Perspective on ColdFusion's Big Question (TM)

Just wanted to share a reply I made on GetSatisfaction to provide a historical perspective to the question "What really is the future of ColdFusion?". Before you ask what the future holds, its good to look back to see where ColdFusion has been since its inception in 1995.



CFMX 7 (released Feb 2005) was the release where product adoption saw the first major boost since the "MX" overhaul. Since CFMX 6 (released June 2002, in a down economy) was a re-architecture in Java/J2EE from the earlier CF5 (released May 2001) written in C++, there were few new features introduced and there was an associated learning curve now that the product had a Java foundation.

Problems in the re-architecture surfaced, slowing new adoption of CFMX6, leading to the point release 6.1 (released July 2003) which for the most part corrected all the issues and restored the waning product reputation.

ColdFusion MX 7 was a feature rich release, which attracted many new developers, most of whom had begun to grok CFCs and Java integration. The post 9/11 economy had generally recovered as well, adding to an increase in technology spending.

With most product release cycles, there's a decline in sales or tail at the end, and ColdFusion 8 (released August 2007) saw another major boost in adoption over the tail as it too was a feature rich release that provided solutions to many contemporary problems in Web Dev.

Frankly, IMO, nearly all negative connotations (i.e. "Legacy Software") about the ColdFusion Web Application Server are due to anachronistic experiences with earlier versions of the product in the mid/late 90's. Those opinions seem to be expressed from developers that are less familiar with the revisions and enhancements found in recent ColdFusion versions. (Case in point)

[Added note: The easy learning curve, weak typing, and case-insensitivity in the product are among some factors that may have been conducive to poor programming practices... i.e. give them enough rope to hang themselves, so to speak. Does anyone remember memory corruption from not locking shared scope variables? That whole conundrum went away with CFMX]

Personally, I think ColdFusion is a fantastic product and I love using it. It has an extensive, contemporary tag library on a stable Java base and Web application development time can be short and sweet due to its perpetual focus on RAD.

ColdFusion 9 is well known to be underway and will further address solutions to where technology is going. Furthermore, risk due to proprietary software is mitigated by the release of third party CFML engines which can provide a core of language features if not the full, rich diversity of language found in Adobe's product.


To throw in a plug for myself, I'm currently seeking full time, permanent employment in the greater Boston area. See: Adobe Expert Seeking ColdFusion / Flex Dev or QA

View Steven Erat's profile on LinkedIn

To Flex Camp, and Beyond!

A week from today will be the 2nd annual Flex Camp Boston at Bentley University. At a very modest cost, this is a full day event packed with sessions at the intermediate to advanced level given by industry experts. Register for Flex Camp Boston.

For the last year I've been on the Flex SDK team as a Quality Assurance Engineer, and before that I had excellent run of more than 7 years testing and supporting ColdFusion. I know most of the speakers that will be presenting at Flex Camp and can attest to their passion for building the next wave of Rich Internet Applications, so I fully encourage you to attend if you haven't signed up yet to share in the excitement and mingle with your peers.

This will be an unexpected reunion of sorts for me as I suddenly find myself as a customer rather than employee. With the extra time as I seek new employment I'll immerse myself in training with Flex and AIR, and try to produce an application as an online reference to demonstrate as an example. The odd thing about QA'ing a software product is that you are exposed to narrow facets in which you dive very deeply, and don't often get the chance to practice the breadth of the product. My success in ColdFusion QA was largely dependent on the many preceding years where I provided "gold" level support for the product, something which required me to constantly explore and exercise every nook and cranny of the CF app server and language.

My first inclination for a Flex app is to build my own photography business website in Flex to avoid the cost of purchasing one of the reputable but expensive prebuilt websites from places like LiveBooks, BigFolio, or A Photo Folio.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone from coworkers to customers to local cfug friends for taking a moment to contact me and express their thoughts and show their concern. People have been writing and chatting intensely while offering job tips and advice. As I mentioned on Facebook, I've never before felt the online community to be as tangible and real as I do now. Thank you all, and I hope to see those of you in the area at Flex Camp!

Problems with configuring CF801 on Mac for System Startup

Two problems with configuring ColdFusion 8.01 on Mac OS X for startup on system boot when using the the utility {cf_root}/bin/cf-init.sh. The first issue is that cf-init.sh cannot be used again to configure CF for startup on boot after the cf-init.sh script is used to unconfigure the service. The second issue is that for Multiserver configuration the script cf-init.sh cannot be used to unconfigure CF as a startup service and the items under /Library/StartupItems/ColdFusion8Multi must be removed manually. The ColdFusion Engineering team is actively seeking to correct these issues, but I'm posting for your convenience in case you run into this beforehand.

Issue 1 logged as ColdFusion bug 73548
On Mac, running cf-init.sh to install system startup script cannot be done a second time after running cf-init.sh uninstall.

The cf-init.sh function install_mac() permanently moves the file {cf_root}/bin/cf-standalone-startup to /Library/StartupItems/ under the new name ColdFusion8 as shown here:

view plain print about
1mv -f $CF_DIR/bin/cf-standalone-startup /Library/StartupItems/ColdFusion8/ColdFusion8


Then the uninstall_mac() function in cf-init.sh permanently removes that file ColdFusion8 as shown here:

view plain print about
1rm -rf /Library/StartupItems/ColdFusion8


There are no longer any copies of {cf_root}/bin/cf-standalone-startup under any name on the system, so another attempt to configure ColdFusion to start on System Boot cannot be performed.

More details:



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Hollywood East comes to Boston... or not

Massachusetts Senate President Therese Murray has better things to do... What?!?!

The Boston Globe reported today on the progress of a legislative bill to increase tax breaks for Plymouth Rock Studios, a.k.a. Hollywood East. Former executives from Paramount Pictures have been planning construction of a massive $420 million studio located less than an hour south of Boston, expected to have over 1.2 million square feet with 14 stages AND "50,000 square feet of the world's most advanced Post Production facilities"!!

The Massachusetts House of Representatives discussed the bill this week, and its destined for approval in the state senate next, but according to the Globe, Senator Therese Murray is blocking the additional tax incentive by claiming that its "not at the top of her agenda". The Senate's not even going to think about it.

Taxachusetts, er, Massachusetts has been hemorrhaging residents for years because there's not enough high wage jobs and out of control housing costs (a problem that continues in the area despite the nation-wide housing crisis). Hollywood comes to Boston and wants to drop a huge chunk of change, but now Senator Murray's too busy to help give the state a massive shot in the arm?

The opportunities for creative professionals in film, photography, audio, animation, and other computer specialists would be a boon for the state, and New England. According to Plymouth Rock Studio's website:

Plymouth Rock Studios will employ over 2,000 skilled professionals and generating billions of dollars in direct and indirect economic benefits to the Plymouth area and the Commonwealth.


And where is the brand spanking new Massachusetts Creative Economy Director Jason S. Schupbach in all this? He should be in Senator Murray's office tearing her a new lobbying on behalf of Plymouth Rock.

Geeze... Massachusetts, please get a clue!

2008 Codie Awards: Adobe ColdFusion 8, Captivate, & Connect

Earlier this year the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) announced finalists in the 2008 Codie awards. The SIIA describes itself as "the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry."

Yesterday the winners were announced. As a contributing member of the Adobe ColdFusion 8 QA team, I'm especially proud that ColdFusion 8 won for Best Web Services Solution, a category described as:

Best Web Services Solution
Awards the solution that best connects disparate applications and data across an enterprise or between enterprises using web services standards such as SOAP, XML and WDSL. Includes Web services enabling technologies, infrastructure, middleware, system integration tools, etc.


In addition to comprehensive, across the board regression testing, the specific CF8 features I worked on include testing support for all new RDBMS versions, integrating new JDBC driver versions, LiveCycle Data Services Integration, and CFReport HTML support. I also performed installation testing across J2EE servers such as WebLogic, WebSphere, and JBoss while emphasizing the Linux OS. Currently I'm working on SOAP-based Web Service testing in Flex. Speaking of Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 won the Codie award for the Best Open Source Solution.

More information about the SIIA 2008 Codie Awards can be found at InfoWorld

ColdFusion 8.01 64-bit and Supported Linux Distros

The ColdFusion 8.01 System Requirements as shown in the detailed platform support matrix [PDF] indicates that support for 64-bit Linux distributions is limited to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and SuSe Linux Enterprise Server 10.1. This fine print appears to often go overlooked, so I just want to broadcast it a little louder here.

I was contacted today by someone reporting installation problems and mentioned glibc and floating point errors. A bit of Googling turned up this Google Group thread and this blog entry. Apparently, glibc 2.5 is required for the 64-bit binaries used in the ColdFusion 8.01 64-bit server, so RHEL4's glibc 2.4 just won't do.

On a related note, the ColdFusion Installation Support page currently has a broken link to receive free installation support by email. I notified the web team about the broken link, and I found that the new way to enter this type of installation support request is by registering your product and completing a form here.

Bare Knuckle Boxer

Bare Knuckle Boxer

In a recent shoot at CDIA, we were all shooting fashion models in glamour, fashion, and your basic "All-American" type styles. By contrast, one model showed he had a tough, serious side which gave me the idea for a classic boxing shot that you might have seen 30 or 40 years ago.

Using hard, split lighting from two 20 grids mounted on strobes on either side I was able to produce some dramatic light bouncing off his shoulders and cheeks, while a 18" dish above him provided a hair light and kicker. In fact, this was the same light I used on this very different shot here, and yet the results have very different feels.

At the dollar general store across the street, I found a squirt bottle and a roll of sports tape to help prepare the shot. I wrapped the tape around his hands the way boxers do before putting on gloves, pressing it into the knuckles to make it look worn and used. Still the tape didn't have that look and feel of the real thing because it was so white and shiny. Luckily, with a little improvisation, I found some leftover chocolate cake nearby which had a rich brown color, so I convinced the model to let me rub some of it into the tape. Wiping off the excess, it perfectly matched what could have been some dried blood and dirt.

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Working with Models: A tough gig, but someone has to do it!

This month at Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts I'm learning to work with fashion models in studio photography. This course, DP206, teaches us the rhythm of working with models, how to direct them and engage them to turn the shots we visualize in our heads into beautiful prints in real life. It puts together everything we've learned so far about about camera operation, studio lighting, portraiture, concept, and posing. Additionally, as the program emphasizes the use of Lightroom for digital imaging workflow, and Photoshop for retouching and compositing, this course also puts our full range of beauty retouching skills to the test.

...not that we really need to, because they are -after all- models. ;-)

BOOM!, there it is in living color. I'm especially proud of this one, and I think its my best image to date. You can check it out on Adobe's new Photoshop Express Gallery.

The Look



The models are real, both male and female, and our best images will go into their portfolio as well. This means lots of exposure to the photographers because every ad agency they work with will see model's portfolio, and if we're lucky, they'll want to know more about the photographer behind that great model shot. From the CDIA website:

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ColdFusion 8.01 64-bit Windows Performance Comparisons

My distant colleague Manju has just published a very well written article on Adobe DevNet regarding performance considerations of running ColdFusion 8.01 on 64-bit Windows (and Mac) platforms. The article gets you up to speed on the basics of 64-bit architecture in practical terms, however the best part is on the last page where he reports on three different ColdFusion scenarios comparing 32-bit performance to 64-bit for cpu intensive, memory intensive, and disk I/O intensive conditions. Its definitely worth a read:

Taking advantage of 64-bit support in ColdFusion 8
by Manjukiran Pacchhipulusu
ColdFusion QA Engineer


At the end, Manju provides a list of credits that helped him develop the article, including my blog entry from last year, Performance Considerations for Running ColdFusion 8 in 64-bit Mode.

CDIA Web Development: A mix of LAMP and RIA that lacks focus

The B.U. Center for Digital Imaging Arts has just added another core curriculum to their stable of information technology certificates by introducing the Web Development Certificate. As you may know, they completely won me over with their Digital Photography program, and one of my coworkers at Adobe has been raving about their Audio Production curriculum as well. As such, I have high expectations that they will deliver great instructors for the chosen curriculum.

Their Web Development certificate program, founded on more than 20 courses, emphasizes the use of PHP and MySQL as core technologies, including a Rich Media Web Development subtopic focusing on the use of Flash and ActionScript. Along the way there's a sprinkling of Javascript, XML related technologies, and AJAX, and the course is capped off with some Content Management and Web 2.0 social network topics.

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