Yes, ColdFusion is "Unpopular". No, I don't care.

Michael Born on May 23, 2019

It’s popular to hate on CF. It’s popular to say ColdFusion is “dying”. It’s popular to call CF a “legacy” language, and compare it to COBOL. But is... [Read Full]
markdown guide
 

Great post! I started out in Coldfusion back in 2010. Since then I’ve learned PHP, Python, Golang, Node, etc. However Coldfusion is still my go to when I want to get stuff done and ship something. It’s just fun to work with :)

 

Thank you! Yeah, CF is fun. I've been doing it since 2011. I did veer into PHP for a while, but man nothing beats raw CFML for the sheer joy of building something. :)

 

ColdFusion's been paying the bills since 1996 :)

 

So, I started CF back with 3.1 with PWS. It was fun, easy to learn and could make apps fast. After moving back to Canada from being in the US for 13 years doing ColdFusion, it took 8m to get a contract, after that ended, I have not been able to secure a gig with CF. For all intents and purposes, CF is dead in Canada. Everyone cringes when you bring it up.
So I have been learning Python/Django. All I can say is wow. No way I can go back to CF after that. So much more robust. The tools for development are 2nd to none. I actually have fun coding again. Don't forget that I believe ColdFusion is the only app server left that you have to actually buy. Not accounting for Lucee of course. But management does not know about Lucee. They do know python, node, .net, Java etc. All free. Then you also have to consider the open source area. Try to find a Twilio package. If you do, it's likely outdated. Plenty more examples of that. Whereas all these other "popular" languages you can find almost anything. I find that a good way to judge a language is by the community and what they offer as far as open source, online learning and more. ColdFusion certainly lacks in that area especially since riaforge has been taken down and all the old school folks like Ray Camden have fled. Anyway, just my opinion. Take it for what it's worth.

 

I appreciate your insights, I really do. We can't move forward with CF until we address our flaws, and CF is not perfect. I had to chuckle at your mention of Twilio, though - I integrated with Twilio over a year ago in a CF app, and it only took a few minutes because there was a couple libraries out there. This one seems to be the most popular at this point: forgebox.io/view/twilio-sdk

As far as online learning goes, I'd definitely like to address that. Cfdocs.org is a great reference site, but it's hard to find quality, up-to-date tutorials to help show the bigger picture.

Taking down riaforge was a poor move by Adobe, in my opinion, but it was only for really old stuff anyway - modern CF libraries are on GitHub and ForgeBox.io.

I'm curious, did you leave the scene before CommandBox and ColdBox came along?

 

No, I've known about it. Just seemed daunting. Like learning a new language. Doesn't that Twilio package need coldbox? Twilio may be a bad example, but there are definitely not as many as the other languages.

You don't like learning a framework because it's like learning a new language - and so you actually learned an entirely new language?
Maybe Twilio is a bad example for your purposes, but it illustrates mine perfectly. No I don't believe it needs Coldbox, but it would need Wirebox, a standalone DI framework.

Yes, as I stated, I don't have a choice but to learn something new because there are zero jobs or contracts here for CF. No point in figuring out coldbox if it's not going to get me anywhere. How does 1 or 2 OS projects for Twilio illustrate that CF is thriving? And now I have to introduce wirebox. CF was meant to be RAD, and to me, it's no longer that. Going with Eclipse for the IDE was a huge mistake IMO. They should have learned from ColdFusion Studio, or Android Studio and partnered with JetBrains. At least take time to make some a great plugin for VSCode.
Anyway, people like what they like. If you can make money doing CF, then do it. Just learn a something else as well.

See how technologies have trended over time based on use of their tags since 2008, when Stack Overflow was founded.

 

Well said. I write new ColdFusion code every day. And provide value for my users. That's the only thing I really care about.

 
 

The problem is that too few companies are actively seeking CF developers anymore, UNLESS it's to help switch to a new platform. When saying it's a dying platform, it's because that too few companies employ CF devs anymore. Both of the job offers I'm currently entertaining both plan to re-platform away from CF in the next 2-3 years. And of probably eight of the last ten places I applied to were headed in the same direction.

I love ColdFusion; I've been doing it since 1996. It's a wonderful language. But between Adobe's ridiculous licensing prices and the lack of developers, it's not going to get anymore popular.

 

Adobe's pricing is kinda ridiculous for anyone except enterprise companies. I don't know why anyone would use ACF at this point over Lucee for standard web apps, it just doesn't compare.

The developers thing is a problem, but it's not hard to train new devs in CFML so I'm told. I'm hoping to make that even easier in the future.

 

Yeah training them is easy; I've trained several of them myself. Convincing them that it's worth it to them to be trained is another story. The company I just left -- we spent two years trying to find CF devs and there was nobody applying. So we said okay fine, ANY dev will do and we'll teach you CF. Nobody was interested. There is a huge "fake news" style of negative press surrounding CF that needs to be handled before this will turn around. Remember the adage -- if you tell a lie enough times, it becomes the truth.

 

I have been a CF dev since version 5 and it’s paid a lot of bills since then but, time to move on. I would never recommend CF for anyone due to the complete lack of a decent ecosystem and lack of direction from Adobe and Lucee. Once one looks at .net core C# and F# you can’t make any good argument to continue with CF. Using C or F sharp I can develop native apps and high performance web API’s, event sourcing, testing platforms from Canopy, Spec Flow, NUnit, Xunit etc......

I mean my gosh Adobe is still actively spending resources with keeping tags alive! They now add covariant into the language, why? They should have open-sourced 10 years ago and maybe we would have something.

Just have a look at the SAFE stack, Fable or one of the million other options and huge community dedicated to open source in .net core. VS Code is a great example of what can happen or the F# compiler that is maintained outside of Microsoft as open source.

The landscape has changed and CF is being buried.

 

It's pretty obvious Adobe has done a lackluster job in determining a direction for their implementation, but decrying ACF as closed-source is a poor argument when Lucee is both open source and far better.

The SAFE stack looks pretty interesting. Fable looks kinda stupid in my opinion - if you want a JS app, write JS!

I'm not sure why I have to take a look at a million other options when CF works really well for me.

 

Referencing other projects as "kinda stupid" unfortunately, is the attitude I have encountered among the vast majority of CF devs I have worked with or met over the years and is the main thing that has me going down another path. If you think Fable is "kinda stupid" you also need to include Clojurescript, TypeScript, Elm, Dart, Flutter, Fabulous, Rust, etc.... Fable simply allows F# devs to maintain their style of functional programming and quite frankly I am not at all wild with the direction of JS anyways. We are getting very close to having WebAssembly becoming a standard and you should ask yourself where is Lucee or Adobe providing this ability to use CF, and then look at what is going on with .net Core, Go, Clojure, etc...

My apologies, I actually thought for a minute I was allowed to have an opinion.

You can write JS in Java as well through GraalVM, Nashorn, Rhino, or several other libraries but I still fail to see the point.

My apologies again @Robb. I didn't mean to get so sarcastic. If you think CF is falling behind, that's ok. I wouldn't mind a few constructive tips on how to improve the language or ecosystem, and we can stop badgering each other. :)

 

Great article! Yes popularity, as measured by Google searches, is not a good metric for how useful or good a programming language is. For that matter counting questions on StackOverflow is not ideal either - if the language community uses other platforms for discussing code. Such as CF Slack channel or FB groups.

CFML has forged ahead in the last five years - with regular releases and all the major eco-system tools and libraries. Such as CommandBox, ColdBox, ForgeBox, Foundeo security tools, FusionReactor etc.

CF security is way ahead of Java or PHP or .NET as measured by CVE.

The various CF conferences are growing each year.

Nowadays ColdFusion is modern, vibrant and secure. I wrote a book about that last year called CF Alive that goes into this data and resources in more detail. And how all CFers can help make it more alive.

 

My family's business was well-served by a CRM written in BBj, a JVM-hosted stepchild of Business Basic. Over the years, the language has added structured programming, database support, easy Java interop, and other post-1980 amenities. But the vendor enjoys their flat files, single letter variable names, and GOTOs.

(We even tried to migrate to something built on sounder technical foundations, but its rigid UI and the new vendor's limited desire to customize things forced us to migrate back. It was a very expensive lesson in what matters.)

Of course, as a programmer, paying bills is only part of the equation. I wasn't interested in writing BBj, and I'm not sure I'd be happy coding in CFML. Lucee seems decent (closures!), but when I looked at lucee minute, it seemed like parts of the samples still relied on the tag style code. I wonder if the wider CF ecosystem resembles this -- a modern implementation providing backward compatibility, with folks leaning on "the old ways" to varying degrees.

My first real web app was written in PHP -- there as well, the code is only as modern as you make it. It did the job, though.

FWIW, I think the current trend of fat front-ends, pure-JS, and microservices is a recipe for complex deploys and reliance on shoddy, WIP tooling, but that's a story for another day.

 

I don't think you're wrong about the "wider CF ecosystem" - there are a lot of legacy apps stuck in legacy practices. As you say, any code/app is only as modern as you make it. I've seen some pretty awful PHP stuff that turned me off of the language for a while, until I discovered Symfony.

 

I've been writing CF for about 10 years, until 2012. I did a certification for 7 and 8. There was a time I'd say the technology is dead. Now, however, I would avoid such a strong statement.

The problem with CF is not the language (if one can call a bunch of tags "a language", is cfspreadsheet really a language statement?), the problem is with the server. It just one gigantic Java monolith where, when one wants to use a couple of if statements, one gets 1GB of legacy Java dependencies loaded.

Also, whenever I read that there are OSS alternatives, I chuckle. They're not 100% compatible with Adobe CF. Event gateways are the example. Your earlier post at dev.to/mikeborn/five-reasons-to-le... says "There is an abundance of wow-it-can-do-that?-type functionality baked in by default" and then the reality hits you - you switch to Lucee and a lot of magic like: cfcalendar, cfexchange*, cfpdfform*, and more, simply don't work. You have to rewrite your Event Gateways. There are quirks in application startup and application.cfc handling which are incompatible with Adobe CF.

I was implementing a Kafka Event Gateway not so long ago for someone. I was faced with ColdFusion (Adobe CF 11) using 10 year old versions of the most popular Java libraries which form the core of the server: I had to shade org.apache.commons, org.apache.http, org.apache.log4j, slf4j because the versions shipped with CF are so freaking old that nothing modern is working with them. When using CF, you are using so much legacy stuff, it's simply unbelievable.

By the way - somebody here is claiming that CF is more secure than Java. CF is Java. It is written in Java.

Then there's the community. Super helpful for other CF folks, so painfully defensive towards literally everybody else trying to suggest looking at alternatives. So many people who only know CF (+ maybe some PHP or a bit of JavaScript, Node.js is not a language...) so blatantly ignore the progress in software development practices, almost always claiming that it is not worth looking at alternatives because CF is so fantastic. It is sheer ignorance and lack of will to learn new things. Knowing multiple technologies broadens the horizons.

Since I switched away from CF, I used: Node, Ruby, Erlang, Java, Scala, Clojure, Golang, wrote tons of bash and sh, Python, learned CI/CD, IaaS. I'd never consciously select CF for a new project. Never.

 

You sound upset that Lucee doesn't offer a funky JS calendar widget. I'm sorry. As for MS Exchange, I've simply never met such a thing (read about it in old books though), and there's a perfectly workable CFPDFForm Lucee extension. If Lucee actually wasn't a viable product, then guess what... we wouldn't use it.

I apologize for your poor experience with the community. After being bludgeoned over the head for 10 years with cries of death, please pardon us for carrying a shield. And we have a lot more experience in other languages than you'd expect.

Lest you think I'm a narrow-headed dev with my head stuck in the sand, I wrote a piece on our "Legacy of legacy". Yep, we do have work to do - as a language, as a community, in documentation and in frameworks. But it's worth the climb up, at least if you're running Lucee.

 

CF11 was from 2014. If you were working with it "not long ago", it was already dated by then, surpassed by 2016 and 2018, which run on Java 11. Hardly dated.

 

If only the client wanted to upgrade their 4 instances on every of 4 production servers. Sigh. Do you think that everybody upgrades?

Edit: which reminds me, "not so long ago" was in 2017. I guess the only option was CF2016. Happy to see the dependencies are somewhat upgraded since CF11. However, looking at slf4j used by CF2018, the version is 1.7.12, it was released in March 2015. log4j is 1.2.15, released in August 2007. I'm sure these dependencies work fine and they're stable but the legacy apis in such old versions make it rally difficult to integrate CF with recent, widely used technologies. Partially because of CF being such a monolith.

The fact that it runs on Java 11 means nothing. Java does pretty well with regards to backwards compatibility.

If CF had a little bit more modular approach, maybe that would turn things around. There are some great aspects of CF. I really enjoyed working with cfpdf, for example.

 

My first job in tech was at a ColdFusion shop--CF was the first language I ever got paid to write. I never saw any reason to dislike it, other than that there seemed to be some doubt as to whether it was still gonna be around and supported in five years (and here we are five years later, apparently it is!). I actually got it to do some pretty excellent stuff, and that was as a not-yet-junior dev writing WebDriver tests with an obscure third-party CF library. So, in retrospect, one indication of its quality is that I didn't have a lot of trouble being productive in it, despite a lack of experience.

I'll definitely have to read up on it, see some of the reasons people are choosing it for new projects.

 

I may humbly say you can check out my "Why CF?" post for more examples of why ColdFusion is easy and fun to program in. dev.to/mikeborn/why-cf-3jal

Over the last five years it's matured a lot - if it wasn't for the Coldbox framework, CommandBox package manager, and Lucee on Docker I wouldn't be using it. But modern CF is pretty awesome, I think.

 

I haven't heard of CF since the millennium. Didn't know it's still used. If you like it and it's still usable then that's fine.

 

Thank you. :) It's actually making a pretty serious comeback with an open source engine, Lucee, and the package library Forgebox.io.

 
 

I have done my share of ColdFusion...it was good and got the job done. You know what the best way is to prove CF is not dead or “you don’t care...?” Stop trying to prove it. This is a silly nonsense debate the CF community keeps engaging in.

 

No, it's a silly nonsense debate the non-CF community keeps bringing up. I wanted a good resource I could point haters to for the next ten years as they continue trying to convince me CF is too "unpopular". :)

 

Everyone say same things for PHP too but I don't care :)

Are there any advantages to use ColdFusion for our projects? That's matter but I couldn't see it on your article.

 

Yeah, PHP got a bad rap a while ago, but man they've done so good bringing out new features and better performance.

Hmm. I don't think so, PHP and CF do very similar things. CF is great at database queries and templating, but I wouldn't switch to it unless you were having serious problems with your current infrastructure. I'm not stupid enough to say everyone should switch to CF, we've got a lot of work to do still. :)

 
 

My college professor loved Adobe Flex and 10 years later talking to him, He' still using it.

 

I had to google what is ColdFusion to understand why someone would try to bring attention to it. So what I found is a proprietary system with an XML language.

I mean, seriously who would ever choose that over dozens of free, well maintained open source frameworks in 2019?

Unless the market ceases to care about fast, stable, powerful languages, CF can only go up from here.

So you can show that CFML is faster, more stable and powerful than Python or Go?

 

I had to google what is ColdFusion to understand why someone would try to bring attention to it. So what I found is a proprietary system with an XML language.

I'm bringing attention to the fact that what 98% of devs know about CF is wrong. If you were told that CF is a proprietary "XML language", that only proves my point.

I mean, seriously who would ever choose that over dozens of free, well maintained open source frameworks in 2019?

Corporations pay big money for enterprise systems and premium support or have you never heard of Red Hat, Oracle, or even NPM? But you're missing the point - I do use a free, well maintained open source language.

 

So you can show that CFML is faster, more stable and powerful than Python or Go?

I said it's fast, stable, and powerful. I'm not so insecure as to start ranking other languages against CF. If you want to know why I really use CF, you can read Why I Program in Coldfusion, or Five Reasons to Learn CF in 2019.

CF's script syntax is much like Node, only it actually does stuff (emails! parameterized DB queries! XSS-safe output utilities! threading!) programmers need out of the box. Nobody tries to compare Node to Python or Go - they're too busy writing great apps.

Could you take a look at this code from the open source Coldbox framework and tell me why it deserves to die?

CFML in script syntax

 

You need to find better sources.

  • Modern CF uses scripting.
  • There are at least 2 "free, well maintained open source" CFML engines that I know of.
 
  • CFScript is a band-aid solution, it is not possible to use every CFML tag from CFScript, the implementing server has to provide a function, there is no documented way of adding top level CFScript functions, when one wants to wrap a tag in a function - good luck without having to write temporary files...
  • These 2 engines are not fully compatible with the official closed-source version. For example, BlueDragon handling of importing / creating instances of objects highly deviates from Adobe CF. Lucee has a whole page dedicated to unsupported tags: docs.lucee.org/reference/unsupport... and their own tags: docs.lucee.org/reference/additiona....

You're killing me dude. Your point one was correct 5 years ago. Your second point is not an issue if you know what you are doing.

You seem to have a short fuse. Even COBOL is great, if you know what you're doing.

code of conduct - report abuse