If you aren’t aware that ColdFusion has a problematic future, then here’s another nail in the coffin in the form of an article entitled ColdFusion Job Opportunities Going Inert
I have nothing against ColdFusion. It might be the greatest thing ever. However, it just hasn’t caught on, and nothing I’ve seen in the past six years tells me that we’re going to see a turnaround. If anything, CF seems to be losing momentum.
Every once in a while my web development firm gets calls from clients who need something done in CF. I’m no longer embarassed to tell them we don’t offer that service. From a business perspective, the platform is dying, at least in my opinion. That doesn’t mean it’s dead, there are still thousands of companies using it, but like the article says, you’ll have a much easier time finding a job as a Java or .NET developer as opposed to CF, and that’s because companies aren’t using it nearly as much.
But why not? Maybe it’s the $1,299 price tag for the Standard Edition or $2,999 for Enterprise. Then again, .NET isn’t exactly cheap to run when you consider buying Windows 2003, SQL Server, and other related software.
Maybe it’s a lack of functionality? But since when have the people writing the checks cared about nuts and bolts functionality as long as it gets the job done, and from what I can see, CF can get the job done in most, if not all cases.
My theory is that we’ve got a textbook Crossing the Chasm situation here. What Geoffrey A. Moore knows that CF developers might not is that there is a technology adoption lifecycle out there, and CF is not crossing the chasm that exists between early adopters (read developers) and mainstream customers (read the business guy cutting the checks). Why is CF not crossing the chasm? Because it takes some momentum to make the leap, and that’s what I believe CF lacks. To put it in other words, they never got enough of a market share with the early adopters, and not having enough of them they couldn’t jump the chasm, and now the early adopters are dropping it so it will ultimately die unless something changes.
What would need to change for CF to be a credible and monetarily successful development platform?
1. Get it used heavily in the schools as early as programming courses are taught.
2. Address concerns by developers that CF is an “amateur’s development platform” compared to Java/.NET/PHP. Either show them that it’s not just for amateurs, or bring it up to snuff with the other languages.
3. Lower prices. Do you think people use Java and PHP just because they’re dedicated to open source and hate Microsoft?
4. Market the thing.
It still might not be enough, but I know for myself and others I talk to, #2 and #3 are major barriers to adopting CF right now. We’ll see what Macromedia/Adobe decides to do. I wouldn’t be all too surprised to see them cancel the effort altogether within the next three years.
Then again, I’m just an outsider. Anyone else have another perspective?