Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Adobe can have my lunch money

In response to an article thecrumb (Jim Priest) (read the article here) , I posted the following comment (awaiting moderation when I published this):
I used (and occasionally still use) cf eclipse, and have always been very happy with it. However, I honestly don’t agree that Adobe is in the wrong here to put out a whitepaper. They spent a considerable amount of time and money building a new IDE (cmon, Dreamweaver and Homesite+ had their day for CF devs, and even cf eclipse was created to fill the void). CF Builder really provides functionality that is drawing new users to CF. Adobe honestly couldn’t stay out of the market due to the fact that an OSS project existed. They saw the need, filled the need, and IIRC, conferred with certain members of the cf eclipse team. A standalone version was necessary to cater to a specific demographic in the community, as well as hooks to new cf9 features.
As ColdFusion continues to progress over the next few iterations, the IDE will be able to stay in lockstep since Adobe can perform parallel development to keep them in sync.While Adam’s post does read a little negative against cf eclipse, I think the point that should be made is that there are a few options out there, make sure you understand what they are, and that cfB is not a clone of cfE as is the common misconception.
All that being said, I am sure the community will continue to support cf eclipse, and I personally thank each and every member of the cf eclipse team for their dedication.
As an aside, I didn’t hear anything in your article that speaks to the future of cf eclipse, or the direction the project is moving. Perhaps you could bolster support by publishing your product roadmap (forgive me if it exists and I just haven’t seen it) so we could weigh options and the community could contribute if there was reason to do so.
I've ways seen cf eclipse as an awesome IDE, but with all open source projects supporting a commercial project, they always seem to be chasing their tail. Personally, I have no issue paying Adobe to ensure my ColdFusion IDE is up to date with the language, as well as is assured continuing development and improvement.  I'd like to add that the cf eclipse team has done a great job of supporting the CF community over the last few years, and I suspect they will continue.

So was Adobe wrong to put out the whitepaper comparing features?  I'd like to hear what you have to say.


  1. My take is pretty much what Andy Allan (@fymd) said this morning; "the white paper should only have featured CFB" At the end of the day its features should speak for themselves (and they do).

    There was no need or Adobe to come in so harsh, single out, and belittle a community project such as CFEclipse. CFB of course is a more featured app and thats why companies and developers pay for it and will do. Why not put a positive post out about the next version of CFB and what to expect rather than the published "whitepaper"?

  2. I completely disagree with Andy Allen. I've spoken to a number of significant companies and many developers who are not clear on why they should pay for CF Builder because they were not sure how it compared with CF Eclipse - they thought they were essentially the same. I tried to explain some of the differences and why it was worth the investment but having something official from Adobe is completely worthwhile and necessary. Any time you do a comparison of this sort, it can come across "negative" but seriously that's the nature of the business.

    To have simply focused on CF Builder while ignoring CFEclipse would have been to deny the reality of what is out there. This is *exactly* the comparison manager's are making when trying to decide whether to spend the money.

    I love open source, support open source, and even promote many open source projects...but there always seems to be a sense that it is somehow more virtuous and thereby unassailable.

  3. @andy I'm on the fence with your point, probably leaning a little more towards @brian. I think that a side by side comparison is perfect, definitely what is needed to help people (and corporations) make the correct decisions. We had a heck of a time installing cf eclipse at a government site since it was OSS. We almost had to move to Homesite+! I can agree with you that it may have been a bit too negative. I mean, I love Ray and this is not negative, but what would you expect from Ray.. he loves Adobe! Adobe is proud of what they created as they should be. I do wish they would come out and say how they worked with cf eclipse team members which might help people understand the process and just how it all went down.

    @brian was interested to hear what you would have to say about CFB vs OSS, being that you were the godfather of OSS for CF ;)

  4. I agree with Andy - either focus exclusively on CFBuilder, or look at *ALL* CF editor options.

    The article didn't mention IntelliJ IDEA, skEdit nor Afae - all of which explicitly support CFML.

    It would be good to see a balanced review on what the assorted benefits of each of these are (and any others that might be out there).

  5. @peter good point! I haven't walked into a company yet that has asked for those specific comparisons, but I do agree that they should be present in the article for full disclosure and fairness. I've never used them, but perhaps a comparison would make me think about it.

  6. @Nic - thanks for the compliment (though I think Ray's probably more deserving of that title).

    @Peter - why acknowledge or spend time on options no one is really using? It would only complicate the situation and answer a question no one has? You seriously want me to believe that some manager is saying, why buy CF Builder when we could use AFAE? C'mon...I still don't get how it's somehow unfair to compare CF Builder to CFEclipse (being that it's the most widely used alternative).

  7. @brian Ray is the jedi master of CF OSS. Don't worry, I've got him covered as well.

  8. Brian, that argument applies to AFAE *perhaps*, but you've ignored the other two options.

    If they're significant enough that Ben Forta has announced the new releases of them, isn't that enough to at least mention "hey, here's a couple of other options you might try", even if it's only a footnote?

  9. Great point Nic, as usual! :)

    Given that Adobe does have a financial investment in developing CF Builder and obligation to their shareholders to market and sell their products, I have no problem with the white paper's format. It's just like any other white papers comparing similar products being used in the industry. I certainly don't mean to take away from the great work and effort that the CFEclipse team have done, I loved working with CFEclipse and I do keep up with the latest news on its development! But just because a product is open source or not as well funded, it doesn't exclude it from market competition.

  10. I love both products and I love supporting OSS projects. I don't think there's aproblem with the white paper at all.

    Here's the thing: I have never met Adam Lehman - and I'm sure he's nice guy - but every time I read one of his blog posts that has anything to do with a competitor (i.e. OpenBD, Railo or now CFE) the post always comes off as kind of prickly sniping. So even when I may agree with his underlying statements, I still come away saying "now why'd he have to say that?!" even though I probably mean "why'd he have to say that in THAT way?!"

    I think it just tends to get people riled up unnecessarily. My guess is that if the white paper was just published on Adobe's site and linked there by Adam, people wouldn't have had as strong a reaction.

  11. @Peter - the issue of AFAE, IntelliJ, etc. is a straw man. Why not Notepad? You know as well as I do that none of those options are in wide usage. I haven't met a single developer or manager asking for an IntelliJ vs CF Builder comparison. I have met many wondering about CFE vs CFB.

  12. I'd just like to step in here and say that at no point via any of my tweets did I say that the white paper was aggressive towards CFEclipse.

    I merely stated that I felt a white paper on CFBuilder just have been just that. On CFBuilder (possibly with a little paragraph at the end along with the features matrix comparison that is on Adam's blog).

    The white paper was informative, and well written but it dedicated a little time comparing features against CFEclipse when it could (should?) have spent time on other CFBuilder features such as working with servers.

  13. Brian,

    "You know as well as I do that none of those options are in wide usage."
    "I haven't met a single developer or manager asking for an IntelliJ vs CF Builder comparison."

    I haven't a clue how widely used they might be - but I am seeing increasing mentions of the CFML plugin for IntelliJ, which of course gets me curious. (Things can grow in popularity pretty quickly, and I'm always keen to improve my productivity.)

    If you like, consider this your first developer asking for that comparison - and if you search Google for "intellij cfbuilder" you'll get two more (one a year old, one a week old) on the front page.

    (but none of that is really the point of what I'm getting at)

    Ok, it makes sense that there's far more people asking about CFEclipse and CFBuilder - because it was CFE that stepped into the void left by Homesite/CFStudio, and it became *the* CFML editor.

    When CFBuilder came on the scene at $300, it's entirely natural for people to ask "What do I get for $300?" - and if people are *still* asking this then it's because Adobe's marketing didn't promote it clearly enough to begin with.

    That doesn't mean comparing it against CFEclipse - we've had it for half a decade, we know what it's like!

    All it takes to rationalise the price tag is "here are some features unique to CFBuilder, here's how they'll improve productivity, you really need this product!" or whatever.

    On the other hand, if a *comparison* is being done (not a CFB sales pitch), then the CF community is best served by one that considers all known options - even if only two of them are popular.

    Having five distinct and active editors available shows that ColdFusion is doing well - it's something which proves lazy journalists are wrong, and is thus a valuable resource for ColdFusion in general.

    Having an Adobe-sponsored comparison of all editors, covering these options in a neutral tone, helps to indicate that Adobe is interested in helping the CF community to improve.

    That's why I say it should be either "just CFBuilder" (sales pitch) or "all CFML editors" (community resource).

    What we've got now is too easily interpreted as negativity against CFEclipse (whether that was intended or not), which doesn't help anyone and just makes us all waste time writing ~400 word responses.

  14. The CFML plugin for IntelliJ does not run on the Community Edition so you need to buy the commercial product. That's $599 for companies ($249 for personal use). Also, last I tried (a week ago), the CFML plugin didn't work on the prerelease of IDEA X. I spoke to the developer of the CFML plugin (about a year ago). They were slow to respond and, from the change history, looks like I caught them during the one year hiatus of releases (no updates for a year from mid-2009 to mid-2010).

    Whilst I think a comparison of "all" CFML editors might be interesting from an academic point of view, I really don't think it would answer the sort of questions that led Adobe to commission the white paper. Adam has gone on to explain why the white paper focused on CFBuilder "vs" CFEclipse - because that's the specific question they were being asked.

    For a year, I used TextMate with the Railo Bundle from Rob Rohan. CFEclipse was behind the curve and Eclipse was too heavy for the CFML work I was doing anyway. I was on the CFBuilder prerelease program (until i joined Railo) and it was very promising but, as many folks have said, a bit unstable. Many folks, unfortunately, don't seem to have revisited CFBuilder since launch because it's night and day compared to even the public beta releases.

    I'm having to use CFEclipse on my Linux netbook now from time to time and it's very frustrating after using CFBuilder for so long.

    Perhaps folks should stop criticizing Adobe and focus on improving CFEclipse instead? I know improvements are in progress - and I will appreciate all of them on my netbook - but I'll be upgrading to Storm on my desktop as soon as it ships and, should Adobe figure out CFBuilder licensing on Linux in a way that would run on my Ubuntu netbook, they'll make another sale from me!