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Why we may be moving from Adobe CF to Railo

For those who have worked with me in the past, and read my blog entries about the server side of Adobe ColdFusion, it might be surprising that I am considering moving everything over to Railo in place of Adobe CF.  I have been an advocate for ColdFusion for over 15 years, but I just can't justify working with Adobe any more.  The poor service and product handling make it not worth the cost.  I know for a fact that there are some very talented people working for Adobe on the ColdFusion product, but unfortunately Adobe's management of the product and service buries the benefits of having those talented people there.

This has been going downhill for a while, but my most recent experiences were the tipping point for me.  I work for a college, and we have multiple ColdFusion Enterprise licenses that we have always gotten educational pricing on.  We also bought a subscription so that we can upgrade any time.  Our subscription expired.  Adobe (or our reseller) never notified us, and I was unaware.  Not a huge deal – I figured I could work it out.  I called our authorized reseller.  They said that we cannot renew our subscription because it had expired, and we cannot buy an upgrade to CF11 unless we pay full retail price (not education/govt pricing).   So, I decided to call Adobe education sales.  The rep I spoke with had never heard of ColdFusion!  When she finally found the product in their system, she asked if I wanted the developer or standard edition.  No enterprise?  No, that is not in the system.  You'll have to call the enterprise division of Adobe.  Great.

So now I call the number she gave me and after a VERY long hold time, I reach a rep.  The rep confirms that I cannot buy an upgrade for education pricing.  I have to buy the full version.  I also cannot renew my subscription.

There is more, but I will stop it here to point out some things.  The CF team claims that they are going to focus more on education.  However, the education sales people don't know what CF is.  That's a bad sign to begin with.  Second, I can't upgrade at education pricing?  

We have the money to comply with all of this, but why should we?  I want to spend money with this company, and I am met with obstacle after obstacle.  It shouldn't be this hard.  If the experience is this poor, then what do I really get for the money compared to the alternatives?

Enter Railo.  I've been following Railo for a while, but never had the need to investigate it further.  I decided to do that after this experience with Adobe.  Guess what?   We can get more out of Railo for almost no cost.

The install took less than 10 minutes, there was plenty of online documentation, and the Google Group has many active participants.  There are many minor adjustments to our code base that will need to be made, and we won't be switching over immediately, but I am very impressed.  Rather than upgrade to CF11, we will probably be moving to Railo.

To solidify this pending decision,  I had this experience… I found a bug in Railo.  I submitted it to the Google Group.  I got an answer from someone the same day confirming the bug and telling me where it was in the bug database.  I went there and voted it up.  Within 24 hours, someone from the Railo team corrected it, provided a workaround, and posted it for the next full release.  Now that is great service, and I didn't even pay them anything.

A few days after my download, Railo sent me an email asking if I wanted any services or support.  No big deal you would think, but after struggling just to spend money with Adobe, it was a welcome change.  It seems they WANT my business.  No obstacles.

We're still in the testing and investigation stage, but I think we'll be building a relationship with Railo in the near future.


12 Replies to “Why we may be moving from Adobe CF to Railo”

  1. Unfortunately, I see this becoming a growing trend at Adobe for any of their Macromedia-acquired products. Flash, of course, is one of the big ones that comes to mind, but also Fireworks. Dreamweaver has pretty much gone the way of Quark in that it is actively developed, but they haven’t kept it updated enough for their primary demographic (who today are more likely to use Brackets, WebStorm, or IntelliJ IDEA) while at the same time having it be too complex and expensive for beginners wanting to build something simple.

  2. I hope your transition goes well. I think that you’ll find Railo code to be much more restrictive in variable scopes and comparison functions than ACF. But the benefit you gain there is speed and security. Overall, it’s not a very difficult transition to make, but you will need to find find and fix some oddities that ACF allows and Railo doesn’t.

  3. I’m converting an application from ACF 9 to Railo and it seems most of the things I’m having to fix are undoing all the weird things ACF mangles, primarily surrounding JSON serialization.

    Can’t wait to complete this switch and sad that Adobe has done such a terrible job managing the product. Chatting with a sales rep trying to get a download of ACF 9.02 the other day was nearly impossible. Luckily I was able to find an installer stashed on the server.

  4. I’ve been with CF since its first release. That is a long time. It will get better. That’s what we told ourselves. Performance problems? It will get better. Poor support? It will get better. Zero growth? It will get better. CF is dead. Face it. For all of its greatness it is effectively a dead language. If you want to wait around to become a big fish in a small ocean you will make money being a CF expert, but those jobs won’t be around forever. Moving to Railo is pointless. Time to learn another, more awkward platform full of bugs, like PHP, and move your career forward. CF does not scale. It will never scale. Time to move on.

  5. Just want to follow up and see if you have moved over to Railo? If you did, what is your experience with it? Were there a lot of changes?

    I am thinking of moving the CF site to Railo as well. It is mainly due to cost. I am running CF on VPS and moving to dedicated server soon. The cost of CF on server is insane. So I am seriously consider using Railo.

  6. @Jack – We did not end up moving to Railo, but it was not due to any problem with Railo. After this article was tweeted (and re-tweeted a few times), Adobe contacted me and arranged for pricing that was in line with the educational pricing we were getting before. With competitive pricing, we could no longer justify spending time making adjustments to our very large code base to make it fully compatible with Railo.

  7. We are thinking about making the switch from CF to Railo. What are the biggest advantages/disadvantages between the 2? We are kinda skeptical on switching.

  8. Andrew,

    Before you consider the switch, you should look more into lucee.org. From what I understand, Railo is no longer being developed and the developers have moved to Lucee. It’s basically just a new branch of Railo.

    That said, here is my opinion on the advantages and disadvantages:

    Adobe CF
    – Solid company behind it
    – Larger developer community, easier to find people who know this engine than Lucee.
    – New features are usually here first
    – Integration with other software “out of the box” (Exchange, PDF, etc)
    – Official support is expensive and sometimes slow.
    – Cost can be prohibitive, especially when compared to alternatives.

    – Faster with less bloat (unneeded extra services and features)
    – FREE!
    – Responsive community support
    – Unsure on community stability, as you can see from the Railo-Lucee incident already
    – Official support is available through the Railo company, but I have no experience with quality or cost.
    – Slower to get major new features
    – To integrate with other software, you sometimes need plug-ins. For example, CFSPREADSHEET.

  9. Micheal,
    Thank you for the quick response. Now we have a Intranet connection website that we are currently using CF however they have came out with a update moving away from CF and moving towards Railo program and since i have never heard of this before i decided to go to the forums on this.

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