Jun 10 2009

Would Allaire Have Survived Without Macromedia?

Posted by Mike Brunt at 6:38 AM ColdFusion | JRun-J2EE


I was in a comment thread with Todd Rafferty today via Facebook.  Basically it revolved around performance issues I often see with heavy CFC based apps, particularly those based on frameworks with a CFC based core.  Anyway, it got me thinking back to Allaire, Allaire, of course, were the creators of ColdFusion and they also launched Spectra and acquired JRun when they bought Live Software back in 1999.  I joined Allaire late in 1999 as a ColdFusion-Spectra consultant, it was a seminal moment for me, a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, very, very enjoyable.  When I joined Allaire they had around 600 employees and were moving to an incredible new facility in Newton MA, in fact they took a whole building with three floors, if I recall.  As a CF user, I remember being puzzled by the acquisition of JRun, it seemed to me to be a competitive mechanism to ColdFusion, it was a servlet engine based on Java.  Of course Jeremy and JJ Allaire, along with others, had a vision, to launch a Java based version of ColdFusion.  I should also mention that Alan Williamson of the Open BlueDragon initiative and of course engineer on BlueDragon actually launched the first Java based CFML engine, I think it was called TagServlet, apologies if I got that wrong.  In any case that was before Allaire-Macromedia launched CFMX 6.0, the first Java based version of ColdFusion.

So after that trip down memory lane, here is my main point-thought.  In late 2000 the hot winds of the dotcom meltdown were blowing hard and Allaire had grown in size and revenue as a result of the dotcom boom. Also the first version of ColdFusion, MX6.0, was not a good version, not by a long chalk.  So I wonder, if Macromedia had not acquired Allaire, would they have survived without large scale cost cutting and would they have been financially capable of carrying out the wholesale re-write of ColdFusion, which version MX6.1 was; almost a complete re-write?



Dan Roberts

Dan Roberts wrote on 06/10/09 7:33 AM

Did you just say that between 6.0 and 6.1 there was essentially a rewrite, or do you mean from 5 to 6.1?

I don't know enough about Allaire to comment but have a question about CF performance. I don't hear much about performance problems with languages ported to the JVM so I'm curious why CF has these problems. Does this simply come down the to approach of having every function compile to a class?
Michael Dinowitz

Michael Dinowitz wrote on 06/10/09 10:26 AM

CF_Anywhere from Livesoftware was the first Java based CF engine.
Mike Brunt

Mike Brunt wrote on 06/10/09 11:03 AM

@Dan thanks for the comment and yes CFMX 6.1 was pretty much a re-hashing of CFMX 6.0 from what I was told.

The question about functions compiling to classes is a good one. I have thought that would cause issues because of the number of objects in memory and the resultant high number of GC's necessary. I have never been able to totally confirm that though.
Mike Brunt

Mike Brunt wrote on 06/10/09 11:05 AM

@Michael, thank for this, I honestly can't recall that one so it is good to know. One other non-Java offshoot was something called iHtml. I think I recall that was started by someone who left Allaire.

Brandon wrote on 06/30/09 7:23 AM

If the rewrite from 5.x to 6.0 had no occured when it did I do not think Macromedia would have made the investment to do it. The timing for the rewrite could not have been better.

A side note: From 6.0 to 6.1 the focus was on quality and performance. The first J2EE release (6.0) was really buggy and slow to compile CFML to java. Initially it converted from CFML to Java, then used Jikes (like JSP) to compile into a class file. Using an open source project this process was changed to convert directly from CFML to byte code. This made a major difference in perceived performance (at least while developing). There are so many other changes that occurred as well but 6.1 was in my mind the most important release of ColdFusion ever and what has kept the Allaire/Macromedia/Adobe version alive.

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