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As I was sitting in the Adobe Cold Fusion Summit 2013 keynote, one of the topics was a new feature called CFClient. Since I live in the middle tier/back end of the CF development world I was only mildly interested in the new feature. While listening I was a bit surprised by the nearly immediate bashing of the feature. The CFClient portion of the keynote wasn’t even over before everybody had already decided it was a horrible choice by Adobe to even develop.
I am not a mobile app developer, but I suspect that existing developers are not the target audience for CFClient. I remember back in the early days of HTML, I scoffed when applications like PageMill were released. I thought “If you want a web site, you should hire somebody who knows how to build them!!!” Admittedly, that was a very self-serving opinion to have. PageMill, without an understanding of what was happening under the hood, suddenly gave people the ability to create sites with absolutely dreadful code powering them. This wasn’t a positive result, but it also gave people an avenue to learn. Suddenly the world-wide-web wasn’t quite as intimidating. I would say the majority of people created a simple site and walked away… But there were some that looked under the hood. Tried to understand what was happening, and then shed the shackles of the WYSIWYG editor to write there own code.
I think CFClient is headed down the same road. Will the apps be pristine? Doubtful. Will the code meet the standards of “true mobile app” developers? I don’t know, but I don’t think so. Will new people finally decide to give mobile app development a try? Yes! Many will build something akin to “Hello World”, but I think several years down the road, the CF community will have new power developers due to trying out this new CFClient technology.
One of the stats I remember hearing in Ben Forta’s keynote was something like “25% of companies have mobile apps, but 85% want them”. I am roughly paraphrasing here. I think CFClient will bring those numbers together. Sure… I expect to see some really awful apps, but I also expect to see some gems as well. From Adobe’s perspective, I think this only has an upside. There will be sales decided by the managers being marketed to. Some companies don’t have mobile developers and they will pull the trigger on ColdFusion specifically because of this feature. (My opinion here). Adobe sales will increase and the development community will grow. I can’t see that as a bad thing.
To the advanced developers out there saying “I wish Adobe would focus on my needs instead of marketing to managers!”. Remember, that managers are the ones who decide to pony up the money for the CF Enterprise license. I don’t love the idea of bowing to one group of people, but this is an important group that needs some attention. I encourage existing mobile app developers to welcome new developers to the community and to help them understand how to make their apps better. If we immediately dismiss them simply because they started by using CFClient, we are going to discourage people from embracing CF.
Will CFClient survive for years to come? Or will the 2017 CFSummit keynote include this as a slide describing CFClient as a failure? I don’t know, but I look forward to finding out.
If you would like some information from a great source, Ram’s Blog (http://ramkulkarni.com/blog/cfsummit2013-day1-and-cfclient/) has an outstanding entry on the topic.