The Blog

May 4, 2008

Future of CF Part II 

by Maxim Porges @ 1:59 AM | Link | Feedback (0)

So I went to the CF 9 BOF tonight after dinner, and got there a little late, but the topic of conversation when I arrived was features we wanted to see in CF. There were a lot of suggestions, without much of a common theme. Jason Delmore and Adam Lehman did a pretty good job of saying "yes, but would you pay for that?" with each suggestion.

Honestly, I feel that CF is pretty full-featured, but is just too verbose (since it's mostly tag-based with limited script support) to compete with the other free frameworks out there. I got up and said as much, telling them that we had decided not to upgrade CF at CFI before I left (read: $72,000 in lost CF licensing revenue), explaining that what I thought they really needed to do was halt development on CFCs and implement AS3 in the server. This was met with a round of applause from the attendees of the BOF, followed by about fifteen minutes of discussion on this topic alone. Joe Rinehart kicked it up a notch and suggested that they take this one step further and make an AS3-to-Java compiler, which seemed like a good idea to me for multiple reasons.

After the BOF, Adam Lehman came over and sat with a group of people I was sitting with from the community (including heavy hitters like Chris Scott, Joe Rinehart, Nahuel Foronda, Laura Arguello, and Luis Majano) who were having a post-BOF discussion. The members of the community were interested in hearing why Adobe would not consider taking CF in the direction that Flex has gone: implementing a true XML syntax on the front end, and AS3 as a server-side scripting language. As part of the transition, there would be heavy support for Ajax instead of straight HTML applications. Adam rightly pointed out that doing so would be like making a new product altogether, and that this would most likely mean canning CF.

Canning CF is apparently not in the cards. Adam said that 75,000 additional developers had come to CF in the last year as a result of learning Flex and getting interested in CF - kind of a "halo effect" from Flex. Whether or not you believe those numbers, that's the official stance; Adam did point out that Adobe was as surprised as anybody to see this. Adam also said that they had done extensive research in to open sourcing CF for the community to take over, but that people who were not using CF had cited neither the cost as a barrier ($1,200-ish for the professional version), nor had people indicated that they would actively develop the platform. Apparently the same people who green-lighted the open sourcing of Flex had put the kibosh on open sourcing CF once the research was complete.

Adam also pointed out that you don't ask the top brass if you can make radical changes to a platform that has attracted tens of thousands of new developers in the last year. Even so, it's pretty clear that the CF team is doing some deep soul-searching to figure out where to take the product next. There is obviously a huge amount of competition from free platforms that are (by many measures) more productive and cheaper, and many of the thought leaders in the CF community are hanging up their CF hats and putting on those for other technologies instead.

One big positive thing that has come out of this is that Adobe is soliciting a lot of feedback from community representatives to drive the direction of CF. As I said before in another post, only time will tell what happens to CF in the long run.