Interesting article concerning the rise of popularity of scripting languages, specifically PHP. Given the recent announcement from IBM and now Oracle for support of PHP this makes for an interesting trend. The article focuses specifically on PHP, Python, Perl (the so-called "P Languages"), and also Ruby, but the points concerning power, ease of use, and speed of development of course apply to ColdFusion as well.Interesting quote: "... more and more businesses and IT professionals are looking to these languages as a way to simplify and speed the creation of custom in-house programs, thus avoiding the now all-too-common logjam of late or overbudget applications." Again, looks like the arguments we CF devotees have been making all along are right, it just takes the rest of the world a bit to catch up.
The most obvious difference between the above platforms and CF is they are freely available. I'm a huge fan of CF and I personally think it's superior, but it's very hard to compete in terms of popularity with such "openly available" platforms. That said, it's probably pretty safe to say that that CF is somewhere in the middle there - Perl and PHP more popular but Python & Ruby sitting below (as of now at least).
I'm not sure I'd agree with the notion that it's "very hard to compete" with the free platforms. IBM and BEA (just to name two companies) make a *lot* of money off their Java app servers even though Tomcat and JBoss are out there and are free. Why? Because they offer features that these free alternatives don't. In my mind this is the same situation with CF. Bear in mind also that there is a free CF server available called BlueDragon that is surprisingly capable, so it's not that you can't do CF for free. I think that's a matter of education more than anything, so hopefully the article on LAMBDA (Linux, Apache, MySQL, BlueDragon, and your Application) setups in the latest CFDJ will help on that point.
The cost of the actual software license for CF is generally trivial when you compare it to the rest of the costs of a custom application. There is usually enough room in a project budget to just include a copy of cf for nothing. It can also be a deal cincher if you put a credit for the cost of the software on the services bill if they have to buy it directly.