Bye CFUnited, Hello Community

I’ve seen a variety of opinions on the announcement that this year will be the final year for CFUnited. Some are lamenting, some are worried, and some are FUD that I’m sure will be turned into self-promotion. I figured as ColdFusion Evangelist I should weigh in.

Disclaimer: I never attended CFUnited before I joined Adobe. I am a long time Max attendee, and a cf.Objective fan. Those were my gateways to the community. So I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t be nostalgic for CFUnited, but I am not.

CFUnited’s end is decidedly an event on the ColdFusion Community timeline. Adam calls it the end of the Silver Age of the ColdFusion community, referencing the comic book era.

I see it as a bit of creative destruction. See in the past few years, we’ve seen the rise of smaller regional conferences:

They aren’t limited to ColdFusion, but all include it, and put ColdFusion in front of more new eyes than CFUnited.

This is of course in addition to our long-standing specialized or regional conferences with ColdFusion content:

The great thing about all of the conferences I mention here both new and older is that they are cheap for attendees and sponsors, attract new people, and have a low barrier for entry. That means that people who aren’t long-standing members of the ColdFusion community can break in and get a chance to speak despite not being a “name.”

I see CFUnited’s end as an opportunity for Adobe and the ColdFusion community to invest in more of these local specialized and regional events. We now have more resources collectively to do that together.

So I issue a challenge to everyone lamenting CFUnited’s demise. Show up for CFUnited’s last hurrah, and then invest in one of the other conferences. Or start your own…

11 thoughts on “Bye CFUnited, Hello Community

  1. Terrence, you took the words right out of my mouth. And made them sound better than I could have. 🙂 But I was thinking the same thing when I read the news, that even though CFUnited has been an incredible gathering at which to learn and share, the void that will be left after this year I am CONFIDENT will be quickly filled with smaller, more niche-oriented, opportunity-offering conferences like the D2W conference I had the privilege of speaking at this month. Change is good, people, change is good!

  2. I completely agree with your sentiments, but I’m still a bit bummed.

    The one thing CFUnited managed to do year-in/year-out was bring a large number of ColdFusion developers together under a single roof. The smaller events are great, but it was a very special thing to share a conference with 800-1000 like minded developers.

    I really do hope that everyone tries to make it out to this final CFUnited. We are going to send her off right!

  3. Good points, Terrence

    Sean Corfield and I had a quick discussion on this earlier. We seemed to agree that these large conferences just become too unwieldy and therefore, overly expensive for the conference planners.

    I rarely attend conferences because I feel a lot of the content and events are pure fluff. This fluff is expensive. And it adds to the cost of the event for the attendees. I hear cf.O() is very different, but I’ve yet had a chance to attend.

    I firmly believe that the new wave of CF developer conferences need to get rid of this fluff. Limit the number of attendees to keep costs down. If needed, you can do these multiple times per year at a lower cost than having one GIANT conference once a year. It will also keep the event prices lower. Attendees will likely get more value out of the conference due to less fluff.

    Personally, I can do without “free” meals at conferences, as well as swag, entertainment, etc. Just keep it to the core. If I am going to spend my hard-earned cash on a conference I want to learn, and I want to learn a lot. I’ll take care of my own meals and entertainment. Just keep my costs down.

    In return, I think conferences will see better attendance and lower costs.

  4. I was sad to hear the news but not very surprised. I’d actually expected CFUnited to implode a few years back with the combination of growth, ever-bigger venues and then dwindling attendance during the recession. Yes, its loss is an ‘event’ on the ColdFusion timeline but as Terry points out, we’ve seen a rise in the number of CF-focused events over the last few years, offering lower-cost access to more and more people, and I’m sure that will continue.

    Like Adam, I think the special aspect of CFUnited was the large number of folks networking and, for many years, the networking has been of far more interest to me than the content. Ironically, this year’s content seems stronger than ever and I had no trouble at all filling my schedule (and in fact had hard choices with several competing topics I wanted to see at the same time!).

    But, in the big picture, it’s just the end of one era and the start of a new one. The CF community continues to grow and the whole ecosystem is evolving – which is even more encouraging given that it’s doing so in a recession! Even with the loss of CFUnited, there’s never been a better time to be a CF developer!

  5. I agree guys.

    “I see CFUnited’s end as an opportunity for Adobe and the ColdFusion community to invest in more of these local specialized and regional events”.

    “But, in the big picture, it’s just the end of one era and the start of a new one”.

    “Even with the loss of CFUnited, there’s never been a better time to be a CF developer!”

  6. Nice post, Terry! I completely agree with you.

    Unfortunately, I am one of those that won’t be attending this last CFUnited. I wish I was, and with this announcement doubly so, but I couldn’t swing it this year. It’s just too expensive to go on my own, since I’m not speaking, and my company doesn’t have the budget this year. At this point, even with a free ticket, I couldn’t afford it.

  7. Thanks for including D2W. I did have many CF related topics and speakers in the CF world and the content was amazing. I’ve been going to CFUnited since 2006 and am so honored to be speaking at the last one. I also spoke at NCDevCon, Dan and Jim did a fantastic job with that, and of course Bob Flynn also does a great job with BFlex|BFusion. Same goes for RIAUnleashed. 2009 was my first year for that and looking forward to 2010’s version.

    I like the smaller conferences personally because of the energy/synergy you get that doesn’t happen as much at larger ones. CFUnited for many of us feels like that still simply because we all either knew each other before or met at CFUnited when it was smaller. cf.Objective() has grown larger but also started small. Looking forward to seeing everyone and sending CFUnited off in a big way this year.

    Dee

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