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CFMyths: "When I download CF to install it from scratch, it has the latest fixes/updaters"

Note: This blog post is from 2010. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
Today I'm starting a new series on CFMyths, some common misconceptions that I find myself often helping correct on lists/forums or with my troubleshooting customers.

First myth up for consideration:

True or false: "If/when I download CF to install it from scratch, the installer has all the latest fixes (updaters, at least)"

Answer: False (generally). For instance, if you download CF9 today (Dec 2010), you still get CF 9.0, released originally in Oct 2009. You don't get the latest updater (9.0.1 as of this writing, released July 2010), though its existence is at least mentioned on the page, nor of course does it then include any hotfixes or cumulative hotfixes.

Why not, you may wonder? I'll explain more in a moment, along with more about hotfixes and updaters as concepts (and where to find them specifically, for each CF release).

[....Continue Reading....]

First off, thanks for the informative post. I think it provides helpful information and sheds some light on an important topic. Since the word "sadly" was used 5 times within this post I am going to venture a guess that you would agree that the current state of affairs is decidedly sub-optimal.

You mentioned in your post the lack of an automated update mechanism built into the product. I'd wager that 75% of the software on my sever and/or client has the ability to install or at least inform me of the available updates. Not having this obligates me to either "keep watch" or use a third party tool. This forces me into extra steps that I now must take.

I would also take issue with the fact that "it's expensive for Adobe to create new installers" as a justification for never doing it outside of major version releases. I have no insight into Adobe's build or QA process so I can't comment on exactly how inexpensive or expensive it is. I really don't expect a new installer every time a hotfix is created. And I also get that I don't necessarily want all updates that aren't fully backwards compatible. But I don't think it is unreasonable to expect a single installer that will get me to 9.0.1 (which, to me, really completes cf9. The fixes and enhancements addressed some real paint points). Even worse is the situation you described where if I was installing fresh cf8 I could potentially need to sequentially apply 4 CHFs to get current. I don't know exactly where the line should be drawn but it seems to me that it's not in the right place. It shouldn't take this many steps to simply go get the latest and greatest. Of course, If I had a built in update mechanism I could simply install the latest version and let the updater do the rest....

I will say that as developers and sys admins part of our job is to understand and maintain the platform our applications run on. It's our responsibility. But I would also say that Adobe could and should take some small steps to make the process easier for its customers.

Of course, I could be wrong :)
# Posted By Lance Staples | 12/11/10 9:46 PM
I seem to recall that Adobe has a fantastic updater for AIR and Flash, perhaps one day that can share some of that love with the CF Engineers? Just Sayin
# Posted By Tim Cunningham | 12/11/10 9:55 PM
This is easily one of ACF's most embarrassing failures. I can explain away pretty much all of the other rough spots in the platform, but not this one. (The length of this post pretty much says it all.) Keeping a CF installation up to date has been problematic for 15 years. I absolutely don't buy the budget excuse, nor the "you wouldn't want it any other way" reasoning.

It's pretty obvious that this is absolutely not a priority for Adobe, and probably won't be until something devastating like a cross-version CF worm takes hold and won't let go.

The head-in-the-sand approach to updates didn't work out well for Flash - why CF should be any different is beyond me.
# Posted By Rick O | 12/11/10 11:19 PM
Charlie - great idea for a series!

It is odd that Adobe can't address this - especially in this day and age when it seems like everything automatically updates - from simple software to complex operating systems. Merlin Manager looks neat - will have to check that out!
# Posted By Jim Priest | 12/11/10 11:38 PM
Loved this article. I might have missed but I didn't see any mention of security patches. In my experience those are hidden away apart from the updaters and hot fixes. It could be painful to think you were all patched and you you missed a security patch and someone hacks your server.
It would be nice if they at least mentioned the security fixes on the updater pages.
# Posted By Steve Durette | 12/11/10 11:39 PM
Hey guys, thanks for responding. Interesting that all 3 of you have focused on the matter of automated installers. The focus of this entry was more on just the fact the base installer wasn't updated. But clearly I did touch on the other matters, and as it is being discussed by you guys as a pain point, then I guess let's have that discussion.

@Lance, it's also interesting that you noticed my (unfortunate) use of "sadly" 5 times. As a writer, I lament such redundancy, let alone that it was noticed. :-)

As for you guessing from them that I "would agree that the current state of affairs is decidedly sub-optimal", well, technically, I used the word with respect to other issues (how applying subsequent CHFs might require extra manual steps from prior ones; the missing HTML anchor to point to the CHF for 9.0.1; and the lack of a hotfix feed). Still, I suppose the sum of those challenges, plus this entry's subject, could be called sub-optimal.

That said, I understand that there are sometimes reasons for why things are, and I don't tend to hold it against Adobe as strongly as others. (Rick's comment came in as I wrote this, and obviously he feels even more strongly.) When I point things out like this, I'm more just trying to help people than to be taking a dig at Adobe.

As for wishing they had created a 9.0.1 "fresh installer" like they did for CF 8.0.1, sure, I do agree. I can't recall if the 8.0.1 "fresh installer" came out with the 8.0.1 updater, or perhaps came along later. Either way, perhaps Adobe may be persuaded to reconsider on 9.0.1.

As for the need to maybe do manual steps to go from the base to the latest install, well, you've overstated things. I didn't say you'd have to "sequentially apply all 4 CHFs to get current [on cf 8]". I said that there may be manual steps in one or more of the preceding CHFs, which is different. I'll explain more in the next entry.

All that said, I do think that Adobe is well aware of the problem so we can hope that perhaps they will address it in the future. They've been great about addressing a lot of other annoyances in CF over the years.

I wasn't bringing this entry up so much to press Adobe on such things, but just to address the very point Lance said, that "as developers and sys admins part of our job is to understand and maintain the platform our applications run on". I just find that many even concerned and experienced folks seem to have some misunderstandings. That's what I'm hoping to address in this series.

@Rick, as for your comment on Adobe's not creating a new "fresh installer" for 9.0.1, I'm a little confused by your comment, "I absolutely don't buy the budget excuse, nor the 'you wouldn't want it any other way' reasoning." Are you referring to my having offered that "reasoning"? I really don't see how I said that. Do you perhaps have in mind something you heard from Adobe?

As for the update process being "pretty obvious that this is absolutely not a priority for Adobe", again, I hope that's changing, and that it won't take something dire to force their hand.

You bring up the matter of security-related hotfixes, and really that could warrant a whole different discussion, as often CHFs have specifically not included known security fixes at the time. I'll just say, for the benefit of readers trying to wrap their heads around all this, that at least recently Adobe has started to include some security-related fixes in CHFs (the 9.0.1 CHF 1 had some), which is encouraging. There is also a separate security fix list (http://www.adobe.com...) and notification service (http://www.adobe.com...

Thanks, again, to you guys and Tim, Jim, and for your feedback. Of course, I welcome more from you guys or anyone else.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 12/11/10 11:43 PM
Doh, Steve, I had written my reply to the others before I noticed your comment. Oh well, fortunately, I did offer mention of the security fixes in that comment. It's a fair point that folks need to know of them, and sometimes in the past had to know of them separate from CHFs. Let's hope that Adobe's recent change of stance in that regard (including them in CHFs recently) is something that will continue.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 12/11/10 11:46 PM
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