Software Development, Web Design, Training

Into The Box 2017 Recap

Into The Box 2017 wrapped up last night, I’m currently on a flight home (coincidentally on the same flight as Gavin, Bill and Esme from the Ortus team).

Hands down, Into The Box 2017 was the best, most advanced, ColdFusion conference I’ve attended in a while.  While other conferences balance equal amounts of beginner, legacy, intermediate, and sometimes advanced content, ITB focused mostly on current and innovative things being done with CFML.  (Honestly, I think my talk on Dependency Injection was probably the weak link of the bunch; it wasn’t innovative, I just showed how to use D/I and included a few intro WireBox samples. Sidebar: if you’d like to check out the slides and demos from my talk, you can find them here.)

If there was one main “takeaway message” from the entire conference it was this:

Not only is CFML alive and well, it has just as much innovation happening behind it that other languages do.

On Wednesday I attended Brad Wood’s pre-conference workshop for CommandBox.  While I’d seen several demos of CommandBox before, I’d always felt like I was missing that “lightbulb moment”, and not seeing how much CommandBox can do (though I knew I was getting close).  I’ve now got the latest version of CommandBox installed, I’ve successfully built a CommandBox module, published it to ForgeBox, and have plans to streamline the development environment I use for some customers (CommandBox + Docker should work for many projects, more on that later hopefully).  As an added bonus from Brad’s workshop, I learned more about using Travis CI, Docker, and TestBox.  Pretty good value for a 1-day workshop. Thanks, Brad!

Thursday was the beginning of the regular conference and of course began with a Keynote from the Ortus team.  The overall theme was “CFML is not just legacy hell, there is a lot of innovative work being done in this space”.  The message here was more of what I’d already seen during the CommandBox class; if you’re feeling like CFML is a legacy-only tech space, you’re simply not looking in the right places. Luis Majano, Brad Wood, Jon Clausen, Gavin Pickin and Jorge Reyes (am I forgetting anyone?) took turns going over various new projects from the Ortus team.  (You can read my notes from keynote here.)  ColdBox and ContentBox were the only 2 ColdBox-specific projects mentioned — everything else can be used on -any- CFML project.  

There is also an Ortus University training program happening. Please, every company that’s still writing legacy CFML…make this mandatory for all of your employees, now!  There really is no excuse to be a “5-tagger” in 2017, especially with conferences and training programs like this available.

I believe it was during Eric Peterson’s preso that I heard him say what was one of the many great takeaways of the conference:

“If you’re feeling stuck in CMFL, I have a feeling it’s because you’re not leveraging the community.”

Well said (extreme understatement).  While I don’t personally like the use of Slack for things like CFML support (it should be done in mediums that get indexed by search engines - website forums, Google Groups, etc), the fact is there are 2000 people in that channel now. Plus various Stack Overflow forums; plus various Google groups, blogs, conferences and so on.  Many people at Into The Box were obviously working hard on getting word out that it is very easy to receive help, to advance your skills, to learn current best practices for CFML web development.  

CFML Community, please encourage people to ask questions and look at new tools that will make their lives easier. (Also, when they do ask questions, answer them constructively, and politely…even if they are not “asking questions correctly”.)

Friday started with another session including several members of the Ortus team.  The message again was clear: it is possible to use modern practices and CFML.  This session discussed taking legacy CFML apps and using micro-services as a way to bring them back to life.  (You can read my notes here.)  I didn’t attend quite as many sessions on Friday, as I had prep to do for my talk Friday afternoon, but I still managed to learn a few things about Agile Development, ContentBox themes, and DataBoss.

Beyond a couple mentions of “legacy code”, there really wasn’t anything “legacy” or “intro” about this conference. Truly every session at ITB was for developers looking to get current with not just CFML but best practices in software development.  I left the conference genuinely excited and motivated to work on several projects — much more excited than I have been in a while.  

Thanks again to Luis, the rest of the Ortus team, and everyone else involved in the conference.  Hope to see you all again next year.



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