Alternatives to Adobe ColdFusion Server?

For as long as I can remember there has been heated discussions regarding the cost of ColdFusion server (both Standard and Enterprise). Because that topic has been beaten to death I won’t go into the particulars or the perceived pros and cons of the cost element with ColdFusion.

For me as a ColdFusion developer I want to know that my job (and future) are secure in my current technology of choice. ASP.NET has Microsoft in its corner so you’d have to assume .NET developers are happy in that regard. PHP has a huge community, a vast array of functionality and an obvious benefit that’s it free which often comes with extremely cheap hosting. This is paramount for clients in many situations (particularly smaller projects). ColdFusion is my preferred language (I have used ASP 3.0 and PHP in the past) but with the cost of the product even in a shared environment it’s hard to get clients on board. Yes development time is cut due to ColdFusions RAD nature which translates into real cost savings which could be spent on hosting, but this often seems to be overlooked by potential clients.

I also believe that there is still a notion out there (by people who don’t know much about ColdFusion, particularly since CFMX) that ColdFusion is NOT a serious solution. Of course we all know that ColdFusion is more than capable of standing up against J2EE, .NET and PHP etc. But how do we (and Adobe) get the message out there?

One way is get ColdFusion as a viable solution and product out there so a LOT of people are using it. Why do so many PHP developers exist when ColdFusion is arguably quicker to develop with and has a rich set of tools available out of the box? Could cost be a reason? Hmmm.

All of a sudden there seems to be a few projects in the running to possibly be a replacement for ColdFusion server. Of course New Atlanta’s Blue Dragon has been around for ages and runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, but best of all it’s FREE!

There are 2 new FREE players in the market, namely the Smith Project and IgniteFusion.

From SmithProject:

“Smith is a freeware, cross-platform ColdFusion engine, written entirely in Java. Running on the top of Java Runtime Environment and Java Servlet Container, it can be virtually deployed on any operating system and work with any web server. Smith represents lightweight, yet reliable alternative to the existing ColdFusion servers. It supports most important CF features and already drives several large ColdFusion applications.”

From IgniteFusion:

“IgniteFusion can run ColdFusion scripts without any third-party software. It can also run on any MS Windows platform and only needs 2 MBytes of diskspace.”

I imagine these will have a cut down feature set when compared to Blue Dragon (and of course ColdFusion server) but hopefully some momentum will pick up and increase interest in ColdFusion and lower the cost (perhaps altogether!) of Adobe’s ColdFusion :)