Why I’m moving from Coldfusion to PHP

People have spent a lot of time both predicting the death of Coldfusion, as well as refuting that assertion. Of course, it’s not really “dying”. It’s still very popular in government and higher education (I don’t have any stats to back this up, but this is what I’ve observed). Everywhere else, however, it’s market share appears to be small compared to PHP, Rails, etc. I blame Macromedia/Adobe for not providing a free, open-source version and for not marketing it sufficiently. Railo has filled the open-source hole, but it’s too little, too late.


It doesn’t matter that Coldfusion is a great tool for Getting Things Done. New developers are going to be drawn to languages with thriving frameworks (yes, CF has frameworks. I like CFWheels. There just aren’t many under active development and a lot of CF developers still don’t use them), low cost entry, and unlimited hosting choices. Old developers see that fewer new opportunities include Coldfusion as the solution in spite of its strengths. So you have to be able to adapt. I can’t go into great detail in comparing Coldfusion to [your language here] because I’m a self-described hack. If you want that, you can check out this blog post and comments.

Frankly, I don’t build apps large enough that would really expose the weaknesses and strengths of CF, PHP, etc. I do know that I can do cool things with very little code in CF and the PHP learning curve is slowing me down for now. But it doesn’t matter any way. What matters is career survival and future opportunities.

Why PHP?

Everything above that I described as a negative about Coldfusion is just the opposite with PHP. Tons of active frameworks, supported by just about every web host, unlimited opportunities, low-cost entry, etc. etc. It’s really reached a new level of maturity with 5.3+ and frameworks like Laravel promise to bring some of that Rails developer-love back to PHP. I’ll do another post later about Laravel from a hack’s point of view, but I’ve already discovered the power of command-line PHP using Laravel’s Tasks and Artisan. I can see the value of Composer while playing with the Laravel 4 alpha. I can see the value of being able to publish an app on infinitely more web hosts than is possible with CF. So basically, Coldfusion, it’s not you, it’s me.

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