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working with the web

Opening up the ColdFusion community

There’s been a long thread on the CFAussie mailing list this week: recruters say “CF on the way out”? … FFS! not FUD from them too?

The discussion has been at various times hilarious, inspiring, boring and tiresome (often all at once) and has moved from how recruiters are out of touch, to how the whole world is moving to .NET, to how Adobe is not doing enough to promote CF, to how we should be converting PHP developers to CF en masse, to how Scott Barnes is the devil.

Talk moved at one point to things that we as developers should be doing to ensure the longevity of our platform of choice. Gary Barber posted some thoughts and then followed up with a blog post on the state of ColdFusion with some ideas and a bit of a dig at the ColdFusion community for being too closed. Gary’s post spurred some strong reactions – Mike Henke posted ColdFusion is dead (yet again) and claims it was a carbon copy of other “CF is dead” articles. Really though, Gary was trying to spur people into action, which Jim Priest recognised in his post The Closed State of the ColdFusion Community.

For the record: I agree with Gary. He’s based in Perth too, and this topic is one we’ve spoken about at length, over beers at Port80 meetings. Port80 meetings where there are PHP, .NET and Ruby developers, graphic designers and front end developers, search engine optimisation experts, recruiters, business owners and students of web development all networking and sharing knowledge (and free pizza). But there’s never any ColdFusion developers other than the two of us, and Gary doesn’t really count himself as a CF developer, for the most part.

This may not be the case in other parts of the world, but it’s definitely the case in Australia.

I responded in the thread, but what I said was things that I’ve said before, many times. Because I’m sick of typing it out again and again, here’s my take.

ColdFusion developers, in my personal experience which now spans nine years, do not participate in the web community outside of their own circle. Many do not participate in the community at all, but that’s an entirely different problem which we’ll leave for another day. In Perth, a city of merely 1.5 million people, we have Port80, the web industry networking evening run by AWIA, which has been held every¬† month since 2002. In the past year have had our first BarCamp, Australia’s first PodCamp, a WebJam, installment 4 of the Ideas seminar series, and the third annual WA Web Awards. Although not of interest to everyone, there’s also monthly blogger’s meetups, which have been running since 2004, and last night was the third PTUB (Perth Twitter Underground Brigade). When I first started going to Port80 back in 2002, many of the people I spoke to had never met a ColdFusion developer or didn’t know of anyone using CF. Some had never heard of the language at all (I always explain with “it’s like ASP or PHP, but better”).

So here’s my call to CF developers who want to convince the world that CF is alive and well: get involved in your local web industry community. If there’s a healthy contingent of CF developers at these events then CF must be thriving, right? But don’t go because you want to convert everyone you meet to a ColdFusion programmer… go because it’s fun. You’ll meet people outside of your circle (and if your city is anything like Perth, you’ll drink beer with them), and if you get an opportunity to present, your love of and enthusiasm for CF will shine through and people won’t be able to help but take notice. It will make you a better developer, a better networker, a better business person. There’s absolutely no downside.

Go for it!