Marcos Placona Blog

Programming, technology and the taming of the web.

Category: Conferences (page 1 of 3)

All about the major conferences happening in the US and UK. Adobe Max, CFDevcon, CFUNITED, Scotch on the Rocks, SOTR

CFUnited is dead!

Reading time: 4 – 7 minutes

CFUnited is dead, but ColdFusion is alivePhoto by: cote

It came to my attention today that one of the most famous ColdFusion conferences, CFUnited,  will cease to exist from 2011 onwards. While the fact that one of the most important and longest running ColdFusion conferences in the world will not be around next year deeply saddens me, but at the same time I see it as a door opener for the new and more modern conference models.

I have never been to the American version of CFUnited myself, and believe everyone that say it’s a Summer Camp for developers. On the other hand, I have been to the European Version back in 2008, and have to say I wasn’t impressed at all. After talking to people during the conference who have actually been to the American version, I was left underwhelmed by their comments about it being 50% marketing. My first impression about the whole thing was the companies would pay a top price to have their stands around and offer their products while we tried to get something out of the conference itself. While I understand conferences aren’t cheap, i’ve been to other conferences before, and marketing wasn’t so aggressive.

Anyway, the objective of this post is not to slag CFUnited off, but to bring some hope to the hopeless, and happiness to the sad.

The end of CFUnited DOES NOT mean the end of ColdFusion (CFUnited.dead() NEQ ColdFusion.dead()). ColdFusion is alive and kicking, and after CF9, it’s been livelier than ever. Ever since Adobe bought Macromedia, ColdFusion has never been in a better situation than it is right now.

ColdFusion currently has an entire team of engineers working actively on it, and a really capable team working on it’s evangelism. Better than all that, this entire team can be easily reached by anyone willing to do so.

Some examples are:

And many others. That is without mentioning the great community the CFML language has. Some people there will remain my friends, even if I one day decide that ColdFusion is not the main technology I’ll be using.

That said, what really triggered me to write this, was a blog post by Hal Helms earlier today, where he tries to somehow tie the fact that CFUnited is only halting because ColdFusion is not strong enough, and that although people should not over-react, they should not under-react either.

This in my opinion (with all the due respect to Hal Helms) is just plain FUD, and was intentionally posted to generate flame. While I truly believe someone like Hal Helms would not need this sort of “notorious popularity”, I fail to understand what exactly his point was on posting such a thing.

I believe knowledge is the key to everything, so you should keep learning constantly, and try your best to keep on top of everything on your domain, and agree that Hal made a good point by saying this. It’s just that it doesn’t really seem like the same person who wrote this just the other day.

Now, in terms of conference, there are tons of good ones around, and just to mention some of them:

And many others as Terrence Ryan mentions here.

With that said, we still can’t forget that the CFML community got recently a tremendous addition when Railo was made open-source. This takes CFML to a whole new level, where developers coming from other languages can’t complain any more about ColdFusion being too expensive, or it’s source being too strict. There is no excuses not to use CFML. It’s got a great community always willing to help, some excellent resources all around, development of complex systems is made a breeze, and more and more companies are adopting it.

Long live to CF!

Free tickets to Scotch on the Road – Europe

Reading time: 1 – 2 minutes

Free scotch

That’s all, and there’s no catch and no tricks. Simply go now, and register for Scotch on the Road – Europe to get your free pass.
The organizers of this premier ColdFusion conference decided to innovate and beat the Credit Crunch once and for all. they are offering free passes to Scotch on the Road -Europe for all of its locations.
Simply go to their website and register for free!

SotR09 London – An honest review

Reading time: 8 – 13 minutes

So, I’ve been to Scotch On the Road 2009 here in London and will write some of my point of views on it, including some of the important things I saw there.
I want to make it clear here that all the opinions expressed herewith are solely mine, and by no means I want to be disrespectful to anyone, and hope people read my review as a constructive criticism and nothing else.
I’ll split it up by topics, so people don’t get lost on what I’m talking about.
The venue:
The Scotch guys used three rooms of The Sway Bar in London for the presentations. It couldn’t be in a better place, as it’s right in the heart of London, and within a walking distance from Holborn tube station. The main room is really spacious, and is by far the best of the rooms. The other two are not so great. One of them has a simple 40″ TV and no projectors. You’d have to squeeze if you wanted to be in track two or three, as the rooms were really small.
None of this really bothered me, as I was there for the content, and not for the technology they used. One thing that really annoyed me were the chairs, no matter where you go, the chairs would be as uncomfortable as you can think of; and I can tell you that sitting for 50+ minutes in one of those chairs is not the best experience. It’s a kind of a show stopper really, as after 20 minutes you start to get so uncomfortable that you can’t really pay 100% of attention.
The speakers:
As usual the quality of the speakers was great. Most of the speakers are well known in the Adobe community, and the contents were highly relevant. At least from the sessions point of view.
The sessions:
The keynote was made by Terry Ryan, who really gave us some fresh air on what’s coming up with ColdFusion 9. I think it was really unanimous that his presentation gave us a nice feeling about Adobe’s intentions for the ColdFusion future. He showed some impressive features on ColdFusion ORM, and some very nice examples of “code generation”. The capabilities on ColdFusion 9 are simply amazing, and it does most of the job for you, but in a clever way, so you can still make sure you are in control of the application, and not the other way round. For some reason I have a feeling that the next codename for ColdFusion will be Sagittarius. I could be wrong though ;-)
I then went to Mark Drew‘s presentation on frameworks comparison. He did a nice “show & tell” where he demonstrated most of the actual ColdFusion frameworks. What really impressed me is how nice ColdBox is. He also showed us how to install the frameworks properly, and commented about documentation for each of the frameworks. We all know how steep the learning curve can be when starting with a new framework, and in these cases, a good documentation is essential.
It was then time for Peter Bell‘s preso on Requirements and Estimating. Not too many people there, but the content was just excellent. It was certainly the best track of all IMO. I really like Peter Bell’s approach when it comes to presentation. He started giving some small examples on how to estimate small projects starting in £800, then going up to £100K projects. Estimation really varies from project to project, but he gave us some tips on what he actually uses when it comes to requirements and estimation. It was definitely a very valuable lesson. it wasn’t related to ColdFusion at all, which is great, as you can use the concepts with any technology.
I then went to Gert Franz‘s presentation on Open Source Railo. As you all know, I’ve been using Railo for a while now, and am a great fan of their work. Gert showed some great features of the oncoming version, and hinted us about the next releases. For all we know, Railo 3.2 will be released somewhere in the Fall 2009, and Railo 4 on the second quarter of 2010. I then asked Gert a few questions (after the session as we were short on time) about the new features of Railo 3.2, and the answers for my questions were:
Q: Is Railo going to have full CFScript support?
R: Yes, it will come with Railo 3.2

Q: In terms of number of users, is Railo really doing well?
R: We’ve had approximately 24 thousand downloads on the last three months and we still are not online on the JBoss website
Q:Can you overwrite functions as well as you can overwrite tags (new feature since version
R: Yes, you can simply do it the same way you do with tags (like a custom tag, but on the functions folder)
Q:The documentation for Railo is still a bit weak, do you plan to have a better documentation anytime soon?
R: Yes, we are gonna be opening the wiki, and we already have someone writing a very thorough and detailed documentation
The next session was David Stockton’s Fusion Analytics / Reactor. I really haven’t got much to say on it, as I couldn’t stand it for more than 20 minutes. Again, this is only my personal opinion, but I think David was really trying to sell his products too hard, and not really focusing on showing working examples. The company I work for is a client already, and have a few licenses of Fusion Reactor, so I’d be much more interested in learning about it then buying more licenses. I do understand that as sponsors they have the right to try to sell their products, and this is something David himself made clear at the beginning of the presentation, but he asked us to be patient as he’d be showing things. Well, I wasn’t too patient, and gave up after about 20 minutes as previously stated. I’ll be very weary about this kind of presentation in the future.
One would ask why I didn’t go to any of the other tracks. I was going to track 2 (Securing ColdFusion applications), but then was informed that this track was another “buy our products” track. Track 3 was Peter Elst’s track, and I thought it would be only a “I’m not a ColdFusion developer but am impressed with its features“. To be fair, I assume I was wrong, as I heard excellent reviews of this track later on.
At this stage I was a bit fed up, as I really didn’t have anywhere to go, so I sat with Kev McCabe and had a beer.
For the next and last session, I went to Track 3, presented by Sven Ramuschkat on performance tuning. In an overall, the track was great, as he really gave some valuable tips on ColdFusion server tuning. Not many people are actually interested in server tuning. If you are a developer, you really won’t be interested, but if you work with things like deploys, server management, and is between the ones who need to worry about server performance, you better have been to this one. Sven talked about some very simple but powerful settings you can have on your ColdFusion Administrator in order to have good performance.
He then explained a few key things about ColdFusion administrator configuration such as:

  1. You should only allow 3-5 simultaneous client connections per core, but not more than that;
  2. A good number of cached templates is 1024;
  3. You should only allow trusted cache is your source code never changes, or doesn’t change very often, and it can improve your server performance in up to 10%;
  4. Normally you should never have to restart your ColdFusion server (considering it’s got the right configuration);
  5. It’s a good practice to have “maintain connection” on your datasource configuration. That way, ColdFusion doesn’t need to open and close connections multiple times for the same session;
The presentation was then interrupted as the end keynote was about to start. So unfortunately, I couldn’t ask the questions I wanted to ask, but I hope I have the chance to talk to Sven some other time.

I really think organization is key on this kind of event, and I know the guys made their best to have it all working. Things not always happen as we expect, and none of the tracks started or ended on time. It’s no big deal really, as I enjoyed every second of my time there. The networking you can get from this kind of conference is really huge, and it would have helped if we had badges. I can think about other two or three things I’d do different in terms of organization, but in an overall, everything was as expected. There were a few flaws here and there, but we are all human and certainly make mistakes.
It was an amazing conference with a satisfactory content. Some of the content has already been discussed so many times in other conferences/meetups, but I’m sure there’s still some audience for it.
The price (£49 + VAT) was just fair considering the economic situation, and that also included 2 beers and free snacks buffet.
I had a great time catching up with some people I haven’t seen in a while, and could finally put names to some faces. I really missed badges (as previously stated) on this conference, and think they are an essential thing for this kind of event. With the new twitter hype, we get to know many people by their names, but not by their faces, so badges would really be essential to amplify your network.
I haven’t seen every single presentation, so I can’t speak for the ones I haven’t been. I’ll leave the comments open, and if you have seen any of the presentation I haven’t, or have another opinion, please feel free to back me up here.
I’d like to thank Kev McCabe and Andy Allan for the conference, and hope they keep the good work with the next conferences.

Free tickets to Scotch on the Rocks 2009!

Reading time: 2 – 3 minutes

My friend Andy Jarrett along with are giving away one free ticket to Scotch On the Road 2009.
If you don’t know what SOTR09 is, you can read up on my posts here and here.
To grab this freebie, which can be used on ANY one of the three venues, you simply need to send Andy a joke making sure it’s anything related to scotch. He’ll then pick the best ones, and give away a few prizes.
Some information about the prizes I copied from Andy’s blog:

  • 3rd place will get their joke posted on my blog on Monday, June 1st which is the first day, London, conference.

  • 2nd place will get their joke posted on my blog on Wednesday, June 3rd which is the second day, Manchester, conference.

  • 1st place will get 1 Ticket to Scotch on the Road and they will be the Fridays Joke on both my blog and the Scotch blog on the June 5th which coincides with the last day Edinburgh event. Plus there is a bottle of whisky i’m giving away that I was fortunate enough to win at a previous Scotch event

To know more about the terms & conditions, simply go to his blog.

Scotch on the Rocks 2009

Reading time: 2 – 3 minutes

Looks like once again we’re gonna have another premier ColdFusion conference in the UK. Very famous for it’s great speakers and topics in the past few years Scotch on The Rocks is now Scotch on the Road. Meaning that instead of going to Edinburgh for the conference, the conference now comes to you. Up to now, they’ve confirmed London, Manchester and of course Edinburgh.
From one of the conference’s organizer:
While staying fairly quite since before Christmas things have been
moving quite fast at SotR HQ, and we are proud to announce our lovely
new website; which will be the home of all the information you need for
each of our events.

In addition, tickets are on sale NOW and as previously indicated the pricing is:

  • GBP 49 VAT – 1 Event
  • GBP 89 VAT – 2 Events
  • GBP 129 VAT – 3 Events

We will also have a group discount of 5 for the price of 4.
Not only have we got a new website and tickets being on sale, we
have details of our first set of speakers that we have lined up for the
our little Road Trip of the UK.

  • Andy Allan
  • Peter Bell
  • Sean Corfield
  • Mark Drew
  • Serge Jespers

And as a reminder the dates and venues are:

  • Monday June 1st: London, The Sway Bar
  • Wednesday June 3rd: Manchester, TBC
  • Friday June 5th: Edinburgh, The Caves

Head over to for more information, and to buy your tickets.

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