Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Photos from Oregon Trip

I just spent a week on the Oregon Coast and in Portland, which was fantastic. Here's some photos!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sys-Con's Sour Grapes

I want to highlight one little gem from Sys-Con's press release concerning their decision to stop publishing CFDJ:

"We have seen a rapid trend and move from ColdFusion to other emerging rich web technologies such as AJAX, Flex, and Silverlight," said Engin Sezici of SYS-CON Media. "We have been observing this migration most recently in the last twelve months."

Anyone who listens to Sys-Con as an authoritative source with respect industry trends is making a big mistake. The fact that Sys-Con is saying people are moving away from CF to other technologies such as AJAX, Flex, and Silverlight shows quite well that they don't know what the hell they're talking about, since these other technologies are not even the same type of technology as CF, not to mention the fact that CF plays extremely nicely with AJAX and Flex. Pure genius, Sys-Con. What's the matter, having trouble finding people who know what's going on who are willing to work with you?

Adobe, if you're listening, pull any funding from Sys-Con for Flex Developer's Journal that you may be giving them, and take any necessary action to keep them from publishing any Adobe-related products. This is a relationship you don't need. It's nothing but a bad image for your products.


When will CF developers see what's happening, there have been so many clear signs in the last year or so. Just because you and a handful of others might be more and more into CF, the overall trend is not so and publishers are a very good indicator for this, offering an accurate third party view that isn't biased.

It is quite possible that these developers *are* switching from server to client. Maybe they got bored, maybe they were after the bigger bucks, maybe we are actually changing how we develop rich applications now after however many decades. Particularly when you can do a lot of what the server used to do, now in Flash, on the client. That includes creating files from scratch, speaking with databases using SQL, even encoding videos in real time.

Hi "Anon"--I don't disagree that there's increasing functionality being developed on the client side, but that doesn't obviate the need for server-side development, and for what does still need to happen on the server side, CF is a great choice, particularly where Flex is concerned.

And I don't buy the "publishers being a very good indicator" bit. Publishers jump on whatever's hot at any given moment in order to make money. It's no indication other than what buzzword is selling.

Not that I really feel the need to apply to 'Anon', but just for the record:

The ColdFusion community is larger today than it ever has been and it will be even larger tomorrow. Although ColdFusion 8 has a lot to do with that, I'm seeing _a lot_ of new customers coming from the Flex (client-side developers who use ColdFusion because it's extremely productive and is deeply integrated, giving them more time to focus on the client-side).

Also, lets not forget, the Flex Devleoper Journal is just a 'relaunch' of the failed 'MX Developers Journal'.

Hi anon: Publisher here. Publisher who sees both a rich back-end in ColdFusion as well as a rich front-end in Ajax, Flex and even plain CSS. I do see a trend and that's to the back-end that does the job quickest and cleanest. A trend to ColdFusion, not from it.

Sys-Con is just trying to justify their actions rather than say plainly that they want money from Microsoft. It's not called publishing, it's called whoring for dollars. When they care more about the technology than they do the money, then I'll believe that they have a 'good indicator'.

I wouldn't take any stock in anything an anonymous poster had to say anyway.... were are the credentials? I smell troll...

Great post Matt, spot on.

Anyone who doesn't bother to post their name is not worth responding to. I'll happily debate the benefits of CF with you any day, Anon, but at least say who you are.

I am not that "anon", but I do agree with him (except for the publishers part). Here are some observations, from my perspective.

1. More and more applications are moving to the Internet. What used to be exclusively desktop client software, or even server level, is trending towards the Internet. "Compiled" languages are not going away, and the never will, but more and more people are choosing the Internet as their platform.

2. ColdFusion /is/ seeing some growth, due to #1. That's just natural, as CF is one of the platform choices for Internet based apps.

3. Given #1, ColdFusion should be seeing a LOT more growth than it is. But the growth has been fairly modest when compared to the competition. And by competition, I don't mean silverlight or ajax. I mean ASP.Net, PHP, JSP, etc.

I think there are very good reasons for #3, but I don't want to rehash an old issue here. Go read my open letter to Tim Buntel on my blog, if you want an earful of my smelly opinions on the matter. :)

"there have been so many clear signs in the last year or so"

Ummmm, like the new kickass version of ColdFusion that was released?

Stop talking out your ass.


@Jake, unless you can provide numbers to back this up ("ColdFusion should be seeing a LOT more growth than it is. But the growth has been fairly modest when compared to the competition. And by competition, I don't mean silverlight or ajax. I mean ASP.Net, PHP, JSP, etc."), you're just stating an opinion as if it were a fact.

I think the CFDJ is one of their longest running magazines, and the way they treat authors they probably can't find anyone willing to work with them any more. It's the absolute bottom-of-the-barrel for writers, and they have already scraped it.

@Brian, You are right that I was stating an opinion, but I'd call it and educated guess. Because I do read a LOT of news, and not just ColdFusion news. You don't hear a lot about ColdFusion in the general news these days, except for the occasional "ColdFusion is dead" article. Also, do you disagree that the Internet has seen an explosion in mashups and other browser based apps in recent years (Google apps, Yahoo apps, amazon, ebay, etc.)? I'm not just talking about websites, but real applications that normally would appear on the desktop.

That said, to satisfy your call for numbers, how about this. I did some job searches to see how many CF jobs there are in the popular job boards, when compared to other languages.








Here are some numbers from a year ago:







Sources of year old data:,1759,2016415,00.asp

I realize that Java is mostly used for compiled programs, so that number is listed for reference only. That said, it is clear that there are a LOT more jobs available in those other languages, and their job numbers increased (some languages are missing from the year old data, sorry). And over the last year, CF job listings have NOT increased, but rather they decreased!

Another data source could be the Tiobe Community Index. Here are the current numbers:

Tiobe community index position (they don't list ASP, because you use a language like C# or VB to program ASP pages):





CF-29 (that's below Cobol, Fortran, Pascal, and even Action Script)

In May of 2006, ColdFusion was #16 on the tiobe list:

So in the last 17 months, ColdFusion has dropped completely off of the chart (the chart shows the top 20), down to a fairly pitiful location. Is the Tiobe survey trustworthy? Maybe, maybe not. But I do think the numbers are similar to the job numbers I posted above.

So there, I gave you some numbers. ;b

These are highly dubious results. If you actually look at the results for PHP and ASP.NET you'll see that huge numbers of them are multiple postings in different cities by staffing agencies and recruitment firms. Essentially, they're spamming job sites to get resumes. TIOBE is also extremely suspect, since all they do is use some goofy search algorithm looking for the number of times the word shows up in search results. That blip where CF went up to 16 was a one month fluke. It's always been in the twenties.

There is no doubt that languages like PHP and Java have more people using them than ColdFusion. But it has always been like that. And I disagree with the assertion that the "other languages" have seen a huge boom while CF has not. I'd say things are about the same as they've always been.

Brian, you ask for numbers, I give you numbers, and then you say the numbers are dubious. Now it's your turn. If you think my numbers are false, give me some numbers to prove it. I'll be glad to entertain any market studies or surveys you can produce that show differently than the numbers I put together. In fact, I TRIED to find more definitive (read scientific) studies on the subject, and I couldn't find anything.

That's the point, there are no valid sets of numbers to show the popularity of one language over another. It's not my turn, it's still your turn. Since you made the statement, you have to back it up with valid numbers.

It's not up to me to disprove your assertion, it's up to you to prove it. You haven't done that yet. And the secret is, I knew when I wrote the initial response that there was actually no way for you to prove your point.

So what we're really back to is that you have an opinion. Which is fine. It's just not my opinion.

I'll agree that the tiobe index is suspect, but what if you were a Java developer (it's #1). Would you say, "There's no way Java is the most popular programming language, I think it's probably ColdFusion". I doubt it, you'd probably trumpet those numbers as evidence of your popular programming language.

And you said that the jobs numbers were false because of spammy recruiter listings. Guess what, the same thing can happen with ColdFusion job listings. But even if there are a lot of spammy listings, you have to consider that those listings are not free. "Spamming" job boards would cost a LOT of money. I don't think the majority of those listings are spam. So the trends should still be valid.

That said, I think you and I are going to have to agree to disagree. Matt probably doesn't want to see this flame war continue on his blog, and we're off topic anyway.

We can surely agree to disagree. However, let me be clear, I never said ColdFusion was more popular than Java. All I said was that the differential in the boom for web development languages and platforms is not much different than it's always been. I think CF is doing fine relative to the other languages in the field.

Hm... but I think ColdFusion more popular because of it owner

Tap Dancing On the Grave of CFDJ

Please note that the comments that follow are my own. When I refer to the CFDJ editorial board I am not speaking for anyone on the board, but am merely making reference to the general sentiment among some members of the board and the general direction things were headed on the board prior to the announcement that Sys-Con was ceasing production of CFDJ.

I find it simultaneously funny, irritating, sad, and wholly appropriate that I first learned of the demise of ColdFusion Developer's Journal in the blogosphere. I gave Sys-Con far too much credit thinking they might let the CFDJ editorial board, of which I was a member, know that they're killing the publication. Others have echoed many of the thoughts I have about the situation, but I do want to offer my own perspective as a former member of the editorial board.

As Brian Rinaldi explained, the editorial board--such as it was--didn't serve as an advisory board at all, but rather was seen as a standing pool of free labor for writing articles. Don't misunderstand me; I actually enjoy writing articles, but this isn't supposed to be the main function of an editorial board. When Brian said we were largely ignored I think that understates the situation. We were actually seen as a nuisance by the power that be (and yes, the singular "power" is intentional) that needed to be lied to in order to keep us from revolting.

But revolt was afoot and had been for months. Revolt is probably a bit strong, because the real plan among many of us was resignation, and we spent a great deal of time crafting a document that we had planned to submit to Sys-Con explaining in great detail all the problems we saw with CFDJ as well as concrete, workable solutions to resolve many of them. I personally saw this as a last-ditch effort because, in my opinion, if they didn't implement our proposals, I was convinced CFDJ would not survive. We didn't even get the chance to submit our proposals.

Over the past several months the board tried repeatedly to address the horrendous problems with CFDJ and were continually ignored. With a change in leadership at the CFDJ when Jeremy Geelan left, we saw that as an opportunity to get some fresh ears on our suggestions. We were again ignored. Worse, we were more or less told to shut up and write articles. Never mind the horrible quality of CFDJ, never mind that a typo managed to appear on the cover of a recent issue when you have an editorial board sitting around doing nothing when they could be editing and proofreading, and never mind the fact that everyone in the target community hates the web site so much they either refuse to use it or write Greasemonkey scripts to make the site even tolerable. Just shut up and write articles.

The editorial board was extremely patient, too much so in my opinion. In the end it wouldn't have mattered, but we did our best to offer concrete suggestions for improvement and they were continually ignored. We understand that Sys-Con is in the business of making money, but they do so at the expense of their own customers, which is an extremely short-sighted business plan. If no one goes to your web sites because they're so awful, and no one subscribes to your publications because they're of such poor quality, then you lose the customers you have and have to create new publications and gain new customers to stay afloat. Even a first year business school student knows that it costs a lot to win new customers as opposed to keeping the ones you have happy. As an aside, do you ever wonder why you get Java Developer's Journal for free even if you don't want it? Because it ups their "subscription" numbers, which means more ad revenue for Sys-Con.

Let me first address Sys-Con's press release, because it's the weakest attempt at spin I think I've ever seen, and I live in Washington, DC. You can't "relaunch" a publication about Adobe ColdFusion as a publication about Microsoft Silverlight. I can't fathom why Sys-Con even chose to phrase it that way other than an extremely weak attempt at placating the ColdFusion community, and I'm not even sure why they'd bother since the ColdFusion community as a whole reviled Sys-Con already. Do what you feel you need to do from a business perspective, but show some fortitude and state things as they are. You're ceasing publication of CFDJ. The launch of a new Silverlight journal is a separate and completely unrelated act.

In Sys-Con's press release they have a bit of a dig at Adobe for pulling funding of CFDJ. I for one applaud Adobe for pulling their funding, and I'm sorry, but with the astronomical and annoying number of ads on all your properties, if you need money from Adobe to keep CFDJ afloat, you're doing something drastically wrong. The print version of CFDJ, the web site, and most of all the reputation of Sys-Con (see Sean's post for a recap of all the irritating and, given the anti-spam laws, potentially illegal business practices) were nothing but a blight on ColdFusion. If people interested in ColdFusion went to the CFDJ web site to learn more, that's about the worst impression anyone could get of any technology. If Microsoft is funding the Silverlight Journal I hope they know who they're getting in bed with. I'm sure Sys-Con just sees Silverlight as a new, hot technology to make some ad revenue from even though they know nothing about the technology itself, and given how they've handled CFDJ and other publications in the past (see Brandon Harper's post and some posts about the LinuxWorld issues of the past for more information), it's quite clear that their singular goal is to make money from ads, not release a quality product.

To summarize all of this for historical purposes, here are the modest proposals the editorial board made to Sys-Con that were ignored.

  • Get serious about the quality of the articles and the journal itself

  • Release issues in a timely fashion

  • Make CFDJ current and relevant

  • Provide quality content for all levels of readers

  • Create a web site that is content with ads, not ads with content

  • Fix the email newsletters and allow people to unsubscribe

  • Treat the editorial board as an editorial board

To the editorial board these seemed perfectly reasonable, logical proposals that would lead to a higher-quality product. To Sys-Con this was apparently a distraction from the business of shoving multimedia ads down everyone's throats to make a quick buck.

No one in the ColdFusion community should give the death of CFDJ a second thought. It was a horrible publication and a horrible web site, and the ColdFusion community deserves much better. It was a black eye on the CF community and we should be thankful that it's gone.

So what do we as a community do now? We do what we do best and throw our support behind what is good in the world of CF writing, which at this point takes various forms including the printed Fusion Authority Quarterly Update, the numerous fantastic ColdFusion blogs, and Adobe's own Developer Center. I think the "make CFDJ current and relevant" comment above is what killed CFDJ for me a long time ago. With all these other great resources available, CFDJ stopped being relevant a very long time ago, and without trying to offend FAQU, I'm beginning to question whether or not print is a good medium for tech information these days.

As a bit of a teaser, I'll also say that some of us have been talking behind the scenes about a new effort in this vein. It will take some time to get it going but Sys-Con killing CFDJ finally gets that bit of unfinished business out of my life so I'm more motivated than ever to start this effort.

What else do I recommend you do? Boycott Sys-Con. Don't go to any of their web sites, and make the effort to get off their email subscription lists and the JDJ subscriber list. They're making money off you and you should refuse to be a party to this if you agree with my sentiment about the company. If you unsubscribe from an email list and they don't unsubscribe you, report them to the Federal Trade Commission in the US, or the appropriate entity in your country.

I personally am happy to see CFDJ finally go away. I tried to make a difference by being on the editorial board, but that didn't matter, so now I can focus on new and more productive endeavors. I'm dancing on CFDJ's grave quite frankly and think we should all do the same. If Adobe's smart they'll take whatever action they need to in order to ensure that Sys-Con cannot publish any Adobe-related journals, because Sys-Con has an anti-Midas touch in my opinion, tainting anything they touch.

Here are the posts related to the death of CFDJ for historical reference.

Look for more related to this in the not-too-distant future. As I said above we deserve far better in the ColdFusion community, and I hope to do my part to make that happen.


Great post Matt. I am still on board for the ides :)

A funny thought came to mind while reading this. Perhaps Adobe is secretly funding the Silverlight journal in order to make Silverlight look bad ;) I am kidding of course, but there is no worse representative for any technology than Sys-Con, so, all in all, this is a win for AIR.

Matt, thanks for this. It's good to know that the Apple was rotten to the core (editorial board not included).

The best irony is that with Sys-Con syndicating my blog (without permission) and claiming I'm a CFDJ author, my post about CFDJ being dead is front page on... CFDJ! It is also listed as the top "new blog entry" on pretty much every page. Lovely.

@Sean, I think THAT is the best part of the whole sorry saga. too funny!

I agree--good riddance.

Given the pace and trends of modern computing technology, I would not be surprised to see other magazines thrashing around like this in the future (and in fact, they are already).

It's time to ditch the magazine format altogether.