Is ColdFusion a Dying Computer Skill?

By Deane Barker on June 25, 2007

The top 10 dead (or dying) computer skills: Oh man, a flame war is going to erupt over number five:

5. ColdFusion
This once-popular Web programming language […] has since been superseded by other development platforms, […] Debates continue over whether ColdFusion is as robust and scalable as its competitors, but nevertheless, premiums paid for ColdFusion programmers have dropped way off […]

When did ColdFusion programmers ever get a “premium”? No disrespect intended, but since I started Web development in the late 90s, I’ve never worked anywhere where ColdFusion experience would have even helped you get a job.

As for ColdFusion dying, we still work with it from time to time. We have a half-dozen or so legacy sites we inherited. We have a monstrous, 1,100 page ColdFusion book sitting around here. Whenever you see it off the bookshelf and on someone’s desk, there are only a few possibilities of what that person is working on.

As for the rest of the list of dying computer skills, there are a lot of obvious ones (COBOL, cc:Mail, OS/2) and a surprise or two (C).

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  1. As a former CF programmer I can honestly say I enjoyed working with the language as apposed to other languages which were created for pain. *cough Ada (yes I know one is for webdev and the other DOD type stuff)

    IMHO, CF lost ground due to all the “free” stuff especially when you saw their prices. Back then it was ~5-10K for a server lic and ~300-500 for the CF studio. Compare that with an older machine with alot of ram and LAMP looked awful good to the bean counters.

    I guess it’s only fair that I say, “Ben Forta, I knew your books well.”

  2. The indicator is how many CF jobs are out there… precious few and this has been the case for a long time. This will get worse with more companies, typically running Microsoft, opting for asp.schnet just to keep everything integrated.

    Pity, as Coldfusion lets you think about the overall application rather than being stuck figuring out the code.

  3. Long time reader, first time poster. I’m a CF programmer for that very reason, it’s easy and quick to jump into. I definitely don’t consider myself a hard core programmer, as my friends who program in .NET and JAVA will quickly attest.

    I know this question [will CF die?] came up with Adobe recently and their huge push on Apollo, etc. Adobe says they’ll continue to support the language and community. However, it appears to being pushed simply as an interface with the database as their FLEX initiative gains ground.

    It would be sad. But where do I go now, what can I learn that is flexible, secure, open source and won’t evoke snickers? Ruby on Rails? PHP? Or do I just hire you guys?

  4. But where do I go now,

    Good, well-written PHP is a fine option (note the “good” and “well-written” qualifiers — see this post).

    I would say RoR, but there’s such a learning curve there. It’s so far removed from standard, Model 1 Web development that’d you have to be prepared to make a big paradigm shift. It would be a good one, for sure, but a big one nonetheless.

    Not ASP.Net. See this post.

    Not J2EE for the same reason, besides the fact that it’s too “enterprisey” for its own good in most cases.

    What’s left? Python? Perl/CGI? I don’t have much experience with either.

    In summary, PHP is going to be your easiest jump. Just be sure you write good PHP. The world has more than enough crappy PHP hackers.

  5. Thanks for the response! I’ve read a lot about RoR and seen that it is a steeper learning curve, because I want to really move deep in to open source and agile development. I see a lot of good coming out of RoR. Thanks again!

  6. cf will introduce cf9 < - cf is amazing, get a grip, testing environment is free and worth the time. Use flex to extend cf capabilities!!! Post like these bring the cf attitude down. STOP!!!

  7. It’s so amusing to look back at old posts like this and see how way off it is. ColdFusion is here to stay, and with Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia and all of it’s product line, it’s just a matter of time before it’s finally given the respect it deserves.

    BTW, for those who think that CF is not a real programming language, you just don’t know how to use it. Take a look at it again. You may be surprised.

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