight the "coldfusion is not dying" fight.

we're (obviously) quite happy to take the battlefield on a fairly regular basis. but it'd be nice to get some reinforcements sent in from the mother ship every now and then, y'know? :)
Ray,

You said, "if you were on a shoestring budget - wouldn't you be using an ISP/shared hosting? You wouldn't even need to buy CF then. There are many very affordable shared hosting options for CF"
You are right. But what if he is on a shoestring for an Intranet app? I doubt his company is going to put their sensitive information up on a shared host.
Charlie - I agree 100% - you would think now with Flex and Air out - Adobe would be aggressively pushing CF as a backend to these products.

In regards to Ray's comments - someone recently posted a really nice matrix of inexpensive CF hosting which I looked at because I'd love to move to a CF host for my blogging, etc - but when I compared feature to feature (bandwidth, diskspace, etc) with my current host (using PHP) - CF was still about twice as expensive.

I still think this is an area where CF could make some inroads - get CF into hosting firms cheaply - esp. for inexpensive shared hosting where most people start out developing... These are the people who are later going to move into businesses and are either going to be familiar with CF or one of the many free alternatives.

Jake - you need to make this comment text box bigger :)
Forgive me, but I'm going to ramble and rant a bit here...

Aside from the free consideration, aside from the apples to oranges consideration, the reason that people don't perceive ColdFusion to be well marketed is deeper than advertising itself.

Where is the ColdFusion equivalent of 15seconds, 4guysfromrolla, serverside.net, artima.com, heck even ajaxian? I can get trade magazines from numerous vendors that tell me about challenges working with .NET, J2EE, PHP, or even Ruby, however, aside from the overly expensive CFDJ, when does anyone see industry 'experts' talking about ColdFusion on a regular basis?

ColdFusion's marketing issue is perception based, it isn't considered relevant, enterprise or long term by an increasingly large portion of the population who should be looking at it to solve a great deal of their problems.

Part of that is because of lack of tools, the premier IDE for ColdFusion is either an HTML editor (Dreamweaver), or a cobbled together set of items (eclipse, cfeclipse, and the adobe addition to the stack).

ColdFusion also lacks clarity in vision. It's billed as a productivity layer on top of J2EE, or as a way that anyone can do web applications, however it's priced at near enterprise levels, which gives a mixed message. Is it a layman's toy or an enterprise solution?

ColdFusion as a web application development platform is an incredibly great tool, technically.

But then again, Betamax and the Amiga were great technically too...
"Jake - you need to make this comment text box bigger :)"

You're right. It bothers me as much as the next guy. Honestly, I've never adjusted it from the default size (If I did, I forgot).
Calvin,

You said, "Part of that is because of lack of tools, the premier IDE for ColdFusion is either an HTML editor (Dreamweaver), or a cobbled together set of items (eclipse, cfeclipse, and the adobe addition to the stack)."

This is a very good point. One scenario that I have offered in the past is this:
1. Continue to charge the same price for CF Enterprise
2. Polish up CFEclipse with bug fixes and new features, and sell that version for a couple hundred
3. Give away CF Standard.

I don't see how the above scenario is a bad idea.
Just wondering....

1) With all the horrible marketing that has taken place how has ColdFusion survived and grown in a very competitive marketplace for over 10 years?

2) With such horrific marketing, how has ColdFusion been viewed as a solid acquisition by first Macromedia, and then Adobe?

3) What products have you marketed that have been as profitable or had the longevity of ColdFusion?

You state that "Marketing is Marketing". This is simply wrong! You don't market an enterprise database server the same way you do a hot dog. Not if you want to stay in business. Each market has it's own structure, nuances and approaches.

ColdFusion has grown steadily since it's inception. It doesn't have the penetration of some of the open source scripting languages, but I can't think of any other commercial competitor that has survived the past 10 years.

Gus
RE:
1) With all the horrible marketing that has taken place how has ColdFusion survived and grown in a very competitive marketplace for over 10 years?

It has remained in a suspended state or "staganant" as the heditor of sitepoint.com phrased it. And over this time it has gradually faded from teh minds and hearts of web developers at lareg - to the point where many think it has died.


RE: 2) With such horrific marketing, how has ColdFusion been viewed as a solid acquisition by first Macromedia, and then Adobe?

Who viewed it this way? I think most people viewed it as an accidental acquisition , at least from Adobe's point of view w/r to coldfusion. They were never interested in Coldfusion, but wanted Flash and Dreamweaver. Coldfusion just happened to be there. Did you seriously think Adobe were pursuing Coldfusion in a market like this?



re: ColdFusion has grown steadily since it's inception.

No, relatively speaking, it is not adopted as much now as it was even 6 years ago. CF is fading not growing.
I've commented and blogged on this in the past too. Basically I see a few core issues that I think are responsible for

holding back adoption of ColdFusion;

Perception:
- Earlier in life, ColdFusion was seen by many as a "simple tag based language" because of what the code looked like and

because it lacked certain features. With the rise of PHP, Java, .NET and the push into OOP, ColdFusion was treated as a

"newbie" language, even after requested language features were added (I am guilty of this myself)
- ColdFusion has changed DRASTICALLY since the earlier versions, yet I think the majority of perceptions of it have not.

I can't think of any other language that has improved so much in such a short space of time.

Price:
- ColdFusion has a price tag up front, while in other camps PHP, Java and .NET (to an extent) do not. Some people simply cannot see past the price tag - whether you think the ROI is good or not
- You can't use CF for free to run your web site from home
- You can't use CF for free for an internal app at work or at a local charity or non-profit organisation (and as mentioned above, you might not want data stored online on a shared host)
(continued...)

Price (again):
- When you're a kid learning to program, you have no money. You choose a free language to learn with.
- When you're a university student, you're broke. Again, you'll choose a free language to learn and build your skills
- When you're a university student, you're taught C/C++, Java, Perl or any number of other freebie languages (or at least I was)
- When you're fresh out of university and looking for a job, you're more likely to apply for positions using languages that you are already familiar with (i.e. not ColdFusion)
(continued...)

Marketing can fix some of these issues, but not all... I think there is a lack of market share due to a lack of developers, because of the hurdles to adoption and the myths and perception of CF as a language. And, things like increased productivity and ROI don't even enter the minds of a young developer when they are learning and looking for work! (Unless I was the only naive one? LOL)
IMO, there is still room for a free version of CF because - let's face it - CF8 Standard's features are really kicking butt. Come on Adobe, release CF8 Lite / Express / Personal / Community Edition! :)

Just my 2 cents. /puts on the flame suit ;)

P.S. I had to split this into multiple posts because the "spam detection" wouldn't let me submit it as a single post (or even 3 posts!) Argh!
I agree with most of what you say Justin - it basically boils down to the fact that CF is not winning the hearts and minds of developers.

Ultimately, its a tough sell. CF is not "the best" or "the worst", it's just a scripting language that one may or may not "prefer" over others. For every distinguishing feature it has, the others have just as many or more. What I'm getting at is that CF has such a high upfront cost, and so many other limitations (eg; less competeive/expensive hosting, fewer resources behind it) that many decision makers simply cannot conclude that any advantages truly outweigh the disdavantages or the percieved barriers to entry.


The other major problem is that, for a commercial product, it is missing many things that a platform of this kind needs to be succesfull - namely an IDE. It's also poorly supported by Adobe, and happens to be secondary product for them. Its also poorly supported by the web developer industry at large. As in, you never hear of it anymore! Kevin Yank, lead editor for sitepoint.com,the webs biggest web developer resource, declared CF "stagnant" recently and sitepoint used to really promote CF when it was still popular - very sad state of affairs. Almost as sad as the day O'Reilly declared they were no longer going to print or upgrade it's once popular "Learning Coldfusion" book. As each year passes, I see more and more of these nails in CF's coffin - and Adobe/MM do nothing.

I think Adobe will try and squeeze dollars from it rather than open source it - and this is really quite sad. As they squeeze the dollars they only alienate more and more developers. It bothers me as it's plain for all to see that developers are leaving in droves or telling us how they are forced to adopt other technologies when they really want to use CF.
I couldn't agree more, Coldfusion used to be a serious contender for building almost any site but these days it has retreated to the high ground, it's pretty much enterprise level and thats it.
The problem with that is there are now very few people about with CF skills - as pointed out it's not exactly popular in universities or for bedroom coders. We have been having huge difficulties recruiting and it's becoming obvious if we moved to .net we could take our pick of applicants - probably at lower wages too.
Adobe needs to push CF at the grass roots as a "cool" language if it is to even continue at the level of success it has, and I think that must involve some level of free server and a better IDE. I love the language and have been using it as my first choice for about 8 years, I hope I'm not going to need to change tht situation.
I'm in Australia - CF has been dead here for a few years now. Forget all the "If its dead" stuff - its dead plain and simple - nobody here would seriuosly adopt it unless there were some very very specific circumstances that required it.

I have heard similar stories from European countires and in certain parts of the USA (to a lesser extent) and UK.

I can also tell you point blank that Macromedia pulled out there CF reps in Australia a couple of years ago - and I doubt Adobe have put them back. At one point there was one person from MM representing the product in Australia as opposed ot the original team of (I think) 12 or more. And Adobe/MM stopped all marketing of CF in Ozzie trade magazines approx 4 years ago.

Also, contact any Adobe authorised training organisation - the CF classes are no longer being run. Most states cannot even find a certified CF trainer, let alone trainees to attend courses.

I never thought I'd see the day that it went beyond dramatic assertions that CF was going to die and into the plain fact that it has!

Can it be revived - yes. Open source CF or give us a complete RAD platform. Stop being ridiculous - you can't sell a scripting language in a market full of absolutely fantastic choices that are free and in most cases, far more widely adopted/installed that CF.
From what I can see in the UK and the current job market - CF is dead.
In the last three months, CF job ads have accounted for around 0.4 of all it ads (source:www.itjobswatch.com). Compare that with something like ASP.NET (7.24%)
Same here - CF is finito. Its not promoted nor used. A lot of web designers, particularly apprentices, don't even know what coldfusion is. One bloke I know who's been designing sites for 4 years, thought coldfusion was a tool for making flash screensavers!!
OK, for the record, there IS a free version of CF - it's called BlueDragon. It doesn't have the features of Adobe CF 8, but it has 90% of the tags. So, if you want free CF, you have it. My company uses BD for some internal apps that don't require the advanced Adobe CF tags.

Second, I agree, more marketing would be great, and is greatly needed.

Third, just because people say CF is "dead", doesn't make it so. Before the merger, CF was MM's most profitable product. I have it on good authority that the sales and install base are rising steadily. Couple that with a magnificent new release, and plans for a next release, and it is impossible to justify the "dead" tag.

While some people complain of a decline, or downright neglect, of CF in certain regions, the overall health of the product has to taken in a global perspective. I can personally tell you that CF is BOOMING here in northeast USA. The phone is ringing off the hook with headhunters looking for talent, and they are paying premium (up to 35% more than similarly experienced PHP or ASP positions).

Cheers,

Davo
@Andley: Yes, that's spot on. CF isn't winning the hearts and minds of developers, but I think it's for all the wrong reasons :(

@Wangara: It's far too soon to say CF is dead (IMO the platform/language itself is going from strength to strength), but I do concur that it is increasingly difficult to find CF Developers (couple that with living in a regional area of Australia and it's near impossible). Like I've mentioned previously, marketing can go some way to dispelling myths about CF and increasing it's visibility, but as Wayne put it, Adobe needs a grass roots push that makes CF available and desirable to school/university students and "bedroom coders".

Which ever way you look at it, we need fresh blood in the CF developer community.

@David: I appreciate that BlueDragon exists, but even if younger developers have heard of ColdFusion they probably have no idea what BlueDragon is or that they can "run ColdFusion code" on it. Unfortunately I don't think it makes adoption any easier because the visibility isn't there.
Justin,

I agree with you about the BlueDragon comment. In fact, I actually use BD for this blog and my other sites. However, like you stated, the folks that are pronouncing the CF is dead don't really know or care about BD, nor Railo or Smith.
I disagree that CF has been profitable for Adobe. Had it been, they would have pushed that and reinvested in the product. Adobe are not dumb, they know that atrue RAD platform always ships with a pro IDE - yte they stopped all development of such a tool years ago. All they need is teh funds to commercially back a version of CFEclipse with some real pro tools, but they don't. They sell an "incomplete" solution and it puts off many decision makers. I can live without an IDE, but I can't live with a product that I know for damned sure the owners are very VERY reserved about marketing and investing in - makes me very nervous.

I see new versions coming out which essentially reflect an "engineering" team that are just writing wrappers around java functionlity and not ding anything especially innovative. It's all fluff when they could be giving us real tools and saying loud and clear "We are behind CF 100%"
CF needs to be back in teh hands of a compnay that treat it as a top grade product, a flagship. With Adobe, it's skeleton crew and tight budgets, and pretty much about staying alive as opposed to living.
@Jacob: Yeah, it's just a visibility thing. Most people that come across BlueDragon, Railo or Smith are probably already CF developers... but there isn't much point preaching to the converted!

Adobe need to start reaching new developers. I don't want to sound like a broken record so I won't repeat what I said above, but I think we've thrown enough points out there for someone to take notice and actually give our thoughts some consideration.

@wanara: That's completely untrue in the case of CF8 and not fair to the guys who put in the hard work to deliver it to us; it is *so* much more than "wrappers around Java functionality". CF8 is great. I think you need to use it before you criticise it, but unfortunately that's what the majority of developers seem to do these days whether they have used it in the past or not.
@wanara: That's completely untrue in the case of CF8 and not fair to the guys who put in the hard work to deliver it to us; it is *so* much more than "wrappers around Java functionality". CF8 is great. I think you need to use it before you criticise it, but unfortunately that's what the majority of developers seem to do these days whether they have used it in the past or not.

I have "demo'ed" CF8 and it is a nice tool. But sorry, I don't think it is innovative in any particular way. There is definitely much more innovation around other products - and they also have the advnatge of broad adoption, marketing, and industries around them they are creating a posyive spiral. CF, on the other hand, is setting itself up for continuation of a negative spiral.

re: and not fair to the guys who put in the hard work to deliver it to us

I don't mean anything negative to them - but a few developers with limited funds can never deliver what I think CF needs. The market just doesn't want nor need a scripting language such as CF in any significant way and it certainly does not undertstand why it should or might - if that makes any sense. CF is considered an old technology and largely works the way it always did - it takes more than tags and functions to get folk excited. Even crummy ole PHP has a gazillion more functions and "Abstractions" to make life easier - this is in no way a CF competetive advanatge.

Sorry - when I see how it HAS died in so many places and I further see what is being done to stop the trend (ie; not much) I get annoyed. CF belongs in the hands of the people to my thinking - the commercial benefits do not exist any more and I genuinely believe that they will lead to further declination across the globe.

CF is no longer the "Easy" one, it can't lay claim to that anymore. It isn't the respected, adopted, or "cool" one either. It simply clings to live instead of actually kicking ass. Which is sad, as the capablitiy is there.
@ David - and how much of that interest in CF skills is for maintenance work versus new build work? COBOL and RPG are very still getting premium rates for work, but none of that is for new build, it's for the masses of old systems out there that cannot justify a re-write.

@ Jacob. I've long thought CF is in a big decline to death, and I am very familiar with Bluedragon, Railo and Smith. My point is not that CFMX is dying, but that CFML is.
@wangar,

The industry does need a scripting language like ColdFusion in a significant way. It's just that they think they need Ruby, Python or PHP. Those languages are growing far more than CF is, despite that incredibly rich feature set of ColdFusion. Why do you think Microsoft is adding the DLR and the Java community put together JSR 223?

Again, it's the Amiga or Betamax, or any other technically superior solution all over again. Marketing, mind space, and winning the heart of your target audience (including high level decision makers), is what needs to be worked on.

If your CxOs aren't reading about how great ColdFusion is in whatever magazine they read about technology, if they aren't seeing ColdFusion appear on the banner ad at adobe.com when they download the Acrobat Reader, if they aren't seeing it discussed in all the highly visible ways they are seeing Websphere or .NET (or even Ruby on Rails) discussed, then they won't 'get it', and I mean that in more ways than one.
Re: The industry does need a scripting language like ColdFusion in a significant way. It's just that they think they need Ruby, Python or PHP.

Disagree completely - there are more than enough and most of them are more powerful and/or as simple as CFML was. Adobe are asking far too much money for a very half thought out product - as has been pointed out, its missing major components of what it takes to succeed in a market such as this (IE; a pro level IDE and some genuine committment from Adobe)

At the end of the day CFML, Ruby, Php, Asp, Python etc all do the exact same thing and all are relatively easy to learn as they are "scripting" languages. So if you can learn one of them you can learn any of the othes. CFML isn't even the easiest and certainly doesn't "win" or "lose" on features either. Coldfusion just sits in a very awkward slot as Adobe want so much money but can't make a solid case for why people shoudl pay it. With a commercial product in a market such as this, marketing is teh absolute last thing to be skimping on - so Adobe are behaving absolutely sinfully by neglecting the much MUCH needed marketing and sales strategies


Or are they? If it were me, I wouldn't try and market it as I'd nervous as hell of getting no returns. Does the phrase "Pissing into the wind" mean anything to you guys? An anlogy I like is how McDonalds give away those plastic toys - its kind of like Adobe want to continue on selling these plastic toys regardless. But somehow trying to say how special their plastic toys are even when their plastic toy is actually the same as the free ones - of course, in some cases its better and in some cases its not as good.

Adobe need to create a much better plastic toy - one that you could never get at McDonalds. And one that can't be confused with the ones you ge at McDonalds.
@Neil - The vast vast majority ("all" as far as I can remember) new positions due to growth, not legacy holdovers.

@wanara:
Your statement "the commercial benefits do not exist any more" is incorrect. CF was the most profitable product in the MM portfolio before the merger, and while Adobe doesn't break down individual product results, I have it on good authority that the product and profitability have grown SINCE the merger.

The "dead" argument has been floated around for that past 10 years - and all the same arguments have been used. "It costs too much", "language X does it better", "there is no commercial value".

I mean, seriously, how long do you guys have to be wrong? You guys will be going on about this in ANOTHER 10 years, and using the exact same arguments.

This is getting old already.

Davo
Calvin said, "If your CxOs aren't reading about how great ColdFusion is in whatever magazine they read about technology, if they aren't seeing ColdFusion appear on the banner ad at adobe.com when they download the Acrobat Reader, if they aren't seeing it discussed in all the highly visible ways they are seeing Websphere or .NET (or even Ruby on Rails) discussed, then they won't 'get it', and I mean that in more ways than one."

Bravo! And the real point is that these CIOs ARE reading "CF is dead" in those trade magazines, while Adobe blissfully sits on this amazing product and ignores all the negative press.
It is disappointing how Adobe does ignore these type of posts. This thread has been going on for almost a week with no response from Mr. Buntel. I would really like to see some kind of honest response regarding these recurring concerns. I know Ben Forta has posted several responses to the "ColdFusion is dead" theme (search his blog for 'dead' - entries from May 07, May 04 and Sept 03) but I'd love to hear more from Adobe.
I actually sent an email to Tim Buntel about this post, and I got an out of office auto-responder, saying he'll back next Monday. But I'm sure he'll have a mountain of email to catch up on, so this might be buried.
It's hard to pin everything on one person but as Tim is the Marketing Manager for this product I can see why you are asking this question. This is the best ColdFusion release ever, but with the worst marketing ever. Is this Tim's fault? Perhaps, but I'd sugest he has a limited budget for pushing this product.

The push from Adobe is poor, the information that you can get out of Adobe is poor. I've asked several times when you will be able to buy the CF8 document set, and it's still not available almost a month after release.

There is a CFCAMP beinging organised here where I live, city of around 4 million people. Less than 40 people registered as being interested, not supprised that Adobe didn't sponsor this city and perhaps another reason I don't see any marketing dollars spent here is because perhaps not many people use it anymore.

I actually think it failed with CF7, that was a great release also, and if that had been pushed more, then there might be more users today. I have previsously said that Adobe needs to take a bold step, like a free version or similar if they are to turn around sales.

The sales of ColdFusion might be better than ever, but the market share is worse than ever if you consider how many people develop web applications these days. Compared to 10 years ago where ColdFusion would have had a decent market share of web applications to today where I imaging it would be a single digit figure.
I just want to add one last comment from me.

1. If you like the product
2. If Adobe keep supporting and developing it
3. If you can afford it

Then there is no reason to change. I too am concerned by the marketing and numbers of developers, but 1, 2 & 3 apply for me, so i'll keep using it. I just recently watched a series of videos of .NET for ColdFusion people and let me tell you, .NET didn't impress me greatly, the entire demo was Drag and Drop, that's not coding. Coldfusion excels at less code does more, nothing else comes close.

I'd love to see Adobe do a ColdFusion for .NET developers, show them how easy things could be.
@David: I don't think you can discount the "it costs too much" argument. If people have been saying it for X years and CF still has a tiny market share then why aren't the warning bells flashing? It clearly *is* a problem that needs to be solved.

@Calvin, Jake: I agree that CxO's reading "CF is dead" is a bad thing, but it's worse than that when young developers or developers outside the CF community think that CF is a terrible language based on their impressions from 6 or 7 years ago!! CF has improved *so much*, but which developers would even know? Probably only us CF developers :P

I think that once you evaluate a language or platform, it is *really* difficult to go and revisit it 5+ years later when you might have had bad impressions of it the first time around and already written it off. I think that is what has happened to CF to an extent, and Adobe need to try to turn things around with developers (read: potential customers) somehow...
RE: the entire demo was Drag and Drop, that's not coding. Coldfusion excels at less code does more, nothing else comes close

Dale, you seem to be missing the point you dont have to drag and drop and you can write code. Its just a choice. You seem to be under the impression that dot net is drag drop and CFML is coding. I can't stress how incorrect you are here. Dot Net has it all coding, drag dropping, code gen tools, whatever the heck you want to do.

re: and let me tell you, .NET didn't impress me greatly

Well let just hope it impresses Adobe. Its got seriuosly important tools in there, web forms, master pages, simplified data binding and all sorts of stuff that one would hope DOES impress Adobe adn cause them to take stock.

Thank god the majority of us here have enough insight into other platforms to recognise what we should and shouldn't be concenrned about!

I'm not a major fan of Asp.Net and much prefer to use CF if it were not dead where I live. But I do know and accept that Asp.Net is a revolutionary product in w hole different league than CF. There are lessons Adobe can learn from it for sure
A lot of you chaps are missing the point in some ways. For starters - Adobe know that CFML will never be as popular or as widely adopted as the likes of PHP and Asp.Net. It's just not possible for all sorts of reasons - reasons that most of us here are more than familiar with.

Adobe can only secure a niche for CFML, and hope that it can continue to convince enough people to use it. Our idea of "enough" will not be the same as Adobe's. It simply does not need for CF to be the market leader.

Yes, Coldfusion is dead in many places. And yes, it likley did miss many oppurtunties over the years to secure itself a much better position than it has now. The main concern we should all have right now is that Adobe at least continue to support it and develop it long enough for us all to move over to a more open/adopted platforms. And I genuinely belive that this is why they push integration with Java and dot net so much - ultimately, these are the platforms we will all end up using for enterprise level applications.

Let's face it - for "scripting" and basic web applications, php and others more than fill the gap. CF is just overkill here. For what the majority of web developers want to do, it just makes no sense to align with Coldfusion as there are so many limitations.
@Richard: I think that's the first time I've seen anyone say that using CF for a basic web app "is just overkill", and in the following sentence say that it makes no sense to use CF because "there are so many limitations"... Two points which - apart from being contradictory - couldn't be further from the truth!
Well - I know when they pull the plug on ColdFusion - I'll be changing careers. The limited amount of PHP and ASP I've done in the past made me want to gouge my eyes out with a fork. :)
This is the kind of thing I'm thinking about when I write about mind-share and ColdFusion vs enterprise solutions:

"I use Flex with Java on the back end to create apps that exceed expectations." Adobe ad on www.artima.com
@Richard I realize that Adobe is complacent with CF having it's dwindling niche market, but I'm not. Just because I disagree with Adobe's stance on CF doesn't mean I don't understand their position. I am hoping to convince Adobe that there still is hope for making CF the #1 web scripting language, if they have the balls to make some drastic changes.

@Calvin Are you SERIOUS? Adobe is advertising Java over CF!! This is getting ridiculous...the writing is becoming more and more clear on the wall these days.
@Jake, [humor] Well, it's only preferable to use Java when you want to exceed expectations, so don't worry too much![/humor]
Wait a minute, Adobe is advertising the integration of Flex with Java, on a Java based community site, and you guys are all up in arms about it? Seems like smart marketing to me. Sure if they weren't doing this, you'd be complaining that they weren't marketing Flex well enough. The collaboration between Flex and CF has been great, and the easiest, most secure and fastest way to create Flex apps is with CF as a back end. Adobe has been front and center with that message since day 1 of the Flex 2 release.

Nobody is "advertising Java over CF", it's a Java community site, and they are targeting a particular market, of course they're going to highlight a Java based success story. Seriously, you guys are reaching now.

Davo
@Davo, I'm pretty sure that Artima is a site about "Best practices in enterprise software development' and isn't just about Java. Note the entire section devoted to another scripting language (Ruby).

Of course they have a whole section on .NET news as well: http://www.artima.com/news/group.jsp?group=dotnet

They may talk mostly about Java, however it's an enterprise software site. ColdFusion is of course, suitable for enterprise development, right? It is deployed on a J2EE infrastructure, right? You can take advantage of Java capabilities in ColdFusion, right?

Real question though, where is the Flex + ColdFusion ad on an enterprise software site that will increase industry awareness and improve the brand by association?

Please note that I'm not dissing the technology of the platform, I am harping on the product image and marketing, as well as the need for stronger tool-sets.
Guys - cf community is relatively tiny and nobody takes cf seriously anymore. You are wasting your time if you think thats ever going to chnage in a market full of technologies that are free, awsome and installed widely at hots/ISP's.

My advice, use CF untill you can no longer make a dollar doing so. Don't bother wining on about how it's dying - the writing is already on the wall
passerBy says: "nobody takes cf seriously anymore"

Why is that? I can only assume it's because "real" developers (*cough*) looked at CF prior to 6.x, thought it sucked at the time because it lacked features X, Y and Z and it wasn't free, and have never revisited it since. It's sad that first impressions have stuck so sorely.

IMO this is still something that can be (and needs to be) fixed.
RE: It's sad that first impressions have stuck so sorely.

It's just one of those things - CFML may be much better now, more scalable and more feature full. But its just far too late to use all this as bait - all of the other technologies either have similar features, have more features, or can add missing features very easily in response to any threat or demand. Point being, a technology has to be siginifcantly better to cause a shift or to capture the hearts and minds of developers - and CFML is not siginificantly better thatn whats already out there. (Even if you genuinely belive that it is actually better)

Adobe have a massive challenge if they truly want to get developers to take CF seriously. I don't think they want (or need) to accept the challenge. It would take a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of effort. At the end of the day, none of it would neccasarilly increase uptake of CF enough to recoup costs. Lets be honest here, CF is not a critical product for Adobe and they really only "accidentally" inherited it from Macromedia who themselves failed to do much with it.

Historically 2 things attract developers to platforms - the avialability of the platform (eg; it's free and/or widely installed) and in the case of commercial platforms, the inclusion of a full blown development environment including an IDE and tools (Eg; VB, Delphis etc) Essentially, all Adobe are doing is trying to sell a scripting language in a market full of free ones - they are not truly comitted to setting CF apart from the crowd.

In reality, most of "the crowd" don't even know what Coldfusion is. It IS more than a scripting language, but Adobe are not really saying this loudly. What they are doing, however, is saying how great their scripting language is because it works with Java and Dot Net. Now if thats not conceding that you no longer belive that you platform can compete on its own merits, then nothing is!

Simple truth - you don't pay for scripting languages these days. You may pay for toolsets and support around them. But Adobe are dreaming if they think they can sell CF in significant numbers using their present strategy. It's just not possible - and the lousy market share proves it.
passerBy,

I do agree with most of your last comment. Adobe doesn't really care about CF, and you can't really compete with free. However, I have to disagree with this, "Point being, a technology has to be siginifcantly better to cause a shift or to capture the hearts and minds of developers - and CFML is not siginificantly better thatn whats already out there."

The winner in a competitive market is almost NEVER which product is better. VHS is better than Beta Max, right? Windows is better than Mac? Oracle is better than SQL Server? None of the above are true. The reason VHS, Windows, and Oracle came out on top was because of marketing. All of the companies behind those products are genius marketers.

And marketing is NOT just advertising. The pricing of your product, distribution deals (bundling), CIO lunches, support, tech conferences, user groups, developer tools, are ALL ways to successfully market a product. Look at what Adobe is doing with Flex and AIR today, and you will see how to successfully market products. It is NOT just advertising, and it is NOT having a better product. Getting your product into the face of all CIOs and developers, by making the runtime free and then marketing the heck out of it, will give you a lot of traction, if nothing else.

Adobe is doing almost NONE of this with ColdFusion.
re: The winner in a competitive market is almost NEVER which product is better.

You are talking from a different perspective here - you are talking about technologies competing to become standard (VHS is standard now, not Betamax, as per your example)

I'm talking after the fact - how can a technology that is not widely adopted claw its way back. (Eg; how can betamax claw back market share from VHS)

Truth is Betamax cannot make a comeback - but if by some miracle it had added SIGNIFICANT improvements at the consumer level it may have stood a chance - depsite the proliferation of hardware than runs the VHS tapes. In other words, it would have had to have been so mush better than they overhead and cost would have been worth it for the consumer.

Not a great analogy perhaps - but the point remains. CF has got better, but it has NOT added anything significant that challenges what we already have in established and widely adopted technologies. There is no "killer" reason to adopt CF yet there remains many many reasons not to adopt it (Lack of skilled cf developers is a big one for me - I'd be mad to go anywhere near cf as there just isn't a market for cf developers where there once was. For others, the limitation is that there is not much in the way of industry support for it. For others it boils down to the cost and availablity of the platform)

So I hear your point about the VHS/Beta thing - but I'm approaching this on the given that CF has already lost, not that its fighting to become accepted.

CF is so out of touch with the web development industry and community at large that it barely registers with the majority of web developers, especially new up and coming developers. The only time I ever hear it mentioned is by "old timers" and it was literally last century since I saw it even mentioned as an option for a project. CF is rarely given the time of day, even by those that are aware it is still around!
@passerBy: You're absolutely right on many of your points, and from that perspective I can totally see why Adobe don't *need* to care. It's a very convincing argument. The point we're trying to make though is that we as CF developers *do* care and we want Adobe to reciprocate, because it feels like our numbers are dwindling while they promote other Adobe products that they are giving away for free. Maybe I'm just being too optimistic, but I don't see any *real* reason that things can't be turned around for CF.
Software is a much different beast than the hardware markets (i.e. the VHS vs beta max analogy), and software marketshare *can* turn around in a reasonably short period of time.

For example in the web server market IIS has closed the gap on Apache from a 50% lead down to a 17% lead in under 2 years:
news.netcraft.com/archives/2007/08/06/august_2007_web_server_survey.html
(see the 2nd and 3rd graphs)
(cont'd)
I think CF8 is well positioned to improve it's marketshare with a bit of help and maybe some concessions on Adobe's part. Or at least I'm hoping :)

(P.S. Argh, had to split my posts again!.. Crazy spam protection!)
RE: I think CF8 is well positioned to improve it's marketshare with a bit of help and maybe some concessions on Adobe's part.


It couldn't even hope to take on the .Nets and Javas of the world, but thats fair enough. It could, and should,however, be trying to put the likes of php and friends to shame. This "lightweight dyanamic scripting" approach has a following with web developers and , perhaps more importantly, web designers. Adobe could sew up this whole market in a VERY short space of time (Yes, agree entirely on differences with hardware/software markets - point well made) But as you say, concessions will need to be made if they truly want to make this happen - and personally, I just don't think they have any such objective.

At this stage in the game, Adobe need to free CFML to the community while it still has a community to free it to. They could make a decent enough profit offering premier support and tools. And later, when adoption increases, they can provide training and education and all those othe rthings that make money in the open source world. Surely, they have to know that this is the only real way to get CF back into the hands of developer across the globe?
interesting post and comments.
Maybe they have a branding problem that a negative stigma is attached to the name ColdFusion? Is it really perceived that it isn't enterprise by the big guys, too expensive for the little guys, and "too simple/it's for beginners" from the Open Source crowd? Perhaps Adobe from the beginning of acquiring it should have changed the name to something such as AdobeFusion and marketed the first version released under Adobe as a major rewrite from the ground up with new advanced functionality and implemented a new pricing scheme that benefits each group.
Too late now maybe.
What they need to do is grow themselves a market. How do you do that? Increase its popularity with a rebranding effort. Change the name, market its new advanced features, up the price to get the enterprise big guys, lower the price for standard to get the little guys, make the development version free. Hmmm..., now that I think about it, they are already doing this, with exception to changing the name and lowering the price for standard, but if you adjust for inflation, standard is cheaper now than it was before. I think the fundamental flaw in what I hear from everybody is in the unstated premise that the small guys are going to grow CF. They won't and can't. The big guys are going to, so Adobe's efforts should be directed to the enterprise crowd. If its popularity increases with the enterprise level guys, this would have the benefit of trickling down. More CF jobs, more press, more books, and more interest in CF at different levels of business. Pricing to get everybody can be tricky, and don't doubt that Adobe thought about this long and hard and did their research.
I think a fundamental issue is being touched on here.

Here's another marketing blunder for you. Remember that little search feature that used to be Verity ( http://livedocs.adobe.com/coldfusion/8/htmldocs/he... )? That's right, it's K2, now from Autonomy.

Allaire, then Macromedia and now Adobe have provided bundled OEM versions of Verity for the majority of ColdFusion's life so far. Adobe is featured prominently as a OEM partner here: http://www.autonomy.com/content/OEMs/index.en.html...

But you'll notice that blurb has NO mention of ColdFusion, none. If you look further, you'll find BEA, which specifically discusses WebLogic. Oracle talks about Stellent and PeopleSoft, but Adobe can't have a mention of the very product that Autonomy's K2 server is an OEM part of? !?!?
Hi,

Yes, unfortunately I’ve been out of the office, so I missed the initial wave of comments here. Most of the folks in the community do know that I read as many blogs and lists as possible and do my best to reply. My apologies for coming late to the party.

It seems that there are 2 different main questions here; why doesn’t Adobe do a better job at spreading the word about ColdFusion, and why doesn’t Adobe make it easier for developers to adopt it (by releasing a free version, for example). Of course, neither has a simple answer, but perhaps you’ll allow me to share a thought or two on the first one at least. For the “free” question, you’ll need to wait a bit I’m afraid. It’s a huge topic and I’d like to post something myself with the appropriate consideration and detail. Meanwhile, I can assure you that, contrary to many comments here, the ColdFusion business is healthy and growing.

Adobe has over 70 products, and naturally we’d all like to see our own all over the main page of adobe.com. We don’t have a big graphic, but we are on the home page. Let me list a few additional things we’ve done with this release - all of which take time, money, and resources to develop and deliver:

- New Adobe.com/coldfusion content
- New Developer Center content
- New eSeminar series
- New datasheets and whitepapers
- Live events – North America launch in DC, 4 city Australia tour, 5 city European launch tour, Japanese launch tour
- New banner ads on DevX, theServerSide.com, builder.com, sitepoint.com
- Google paid search advertising
- Extensive user group tour
- Presence at non-CF industry events (Ajax Experience in SF, for example)
- Partner/channel marketing (software sites and catalogs like CDW and Amazon.com)
- Press and analyst briefings (resulting in over 180 items written in every publication from SD Times to Info World to GCN and on and on)
- Hiring new sales and evangelism staff to focus on ColdFusion

And there’s a lot more. I can assure you I’m not embarrassed in the slightest at the efforts that went into this launch. Is this horrific marketing? I think that given the resources with which we were working it’s pretty good. Is there more I’d like to do? Certainly. And we will continue to do more - but there will always be more desired. Unfortunately, there is always a limit to budget, time, resources, etc.

I know that there’s frustration out there. I do hear you. But be assured – there is marketing happening.

Stay tuned…more to come.
Tim Buntel
Thanks for responding, Tim. I wasn't aware of a lot of the efforts you mentioned, so it's good to hear of them. However, I think you summed the issue up pretty well with this comment: "I think that given the resources with which we were working it’s pretty good." The key word being resources. As others have noted, we realize that Adobe has a lot of products and CF probably gets a small marketing budget when compared to the others. Would it be nice to see a huge CF marketing blitz like the CS3 launch? Sure, but maybe that's not possible. However, the free version is still an option, and personally I think that would go a long way to increase market share numbers.
Tim, it's very reassuring to know that you're listening and can provide us with information like this :) In regards to adoption of CF I'm glad to see a couple of the things on your list, namely:
- Presence at non-CF industry events (Ajax Experience in SF, for example)
- Hiring new sales and evangelism staff to focus on ColdFusion

And I know the "free" issue is a bit of a minefield... I look forward to reading your thoughts when you get to publishing them!

For me it's all about the developers. Recently I was wondering about what it would take (eg. price, tools, language features, etc) to convert someone to wanting to use CF over their current language of choice, and also what it would take to attract a "newbie" developer to CF over the other choices when they are first starting out (and whether the influencing factors are even the same, or whether some factors carry more weight in either situation). Surely someone has researched stuff like this before... Hmm, food for thought anyway ;)
It's good to see the posting from you Tim but one comment does worry me - "I can assure you that, contrary to many comments here, the ColdFusion business is healthy and growing." Not in the UK it isn't, and I think that goes for almost anywhere outside the states. If I needed to leave my current job I would have two choices: uproot my family and move to another part of the country or learn another language. It's the same when we advertise jobs, it's getting almost impossible to recruit people with any real CF experience or enthusiasm. We have around 20 CF people here but one of the last projects commisioned used Ruby on Rails and I think that may be the thin end of the wedge, even though CF is getting better and better it's also getting harder to justify using it for new projects.
Tim, thank you for your response and it does give me a little comfort knowing that Adobe is dedicating some resources to CF beyond just R&D. My problem is that I have very similar experiences to Wayne's in that it's almost impossible to recruit people with any real CF experience or enthusiasm - and I'm US based so it's not a foreign problem! I have a suggestion: dedicate some resources to the creation of CF courses and providing the environment to various schools and colleges. I know that the free topic you will be addressing and it is a minefield, but at a minimum you may want to consider free to schools and colleges. Most do offer PHP and Java courses and I think part of the reason is that the entry costs to these environments are much lower than CF. I think back to the early Apple days when they gave away Apples to schools and colleges. My guess is that the return on these early free Apples is still paying off.