CFUN Overview

Another CFUN is behind us, and I can honestly say, this year was even better than last. CFUN is one of my favorite conferences because it has an abundance of the two things all good conferences need:

  1. Serious, valuable, and enriching sessions presented by top people in the industry.
  2. A community that is easy to get along with, and blast to hang out with!

I don’t want to start dropping names for fear I will leave many out, but I hung out and exchanged ideas with a huge number of great developers (and just plain great people) over the weekend. I love to see so many (well over 500!) developers get together from so many different places getting along so well both personally and professionally. Thank you Michael Smith (and others from TeraTech) for making it all possible.

I did a session entitled Flash for CFers which went well, and was a lot of fun. The only problem was that I wasn’t able to get a wireless connection to show some very cool demo apps. And I ran out of time. It’s hard to even scratch the surface of a topic like Flash and ColdFusion in only 50 minutes, but I think I was able to get through enough of it to give ColdFusion developers a pretty thorough introduction to Rich Internet Applications. I’m going to post the presentation and the source code for the sample application I demoed at some point this week after I get caught up from being out of town. I’ll also post links to the RIA examples I was going to show but couldn’t because of the network issues.

The audience was great during my presentation. While I was trying to get a network connection, someone shouted “Are you sure the problem isn’t your OS?” I was doing the presentation on a Powerbook, and even as a big Mac fan, I thought the comment was funny and timely. Then Steven Erat suggested I demo the Flash Store sample app, if I had that installed and running locally, which fortunately I did (yes, Flex works great on Macs, including debugging). And, naturally, there was Critter in the back who helped to set the tone of the presentation right from the very beginning (if you were in the room, you know what I’m referring to), and then we all rocked out to “Fight the Power” and a hilarious Steve Ballmer remix (in the context of Flash and ColdFusion, of course). I have given a lot of presentations over the last couple of years at a lot of different conferences, and I always like it when I feel like everyone had fun as well as learned something valuable.

Ben Forta’s day-two keynote was incredible. He demoed some amazing features of Blackstone, and although the features themselves weren’t new to me, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the reaction of the audience. I lost count of the number of times the audience erupted in applause during his talk, and all around me, I heard constant murmurs of amazement and excitement. I think Blackstone is going to be an extraordinarily popular release. Anyone who has seen Ben’s presentation knows that the ColdFusion engineering team has really outdone themselves this time.

There was some interesting software floating around the conference, as well. There was a beta version of He3 in everyone’s bag. He3 is a dedicated ColdFusion editor by RichPalette built on the Eclipse platform. I haven’t tried it yet (I didn’t have my ThinkPad with me, and I want to try it on Windows first before OS X), but I heard some very good comments which have me intrigued. I will definitely install it early this week and set aside some time to evaluate it.

Doug Hughes of Alagad was handing out copies of the new Alagad Image Component. I’ve played with it in the past, and it’s very impressive. It is capable of performing over 60 image manipulation operations, and has an extremely intuitive and powerful API. As an added bonus, it is implemented entirely in CFScript, so you don’t even need to install any jar or class files on your server to use it. Very cool stuff. If you need to manipulate images on the server, you need this component.

It was good seeing everyone again this year. Let’s continue to keep in touch, and I look forward to doing it all again in 2005!