Blog

10
November 2015

Gavin Pickin

Building a Bigger Better CFML Community

CFML Language, CFML Server, cfObjective, Conferences, Dev.Objective, Lucee

I have been thinking about submitting a session or two for dev.Objective(), especially fueled by yesterday’s CFML Panel at CF Summit. I decided we need to be more vocal, so I wanted to write an outline for a session to submit to dev.Objective(). The more I thought about it, and discussed with people in the hallways, I came to the conclusion to make it more than a normal track session, but maybe a keynote, or a general session… so there are no other sessions competing with it… because I think it’s something EVERYONE should think about.

Please note, I am not saying that I am the one that should be leading the charge, giving the talks, or calling the shots, but I have an idea, I have a lot of ideas, some good, most bad, but sometimes putting an idea out there, can let it snowball and evolve into something good, and that’s what I am doing here. I encourage you to speak out, respond in comments, and let’s start a conversation.

 

So how do we build a bigger better CFML Community?

I think the short answer is : Open source and Community Backed Products / Projects
Long answer is we need to stop talking, and focus on small things we can all do to help, and work smarter not harder.

Here is a longer brain dump of what a session could include, or ideas for how we could start building a bigger better community today.

 

Google

Do you know what google is? Do you know how it works?

Well, it looks like our community doesn’t, Adobe docs is proof that we need help. One of the biggest complaints aside from documentation, is trying to find docs, examples, and getting started. We have all of it, but Google doesn’t know it’s there, for a number of reasons… and the biggest one, that all of us can contribute to, is:

LINK TO THOSE SITES FROM YOUR WEBSITE

I admit, I don’t do it either, I need to do it, and so do you.
It’s a small thing that everyone can do.

Google cares about links, it cares about number of links, pagerank of those pages that link.

  • How many of you know what TRYCF is?
  • How many use TRYCF?
  • How many of you link to that site from your site?

If everyone linked to those great resources we have, google will notice, and those resources will be easier to find for those who know what they are, but, also, those who don’t know what they are, might have a chance to find it.

Today when you go home, you need to add links to

Add them to your blog, your company website, your User Group Site (CF JS or whatever)... we need to put them everywhere.

 

Documentation

Yes, I know, ColdFusion cut off our access to the CF Docs Wiki, and they will/might give some of us access in some way shape or form in the future… but as a developer, I do not just work with ColdFusion, so why not help a project that documents the CFML language and its engines.

Adobe has docs, lucee has docs, but the value I see, is cfdocs.org run by Pete.
It’s open source, you can contribute, you can add more examples, notate when Lucee has a different behavior, or missing attribute, or when there is a bug, or a workaround. We can grow it, build it, and we (with Pete of course) can shape its future.
Pete even has a leaderboard for showing you who has committed, how many lines, how many commits.

So now you know why we should support it, we should show you how to support it. I propose the session walks you through the process, and then maybe have a BIRD of FEATHER section on it, or a hackathon, use Pete’s leaderboard to gamify it, and maybe give out some prizes for those who submit to the project during the conference.

 

Training Documents

Adobe has documents that they are willing to share to train people. This has been around for a couple of years. Adam had seen an early version, and it looks like the old CFWACK books showing people all the reasons why they shouldn’t be using ColdFusion. Adam and I requested a copy of the training materials, so we could see if its the image we as a community (including Adobe in that reference) want to be putting forward. We never got access to them, I’ll bug Elishia to see if we can get them now. Just because training materials are out there, doesn’t mean its going to help grow the language.

The short of it is, CF in Script, is a nice language (would be nicer is it was ecma compliant like javascript and other script languages) and some people might not even be able to tell what language cf really is.If we have outdated and non best practice code in our training docs, we won’t get the right people, or the right penetration with new developers.
Learn CF in a Week was a nice idea, solid offering, good starting point. Has it been updated? What else could we add to it? Can we contribute more information?

 

Community Compilation / Curation Sites

CF Bloggers is a great way to find CF Blog Posts, or bloggers, talking about whatever they’re working with now, and that’s great.

What about Videos? There are loads of videos out there, for ColdFusion with Online Meetup, Ortus Developer Week, NC DevCon Recordings, but there are other user groups out there, recording, but we should set up something like cfmlvideos.com where we can list videos, allow comments, allow vote up and vote down, categorization, and make a one stop shop for finding all of these resources.

You might say, what happened to that CF Community Portal? God knows.
That’s what happens when Adobe runs a project, we need the community to run the project. When Adobe didn’t do docs right, Pete stood up with CFDocs.

When Adobe didn’t do CLI, Ortus stepped up with Commandbox and Forgebox for package management.
We need to step up and do what needs to be done… this is just another example.

 

Online Presentations and Videos

With Charlie’s Online Meetup, and User Group Meetups, NC DevCon and Ortus Developer Week, you might think we have a lot of content out there? CF Online Meetup used to meet 2-3 times a month. We have had 1 presentation in 2015 ( by Charlie) and 5 in 2014. I haven’t recorded one with Charlie, although I have done a few with Ortus Developer Week, but as a community, with all of the speakers we have, all the great sessions we give, we NEED to make an effort to give those presentations with Charlie and get them online.

My schedule isn’t flexible enough to do it?
Well, Charlie said he is “desperate” for presentations, that he would work around the presenters schedule.

We need to step up, and I am guilty too. We need to get the information out there to the others that didn’t make it to CF Summit, or dev.Objective(), or Into the Box, or NC DevCon. We owe it to the community to get our presentations recorded, and share them.

You got a free conference, free hotels, for presenting. You spent hours and hours and hours working on your slides, your code, your live demos, your stress and blood-pressure went through the roof, but can’t you spare 1 more hour to record it? (looking in the mirror when I say this)

 

Why do I work with Ortus Solutions?

My decision to work with Ortus was because of their commitment to the community.
MxUnit died, so Testbox was born.
Package Manager and CLI was lacking, so Forgebox and CommandBox was born.

Ortus has been accused of trying to take over the world, “One Box at a time”… but they are adding building blocks, building a foundation, for the community to be successful, but there are lots of things we can all do… small and large, so let’s do it.

 

Summary

We love the community. We have a vested interest. We like to complain, we like to give ideas, feedback, but we need to DO SOMETHING, even something as small as linking to important resources.
We all TALK THE TALK, we need to WALK THE WALK.

I challenge you to make a difference. I challenge you to challenge your peers.

Let’s DO something about it.

by Leon O'Daniel
11/10/2015 08:01:46 PM

All good points Gavin. We do need to walk the walk. My company is in the process of a complete site redesign and I am commiting to adding a resources page that includes all of the links you suggested. Also, we have been pretty busy at Boeing creating CF videos, so I'm sure that we could contribute some for our larger CF community.

by roger tubby
11/11/2015 02:18:09 PM

Wow, Gavin - I can't believe I'm the first to comment on your great post. Perhaps moderation is what it is.

You raise a lot of good points. For whatever reason Adobe seems to stifle attempts to bring documentation into the 21st century - well perhaps the 21.1 century.

Is this because they can't control the message? Or is it because alternative engines (Lucee) would also be able to make use of the common syntax/actions?

I'm not currently working with CF so my input is probably not important. However I think most of your points are right on and would help anyone else that is involved.

by Phillip Senn
11/16/2015 01:54:14 PM

I'd like to work on a project where people vote on various tags and commands so that a new person can see which tags and command are used the most.

For instance, why even bother reading and trying to understand with cfpod is if no one is using it?

At the opposite extreme is cfquery, which I don't use any longer. I use stored procedures exclusively now, and not the tag version but the scripted version.

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