Jul 9 2010

Killing ColdFusion With Kindness

Posted by Mike Brunt at 6:40 AM ColdFusion | JRun-J2EE

There have been many in the ColdFusion world who have put hours of personal effort into creating so many things that were designed to improve CF and also to help all of us to create better applications.  My life is spent in "the engine room" as I call it, "the heart of the matter" the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).  There is absolutely no doubt that if things are not right there they will never be right anywhere and that will hurt ColdFusion in the long-term and already has, by companies making the decision to leave CF for alternatives.  One of my motivations is to show clients that CF is stable, can scale etc and we have done that many times. Even taking on those wanting help to leave CF only to see the light after our work. Sometimes, though, that is very difficult to do because the client has gotten enmeshed in one of the paradigms created to improve ColdFusion, a framework perhaps and either it was never load tested properly before roll-out or there is a misunderstanding from the client as to how it should be used. Either way, ColdFusion suffers and in the worse case scenario, we lose a ColdFusion user.  This is the worst of all worlds because the creator of the paradigm spent many, many hours creating it to benefit all of us, hours not paid for and the client/user spends hours of frustration trying to figure out why there is instability and failure.  Here are some small steps that could help in all of this, from my experience.

 

  • If you are going to create something that could be widely accepted please consider the consequences/maintenance needed.  In its heyday, FuseBox had a council and a good number of heads working on it.
  • If your new paradigm is made to work with others already out there, find some way to load test them together, applications under load behave totally differently to those under no load at all. 
  • If, as a user/developer, you are going to commit your organization to embrace a particular paradigm/framework, please see what level of support there is and will be.  Unlike FuseBox many of the current paradigms completely consume your application and it becomes virtually impossible to move away from such a paradigm.  Code organization is a good thing and paradigms such as Hibernate are very widely supported, for instance.  We cannot realistically expect one or two persons to support and maintain something for ever, whilst having to earn a living.  Also one or two people cannot consult to the whole CF world.
  • Also, if I can help with anyone thinking of putting some paradigm out there for the CF community and I have the breathing space and time I will try to help, we have a load testing lab but I will need all the necessary pieces and instructions.

 

My last points are these, it is far better to use paradigms that Adobe or at least a large community support, even if they are not quite as feature rich and simplicity is almost always better.

 

Comments

Steve Withington

Steve Withington wrote on 07/09/10 8:14 AM

You present some interesting viewpoints and good challenges. For example, I've been doing quite a bit of work with Mura CMS and recently integrated a FW/1 application as a plugin ... but it wasn't exactly what I would call _easy_. I've load tested some of my Mura sites in the past, but really didn't give it a thought to load testing my plugin with Mura, etc.

Anyway, interesting thoughts and thanks for sharing.
Adam Presley

Adam Presley wrote on 07/09/10 8:35 AM

A good read, and I couldn't agree more.
Mike Brunt

Mike Brunt wrote on 07/09/10 8:44 AM

@ Steve thanks for the comment, I would class Mura as supported well and FW1 as born of simplicity. I can't imagine FW1 totally subsuming an application. I would always load test everything, individually and collectively.
Mike Brunt

Mike Brunt wrote on 07/09/10 8:45 AM

@Adam, thank you for your comment.
Tony Brandner

Tony Brandner wrote on 07/09/10 9:24 AM

Hey Mike, great post. Good points about the importance of load testing early in the decision making process and keeping the level of support in mind.

I've walked into a few companies and helped them get up and running on new frameworks or CF versions, and helping them make those initial choices can be really tough. To make it worse, there are seldom benchmarks of the old system to compare to, and no realistic expectations on what they want the new platform to do (ie - 'we just want it faster').

I'm curious about your mentions of Fusebox... am I missing a subtle point here?

Tony
Mike Brunt

Mike Brunt wrote on 07/09/10 9:28 AM

@Tony thanks for your comment and for sharing your experiences. I mentioned FuseBox because there was a council of 4 or 5 people, if I recall the number correctly and it was well used and not over invasive. In essence to pull an application out of FuseBox was not that difficult. Those are the reasons I mention FuseBox.
Alan McCollough

Alan McCollough wrote on 07/09/10 9:41 AM

Excellent article in all points. These days, an app is as likely to be treated as a plug-in component as it is to be a standalone product. Integration is often left up to the developer.

I still use Fusebox 3 daily, and imho, it's the pinnacle of the FB experience. Your comments about unrealistic expectations for support ring true. I think the curse of the internet is that everybody has grown accustomed to getting thousands of man-hours of labor for free. Nothing is free. We as developers cannot assume that the creators of component "X" will be around tomorrow to tweak it, fix it, or even blog about it.
Mike Brunt

Mike Brunt wrote on 07/09/10 11:19 AM

@Alan, thank you very much for your comments. FuseBox 4 - MVC actually enabled me to bring 3 Smalltalk developers into ColdFusion as they could relate to CF when it had a recognizable structure. And yes, nothing is free.
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