On ColdFusion Builder vs CFEclipse and the Sky Falling

Maybe you’ve heard…

Adobe recently published a whitepaper (PDF) comparing ColdFusion Builder and CFEclipse (see Adam Lehman’s post here). Some people were, um… less than enthusiastic about this.

With the full disclaimer that I do not work for Adobe, nor was I even aware of the effort to put this paper together (I didn’t know about it until after it was published… right around the time many others first saw it), I’d like to offer up a response. My response is directed more towards the overall reaction to the paper than to the paper itself. The opinions expressed are mine entirely. And they’re just that. Opinions. Mine. OK, glad we’re clear on that.

First and foremost, Adobe is a publicly traded corporation. They exist to make money. That’s not inherently a bad thing. We all do it. Some better than others, but we all strive to make money. At the very least, to cover our expenses. To put food on the table and a roof over our heads. Ideally, enough to buy shiny toys.

Adobe expects to make money on ColdFusion Builder (CFB). If they don’t, then There’s no more CFB. Some might say that’s fine… but there’s a reason CFB exists. Adobe was responding to what they saw as a request from the community as a whole. There were rumblings that the lack of a dedicated IDE fueled the notion that ColdFusion wasn’t a “real language” (ugh). Yes, there was CFEclipse, but there were enough people who seemed to think that the lack of an officially sanctioned IDE translated to a flaw in the language itself. Right or wrong, the perception existed. So Adobe’s response was to provide that IDE.

But yes, they expect to make money on it. They’ve invested money, and as previously noted, they’re a publicly traded corporation, so the goal is to turn a profit.

In trying to do that, they have to look at the objections that they’ve received, and figure out how to overcome those objections. That’s just how you sell a product.

Obviously, one of the objections that’s fairly common is, “Why should I -buy- ColdFusion Builder when CFEclipse is free?”. More to the point, I think that a common objection is “Why should I -buy- ColdFusion Builder when CFEclipse is free and does everything that ColdFusion Builder does?”.

As a customer, or a potential customer, that’s a very valid question. As Adobe, there needs to be a very valid response. The whitepaper in question is meant to be that response. And that’s all the whitepaper is supposed to be.

It’s not an attack. It should be possible to extol the virtues of one product without that being seen as an attack on a competing product. Liking one better doesn’t make the other one inherently bad. I don’t see where Adobe explicitly said, “CFEclipse is bad”. Unfortunately, there’s certainly an implication of “superior” to “inferior” when making such a comparison, and nobody wants to be thought of as inferior. So people react defensively and/or get offended.

I understand this. CFEclipse is a very nice product, and a lot of people (from Rob Rohan to Mark Drew to Jim Priest to Denny Valiant to a slew of others that I’m sure I’m overlooking) have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the product. And they did it on their own dime, forsaking time with family, time with friends, or just time away from the computer. And now perhaps they feel like they’re being taunted by the big kid on the playground who’s stomping about proclaiming, “I’m better than you”.

Unfortunately, this perception doesn’t help anybody. It doesn’t help the CFEclipse user who feels slighted, because that’s just not a nice feeling to have. It doesn’t help Adobe, who is just trying to do their job, but is now perceived as the evil corporate giant trying to crush the free willed spirit of the independent developer. And it doesn’t help the CFML community at large.

That last part is where it starts to affect me personally, and is the motivation for this post. We’re a pretty small niche community. We all know that. We get picked on pretty much 24/7 for not being a “real language”, or having to dispel the myth every few months that ColdFusion is dying. Whether you use Adobe ColdFusion, Railo, OpenBD, ColdFusion Builder or CFEclipse… you’re the little guy. You’re part of a small but passionate group that’s constantly fighting external sources. And that’s tiring. Trust me, I know. I’ve been doing it for 14 years.

Fighting external sources is one thing. Today, the terrain has changed. We’re now fighting each other. Not to be all “Chicken Little”, but I’m here to tell you folks, that we can’t fight the same fight that we’ve been engaged in over the last 14 years if we’re spending our time fighting each other. Divide and conquer is a fairly common tactic to employ when trying to defeat a group. The first part of that tactic is the division. If you can do that, the conquering is easy.

It’d be a damn shame if we were the ones responsible for the division.

We’re all human and all subject to emotional responses. I’m asking that before we go public with those responses, we take a moment to compose ourselves and consider the response as objectively as we can. I mean all of us. Adobe people. Railo people. OpenBD people. Developers. You. Me.

As a community, we’re either going to stand together or die alone.