So, I don't do this very often, but, I was asked to share a message, and it is one I agree with, so I decided to pass it along. This comes from a member of our community - so please give it a few moments of your time.

Has cf.Objective() Outgrown Its Name?

Have you considered how cf.Objective() has changed over the years? When cf.Objective() started, it seemed targeted toward ColdFusion developers who were looking to improve their ColdFusion development skills. This was awesome, and it was exactly what the community needed at the time. cf.Objective() has always had content that reflected what the community needed at the time.

There was once a time when being a web developer meant that you could do your job with a very simple set of tools. For example, you could do virtually everything you needed to do with just HTML and ColdFusion, or HTML and PHP. But as with everything related to development, things became more complicated, and cf.Objective() has been there to help us through those changes with the content we needed at the time.

For almost 10 years, cf.Objective() has been adapting and expanding to meet the needs of the intermediate and advanced-level developers it attracts. When server-side frameworks were the new "big thing" in application development, cf.Objective() was there to provide us with the very best content related to those frameworks, many times from the framework authors themselves. When TDD was what people wanted to learn about, cf.Objective() retained the best in the business to deliver that content. Looking at the content history of cf.Objective(), it's clear that cf.Objective() has continually and reliably grown and expanded to bring web developers what they wanted and needed.

Then, in 2011, the reemergence of JavaScript began. And in 2012, cf.Objective() came back with an entire three-day track dedicated to JavaScript. It was cleverly named js.Objective(). The result is that cf.Objective() changed. Not in a bad way, but in a big way. JavaScript's return changed how we develop web applications, and cf.Objective() responded to that change.

Since 2012, JavaScript has changed the face of web development. Additionally, other tools have become essential parts of the developer toolbox. What was once a toolbox with two tools has now become a toolbox with dozens of tools. As we look back on the beginnings of our careers we can probably see that we accomplished most of our work with just ColdFusion and HTML, and a smattering of SQL. In contrast, if we look at the work we are doing now and the tools we are using now, we will see it has changed a lot. Consider this list:

  • Server-side Frameworks
  • Dependency Injection
  • Automation and Continuous Integration Tools (Jenkins, Cruise Control)
  • Task runners (ANT, Gradle, Grunt)
  • TDD/BDD tools (MXUnit, TestBox)
  • Other testing tools (Selenium, WebDriver, jMeter)
  • JavaScript Libraries (jQuery, Scriptaculous, MooTools)
  • JavaScript Frameworks (AngularJS, EmberJS, Backbone.js)
  • Extract-Transform-Load (ETL) tools
  • Security frameworks and best practices
  • Content Management Systems
  • Server-side integration with other platforms
  • Web Services (SOAP and REST)
  • CSS and Front-End Frameworks
  • Version Control
  • Virtual Machines
  • Cloud Computing
  • Mobile Development tools
  • ORM
  • Server Clustering and load balancing
  • NoSQL Databases
  • Command line tools
  • Platform Package managers
  • IDEs

Look at that list and ask yourself, how many of those tools and technologies do you now use? Has your toolbox grown greatly since you started development? How many of those tools did you learn about at cf.Objective()? How many do you only know about because of cf.Objective(). The number of tools that web developers need has changed drastically over the last 10 years. During that time, cf.Objective() has been there, every step of the way, delivering content relevant to what is going on in the web development world.

With these changes and cf.Objective()'s growth and expansion, have you noticed a trend in the ColdFusion content at cf.Objective()? Looking at the schedule from previous years, you see that there is still a lot of ColdFusion content, and it is still fantastic, unique ColdFusion content. But it is being displaced a bit by all of these other tools and technologies we want to learn about. That's OK, ColdFusion is probably not 100% of your job, so why should it be 100% of your conference? We do other things besides ColdFusion.

Did you notice that in 2013 less than half of cf.Objective()'s content was directly related to ColdFusion? This is not to say that all of it couldn't have been related to the work we do, but less than half of it was ColdFusion-specific. That means that more than half of the content from cf.Objective() 2013 could relate to any kind of web development. In 2012 and 2014, the numbers were similar.

So for the last three years the trend is that cf.Objective() has adapted to the way the web is changing, and that adaptation has meant, while ColdFusion is still a huge part of the conference, it is not the only piece anymore. cf.Objective() should be appealing to a much wider audience. Why isn't it?

Is it the name? The tag line? For years it has been, cf.Objective(): The World's Only Enterprise ColdFusion Conference. While this may be true, cf.Objective() has become so much more. Yet, with that name and tagline, don't we have to wonder if anyone not in the ColdFusion community will even give the conference a chance?

If you are primarily a ColdFusion developer (whether or not you use many of the tools I listed above), ask yourself this, have you ever gone to look at the schedule for RubyConf or SpringOne? Have you ever considered going to the PHPWorld conference? The answer would be, probably not. Of course, this won't be true for everyone, so let's not dwell on semantics. The point is, how many non-ColdFusion developers are even considering cf.Objective(): The World's Only Enterprise ColdFusion Conference as a place where they can go to learn about what's new in JavaScript development? How many consider it as a conference to learn about what can be done with automation tools? How many would consider it as a place to learn about anything other than ColdFusion? Yet, we all know, that cf.Objective() is rife with sessions that could appeal to any kind of developer.

Additionally, how many non-ColdFusion community speakers will consider submitting topics to cf.Objective(): The World's Only Enterprise ColdFusion Conference? There have been a few over the years from outside of the community, but those were invited or encouraged from the cf.Objective() CAB. Wouldn't attracting speakers from outside of the cf.Objective() community help make the conference even better? Could bringing in fresh content from new speakers with new perspectives help breathe new life into the conference?

So has cf.Objective() outgrown its name? Would cf.Objective() appeal to a wider community of developers, as speakers and attendees, if it had a different name? A different tag line? What are your thoughts?

As I said in the beginning, I agree completely. I'd love to hear what you have to say, so please use the comments below to respond. Personally I think dev.Objective has a great ring to it. I'll gladly sell naming rights for the price of one good cookie.