Making Adobe ColdFusion a Thriving Community
Despite its great technological features, ColdFusion is only as strong as its community. Nobody should feel alone when coding in CF anymore when there is a vibrant CF Community you can be part of. That is why outreach to developers outside the community is so important. Together, we can help to solve issues, learn new features, and create better code for the future. Without active CF experts and developers in a community, ColdFusion wouldn’t be really alive.
What Would It Take to have a happy, healthy ColdFusion developers community?
There are several factors we need to address to strengthen the community. This doesn’t mean growing the number of people alone. We should also strengthen the resolve of the community, share CF knowledge, and reduce negativity. A collective effort of the entire CF ecosystem will help make this happen. So how will we learn what to do? Let’s get educated.
Education is the foundation for the current development of the CF community. It is also the basis for the future of the ColdFusion platform. Most CF experts and developers will agree on one thing: no matter how much you know, there is always something more to learn. There are always new CF improvements, development methods, and tools.
First, developers can start by improving our own knowledge.
ColdFusion training resources
Related article Comprehensive ColdFusion training list (17 resources).
Teaching about ColdFusion
Do something good with your knowledge, TEACH! Here are some ways you can teach in the CF community:
What you can do to further those around you and the next generation of CFers is astounding. Think back to the times when you were first starting out with ColdFusion. Everybody starts from the same place. Zero. Teachers have built the CF community by creating the developers that make it up today.
CF teachers have the most important task in maintaining ColdFusion’s survival. Passing along knowledge of CF. To be forgotten is to be lost. Sharing knowledge with the next generation of developers keeps ColdFusion alive. This knowledge ensures the survival of the platform and ushers in a new wave of improvements. We can complete another principal task of education, which is creating more teachers for the next generation.
Be More Vocal about CF
Another thing that needs change is the general mindset of the development community. Like many things in life, there is a lot of negativity that revolves around ColdFusion. “ColdFusion is dead”, “Java is better than ColdFusion”, “People who use ColdFusion are outdated.” First off, these aren’t true. Yet, these statements from outsiders can get under your skin. It produces a sense of shame in some ColdFusion developers. Why would you be ashamed of ColdFusion? It is a platform that has been making continuous breakthroughs over 20+ years. Nothing is embarrassing about that. With the release of CF 2018, there are a wave of performance and security upgrades. According to Tridib Roy Chowdhury, Adobe has reached its quarterly CF sales goals over the past 8 years. They have also experienced an annual average of 6–7% growth. There is no reason to be ashamed. Be proud of your platform.
“Stop being scared of bringing up CFML in the larger IT communities.”- Jon Clausen, President, Silo Web
One thing in ColdFusion is quite certain: without developers to use it, CF will die. To continue the survival and growth of CF, we must find developers and reach out. Developers comprise the heart and soul of ColdFusion.
What Would It Take to grow a strong developer base?
Sometimes, it can be difficult to find CFML developers compared to other languages. So the only logical thing to do is to start making developers. All across the country, recruiters visit high schools. Military recruiters. College recruiters. Sports program recruiters. So why not software development ambassadors? There are students that realize that we are in the Age of Information. Software engineers and developers are paramount to the future of humanity. These students need that chance. Both Adobe, Lucee and the ColdFusion community can help with that.
Adobe doesn’t need to be the only one looking though. The CF community needs to step up their game on outreach. One easy way to do this is to start close to home. Develop a local club for ColdFusion. Facebook groups or Meetup.com are great platforms for this. Starting new user groups for CF is only the beginning. Leaders of the group should come together to hold meet and greets. These meet and greets do not need to be about ColdFusion. Get together with other CFers and grab some pizza and beer. Or hold a Lunch and Learn meeting during the day. Get to know each other and make some friends. The topic of ColdFusion is bound to show up anyway. Find out what you can about your fellows’ CF experiences. This is keeping CF alive in the truest sense of the word.
“I’ve been an avid CFer from 2008 and it’s been one awesome journey. From organizing meetups to building awesome applications, it’s been great. The contributions to the community has been awesome too.”- SaravanaMuthu J, Founder & CTO at MitrahSoft
From this point, there are many different avenues for keeping CF alive in the local arena.
- Construct a website for your club together (using CFML of course). Or conduct other joint projects together.
- Do charitable works as a club and get the positivity of CF out into the public.
- Encourage friendly competitions and hackathons.
Make it fun to be part of the CF community! Throw mini CF conventions and have your club members each speak on a topic. Invite guest CF experts to come in and headline. When attending large conventions, raise money to go as a group. Showcase your CF pride!
“CF Life is always a great Joy.”- SaravanaMuthu J, Founder & CTO at MitrahSoft
Go Big or Go Home
“On the business side, we are really comfortable, we are very happy where it is. And that gives us you know like added incentive and possibly a little bit of headroom for us to kind of sit back and say, ‘You know like can we do something really big? Can we do something adventurous?’”- Tridib Roy Chowdhury, General Manager and Senior Director of Products at Adobe Systems
From CF Alive episode, “065 The Future of ColdFusion (it is Bright) with Tridib Roy Chowdhury“
After conquering the local areas of CF, let’s think big now. There are some good ways to do this. A simple and effective methods is through CF podcasts. Podcasts can be great for interviews, presentations and simple stories involving CF. You don’t have to get deeply technical unless you want to.
Webinars are great for showing code and slides and more tech details. Zoom is a great webinar platform for this, and is free for upto 40 minutes. Let’s get some motivated speakers and evangelists for free webinars. Invite the public and fellow CFers. Start the CF revolution online! For best results, this should supported by the CF Community and sponsored by Adobe and Lucee. Any community event sponsored by the makers of CF will only hold that much more credence.
Another great way to reach out is via live stream events. These can be held on platforms such as FB Live, Periscope, Twitch and YouTube Live. To make these events effective, they must be planned out and announced a few weeks ahead of time. Get the crowd motivated. Next, find some of the great veteran CFers to be the presenters. Next, hold a livestream Q&A session with the hosts. This would be a fun and interactive way to get the community involved.
Hold Reddit AMAs. AMA on Reddit stands for Ask Me Anything. This is where someone will go onto Reddit, explain who they are, and open up the floor for questions. These are rapid-fire questions that the original poster (OP) will answer as many of as possible. These questions may be professional in nature or not. There is an entire group dedicated to this concept. This could help for ColdFusion exposure. For veterans, this could be a place to talk shop. Intermediate users may seek help for complicated issues. Beginners can learn tips and tricks on starting out. These forums are also available and seen by those outside of the community. Someone is bound to ask, “What is ColdFusion? Why should I use it?” This would then be the OP’s time to shine and drive home how great ColdFusion is.
AMAs can also be hosted on Twitter. Or just have a theme and special hashtag for a TweetStorm hour.
“I think I’m certainly looking forward to being able to share knowledge. I’m a bit believer in the phrase, when you teach you learn. I always find that I walk away energized from teaching as well. At the same time, there’s a lot of great sessions out there, I look forward to sharing knowledge, just going to conferences where you get a chance to connect with peers and walk away re-energized about your work. As developers know, there’s a lot of days that you’re just slogging through lines and lines of code and some days it’s not fun.
I find that the energy that I get from there also keeps me energized throughout the corresponding months when I’m working on maybe some of those things that aren’t as fun.”- Jon Clausen, President, Silo Web
From CF Alive episode, “011 Portable CFML with Cloud deployments, Microservices and REST with Jon Clausen“
Building and Strengthening the Community
A key concept to building the community is to encourage development. Motivation is a strong component to how well the community will perform as a whole. To motivate individuals, there should be a sense of structure in place. Elect administrators for the group. Choose people who are not only committed to building the community but themselves. These people can stand as pillars of inspiration to the rest of the community. The community and key members of should appoint evangelists. Evangelism is a very critical part of maintaining ColdFusion alive. The evangelists should be easy to talk to and knowledgeable about CF. Look for individuals with natural charisma and public speaking abilities. These people should strive to become the new face of ColdFusion. Excitement and enthusiasm are paramount to evangelism.
“I feel like ColdFusion really gives me a boost, especially being with it so many years that you know all the ins and outs, and even helping now with the open source versions in terms of the guts of it is great to see.”- Luis Majano President of Ortus Solutions
From CF Alive episode, “012 Extreme Testing and Slaying the Dragons of ORM with Luis Majano“
On the technical side of things, focus on two specific areas. Writing and Support. There are some members of the CF community who have a natural talent for writing. Not code, but actual text. Help these writers feel welcome and put them to work. A well-written blog can inform the masses and attract new prospects to the community. This can engage the community in all-important conversation. The writers should also work hand-in-hand with another group. The support techs. The techs should comprise of a group of expert CFers led by a seasoned veteran of troubleshooting (any names ring a bell?). These individuals should be able to provide support to those in need. Along with direct support, they should provide the writers with info to write about.
Another way to motivate developers is to remind them why they became developers in the first place. This responsibility should lie in the community itself. We should learn to motivate each other. Developers by nature crave challenge. The ability to create an operational platform out of nothing is rewarding. Remind the CF community why we do what we do. This could be a huge swing tactic when it comes to making sure the CF community remains happy and dedicated.
Finally, listen to constructive criticism and feedback. Don’t only listen though. Embrace it. When a developer takes time to respond to something that means it has left a mark. That’s a great sign. Encourage active engagement from the community. When the community responds, address the concern. Things cannot change overnight. But it is very encouraging to know that somebody is listening to your concerns. This can build trust among the CF community. Trust will keep CF alive.
I invite you to join me in discovering how we can all make CF more alive, modern and secure this year. Join the CF Alive Inner Circle today.
Originally published at teratech.com on September 26, 2018.