Below is a an internal Adobe employee intranet article that was posted with the launch of ColdFusion 8. It provides a bit of a "behind the scenes" peek into the making of ColdFusion 8 and contains a few notable quotes from some of the key Adobe executives that helped make ColdFusion 8 possible.
An internal Adobe staff writer interviewed a bunch of us on the ColdFusion 8 team, the following is the result, and I thought you might find it an interesting read.
ColdFusion 8: Lightning in a Bottle
July 30, 2007
Adobe announces ColdFusion 8, the highly anticipated new release of a product used by approximately 350,000 Internet application developers worldwide.
Adobe today announced ColdFusion 8, the latest version of a product used by hundreds of thousands of developers to create compelling Internet applications quickly and with ease. This is the first release of ColdFusion since Adobe acquired Macromedia in December 2005.
“This release is like lightning in a bottle – it’s something special,” commented David Mendels, senior vice president, Productivity Business Unit. “Thousands of customers can’t wait to get their hands on it, and our ColdFusion team has done an exceptional job making it the most powerful and versatile version of the product ever.”
“ColdFusion 8 rocks!” added Kevin Lynch, chief software architect and senior vice president, Platform Business Unit. “It has an impressive array of new capabilities, including integration with LiveCycle Data Services, support for Ajax data binding and presentation, smooth Flex integration, image compositing, PDF reports, and much more.”
“It clearly reflects how the ColdFusion team continues to listen to customers,” Lynch continued. “This release will enable hundreds of thousands of ColdFusion developers to solve real-world web application challenges more quickly and with even more engaging, effective user interfaces.”
For nearly all of its development cycle, ColdFusion 8 was part of the former Enterprise and Developer BU, which was recently merged with the Knowledge Worker BU to form the Productivity BU, led by Mendels. With the reorganization, ColdFusion is now part of the Platform BU headed by Lynch.
What Is ColdFusion 8?
ColdFusion 8 enables developers to quickly and easily create compelling websites and other Internet applications that can be smoothly integrated in virtually any enterprise environment. The version announced today is the fastest ever, even when running applications built with a previous version. It is loaded with new and enhanced features based on extensive, ongoing customer feedback.
“Customers absolutely love ColdFusion 8 because it’s easy to learn, fun to use, and powerful enough to create real-world, data-rich, enterprise-class applications, without having to go through a painful learning curve. In fact, most developers find the product fun to use,” said Ben Forta, senior technical evangelist.
Who Will Use ColdFusion 8?
ColdFusion 8 will be used by developers who want to create faster, more compelling Internet applications in less time, and IT project managers who want to improve the productivity of their teams. “And they want it immediately,” said Forta. “Indeed, many of the beta testers have already started deploying ColdFusion 8 even before the product is shipped.”
Now 12 years old, the product already has an intensely loyal following and is used by more than 10,000 organizations, including 75 companies in the Fortune 100. Well known enterprise customers include AT&T Wireless, Bank of America, Boeing, Caterpillar and U.S. Bank. Other institutions, such as the Mayo Clinic, the Peace Corps, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania also rely on ColdFusion.
By far the largest segment of ColdFusion customers work in national, state and local governments. In fact, many public-facing .gov websites such as the U.S. Senate, National Park Service, UK Parliament and European Commission have been built with the product.
Many customers use ColdFusion to build public-facing Internet applications. Others rely on it to build non-public-facing Intranet applications. For instance, both Adobe.com and Inside Adobe are built with ColdFusion.
Reasons to Buy or Upgrade
The ColdFusion 8 product marketing team and employees in Worldwide Field Marketing list many compelling reasons to buy or upgrade to ColdFusion 8, saying customers can:
Experience out-of-the-box performance gains – even for applications written with a prior version – because ColdFusion 8 is the fastest version of the product ever
Use the Server Monitor to see exactly what is happening in every application, and identify and fix bottlenecks via a sophisticated Flex interface
Debug applications more easily and effectively than ever
Enhance the end-user’s experience and productivity by creating personalized, multimedia-rich applications in Flex or Ajax, making it possible to interact with PDF forms and view rich-media, on-demand presentations
Smoothly integrate Internet applications with nearly any enterprise environment thanks to support for Java and .NET objects
Leverage ColdFusion 8’s integration with Microsoft Exchange Server to enable applications to access calendars, contacts and tasks
Deploy applications natively on leading J2EE server platforms including IBM WebSphere, BEA WebLogic, and JBoss
Building on a Successful Beta
Focused efforts to market the ColdFusion 8 release began months ago. The product’s public beta, announced on May 30, was extensively marketed by targeted email, blogs and on appropriate websites. Ben Forta and Adam Lehman, ColdFusion specialist, visited 41 cities in four weeks to meet with ColdFusion developer groups. They, along with Tim Buntel and Jason Delmore, also presented at dozens of events, demonstrating key features and benefits of the beta release.
“We targeted meeting with 2,000 developers and ended up meeting with more than 3,000,” said Forta. “Many of them can’t wait to get their hands on the product, and survey results indicate that the vast majority of attendees plan on upgrading and deploying the new ColdFusion immediately.”
As a result of the tour and other marketing efforts, 14,000 developers took part in the public beta – nearly three times the target of 5,000 set by the ColdFusion 8 team. “ColdFusion 8 has so many great features, and we’re already seeing developers create innovative applications that display the power and versatility of this release,” said Jason Delmore, senior product manager.
Spreading the Word
Now ColdFusion 8’s marketing team is building on the momentum created during the public beta by aggressively promoting the launch, with an emphasis on the product’s existing base of customers and government as a key vertical. According to Andrea Woolner, senior marketing manager, tactics in the campaign include:
Targeted email announcing ColdFusion 8 to the product’s large base of loyal customers around the world
Paid search ads
A new banner ad for highly trafficked developer websites
Blogging (there are scores if not hundreds of ColdFusion 8 bloggers, including many members of the development team at Adobe)
Advertising on the ColdFusion 8 community website
Live events and training, including a launch event, House of Fusion, this week in Washington, D.C., and upcoming AJAX conferences
Sessions at Adobe’s MAX event in October
The product marketing team has also created a wealth of new content for Adobe.com, including a customer video, customer testimonials, demos, data sheets, white papers, and more.
Behind the Scenes – Developing ColdFusion 8
ColdFusion 8 was developed by Adobe employees in Newton, Massachusetts, and Bangalore, India. “We had team members in Bangalore and in the U.S.,” said Damon Cooper, director of engineering. “It was a bit of a challenge with the time difference, but we made it work. We had an outstanding team.”
Cooper said the research phase of development started in September 2005 and lasted about 18 weeks. Everyone on the engineering team – both in development and quality engineering – split into subgroups with about five or six team members. Each subgroup focused on a specific area related to the next release; for example, competitive products or the server environment in the enterprise.
After researching their respective areas, the subgroups reported back to the ColdFusion 8 team as a whole and communicated their findings and recommendations. “Everyone was involved,” explained Cooper. “As a result, I think everyone became a passionate champion for certain new features and enhancements.”
When considering the subgroups’ recommendations, the team as a whole looked at
Benefits to customers
The cost of building a feature
The potential return to Adobe
Integration with Other Adobe Products
After Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia, which took place a few months into the development cycle, a big focus for the product and development teams became making sure that ColdFusion 8 leveraged other Adobe products.
“We had some great opportunities to leverage other Adobe technologies to enhance the power of ColdFusion, including PDF, Acrobat Presenter and LiveCycle Data Services,” said Delmore. “We wanted to make sure that ColdFusion 8 took advantage of everything Adobe had to offer, and demonstrate Adobe’s commitment to the product.”
Once the ColdFusion 8 team decided on a feature set and built early prototypes, they began meeting with customers through the Synchronous Development (Synch Dev) process. Synch Dev is a customer-driven development process that requires engaging with users early and often. It was broadly used at Macromedia and usually involves five waves of customer visits, totaling about 30 half-days.
“As we went through Synch Dev, we ended up refining and refining and refining to the point that we felt very good about our feature list and the future of the product,” said Cooper.
After each Synch Dev wave of customer product validation visits, the product pitch and prototypes were modified to take customers’ feedback into account, before the next wave of customer visits began,” recalled Cooper.
Once the picture of the final product and the must-have features became clear, the engineering team began feature-design and development work. The development process was broken into “Dev Blocks” averaging about 12-15 weeks each in duration. As each Dev Block was completed, the entire engineering team went into a two week closedown period – for example, just prior to the Alpha 1 release, the Alpha 2 release, the Beta 1 release, the full public beta (internal release candidate), and the GMC/final releases.
“At each stage, we invited customers to participate. We didn't want to miss anything major,” said Cooper.
All Hands on Deck
Prior to the public beta and every milestone release, the ColdFusion 8 team had a close-down period that required “all hands on deck,” recalled Cooper. “For two weeks, every development engineer, every quality engineer, put their feature development pencils down and focused solely on making sure all aspects of the product were the absolute best they could be.”
“Everyone on the team understands that quality is a feature and probably the most important feature that we ship,” Cooper continued. “Knowing how many customers rely on our technology, we all wanted to get it right.”
Early feedback from beta customers and developers at conferences indicates that the team has, indeed, got it right.
“Members of our team recently attended the CFUnited Conference, and after breakout session on Ajax, they were mobbed,” recalled Cooper. “Many of the 600 developers who attended those sessions, as well as others at the conference, wanted to know how ColdFusion 8 was built, how we did it. Some of our guys felt like rock stars.”
Delmore added, “As we went through the Synch Dev process, customer feedback went from great to ecstatic. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this launch will be something big. This release could have a huge impact.”
“I agree,” said Cooper. “I think the ColdFusion 8 team has done something pretty extraordinary here.”
Employees Referenced in this Story