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Myth-busting: HomeSite is not dead, HomeSite NEQ HomeSite+, and Adobe does support Eclipse

OK, time to do a little myth-busting/truth-talking. I want to respond to what I feel is a misstatement in a comment on a blog entry today by Ben Forta. Not a statement by Ben, mind you, but a commenter (and friend of the community, John Farrar). Ben made a casual statement about a single IDE for CF developers (not the focus of the entry, though), and John followed up explaining his take of the history of IDE development in CF. He said as one point, "Somebody (no names please) sued Macromedia over HomeSite or CFStudio and it died."

I have to call that statement into question. Also, John shares some observations about CFEclipse, but he makes no mention of the Adobe Extensions for CF. I wanted to address both of those but felt it was too long for a comment in Ben's blog, so here you go.

HomeSite is not dead, and CF Studio became HomeSite+, not HomeSite

First, you want to be clear to distinguish HomeSite from HomeSite+. The former is still sold by Adobe (http://www.adobe.com/products/homesite/).

As for CF Studio, it did morph into HomeSite+, and the CF Studio name was dropped, but my understanding was that this was simply because the MX Studio line came out as a package of things (including Dreamweaver and Flash among many), so they couldn't have 2 things named Studio.

HomeSite continued/continues to exist as its own product, and CF Studio became HomeSite+, which you couldn't purchase but that came on the Studio MX or Dreamweaver CD (and still does). Only as of DW 8 was it finally listed on the installer screen, otherwise you had to look for it on the CD using the file system. HomeSite+ also evolved over where CF Studio had ended (at a 5.0 version), so that on DW2004 is was HS+ 5.1, and on DW8 it was 5.5, if I recall correctly. There were some new features and bug fixes, but nothing radical. Still, it was better than sticking at Studio 4.5 for those who never updated from that while Studio was alive. I've written on this and will share resources in a moment.

About that lawsuit John mentions

Now, at that same time as that transition from CF Studio to HS+ , there were some features of the HomeSite interface over which there was a lawsuit, and when HS+ came out some features (draggable windows, if I recall) were missing. Some complained that it wasn't REALLY the same as CF Studio. I never understood the kvetching. It was otherwise every it CF Studio and more (given the updates).

So HomeSite != HomeSite+

So, that's just to say that you don't want to say HomeSite is dead (it does still live and is sold). And HomeSite+ lives as the reincarnation of CF Studio, though it's not sold but is available only on the DW CD. I know some say it's as good as dead, since there's been no major feature development. That's a separate point, but I'll say I've been a fan all along and I've not missed much from the few features lost due to the lawsuit.

I do use DW sometimes for things it adds for CFML development (CFC and web service browsing, some code generation features, etc.) I think many would be surprised to learn what it has that they never noticed.

Indeed, some will know I've been spreading this news about the transition from CF Studio to HomeSite+ (as well as hints about DW) for some time in blogs and articles. Here they are for those interested in more:

As long as I'm listing resources, I'll also point out that I've done several presentations where I made the case for making sure people knew of the tool and its features:

Now, I know some will read this as an apologetic for HomeSite+. It's not. I'm offering it more for historical purposes, as well as for those who for whatever reason are still using (or wish they could use) the older editor.

Eclipse, and Adobe's support of Eclipse for CFers

Again, there's no denying the move by many in the community to CFEClipse. I'm not saying people shouldn't. In fact, I've done many entries of my own to promote CFEclipse:

So as I state in the last entry, I am making the move to CFE myself. I still find some challenges, along with others who report the same, but clearly it's the tool of choice for many.

Eclipse, and Adobe's support of Eclipse for CFers

But I noted at the top that John's comment had not mentioned Adobe's support for Eclipse. I'm not speaking of support for CFEclipse (another subject for another blog entry by other folks), but I do want to make sure people know that Adobe does indeed support Eclipse directly, because they've created the Adobe Eclipse Extensions for ColdFusion.

This isn't in competition with CFEclipse but rather a set of tools that supplement it (whether one uses CFE or not, when using Eclipse to work with CF sites). The tools include the RDS Dataview and Fileview tools (replicating what we had in CF Studio/HomeSite+), the services browser (replicating what's in DW), as well as tools to build CFCs from a database table, flex and ajax code building wizards, a log viewer (some things neither tool had), and still more.

You can learn about these in the CF8 docs as well as a CF8 features page on the subject. The eclipse extensions came out for 7.02 and have been updated for 8.

I'll be writing and presenting more about the Eclipse extensions soon.

Adobe has also offered help files for Eclipse for CF8, at that same link for the extensions above.

That leads to a common question: what's the difference between CFEclipse and the Adobe CF extensions for Eclipse? Andy Jarrett has done a nice blog entry on that very subject.

Conclusion

So I'm not denying the claims by John, the folks in Italy (which Ben was writing about), and others that a new dedicated CFML IDE might be useful. And I'm not trying to keep people still using HomeSite+. Not at all. To each his own.

I just wanted to set the record straight about these assertions regarding HomeSite, as well as add the points about Adobe's Eclipse CF extensions. Hope that was helpful.

Comments
Charlie,

What's really ironic about the lawsuit is that it was Adobe suing Macromedia at the time.

One other thing that was missing from the conversion from studio over to HomeSite was the debugger.
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 10/23/07 5:01 PM
OK... the long and short response.

1. I didn't neglect to mention it.
- CFStudio once had debugging in it. I know developers at large didn't do such things during those days. I first met Mr. Forta in South Bend, IN. It was at that meeting to my shock it became apparent people didn't use the debugger. Ben asked about it and I was one of the few people he ever had say that they used it. (Point: Adobe from my perspective gave back a feature that was taken away before the lawsuit. I missed it and think it was something that should exist. I appreciate putting it back.)
- Homesite is not in development. If CF was updated as long ago as Homesite then we would have no defense on the homesite is dead. Most of us use the current version of CF as proof that it is not dead. Homesite is more like a hall of fame tool than a living evolving product! Granted they do provide new tag sets for it... and that is great!

Now as far as Eclipse... Adobe offered CFE support and some former team members admit they dropped the ball and not Adobe. If Adobe had a team of developers drop the ball on Photoshop what would they do? They would get a new crew and prove they knew how to succeed. Adobe has a vision for Flex that proves they understood the need and power of a robust IDE. It makes one wonder why they don't seem to have the same vision for CF as they have for Flex. (Or at least enough to bring CFE farther along.) I am just making a plea for Adobe to get a vision for an IDE.

If they are throwing in the support for CFE then I would like to see more skilled development done on that. Currently I am offering some community projects of my own and respect that free work doesn't feed the kids. We need some dedicated by funding or starting an IDE of thier own. (Or supporting Aptana is another option).

I love that Aptana knows when there is an update and how to get it without me having to do that manual also. It's like this... I program sites so users don't have to think about the site if possible. We need CFEclipse to come to bear on a few issues like that.

I also did mention that DW support improves every version even if they aren't yet on target to a code/developers tool at large. It does keep getting better. I basically don't use anything other than CFE.

My concern is that new developers need something made for getting started. Us hard liners love CFE because it is the best thing out for CF. Yet, it is very possible for someone to show it up if funding was provided. :) Or perhaps funding for the current tool. A better IDE would sell more ColdFusion in the end. Its a right ROI. Right for Adobe, right for ColdFusion jobs, right for site owners who use ColdFusion... just a good thing for everybody in the community.
# Posted By John Farrar | 10/23/07 9:47 PM
If you were going to write a book on building web sites you would write on a tool like DW, yes?

Who things a tool on CFEclipse would sell? There are more books on Visual Communication Studio then there are ColdFusion books all togther in the same time frame. That is apples and oranges, but it makes a thinker think. Now before someone negates that all together... consider that "Free PHP" has a IDE called Zend Studio... check amazon and you will see training and a handbook for that also. Maybe it's just time for someone to write a training manual for CFEclipse to help the newcomers. Currently I am in the middle of my ColdFusion Bootcamp book. Perhaps that might be something I will do after this book is complete. :) I personally prefer CFE myself. Just wish it could have more active development.

Thanks for sharing your perspective also Charlie.

John
# Posted By John Farrar | 10/23/07 10:05 PM
One (important) thing you forgot to mention Charlie: CF Studio was $499. It became HomeSite+ and was bundled with Dreamweaver and the cost dropped to $399. A lot of people complained that CF Studio had been dropped but failed to see they could now buy the equivalent, updated program for $100 LESS than it used to cost!

As for CFEclipse needing to be improved - I'd ask anyone with any complaints about it to contact Mark Drew and either volunteer time or money to help him make it better. Many of us work on Free Open Source Software and it can be a pretty thankless task at times when it seems like all people do is moan about the problems with it instead of thanking us for what benefit they get from it (and if you get no benefit... move along and stop kvetching!).
# Posted By Sean Corfield | 10/23/07 11:11 PM
I have personally initiated getting support that has kicked a good donation to the effort. It may well be I was only one voice but CFEclipse has financially been supported beyond what I paid for all my versions of CFStudio and upgrades. :) Many of these companies just need to know we are interested. Hmmm... wonder if CFEclipse could be considered a non-profit? Wonder if any grant writting GURUs out there could come up with some donations?

It would also be nice to see a roadmap for CFEclipse. What are the goals and priorities? What ideas have been accepted by the group? The current wish list anyone can add items... so something being on the list isn't meaningful at this juncture.

We need some people who have the skill that will say I will take a full time job writing CFE updates. Java isn't my personal forte at this time. If we could get some able people that will follow through perhaps Adobe will be more willing to invest for a "CREW" of developers. Last time around guys confessed they dropped the ball on Adobe.

So, grant writers, CF companies, CF Community, CFE crew, Aptana, anyone else... how about letting this thing happen.

(P.S. Charlie... there are free versions of .Net editors including one from Microsoft. Yet people still pay for an upscale version. Sorta like Enterprise ColdFusion. I think you would get a market for an Enterprise IDE for CF also.)
# Posted By John Farrar | 10/24/07 10:22 AM
OK, boy. Lots of comment.

@Rob, great point about the fact that it was Adobe suing MM at the time. I'd forgotten that. :-) As for the debugger, though, that wasn't lost in the move to HomeSite+. It's still there, and in fact it "works" as long as you're using it with CF5 or less. Now, to be accurate, you refer to it as HomeSite, and in fact it's not in HomeSite (the product still sold) but in HomeSite+, the product only bundled with Dreamweaver. I don't know if that was a finger fumble or if perhaps, despite my rambling note above and all the others I point to, it's still easy for people to miss the distinction. :-)

@John, about "didn't neglect to mention it", are you referring to Rob's comment on the debugger? He was saying it was missing from the "conversion", not the "conversation". Don't think he was accusing you of any failing, and of course nor was I. My note was really addressing a common confusion over the "death" of Studio. BTW, I only named you in my blog entry because if I said "a commenter", it might be read that I didn't know you. And of course I do, and that's why I added "friend of the community". I didn't want it to seem I was just jumping down your throat.

The rest of the note was just a restatement of the details on the common misconceptions regarding CFS, HS, and HS+, as well as the extra info on the Adobe Eclipse extensions. Again, I wasn't meaning to deride your not mentioning the extensions. I just wanted to make the point for readers who might come up on it. Let's all admit: there are some people who read Ben's blog and no others, so to me it's imperative that any statements on his blog be as accurate as possible. :-)

As for your comments on the CF Studio debugger, I'm totally with you. I also lamented it when it was pulled--but again, not from the tool, but rather from CFMX. I was on the Customer Advisory Board at the time and was in meetings in Boston where it was discussed, and I pleaded that it not be dropped. As you note, the general feeling was that people didn't use it. I argued that it was because it was a feature buried in Studio--and look, it's so buried that perhaps some don't even realize it's still there in Homesite+. :-) Again, though, it's not something that was "taken away before the lawsuit". There was no connection, as far as I know. (And it didn't help that the debugger didn't always "work".)

As for HS not being in development any longer, I wouldn't be surprised. I was merely clarifying that HS is still sold (and HS+ was still given in DW, at least as of 8. Don't know about CS3.) As you note, though, since Adobe still provides updates to the CF tag help, insight, and edit sort of features, for some folks that's all that's needed. Like you say, the tool is a classic. Sure, it's missing some modern features, but many people still love driving their classic cars, even if they have to add a 3rd party GPS unit. :-)

As for Adobe putting such weight behind FlexBuilder as an Eclipse IDE, yet not around a CF IDE based on it, well, that's just economics I think. They needed an IDE for Flex. The only one was the first one (based on DW, if I recall, but I could be wrong). Anyway, they chose (wisely) to use Eclipse. Now, why might they hesitate to have done the same (to now) for a CF IDE? Well, we do have CFEclipse. And they have done the extensions.

More important, though, the market for a Flex IDE is much larger (cuts across all web platforms including those who use PHP, .NET, J2EE, and CF), whereas a CF IDE would only serve the CF audience.

Even then among that CF audience, you have 2 factors that would cut into *that* audience. First, there's cost: FlexBuilder is not free, which helped (along with the prospective market) to further justify the effort. Would (all) people pay for an Adobe-written Eclipse-based CF IDE?

And let's stop and think for a moment why Flex Builder is appealing. For one thing, it's the only Flex IDE, so people really have no choice. Second, it's great for what it does, especially things like the drag and drop designer-type features--but then CF people don't generally want that in an IDE--and the debugger--which we already have in the Adobe extensions for CF8. And since the debugger is really tied to the server, a "new" IDE won't make it possible to debug against CF7. That's either a technical or marketing decision having to do with the server (as was the choice to drop it after CF5).

But getting back to whether Adobe should do it, the second factor influencing their decision (it seems to me) is that--whether it was free or cheap--there's still the issue that people don't switch IDEs lightly. It's our daily tool. People get hooked to what they have and need REALLY strong motivation to change. Look at all the people still staying with CFS, HS, and DW. Just because Adobe builds it doesn't mean people will come.

I think it's a very tough decision.

As for your comment about DW continuing to be developed, well, I'd argue that most such developments are (again) to serve the much wider audience of DW users than just those using it for CF. So it's no surprise they update DW. Does that mean they're not "taking care of their own" by being motivated more by serving a larger audience than just CFers? I don't think so. Again, it's just economics.

John, you conclude with an impassioned plea about a new CF IDE being right for everyone, and I can tell you believe strongly in your case. And you make some good points (better serving total newcomers, and better "selling" CF because of a dedicated editor).

If not for that last point, I'd argue that DW does a better job serving newcomer CFML developers than many think, with respect to some code-generating features that I think a lot of "hard liners" never even notice because they dismissed DW so quickly (and MM/Adobe *has* continued to add to DW features for CFers). DW is the tool of choice in the FastTrack to CF class, which I know some will lament. Still, I always tell my students that they'll come out knowing more about it--and creating some things, like tables driven from a CFQUERY, using the "dynamic table" tool--than most of their fellow developers who may have used CF longer and do most such things by hand.

But that's not to say that a new CF-specific IDE wouldn't help better "sell" CF, nor that newcomers can't (or shouldn't) be shown using Eclipse/CFEclipse instead. In fact, in the new CF8 WACK book, we give a nod to Eclipse/CFEclipse.

Now, your next comment, John, does address the question of books, and I agree with you: I do think a book on CFE would help tremendously. I even already started discussing that with Mark, but like you I've had other tasks get in the way. This is likely something that would be served well by joint forces. Now, others have said they'd do it in just improving the docs, but maybe a book would have a different motivation/DNA, especially if it was sold. (And before people decry the selling of a book for a free tool, as John says, there are plenty of books sold on open source products.) I already had proposed to Mark that I'd give him/the project a cut in the profits of the book, as one way to repay all their efforts. Anyone else interested? Maybe a collaborative effort (just on a book) would be a great result of all this discussion. :-)

@Sean: great point about the cost factor of DW providing HS+ within it at a reduced cost over CFS. To be honest, I don't know that it was significant in the decisions of many at the time (or perhaps since), but it's certainly worth noting. Actually, I kind of look at it differently: a lot of shops using CF Studio (then and still now) sprung for DW simply as a site purchase or out of a sense of, "well, if this is going to be MM/Adobe's editor of choice for CF, I might as well resign myself". So I prefer instead to say, "hey, look, you have more there than you thought! You still have CFS there, updated a bit, for free. Go get that CD!" :-) I can tell you that many people have been so delighted to get "back" into their favored CFS-style editor in HS+.

As to your final comment, Sean, I don't know if it's directed to me, John, or just the general chorus of people kvetching about it. Let me clarify, if it may have been to me, that my beef isn't with CFE at all. Again, as I said 2 paragraphs ago, I even want to support the project with contributions from profits of a book (as well as in simply doing a book to help people in the first place). I don't use it often enough (CFE) to have felt motivated to contribute money yet, but I have even proposed some other means to Mark for me to make financial contributions through some partnerships just again because I realize how much he's done for the community (even if I don't yet use the tool much.)

My main beef is with Eclipse itself, and the inability to open a file from outside the tool, and to do it again without launching another instance. That's not something Mark can fix, and I know that many will decry that such use smacks of my being misguided. "Why would you even want to do that?", people ask. Let's just say I have my reasons, as do many others. For some, until that's fixed, they are indeed "moving on", or rather sticking with what they've got.

But I do honestly believe that a book (or class) that guided newcomers to CFE (not CF) to all its benefits and helped them navigate its minefields (meaning, differences when coming from another editor) would help immensely. Most who've made the switch have said, "I just had to stop using the other editors cold turkey and force myself to learn the new tool". No question, that works. But just as there are also smoke cessation classes, patches, and other devices to ease people out of their nicotine addiction, so too might other devices help those wanting to move off of other editors. :-)

Finally, John, you make some good points other things the CFE project could benefit from. As is always the case, it's naturally about time and money (or motivation). I don't think this entry (and these comments) will do too much to change that situation. There are plenty of discussions in other blogs and lists with CFE folks asking for that and debating solutions. But you made a good plea there for who all is needed. :-)

Lastly, about free vs paid editors in the .NET space, well, that's really a whole separate area of discussion. You've got issues of MS funding (talk about warchests), MS philosophies on how to "reach" the market (let's not go there), as well as a HUGE market that can abide and support such variety. You conclude saying that "I think you would get a market for an Enterprise IDE for CF also", but the $64,000 question for Adobe (or maybe it's a $million) is whether that "market" would be big enough to justify the effort. I think that's why we've seen such caution, trepidation, patience, or whatever else it is that's led Adobe to approach this one carefully. Some of us attended the "meet the CF team" (or was it a BOF?) last year at Max where this was discussed. I don't know that the decision is any easier now than it was then.

Perhaps one significant new factor is that sales of CF8 have been great. There's clearly renewed energy and vigor in the CF market. Perhaps if there's a time to do it, the time is now. Again, I don't think for a minute that our "little" discussion here will have any significance on that (if indeed anyone from Adobe will even be reading it). But perhaps we've reached some new people with more discussion on the related topics than they've seen before. That's the beauty of blogs: their ability to reach different audiences than other places where such topics are debated more often.

And with that, I conclude what is clearly the longest blog comment I've ever written (or perhaps even seen!) :-)
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 10/24/07 10:53 AM
My comment about kvetching was a general one, aimed at no one in this thread, but based on the level of complaints I see on mailing lists that "Mark should fix all these bugs" when they're getting such a useful tool for *free* due to Mark's gracious effort on the project. Instead of complaining, I'd encourage those folks to roll up their sleeves and actually *contribute* - and as Mark has said many times, there are lots of ways to contribute: you don't have to be a Java developer.

Would CFers pay $249 for a CF IDE based on Eclipse? (the current price for Flex Builder) Whenever the CFEclipse project has asked this question, the reality has been "no" - the attempt to create a simple bundled CFEclipse install for a small (very small) fee produced almost no takers and Mark gets next to nothing in donations considering the huge number of people who use CFEclipse every day.
# Posted By Sean Corfield | 10/24/07 11:59 AM
I believe Flex Builder is 500 currently. (Just checked the Adboe store.) But I like the 250 price better just the same. Personally I like the idea of creating a subscription model also. (If we had things like auto updaters that are in Aptana.)

Charlie... if we could do a combined effort you could count me in on the book concept. Count me in and contact me on that one.
# Posted By John Farrar | 10/24/07 12:24 PM
@Sean, yep, I'm with you. Your comment on the lack of interest to pay for a bundled Eclipse/CFE package reminds me of something that may be useful to readers: Did you know that Intergral (makers of FusionDebug) have negotiated to create just such a packaged bundle? It includes Eclipse, CFEclipse, and FusionDebug. And lest anyone ask here, when the FD trial runs out, you're still left with and able to use the combined Eclipse/CFE install. Mark even blogged about it himself (and offers the link to the FD site to get it): http://www.markdrew....

I wonder if the Intergral guys have tried to negotiate to include the Adobe extensions, too. Could be issues, but I've dropped them a note to ask.

@John, as for the book effort, sure, let's do. We can at least start and steer the effort. I'd hope others would as well. I'll drop you a note off-line, but also others please chime in here or in a note to me if interested.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 10/24/07 1:02 PM
I've been using CFS, HS+ for as long as I 've been CF'ing.

I switched over to DW CS3 about 3 weeks ago.

I MISS HS+ The file view pane and search tool are leaps better than DW. It's smaller and faster. I absolutely HATE the file view in DW.

If only HS+ had the timestamp warning when saving files back to the server...then it would be perfect.
# Posted By Kevin Sargent | 10/24/07 3:33 PM
I have used cfstudio/homesite+ for as long as I have worked online, and used the debugger religiously. I could never get it to work as I needed it to, but it helped enough back in those days. I am a hand coder, and even though I use visual studio as much as I use homesite+ I will never use the visual designers even though they are very powerful and great learning tools. That's why dreamweaver has never appealed to me or my colleagues.

I also pay for visual studio, just as I would gladly pay for a cfstudio8. If it had the ability to speed up my ability to code properly (which is the real reason we use these tools), why not. I already pay for the coldfusion server, you probably know I will purchase the studio for my employees. Not only that but the brand loyalty with coldfusion almost guarantees that you would sell them. But now its a little too late to play catch up. If topstyle could connect to the datasources in cf I'd probably use that instead. Topstyle4++ or something, lol. I don't know if we have any die hard .net developers here but there is a reason we will pay upwards of $1500 for a development tool and it isn't the brainwashing of ol' uncle gates. If it does what we need it to, we will pay. There still is a corporate side to cfml that needs addressing, not all of us are cfhobbyists.

Heck, I code clientside in homesite+, but I debug my ie javascript in visual studio while I build in cf. Can you see how silly that all is? (Well not so much anymore as I build a LOT of the business layer in .Net for coldfusion clientside) but I would love to have a tool that could do all of that. I would pay upwards of $1500 for a cfstudio8 if it could provide the ROI that vsstudio does. I'd buy four of them tomorrow.
# Posted By tomb | 10/25/07 11:07 PM
CFE Book idea - might I suggest a wiki? I'm not really a fan of the wiki idea normally, but this may have more traction as a community supported development than a printed book. A printed book requires enough sales to justify a publisher's time/efforts/costs as well as distribution. Since CFE continues to change, a book would quickly be out of date (or prone to errors). A wiki could be maintained/enhanced.

If a wiki could also have screen captures and code samples built in (i.e. rough approximation of what a printed book or PDF would contain, plus errata/code downloads) then it could be a big benefit. I would be happy to view product ads in the wiki and possibly donate (paypal).

As a side note, I've had basic introductory experience with Flex Builder 2 and attempted in the last few days to build a simple 1 page application to allow editing of a 7 column database table (with no outside relations/joins). My goal - simple insert/edit/update to maintain 500-2000 rows of rather simple data for 1 table by intranet users...preferably using a flash player 9 grid (sortable columns). Do you know how difficult this is?

1) cfajax tags in CF8 don't allow inserts (per Ben Forta blog) and a solution I found has a secondary set of input fields for the insert. Hours spent, success around 90%...still not working fully

2) flex builder 3 wizard to create a grid using CRUD - failure, the Adobe solution is for PHP/Java/.Net...not CF....

3) the CF8 extensions for Flex Builder
a) flex based - not fully working but close in dev, massively difficult to port from Windows to Solaris (case sensitivity, etc.) under different directory structure
b) ajax based - not fully working, similar problems

4) CF 7/8 using cfgrid tags - slow, unwieldly, not yet working right, and uses Flex 1.5 based actionscript/objects

5) numerous code generators & sample code files on web in CF using cfc's, etc. - partially working but not really

Something is WRONG when a seasoned developer tries off and on for a few days to create something so simple using relatively new technology (versus me just coding the pages in normal CF code without using CFCs) and fails miserably to do so.

I've seen countless demos of CF Eclipse, Eclispe based debugging of CF8 and Flex Builder 2/3 demos & some training. It should NOT be this hard to create a simple 1 page application! A Wiki on CFE, another on debugging CF8 in Eclipse, an intro on Eclipse, etc. could potentially be very helpful.
# Posted By Ryan | 10/26/07 12:23 AM
@tomb: I hear your case (and of course, I'm not the judge or arbiter. The "you" that you reference is Adobe. It's their decision.) But I do have to wonder if the audience of CFers who do want to do the "all of that" which you describe is, again, big enough to justify the effort. MS could do it because a) it's all their stack that the tools are built for and b) they have a huge audience from whom even the subset who will buy is still very large. I don't know that we have that with CF.

Yes, yes, I know that Adobe uses 300,000 as the number of CF developers. I'd still argue that if you subset those a) willing to switch editors, b) willing to pay, and c) willing to pay for an enterprise-class tool, it seems to whittles things down to a rather small number. I fear that's why we've not seen it done.

That said, I do want to again challenge the argument against DW as just a "visual designer" and "learning tool" (whether you meant to completely castigate it that way, others do). When I mentioned in an earlier comment DW's features to build CFML for you, this had nothing to do with "visual layout". Just wanted to be clear about that. (Again, no need to defend if you knew that. I'm speaking to all readers.)

@Ryan: as for a Wiki, I'm afraid I'd not be as interested. I don't care for wikis to be honest, at least not as a replacement for a "user guide" style book. Sure, wikipedia's great as a reference tool, and so a wiki could suit replacing a reference book. That's not what's needed here. I see this more as tutorial and user guide, with chapters on subjects.

Goodness, the CF Developer's Guide is an awesome 1000+page dovument available both online and in print. Few ever see the print version, and I doubt that many read it in its entirety (or even complete chapters) online.

No, some topics demand a book, and I think this is one. I'm not denying that some online collaboration tool would help, and perhaps a wiki would make sense. And one could argue that it could be made open, so anyone could see it. And then the book printed from that.

As for publishing challenges, I don't see this as a mass market book, so I don't see it as something that would ever be presented to "a publisher". No, there are plenty of low-cost on-demand publishing alternatives where such a book could still make a few dollars per copy for the authors (and a contribution to the CFE team). Not enough to retire, or even likely buy a new Powerbook, but at least some return on the investment of time and effort.

If the wiki were left completely online, naturally that would cut further into the print copies purchased. It's a constant dilemma for creators of guides. Bruce Eckel fought to keep his Thinking in Java book online, and yet it still sells tens of thousands (or more) in print. That's a much larger audience. (Continuing my accounting from above, if we take the number of developers using--or open to using--CFE, and reduce it by those who would then want a book, then by those who would pay for it in print, we're down to a few hundred perhaps. But that could still be a couple-to-a-few thousand in revenue after printing costs, to justify the effort. Of course, we'd be doing it not just for the money so it's not like we need complete remuneration for our time.)

As for things changing, well, that too is a constant dilemma, but honestly there's a bulk of info that does not change. Remember: this is primarily a guide to getting started with CFE and why/how to switch, which could perhaps also get into driving developers to more evolved development skills (source control, bug tracking, etc.) or leveraging plug-ins. Most of the core concepts with those things don't change.

What aspects do change (new versions of plugins, etc.) could of course be tackled in an online extension to the book. Again, then, it's not an entire chapter we're talking about, but an update to a page or section. (Same with errors in the printed book--which would not be printed until vetted by a good number of reviewers, hopefully.)

As for screen captures and code samples, well of course the book would have that, and there could be an online location for code--though, really, in showing how to use CFE, it's not so much about code samples as how to use the tool. What are you thinking of, if you think it would be substantial?

But you make a good point about ads on an online version helping generate revenue. That's certainly worth exploring.

As for the challenges you describe trying to build a simple app with FlexBuilder, etc., well, I think they point more to the very need for such a guide than a failing in the tools. But then you are talking about a lot of integration points (Flex, Flex Builder (2 and 3), CF, CF8 extensions, Windows, Solaris). It may be that we might never have a completely satisfactory solution (in the tools, let alone a guide) that meets the needs of all developers. Just so many variations to account for.

But a guide could try to hit the key points, and indeed cover not just CFE but the Adobe extensions (including the debugger) and (as you say) Eclipse itself (the least you need to know to use it with the other two). Perhaps it could also have a chapter on Flex Builder as well, and maybe some other common Eclipse plugins that CFers would use.

This is indeed what I have in mind. Contributors welcome. (I suppose we could have someone else working on such a thing who doesn't want to admit it. If they're already nearly done or working with a publisher and can't announce it, there's not much we can do. Better to try than worry about what we don't know.)
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 10/26/07 10:51 AM
One other thought on all this: the reason MM chose to stop using the CF Studio name was due to the conflict with Studio MX, which now itself no longer exists. I wonder if perhaps any new Adobe CF IDE could indeed revive the old, trusted name. :-) Could be pros and cons, of course.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 10/26/07 1:43 PM
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