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As Rakshith moves on, ColdFusion Product Management past and future

Some of you may heard that late last week Adobe CF Product Manager Rakshith Naresh announced in various online communities that he was stepping down from the role and indeed moving on from Adobe. Here's his post on the Facebook CF Programmers group. As he noted there, he had "found an interesting opportunity outside of Adobe", and he added that "ColdFusion continues to be an important part [of] Adobe and nothing changes for the product with this. Adobe is actively looking to hire a replacement for my role."

Of course I wish Rakshith all the best. He guided the release of CF2021, which many think is one of the best new CF releases in that timeframe, and he will be missed. But time marches on, as does CF.

In this post, I reminisce first about who the past (surprisingly few) CF Product Managers were, and then I muse about what the next CF PM will face, and what all this means for CF going forward.

Past CF PM's and their tenures

Rakshith had in fact served in the Product Manager (PM) role 10 years (longer than anyone else previously), shepherding it through 5 releases. But there also really have not been that many past CF PM's. It got me thinking about the few great folks who had served in the role, and how long. I did some digging in LinkedIn and found these details. I also add the CF versions that came out during their tenure:

  • Rakshith Naresh - Jun 2011- Mar 2021 (9.75 yrs, CF 10, 11, 2016, 2018, and 2021)
  • Adam Lehman - Feb 2009 - Feb 2011 (2 yrs, CF9)
  • Jason Delmore - Apr 2006-Dec 2008 (2.5 yrs, CF8)
  • Tim Buntel - 2001 - Feb 2006 (5 yrs, CF 5, 6, 7)
  • Dave Gruber - Apr 1999 - Mar 2006 (2 yrs, CF 4.5)
  • Adam Berrey? Phil Costa? 1995-1999

[Update: Andy Allan reminded me on my LinkedIn post announcing this entry that it was Dave Gruber who had preceded Tim. And I found Dave's LinkedIn profile indicating the dates above. Tim's had simply said "2000", so I am inclined to trust Dave's memory as being more precise--especially since he was in the role only those two years...the same avg as Adam and Jason. I have updated the info below as well, but will correct things if I learn any better specifics.]

[Second update: Andy later suggested also Phil Costa (in a comment on my LinkedIn post) and Dan Switzer suggested Adam Berrey (in a comment below), but both of the LinkedIn profiles for those guys show them overlapping in their years that they identify themselves being CF PMs. I will do more digging to get details, even reaching out to them (Phil, Adam B, Dave, and Tim) if needed.]

I'm afraid I couldn't recall or find who were or were the PM/s from 1995-1999. I would love to hear from any folks who may know. Was it Jeremy or JJ Allaire, at first? Someone else then, or after them and before Dave?

And Tim Buntel did indeed serve second longest in the role with his 5 years, and 3 CF releases. (Even if there was one PM before him, that person couldn't have served more than CF's first 5 years and 4 releases.)

And while Adam L, Jason, and Dave (and perhaps Phil C and Adam B) only served a couple years (and one release) each, it's still rather compelling to see how few PMs there have been. It's a good indication of the stability CF has had.

Who may be next? What will they face?

As for who may take the role next, we can't know for now. I have heard that like with Rakshith and most of the CF team, the position will be based in India.

Honestly, the PM role is a difficult one (it seems to me), and like many leadership positions it's not so much that the person should come out of the ranks of the CF team or community, but it could be someone from outside the CF world.

It seems it needs to be someone who understands modern app development and deployment as it's evolving in this 3rd decade of the 20th century, to take CF from its first 25 years into however many more years it may have.

And before anyone may snark that "CF won't have many years left", it's just not as simple as you may think. First of all, with the release of CF2021 CF is now committed to CF at least to 2026.

Next CF release already in the works, Project Fortuna

To be clear, Adobe has already announced the next release, code-named Fortuna, which when it comes out could have CF supported by Adobe to nearly 2030--and its 35th birthday.

Enterprise solutions tend to live a lot longer than many expect, if they assess liveliness against what's new, shiny, and popular. (Heck, the first technology I worked with--a mainframe DBMS called Model 204--was declared dying at its 25th birthday in 1997, when I happened to switch to CF--and it's still sold today!)

Project Fortuna is already set to add to the many improvements that CF2021 added, which really made great strides in modernizing CF and CFML, on top of similar improvements in other recent editions.

"Doesn't Rakshith's leaving tell us something?"

Of course, some may still snark that Rakshith's departure must be "a sign of bad things" about CF and Adobe. Rakshith was at pains to counter that, in a follow-on comment the next day:

Please remember that this has nothing to do with CF as a product at Adobe. I wanted to challenge myself with something different. CF is in safe hands and the team is already working on Project Fortuna, the major version of CF.

And if you may have just scanned the headers here and didn't see my last couple of sections, see them for still more on more good news about CF's future.

I really don't want to see this post blasted with lots of comments from folks wanting to lament about what past CF PMs didn't do well, or what they feel the new PM's "need to do" going forward. We've seen plenty of discussions of the former over the years, and as for the latter, you could and should share your thoughts instead with the new CF PM when they may be announced, likely on the Adobe CF Portal.

I wish the new PM well, whoever it may be, as I wish Rakshith well in his new role wherever it will be. And long live CF!

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I have been developing with CF since 1994/1995. I have a copy of version 1.5 on my shelf. It has made a career for me and it’s still a great product. Charlie, thanks for your many articles and insights over the years.
# Posted By Kevin Lemke | 3/15/21 1:39 PM
Thanks for the kind regards, Kevin. As a fellow long-timer, do you perhaps recall the first CF PM(s)? :-)
# Posted By charlie arehart | 3/15/21 1:41 PM
I feel like Adam Berrey might have been PM before Dave and then Jeremy, but my memory is foggy.
# Posted By Dan G. Switzer, II | 3/16/21 7:09 AM
Thanks, Dan. It's interesting: his LinkedIn profile lists him doing product "marketing and management", and during the same time as Dave did.

And indeed Andy Allan mentioned overnight Phil Costa, whose profile ALSO lists him having a PM role for CF in a out the same overlapping years, even with Tim Buntel's time.

I'll do more digging, either for more corroborating evidence of each, or by just trying to reach out to them to pick their brains.

Thanks, and great to be hearing again from folks from the early days.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 3/16/21 7:21 AM
Charlie --

How I miss the good old ".com days" where CF 2.0 changed everything, allowing us to swiftly build revolutionary sites like Autobytel.com, support Super Bowl level traffic (19x+) and travel (it was pre-COVID after all!) to energized conferences where frameworks like Fusebox and techniques leading to JSON evolved in unofficial side rooms.

I deeply hope that Adobe someday realizes what it has and takes Cold Fusion to another level. Open Source has eaten away at its lead but a company like Adobe can pull that off. It's fans are continuing to cheer it on...

Yours in CF,

Doug Nottage
# Posted By Doug Nottage | 3/16/21 3:18 PM
Another great blast from the past. Thanks for chiming in, Doug, and for the encouragement to Adobe--and to all who still use CF, or may yet come to use it.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 3/17/21 6:44 AM

It's also possible they didn't really have an "official" PM before Dave. They were pretty small back in those days, so it really may have been split duty.
# Posted By Dan Switzer | 3/24/21 8:54 AM
Great point, Dan. Thanks.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 3/24/21 12:24 PM
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