The Blog

Sep 11, 2007

When Languages Become Religions 

by Maxim Porges @ 11:41 PM | Link | Feedback (2)

So, I guess they stopped printing CFDJ recently, and the CF community is either (a) bouncing with joy over its demise (the magazine was far from impressive), or (b) really upset about what this means for the CF community's ability to bring people in to the language.

I'm going to harp on the latter part for a second. I've never really understood why people get senitmental about languages or technologies. People who give a crap about this industry update their skills often and enable themselves to be more productive in their niche area, solving problems faster/more effectively. It's not like getting more people in to CF is going to make the language any better or worse at solving computing problems; only the technology itself can do that, and those attributes will be the ones that draw a crowd or drive them away.

If you ask me, the writing's been on the wall for CF for a long time. I think Macromedia said it best when they referred to CF MX in a marketing video as "the productivity layer for J2EE." That's basically how I see it. If you own the CF license already and you're using Java on the back end, CF is a great replacement for the de-facto JEE front-end standard of JSP. If you don't own CF, you might be doing things differently with JSP, but you probably aren't really missing it much.

Lets face it; Rails is dominating the web development arena. It's free, it's fast, and it meets 98% of use cases that CF, JSF, ASP.NET, etc. were intended for. Rails has great support for Ajax, and it's become such a de facto platform for technology startups that it's almost a cliché. While I still think CF is great for certain use cases, I certainly wouldn't be writing any standalone web applications in it if I started my own company. Heck, I'd even think twice about Java, and I love Java. Now, if I was writing a core system that had to do a lot more than serve dynamic web pages, Java's still my first choice. As always, the right tools for the right jobs.

So, the bottom line is, if you love a language and technology but people are moving away from it, you need to realize that you are becoming part of a minority that will eventually be relegated to the fate of COBOL and FORTRAN. No manner of press hype or shiny marketing will change that. Death is sure to come to Java one day, and Flex, and all the other things I love right now - but guess what? I'll let them go when their time comes if the replacement solutions are clear winners.

Paul Graham said it best when he wrote in "Hackers and Painters" about the "perfect language." Since it has yet to be created, there's clearly room for more change in the industry, and thank God for it since it's one of the things that makes me love what I do.