ColdFusion Summit 2019 Recap

October 09, 2019

Last week was the 2019 ColdFusion Summit in Las Vegas. This year brought the conference back to The Mirage (last year’s event was at The Hard Rock Cafe). and by all accounts was a big success!

Who are these jokers that keep spouting off about how “ColdFusion is dead”? Clearly they’ve never been to the ColdFusion Summit (or any recent CF conference for that matter).

Pre-Conference Workshops and ColdFusion Certification

As usual, the Summit started off with some pre-conference workshops. We had security and Docker workshops from Pete Freitag and Charlie Arehart respectively. (I’ve taken Pete’s security workshop before; it’s well worth the money. Charlie’s is still on my “to attend” list but I’m certain it’s brilliant like everything else Charlie does.)

The difference with this year’s pre-conference event was, it also included the new “ColdFusion Specialist Certification Training”. As I mentioned before Adobe and South of Shasta partnered together and revitalized the ColdFusion Certification program (which was long overdue for a reboot). We recorded roughly 20 training videos going over modern CFML techniques, rewrote the ColdFusion certification quiz, and provided an on-site day of info that essentially recapped what was in the videos. And at the end of the day, attendees were able to take the test and become ColdFusion Specialists.

Students in the ColdFusion Certification class

Initially this was 1 session, the same size as the other pre-conference workshops, so around 40 people. That quickly sold out, and Adobe ended up needing to add 2 additional sessions — we had over 120 people sign up! When the dust settled, roughly 90% of the attendees passed the test and because certified in ColdFusion! This was a mammoth project in itself, I’m quite glad to see that it was successful and that folks are happy with the results. (I don’t have any official info on when/if/what Adobe will do with the certification next but I’m quietly building my “todo” list for version 2 of the training, should we get that far.)  Thanks to everyone at Adobe for getting this project off the ground, and thanks to both Damien Bruyndonckx and Brian Sappey for running the other 2 training sessions, helping to write the test, build the training manual, and generally making sure everything ran successfully. And of course, congrats to all the students that passed. :)


Day 1 of the conference started off with the keynote from Adobe, given by Ashish Garg. It mostly focused on providing a high level view of where Adobe is headed with ColdFusion and how they plan to remain competitive with ColdFusion, providing options for the cloud, not locking customers into 1 specific vendor, and so on.  Most of the information given was broad strokes, showing the vision Adobe has for the next few years.  It was good to see this info, and I’m glad there is still such dedication to moving forward with ColdFusion. Personally I would like the ColdFusion keynote to be given by Elishia, Kishore, or Rakshith as they’re usually the 3 faces we see when dealing with Adobe about ColdFusion. Add to that, they’re genuinely emphatic when speaking about ColdFusion, and that energy resonates with audiences.

Day 1 Sessions

Days 1 and 2 were filled with 4 tracks of 1-hour sessions on a variety of topics. Four tracks?! Yes, four. And ColdFusion is dead, how exactly? ;)

My only “complaint” was having to decide which sessions to attend — several great talks were slotted against in each other, it made for some serious Sophie’s Place style moments of picking my schedule for the day. I saw no clunkers, every session was well put together with tons of useful info.

Matt Gifford gave an excellent intro to Vue.js, showing how to start using Vue, how to integrate it into a ColdFusion project, and some additional next steps (Nuxt, for example).  I’ve done some Vue development, but Matt covered several bits that I haven’t dealt with much (or at all) yet. Plus, Matt is one of the best people you’ll ever meet in the development world; it’s always a pleasure seeing him at an event.

Rakshith Naresh’s preso on “ColdFusion For the Next Decade” was a great look at what’s coming next in ColdFusion. Rakshith covered items in the recent Update 5 for ColdFusion 2018, he demoed new features planned for ColdFusion 2020, and touched on some items planned for ColdFusion 2022 as well.  A chunk of this info was underlining (and showing in more technical detail) what we heard in the keynote. I like several of the new features in the works; it will be interesting to see what happens in the future.  Some of what Adobe is working on already exists via other tools (such as CommandBox and ForgeBox libraries). But items like integration with cloud services could be a great win for everyone.

Gavin Pickin from Ortus Solutions gave a great talk on integrated testing. It was TOO good actually. I got sucked into listening to Gavin and didn’t take any notes whatsoever. :) There is probably a slide deck floating around somewhere.

Speaking of Ortus, I also caught Eric Peterson’s talk on Modules which should have been a “must attend” talk for everyone at the conference. Eric continued what is becoming “fighting the good fight”, and by that I mean teaching developers that not all *Box products require ColdBox! You can build modules with and without ColdBox (though doing them via ColdBox does have some advantages, as Eric pointed out in his talk.)

Uma Ghotikar has given her talk on testing at several conferences, but I’ve never been able to attend it until now. This is another “must attend” event. Uma covers using tools such as Jenkins, JMeter, TestBox concepts TDD and BDD, and more. Regardless of your technology stack, there is something of value you can learn from Uma’s session.

Day 2 Sessions

Want to learn how to build API wrappers? Then go watch Matthew Clemente’s talk. His preso is so good, I watched it last year at Into The Box, and I watched it again at this year’s CF Summit. The code examples are super clear and easy to follow, concepts are well defined, and I walked away inspired to build wrappers for a few APIs I use. Of course none of them are -useful- APIs, just niche things that I find entertaining. But that’s not Matt’s fault. ;)

Dave Ferguson’s talk “SQL, I learned enough to break everything” is another that’s useful to everyone regardless of their tech stack or framework. We all use databases, and we all need them to perform as well as possible.  Portions of Dave’s talk focused on Microsoft SQL Server, but a lot of the information is true regardless of which database vendor you use.

Josh Kutz-Flamenbaum gave a talk on using Angular with ColdFusion. Alas, this was another talk where I was busy looking at the slides and taking it all in, I didn’t take any notes. Josh’s talk was more low-level and discussed a lot of what happens under the hood when building an Angular app. I wasn’t expecting that level of content, it was a really nice change from just, say, a “hello world” tutorial style presentation.  If you’re interested in learning what all the moving parts are within an Angular app, and the purposes they serve, this is a great preso to watch.

Last but not least, I attended “Please Pass the Salt: Serve Up Passwords With a Side of Entropy” with Brad Wood. Brad’s getting into Pete Freitag territory with this talk. We can usually count on Pete to scare the audience with examples of how many security problems might exist in their code. Brad did the same, showing how terrible most sites are when it comes to passwords. He gave several real world (large) examples of sites that have been hacked and user data was stolen. There was also a great deal of (easy to understand) math explaining which types of passwords are best (longer ones), and clear explanations on a variety of techniques for storing passwords. This was another session that had something for everybody; whether you’re using ColdBox or a 10 year old legacy app, all of the info in this preso was useful.

Wrapping Up

Every session over both days was packed, many of them had a crowd of people standing in the back because every seat was taken. We had a total of 5 pre-conference workshops and at least 4 of those were at capacity (I didn’t hear anything about the fifth). The non-official number I heard was around 500 people in attendance at the conference.

At the Adobe Government Summit a few months back, it was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen there, by a wide margin.

Crowd of over 500 people at the keynote

Into The Box 2019 was also the biggest it’s ever been.

CF Camp in Germany has had to change venues twice in the last 5 years because they keep growing in size.

Remind me again how ColdFusion is dead? ;)

Thanks Adobe and everyone at the conference. Thanks again to all the people helped with the ColdFusion Certification Program, I’m very glad to see that going again. See you all in Vegas again next year.

Next up, CF Camp in Munich Germany!