|Hans Solo to Luke Skywalker after he called the Millennium Falcon a piece of junk: "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid.”|
ColdFusion is the main driver of Foster Web Marketing’s powerful marketing and website management software Dynamic Self-Syndication (DSS), and it has been since our inception. ColdFusion is one of the most mature and well-developed languages to build websites in, and it’s an absolute treat to code in.
We’d like to tell you about it, explain why we like it, and correct the misconceptions that have gained traction for some reason. Bottom line up front: it’s a great language and, far from holding us back, it makes life easier and development faster.
“Scripting Language. What does that even mean?”
One of the biggest challenges in the early days of the Internet was how to assemble websites efficiently and dynamically.
Long ago, developers had to write all the HTML code for each page, separately from the others. This posed some real challenges. For example, if you needed to make a change to your phone number, you had to update that element on every single page of your site. That’s a lot of tedious work, especially for big sites with hundreds of pages.
Around the mid-90’s, scripting languages designed to assemble web pages more pragmatically became available for website developers. Coincidentally, in 1995, two big players released the first version of their scripting frameworks: ColdFusion and PHP.
Now, instead of being static HTML documents, the web page’s markup could be assembled dynamically, using the new scripting language to grab the parts of the page it needed. So, if you needed to update your phone number, you could update it in one place that all of your web pages could reference dynamically.
It was really exciting! The limits on what you could do on your webpage were demolished. Dynamically updated blogs, robust content management systems, market testing, and e-commerce all became possible because of access to these scripting languages.
“Okay so what’s the deal with ColdFusion. Why people throwin’ shade?”
ColdFusion actually finished out the 90’s as a dominant language for website development, owing largely to the fact that, as a proprietary language, it had a team of passionate, dedicated developers—open source languages had a lot of catching up to do.
But the late 90’s and early 2000’s were a crazy-fast time in the .com world. Allaire Corporation, the company that originally developed ColdFusion, sold the product to Macromedia (the firm that created Flash and Dreamweaver), and Macromedia was later purchased by Adobe.
There was a lot of shuffle in the industry, and ColdFusion rested on its laurels to some degree, releasing updates less frequently during that time. In the meantime, PHP and other new languages caught up, even surpassing ColdFusion in some ways when the web-development platform went too long between updates.
However, ColdFusion users represent a huge amount of businesses and individuals (see list below). Recognizing the demand, Adobe renewed its efforts around the mid-to-late 2000’s and started cranking out updates, restoring ColdFusion to its polished and excellent state!
“Why Do We Use ColdFusion?”
ColdFusion is an awesome language, and we use it to make awesome things. It’s intuitive, powerful, and supported by a dedicated team of exceptional developers at Adobe, giving us greater interoperability and reliability.
We have continued to use of ColdFusion because we know it can work on a large, enterprise level. We host over 300 websites for clients located around the globe. Our sites easily handle over half a million website visits a month, and we block over a million contact form spam attacks a week. And our sites load blisteringly fast.
To put it in Star Wars terms, DSS isn’t a one-off WordPress pod racer; it is the Millennium-freakin Falcon.
ColdFusion: Common Myths and the Reality
Like any technology product that has been around for a while, ColdFusion has its critics, who perpetuate many of the following misconceptions surrounding the website development platform:
Myth #1: ColdFusion is hard to learn.
Nothing could be further from the truth. ColdFusion is known as a Rapid Application Development language, and much of it uses a tag-based syntax, similar to regular HTML. If you have a basic understanding of HTML, you can learn ColdFusion very quickly.
The fact that it’s so intuitive and easy to use helps us to innovate very quickly, which is a huge strength!
Myth #2: ColdFusion is old and outdated.
At one time, there was a slowdown in the release schedule for ColdFusion, and undoubtedly, that temporary lull inspired this myth. However, it is very decidedly not the case now.
Adobe has made ColdFusion development a huge priority, and a quick glance at the recent release schedule relative to other languages should dispel any concerns as to the freshness of the language. Moreover, the idea of a language being “old” very much misses the mark. Most web-development languages are as old as or older than ColdFusion, but the fact that it has been around so long speaks to its reliability and maturity.
Myth #3: ColdFusion is a proprietary language, and proprietary anything is no good.
At a substantive level, the ColdFusion debate centers around software philosophy—proprietary versus open source.
The advantage of using proprietary software is in development cohesion and support. ColdFusion (and DSS) have been developed and are supported by dedicated teams. PHP, WordPress, and other scripting languages—like most open source software products—are developed by a looser organization of people with fewer dedicated resources and less accountability.
But with ColdFusion and DSS, you get a team of cooks in one kitchen, working together with premium ingredients. We value the interoperability and reliability that comes with having a well-endowed, dedicated support team, as opposed to riskier, frequently less secure, open source options.
Myth #4: ColdFusion isn’t supported anymore.
Nonsense! Not only is ColdFusion still supported (Adobe recently released Adobe ColdFusion 11 Update 3), but ColdFusion’s dedicated support team is one of its strongest advantages! There are Adobe ColdFusion conferences; the last one was held last October in Las Vegas. There is also a robust online community of ColdFusion users, hosted by Adobe. If that isn’t enough proof of a vigorous support network, there’s a blog that gets updated all the time. And should users have questions or get turned around, the support team can and will help. Try getting that from open source software.
Myth #5: ColdFusion makes websites slow.
Poorly written code, underpowered servers, and bloated databases make websites slow. ColdFusion doesn’t have this problem and neither do we. In fact, our sites, all built using ColdFusion, routinely receive blazing fast scores on a variety of page-speed tests.
At this point, most scripting languages are sophisticated enough to avoid causing bottlenecks. Far more important to website performance than the language that’s used is efficiently written code and high-quality servers—and FWM has these things in spades.
Myth #6: Nobody uses ColdFusion.
Not only do people use ColdFusion, it’s used at a number of Fortune 100 companies in the United States including:
- Adidas | Official Y-3 Store
- AT&T Wireless
- Bank of America
- BMW USA
- Eli Lilly
- Foot Locker
- The Limited
- Mayo Clinic
- New England Patriots
- Peace Corps
- Quaker Oats
- Procter & Gamble Associates
- Panasonic Australia
- Siemens Mobility
- Under Armour
In closing, if someone is trying to sell you on thinking that ColdFusion has gone the way of the dinosaurs, he or she has probably never worked in enterprise-level software application development.
To make our software and websites run as quickly and smoothly as they do, we employ a team of U.S.-based software developers and IT experts, and we own all of our own servers in our Reston, Virginia data center. We’re a real software development company, and frankly, our sites speak for themselves.
Love it or hate it, if you know anything about coding, you probably have an opinion about ColdFusion. We want to hear from you, so let’s have it!