Better late than never, I wanted to post some quick thoughts on last week's CFUnited conference in Washington D.C. As always, TeraTech put on a great conference.
There were a few issues. The conference center was a good distance (15-20 minute walk) from the conference rooms themselves, which became a bit of a pain if one wanted to return to the hotel for some reason. The lunch food was a mixed bag, and there always seemed to be a shortage, especially if one chose to arrive a bit late to avoid the initial rush. But the rooms were generally large enough to hold the audiences, the projectors and microphones worked fine in every session I attended, and the presentations themselves were all very well done. Since I was the Frameworks Track Chairman, I was happy to hear from many folks that those sessions were particularly well received.
As often seems to be the case with conferences, an equal or greater amount of interesting information arose in the post-conference bar gatherings and at the evening networking events. It's always great to speak at length with folks like Hal Helms, Joe Rinehart, Sean Corfield, Peter Bell, and the members of the Adobe team (I had great conversations with Adam, Jason, and Ben).
I had the chance to meet Gert Franz, the CEO of Railo, and he was a stunningly nice guy. Railo seemed to be present in nearly every conversation, whether it was related to open source, or to ideas in Railo that could be adopted by Adobe, or to the underlying technical implementation of Raio itself. There are some really interesting things going on or coming soon in the Railo engine. The fact that Railo CFCs compile to a single Java class was very foresightful and something I think Adobe may want to look at carefully. Also, the ability to have a CFC extend a Java class seems to have a great deal of potential.
Adobe showed off some of their plans for ColdFusion "Centaur", and it looks very interesting. The integration with Hibernate is something I have lobbied for, and it has the potential to be a huge deal. However, there are some big potential issues with it and it remains to be seen how the Adobe engineers will overcome them. Because CFC creation can get quite slow, particularly in larger numbers, there seems to be a danger that using Hibernate will empower CF developers to generate large arrays of components (Hibernate typically returns arrays of Java objects). To be clear, whether CFHibernate will actually do this remains to be seen since the keynote demo only dealt with one object at a time. But since this is such a core element of Hibernate I would assume that it will be a target feature. But if this does happen, I do hope the wizards on the CF engineering team can address this issue.
Ben and Adam hinted about as vaguely as they could about a possible ColdFusion IDE that may (or may not) be demo'ed at Adobe Max later this year. The lack of a great IDE is another topic that came up in just about every conversation I had, so my fingers are crossed on this one.
Even with all the interesting stuff that Adobe was showing off, that is probably a year or more away from being released. In the meantime, some incredibly interesting stuff is going on right now with regard to things like Groovy. Barney Boisvert has a very cool Groovy scriptlets tag that will allow execution of blocks of Groovy code. Joe Rinehart is working with Hibernate, Railo, and Groovy together. I heard lots of talk about integration with Spring to provide more seamless usage of these underlying Java libraries, as well as leveraging things like Spring's built-in security model. The basic jist is, people are really starting to do some interesting things with the range of Java tools and APIs that we have at our disposal. I have made it a high priority to read up and experiment with Groovy because everything I heard about it at the conference sounded quite amazing.
In any event, hopefully people can see that a lot of very interesting stuff was going on at CFUnited, and not just in the sessions themselves. It's amazing what happens when a bunch of like-minded computer geeks get together and start spinning all their wheels at the same time!