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Adobe- it is time to re-think the way ColdFusion is marketed!

February 25, 2010

It’s time to release core features of ColdFusion as open source – name it as a community Edition which is free to use with no licence fees and also it should provide a way where community can extend the core features. Adobe can release an Enterprise Edition with the usual licence fee with all enterprise features.

Iam really concerned about the low market share of CF at the moment. Especially during the bad economy period, CF is less  preferred by customers even after good evangelism about it.  Customers now shows more interest than before to move towards opensource technologies- which obviously reduce their investment.

Adobe need to seriously think about an opensource Community Edition with no more  delays else it will loose the market share considerablyin future and finally it will reach a pathetic situation where Adobe itself lose interest in CF.

There is so much to learn from open-source technologies like PHP and Python.  PHP is powering some of the world’s high traffic websites – it have grown a long way from the year 2000- 2001. Language itself have matured a lot from version 5.0, huge amount of quality software’s are available with large community surrounded them. Ex: Drupal, WordPress, Magento, Typo3 etc.  Apart from Mura CMS and BlogCFC, I don’t remember there is any opensource CF software which we all are proud of. Sorry folks I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings but it is a plain truth that even in year 2010 if you search for a quality opensource ColdFusion shopping cart script you won’t find one.

I have exceptional love and passion towards ColdFusion and with all respect I must request Adobe to RE-THINK!!

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2010 7:23 pm

    What about OpenBD, Railo, etc.?

    Aren’t those the free, open-source versions of CF?

    http://www.openbluedragon.org/

    Have you tried those? I’ve been playing with OpenBD and so far, it does anything that I’d want it to.

    I think OpenBD, Railo, etc. need to become more prevalent in the shared hosting arena (at a competitive price). That seems to be one reason that PHP/MySQL or other free software (like free carts) are able to establish footholds.

    If I go out and establish a common, shared hosting account, what typically comes with it “free”?

    Often those tools/software are not necessarily the “best”, they are just widely available and so many small businesses are introduced to them via their shared host provider (via one-click installs, etc.). Everything builds from there (designers make templates, more developers learn the skills so they can get work, etc. — and the community grows).

    I would find a way to win those battles. Shared-hosting friendly, easy install, with a set of solid CMS/E-commerce ware.

    Just my two cents.

  2. February 26, 2010 1:12 am

    So I’ve seen this argument a lot, and I get the perspective on it.

    But as a general statement – if you are going to make the call for CF to be OSS’d, then you also need to provide some ideas on how Adobe recoups the money they would lose for giving away a a huge revnue earner for free.

    ColdFusion is a huge profit earner from Adobe (from what I have heard), and unless someone can come up with a very good business case for making it Open Source, I’d be very surprised if they decided to start giving it away for free.

    If ColdFusion + Free was a model for huge business, the Railo/OpenBD would be crushing through Adobe’s market share. As it currently stands (from what I can see), Railo/OpenBD have gained some ground, but the majority of people still sit with Adobe.

    This isn’t a specific dig at you, but just that when people want to push a radically different business model for ColdFusion, they really do need some pretty solid numbers to back it up.

  3. February 26, 2010 3:58 am

    We’re pretty proud of FarCry CMS — open source since April 2003, and powering some of the ColdFusion community’s largest sites: http://www.farcrycore.org/

  4. February 26, 2010 4:40 am

    @Mark, Adobe can sell the CF to enterprises with their usual enterprise edition licence fees- that way they can recoups some of the money from its sales. Proposed Community edition won’t support enterprise features and can be used as free.

    Most web scripting lanaguages are free now and with the help of productivity frameworks most of them are as productive as CF- which is used to be CF’s main advantage to developers. Take the case of Grails- which uses dynamic language Groovy, ROR, Python web framework DJango, PHP framworks like Zend Framework, CakePHP, Symfony – these all improved the developer productivty issues of their respective languages.

    I strongly feel that it doesnt make sense in todays context to charge a licence fee for the core features CF provides for Web development. That will only helps them to drop their markshare in comming years- it is simple logic.

    Now with regards to making profits out of CF, as I said above Adobe can sell Enterprise edition to enterprises and also they can make use of opensource strategey to earn more profit than now. When community edition release for free, its usage will definitly going to increase. We can able to attract lot of non CF users to it. This will increase its market share and Adobe can sell CF related products to them for instance CFBuilder. Another way of generating income from opesnource is selling ColdFusion extensions, for example charting features producing image charts should be included in CF Community editon, and those users who needed Flash charts needs to buy that extension, same for spreadsheet, PDF, Presentation – all fancy features- what you think?

    Definitly CF Community edition is going to affect Railo and BD if that happens.

  5. February 26, 2010 5:04 am

    To comment on a few items here:

    >> Adobe can sell the CF to enterprises with their usual enterprise edition licence fees- that way they can recoups some of the money from its sales. Proposed Community edition won’t support enterprise features and can be used as free.

    So you are proposing a split model wherin there is a free option, and also an ‘enterprise’ option. Personally, I’ve not seen that many companies successfully pull this off, but that is just my experience. If you could back up this sort of proposition with some hard numbers and examples of other companies that have done this before (and made $$$ doing it), people may well start to listen to your point of view.

    Lets not forget that I am sure that there are more than a few Standard licences sold every year – so there needs to be a revenue model to replace that somewhere, because that profit is now lost.

    >> I strongly feel that it doesnt make sense in todays context to charge a licence fee for the core features CF provides for Web development. That will only helps them to drop their markshare in comming years- it is simple logic.

    I can understand your point of view, but ‘feeling’ does not translate into dollars and cents. My point here is that we can’t equate our own software philosophies with business strategies – as they are not one and the same.

    >> Now with regards to making profits out of CF, as I said above Adobe can sell Enterprise edition to enterprises and also they can make use of opensource strategey to earn more profit than now.

    Really? How sure are you of this? Where are the numbers to back this up? Is there another proprietary commercial language out there that has already gone through this process, that we could model this on?

    >> When community edition release for free, its usage will definitly going to increase.

    What proof of this do you have? I’ve not seen a huge influx of new CF’ers since Railo and OpenBD have come on the scene. Most of the new CF talent seems to have come across from Flex developers.

    My experience tells me that if this was the case, Railo & OpenBD would be swimming in new (non-CF) users. Is this actually the case right now? (And actually, that would be some very interesting statistical data on how many real ‘new’ CF users go to those CFML platforms)

    >> We can able to attract lot of non CF users to it. This will increase its market share and Adobe can sell CF related products to them for instance CFBuilder. WHat you think? Definitly CF Community edition is going to affect Railo and BD if CF community editions happens.

    To also make my point clear – I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you. From a philosophical point of you, I prefer my software to be free and open. But from a business point of view, if you can’t start talking real numbers with estimated profit and revenue streams, that are higher than the current business strategies, the question always be-gets itself – where is the value-add in changing?

    At this point and time, you’re sharing your opinion on anecdotal evident from your experience in the web programming community. Far more data is required than that to really move this beast in another direction – whichever that direction may be.

    If you really believe this should be the ‘true way’, start gathering some real, hard evidence on cost and revenue and market penetration increase. Then we can start having a very interesting, and in depth conversation about Open Sourcing ColdFusion.

  6. February 26, 2010 10:26 am

    First of, I, partially, agree with both of you, Shimju and Mark. Main reason why I am writing this is Mark’s attitude. Sorry Mark, what you wrote here “sounds like” you challenge Shamju’s right to have an opinion on this subject. How anyone but Adobe can gather data about profit and number of sold licenses? How can you expect from developer to make business plans for Adobe? From my point of view, it is totally legitimate for a developer to have an opinion regarding subject like this based on a hunch…and without statistical data.

    I am of opinion, that Adobe should publish something what Shimju described as Community edition, but to focus (much) more on creating outstanding IDE. IDE comparable to Visual Studio, Eclipse for Java, or what sometime was JBuilder. MS’s pricing model for VS is quite complicate and referring to its price is ungrateful task, but, in general, prices vary from 400$. Revenue from IDE could cover loses from giving up from CF Standard Edition.

    After all, it is to Adobe to see what is best for them, but it is to developers to think/write what would be best for us.

    One more thing. From what I read so far (online), opinions like Shumju’s and mine usually come from countries where CF does not stand good, and opposite to that, pro-Adobe comes from countries where CF stands better. In favor to this claim, take a look at regional distribution of Adobe Community Professionals (former Experts).
    To be honest, I haven’t seen exacts stats after last ACP inauguration month (or so) ago.

  7. February 26, 2010 12:22 pm

    @Marko:
    >> Sorry Mark, what you wrote here “sounds like” you challenge Shamju’s right to have an opinion on this subject. How anyone but Adobe can gather data about profit and number of sold licenses? How can you expect from developer to make business plans for Adobe?

    I say this with all due respect, but… wait… what?

    First of all, I’m actually trying to enable Shamju in his opinion. By telling him what data and analysis he really needs to be doing (and this goes to anyone else with this opinion) if he wants to push this agenda. If he can start making correlations between other companies that have done similar things, look at market penetration of Railo/OpenBD, etc, then his point becomes all that stronger. It doesn’t have to be just the facts and figures out of Adobe – there are plenty of avenues for finding out information.

    The fact of the matter is, I may not *necessarily* agree with his point of view, but I’m more than willing to have the discussion. In fact, I’ve pointed out some interesting statistics that I’m sure Railo/OpenBD would be willing to share, also said that with some extra analysis, this can be a very interesting conversation to have, and even pointed out that my own personal philosophies tend toward the OSS persuasion (all you have to do is look at all the OSS code I have written)

    Second of all, “How can you expect from developer to make business plans for Adobe?”…. isn’t that exactly what Shimju is doing here? Putting forward his opinion on what Adobe’s business plans should be? If a developer can’t be expected to make business plans for Adobe, what are we doing on this blog post then?

    The only thing I’ve challenged is the arguments Shimju has used to prove his contention.

    >> From my point of view, it is totally legitimate for a developer to have an opinion regarding subject like this based on a hunch…and without statistical data.

    Its totally legitimate for a developer to have an opinion based on a hunch. But if you want that opinion to be listened to, and quite possibly acted upon, you need far more than a hunch.

    If I came to you and told you to change your core multi million dollar business based on my “gut feeling”, would you listen to me?

    >> I am of opinion, that Adobe should publish something what Shimju described as Community edition, but to focus (much) more on creating outstanding IDE. IDE comparable to Visual Studio, Eclipse for Java, or what sometime was JBuilder. MS’s pricing model for VS is quite complicate and referring to its price is ungrateful task, but, in general, prices vary from 400$. Revenue from IDE could cover loses from giving up from CF Standard Edition.

    I agree that focusing on the IDE is a good idea, however, stating that revenue from the IDE could cover loses from giving up CF Standard may not necessarily hold water.

    First of all – this is *only* true if CF picks up substantial market share based on the fact it goes open source. If Railo and OpenBD are anything to go by (again, from what I’ve seen), is not going to give us the influx of developers that would be needed to do this. To be clear – I’m not challenging your right to have an opinion, but I am disagreeing with you. If you think I am wrong, I am quite keen to hear your counterpoint.

    It would be handy to sit down and do the math, make some guestimations on how many licences are sold of CF in standard and/or enterprise, how much it costs to make, how many licences are sold, what it costs to make, and see how many more licences of the IDE would be needed to cover the profit that is gained by sales of CF. Maybe its more, or less than any of us think. Then all we would have to agree to is the guestimations.

    Second of all – when Adobe starts selling the IDE, they will be selling the IDE and *also* selling CF Standard. If you take away the revenue for CF Standard, they don’t gain anything back unless they get a huge increase in market share, they still only end up losing money if the market share doesn’t come through – they don’t gain anything.

    >> After all, it is to Adobe to see what is best for them, but it is to developers to think/write what would be best for us.

    Ultimately isn’t it best for us for ColdFusion to have $$$ invested back into it so that Adobe can keep building cool version of it? So that we can do awesome stuff with it?

    In which case – doesn’t it make sense for us to be advocating that they take the best path that will ensure that that money keeps coming in? If the answer to that is to make it open source – then so be it. But, personally, I’ve personally yet to hear a strong argument that that is true, above and beyond a ‘feeling’ or a ‘hunch’.

    >> One more thing. From what I read so far (online), opinions like Shumju’s and mine usually come from countries where CF does not stand good, and opposite to that, pro-Adobe comes from countries where CF stands better.

    Well, this opinion is coming from Australia, where CF does not have a huge penetration (but I know that Adobe are doing some things in an attempt to change that).

    >> In favor to this claim, take a look at regional distribution of Adobe Community Professionals (former Experts). To be honest, I haven’t seen exacts stats after last ACP inauguration month (or so) ago.

    Well actually, several new Experts have been added for the ANZ region, and also in Europe, so Adobe are listening.

    For full disclosure, I am an ACP, and have been for several years now.

    But back to the topic at hand – I want to be clear. It would be *freakin awesome* if CF was open source – I would probably have a field day tinkering around inside the internals of CF and extending it like crazy. But from a business point of view, and also from the point of view of the longevity of the platform, I’ve yet to personally hear a strong argument for open sourcing CF.

    So Marko – and anyone else, please DO have an opinion, challenge my points, provide counter points to the arguments I have made, but lets talk about real things – revenue, profit and market share, and lets see if we can draw some proper conclusions based on some good analysis of the data we have at hand, because there is a lot out there if you look for it.

  8. Keith Woods permalink
    February 26, 2010 3:50 pm

    Adobe can release all the open source ColdFusion they want, but who would/should use it? I can use OpenBD which runs circles around Adobe’s stuff in every way. If there’s some feature that’s not already implemented, I can either request it, or implement the code myself and release it to the community as a whole.

    It’s a modern, clean, ground-up rewrite to the cf spec, not some legacy spaghetti code. I fear that open-sourcing the existing Adobe CF product would do nothing but show us how much duct-tape and bailing wire is being used to prop that system up. I can’t even imagine–just look at the size of a CF install, and wonder why it’s so bloated…

    Adobe’s screwed CFML and the “community” for years now, and if people jump ship for something else, there’s no one to blame but themselves.

    I for one, welcome our new CFML overlords!

  9. February 26, 2010 7:31 pm

    @Shimju: I think this topic is long overdue for a serious discussion. I’ve been meaning to share some of the many thing I’ve come to learn about the ColdFusion business and the community ecosystem since becoming Product Manager one year ago.

    Mark’s points are extremely valid and while I can’t share detailed financial numbers, I don’t think I get in trouble with the following statements:

    – ColdFusion Standard makes up the majority of units shipped (not Enterprise)
    – ColdFusion Builder revenue forecast is less than 1/30th that of ColdFusion server — Sorry Marko, we’d need a community the size of .NET to make the Visual Studio model feasible. I’ve said for a long-time, Adobe’s creation of CB was a decision to support the community, not a business one.

    Profits aside, the ColdFusion ecosystem is not healthy, in fact it’s on the skids. Adobe is the primary investor for CF conferences and user groups (worldwide), support, training, documentation, marketing and general community support. If we we gave away a large portion of the CF revenue, Adobe wouldn’t be able to contribute at the same level. It would also mean that Adobe couldn’t afford to fund the same level of development, meaning less features, less often.

    To illustrate this, let’s use Railo as an example:

    June 2008: Railo announced their ‘partnership’ with JBoss and promised to bring ORM/Hibernate to CFML.

    August 2008: Adobe confirmed that ORM/Hibernate would be included in ColdFusion 9.

    March 2009: ColdFusion 9 released to a private preprelease program. Allowing over 1000 CFML developers to start working with ORM/Hibernate

    July 2009: ColdFusion 9 released a public beta which included full ORM/Hibernate support

    Oct 2009: ColdFusion 9 released with ORM/Hibernate being just one of the many new additions which also included enhanced scripting support, cfspreadsheet, etc.

    “Very Soon” 2010: ColdFusion Builder released w/ full code insight and scaffolding for ORM/Hibernate.

    Mid 2010 ColdFusion 9.01 planned to include many new updates to ORM/Hibernate at the request of the community.

    … fact is, the community is still waiting for Railo (who also sells and Enterprise edition) to deliver on a promise made nearly 2 years ago. This history lesson isn’t meant to cast the Railo team in a bad light, but we can’t ignore the realities of “you get what you pay for” and if you aren’t willing to pay, you can’t expect to maintain the same feature set, schedule and quality.

    As I said above, this topic deserves a fair and honest discussion and I promise to make some time this weekend to put together a decent blog post on the subject. This is just one of the many issues we’ll need to solve to dramatically reduce the cost of ColdFusion.

    Finally, you have two free open source clones that are readily available. Are you saying that they aren’t good enough? Because quite frankly I’m tired of hearing how equal they are, but at the same time ColdFusion needs to be free as well. If this community is ready to openly admit that Railo/OpenBD aren’t viable alternatives to ColdFusion, then I promise, I will dedicate myself to the goal of making Link (the next version of CF) low cost or free.

    -Adam
    CF Product Manager

  10. February 27, 2010 6:47 am

    @Mark, if Railo and Open BD are not gained lot of popularity among non CF developers, that’s due to the fact that these are relatively small company and very little they did spend on marketing end. If people not aware about a product how they can try it.

    Adobe’s case is different and ColdFusion’s case too. ColdFusion was there in this Industry since 1995 before ASP was invented and PHP become popular. Unlike Railo/OpenBD, CF is well known among all web developers but it is not catching up its market share due to its proprietary nature. It is a fact that many not even trying CF due to its price tag and they just under-estimate this product.You can see my own previous post illustrating this point click here

    And also we can’t compare Adobe against Railo Technologies as a company, as Adobe is one amoung the top 10 world largest IT companies- with solid foundation and global reach and excellent in marketing and promotion. They can definitely promote CF Community Edition well and gain good market share than Railo/Open BD. Adobe can make this new version popular among all well knows hosting companies providing as packaged product like they offer PHP, Ruby etc under shared hosting/VPS etc.. as there is no licensing hassles.

    Now I can show you few companies which are using some interesting marketing model similar to what I have proposed above.
    Zend Technologies- the main creators of PHP are behind this company. Go through http://www.Zend.com and see the products they are selling which are all based on their popular open source web scripting language PHP.
    Now more recent example which is MagentoCommerce. What Varien (http://www.varien.com/) did was they created a hype in the ecommerce market, attracting millions of developers and online retailers to their product which was originally built and released as open source ecommerce software. Once they built a large community around their product, they launched their high price tag Enterprise Edition with enterprise features. They also sell support and make money from partner programs. This marketing model WORKS now!

    Look at another example- Oxid-eSales- http://www.oxid-esales.com- a German based ecommerce software product company. Their product was originally a propriety closed product which was done quite well, but to make it more popular and more profitable they released a community edition which is 100% open source. I can’t able to give you figures, but it is quite evident that this model works!!

    And all these examples shows us that rather than positioning the product for a specific Niche, make it popular using opensource strategy , penetrate the present crowded market using it and gain a good market share by forming a large community and sells related products and high end edition of same products to them.

    Finally I would like to conclude that I don’t believe that ColdFusion was originally created as a Niche Product. It got transformed as Niche product due to its licencing model. But the saddest point is that this Niche is getting smaller- thats the reason I said above it is time to RETHINK!!

  11. February 27, 2010 3:40 pm

    Thank you Adam for some clarification you’ve provided here.
    Do not know how Railo and ODB appear in this discussion, but I would like to focus my story on Adobe’s engine.

    If current revenue forecast for CFB is only 1/30th of CFS then it need to change in the future.
    Give developers an irreplaceable tool for CF development and I am sure that will change in favor of CFB. If ratio of number of active developers against number of sold licences of CFS SE is 5:1 then price of CFB should be aprox $260. That is quite cheap for IDE of top quality.
    As community is getting in size, number of sold CFBs will increase.

    @Shadju I am not sure that Community Editions are suitable for professional use, but must be something in it when IBM adopted same strategy for WebSphere 🙂

  12. February 28, 2010 1:39 am

    @Shimju

    Now we’re getting into some good stuff here.

    >> ..if Railo and Open BD are not gained lot of popularity among non CF developers, that’s due to the fact that these are relatively small company and very little they did spend on marketing end. If people not aware about a product how they can try it.

    Considering that PHP, Ruby on Rails, Groovy etc are all open source and are (or were) run by relatively small companies – if they can do it, why can’t Railo/OpenBD? Usually OSS platforms are promoted by the community at little to no cost to the owning company. So I don’t think Railo and OpenBD are hindered in any way shape or form there.

    When was the last time you saw an advert in a magazine for Ruby on Rails?

    >> And also we can’t compare Adobe against Railo Technologies as a company, as Adobe is one amoung the top 10 world largest IT companies- with solid foundation and global reach and excellent in marketing and promotion. They can definitely promote CF Community Edition well and gain good market share than Railo/Open BD. Adobe can make this new version popular among all well knows hosting companies providing as packaged product like they offer PHP, Ruby etc under shared hosting/VPS etc.. as there is no licensing hassles.

    Okay agreed – Adobe has the credibility to push this to a wide variety of people, which definitely helps.

    But I still think the above comment still stands – if other OSS platforms can be marketed effectively for little to no money, why can’t Railo/OpenBD?

    >> Now I can show you few companies which are using some interesting marketing model similar to what I have proposed above. Zend Technologies- the main creators of PHP are behind this company. Go through http://www.Zend.com and see the products they are selling which are all based on their popular open source web scripting language PHP.
    Now more recent example which is MagentoCommerce. What Varien (http://www.varien.com/) did was they created a hype in the ecommerce market, attracting millions of developers and online retailers to their product which was originally built and released as open source ecommerce software. Once they built a large community around their product, they launched their high price tag Enterprise Edition with enterprise features. They also sell support and make money from partner programs. This marketing model WORKS now!

    Now we are getting somewhere, this is where we start getting into some real, in depth discussion.

    You’ve provided several examples of ecommerce applications where a change to Open Source has proven effective. That being said, there is a marked difference between an application that markets to a specific business need, and one that markets to a more generic need – i.e. a programming language/platform.

    The flipside of this argument is very simple – look at Oracle Database, or Microsoft SQL Server. Both are proprietary products, that aren’t free or open source, and both do very well against OSS platforms (MySQL, PostGres etc). An OSS business model is simply a choice in terms of how to best make money.

    The comment to make here as is – yes an OSS based marketting model *works*, but what we need to prove is – can this marketting model work *better* than the current one.

    From what you are saying above (from the model above), Adobe would need to spend more time working on a product (such as ecommerce), that could then be onsold / provide support for that ran on top of CF as an open source platform, as well as running consulting and support arms of the business. This seems to be what Zend (and others) are doing around their open source platforms. Yes there are support services available around the platform (and maybe that is what is comprised of an enterprise licence), but from attempting to run an OSS based business, I would expect that most of their $$$ comes from the Ecommerce application and consulting services (I’ve not seen many people really hop onto support unless they need it at the last minute).

    This becomes a *huge* change for Adobe (as I’m sure you can see). What worries me about moving to this sort of approach is a few things (and let me know if you think these are invalid).
    – Adobe is spending more time building the business *around* ColdFusion, rather than spending the time building more features into the next version of CF, which means less cool new things for us developers
    – Adobe’s consulting arm essentially becomes serious competition to those of us that run consulting practices based on Adobe technologies, because now they aren’t only marketing CF, they are marketing how they are *the* people to help you develop on CF
    – The loss of revenue while the business changes scares the [pick an expletive] out of me, so much so, I’d worry that CF would get hit really hard, either from a community, or from a new feature set perspective.

    >> And all these examples shows us that rather than positioning the product for a specific Niche, make it popular using opensource strategy , penetrate the present crowded market using it and gain a good market share by forming a large community and sells related products and high end edition of same products to them.

    >> Finally I would like to conclude that I don’t believe that ColdFusion was originally created as a Niche Product. It got transformed as Niche product due to its licencing model. But the saddest point is that this Niche is getting smaller- that’s the reason I said above it is time to RETHINK!!

    Honestly, I’m not sure what you mean here. CF is a niche product as it’s aimed at solely web development. Is there something else you feel makes it a niche product?

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