Wednesday, December 8, 2010

OpenCF Summit: What It Is, and What It Isn't (via OpenCF Summit)

Several people emailed me today about the latest episode of the CFHour podcast, in which the hosts spend a good chunk of time at the end of the show talking about OpenCF Summit and open source in general.
Although in my opinion a great deal of what was said on the podcast was quite ill informed, which I suppose isn’t surprising given that they didn’t contact us to get any information about OpenCF Summit, it did get me thinking that we need to do a better job of sharing with everyone what’s behind OpenCF Summit, the focus of the event, and the goals we have for OpenCF Summit participants.
Please consider this to be the beginning of the discussion. If something needs additional clarification, or if you have any ideas at all about what you think we could doing better, we absolutely appreciate any feedback you can give us.
We are relying on you to help us make OpenCF Summit the event you want it to be, and the event that the CFML community needs it to be.

OpenCF Summit is …

1. Focused on educating CFML developers about free software and open source.

Even though
free software and open source have been major forces in the software industry for over 25 years, as a general rule we still see a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about these topics in the CFML community. This was the #1 reason for creating OpenCF Summit that came up in our early discussions about the event.
The people involved with OpenCF Summit are extremely passionate about free and open source software so we want to do everything we can to help people understand these topics better, and these are big enough and important enough topics that in our opinion they can’t be adequately covered at existing CFML events.
We want OpenCF Summit participants to see the tremendous personal and professional benefits of being involved with free software projects. We want participants to inspire each other to take the plunge and contribute to open source projects. And we also want participants to learn about the business aspects of open source from people who live in this world every day.
To help reach these goals we’re planning on having a volunteer table staffed by the
Free Software Foundation to talk to attendees about free software, and we’ll have presentations about the various philosophies behind free software and open source, and free software licenses, from people who know these topics inside and out.
And of course Mura, Railo, and aw2.0 will have a lot to say about open source as it relates to business.
We cover this topic in more detail below, but it’s important to understand that OpenCF Summit is not focused exclusively on the open source CFML engines. The CFML community as a whole will benefit from being better informed about, and increasing its participation in, free software and open source, regardless of anyone’s CFML engine of preference.
2. A place to gather with fellow CFML developers and discuss the important issues facing our community.
Above All, OpenCF Summit is a CFML Conference
Regardless of the name of the event or its specific focus, at the end of the day OpenCF Summit is a CFML conference.
If you’ve been to other CFML conferences you know that not only are CFML developers some of the smartest, nicest, and most giving people you’ll ever meet, they also know how to have a damn good time. OpenCF Summit will be no exception on any of these points, and I’m already looking forward to all the great conversations I’m going to have with all of you at the event.
In addition, we feel in-person settings are the best venue for facilitating open discussions of issues and helping us all work together to solve them. Mailing lists, Twitter, IM, blogs, and the like are great, but they’re simply no substitute for getting together face-to-face with people that share your interests and passions.
I always return home from events like cf.Objective() and BFusion with my brain overflowing with ideas and inspiration. We can’t get too much of this in the CFML community.
Challenges Can Only Be Overcome When You Face Them Directly
The people involved with planning OpenCF Summit have been doing CFML development for many, many years. I personally have been doing CFML for about 14 years now, and like many of you we’ve seen the ebbs and flows in the CFML world.
We see the technology we love get slighted, passed over, even derided, and we all want to do what we can to help both defend CFML as well as grow its popularity.
Let’s be honest: CFML is currently facing some of the greatest challenges it’s ever faced. Ignoring them won’t make them go away, and if we start turning against each other, we really are in trouble.  Finger pointing, he said / she said, and accusations of broken promises are wasted time that could be better spent doing positive things for the community.
New applications, language features, and general innovation are what will attract new developers to the CFML community.  Drawn out brawls over who’s “right” will do nothing but drive people away.

The good news is that even with these increasing challenges, we’re also in the best position we’ve ever been to overcome them. With open source, our collective brain power, and the fantastic technology that is CFML there’s nothing we can’t overcome. We simply have to focus on the collective goals that benefit us all instead of dwelling on our minor differences.

3. A place where you can learn from, get hands-on help from, and code alongside your favorite CFML developers.
Face-to-Face Time is Worth a $1000/hr
Obviously at this point we don’t know who all will be attending (if you haven’t registered yet, why not do it now!), but given what we do already know about who will be at OpenCF Summit, and given the fact that registration tops out at about 120 people, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to pull people aside and ask those questions you’ve always wanted to ask but maybe didn’t have time to write up in an email or a blog comment. And nothing beats sitting down with someone in person, cracking open those laptops, and sticking with the issue until you really understand it.
Help Desk: Sometimes a Second Mind Does the Trick
We’re also planning a volunteer help desk that will be running throughout the event so people can get help with their toughest programming or configuration problems, so if you want to offer your help in your area of expertise, consider yourself recruited! Don’t think you have to be some uber guru in order to be the person that saves the day for a fellow developer; we all have our own areas of expertise, and we want to foster sharing as much as possible at OpenCF Summit.
Hackfest: Work on an Application That Will Help a Charity / Public Service Organization
Finally, we’re planning a hackfest that will be going on throughout the event, the end result of which will be an application that will be donated to a worthy charity or public service organization in the Dallas area. This is your opportunity to write code with people you may never work with in a “day job,” and writing an application together is one of the best way for programmers to learn from one another.
4. A place where you can have a direct voice in shaping the future of CFML.
Have you ever wanted to sit down in person with the people behind OpenBD, Railo, or your favorite open source CFML project? Or maybe you have an idea for a new feature in the CFML engines that you simply can’t explain well without literally showing someone what you mean.
At OpenCF Summit, you can. Of course all open source projects have mailing lists, but there’s simply no substitute for having face-to-face back and forth when it comes to brainstorming on all the cool stuff you’d like to see CFML be able to do in the future. You’ll be talking directly to the developers on the open source engines and other open source projects, so your voice will absolutely be heard.

OpenCF Summit isn’t ...

1. We aren’t focused solely on open source CFML engines.
OpenCF Summit is extremely appreciative of the support we’re receiving from all of our our generous sponsors, two of whom are Railo and aw2.0 (which for those of you who don’t know is the company behind Open BlueDragon).
Because the major development in open source CFML in the last two years is the availability of open source CFML engines on which to run all the great open source CFML applications, educating participants about Railo and Open BlueDragon will be an important part of the conference.
But this certainly isn’t the only focus, so if people have that impression we haven’t done a good job of explaining OpenCF Summit. As stated above, the major focus if we had to choose only one is educating people about free and open source software as a philosophy, as a way to license software, as a great career move, and as the powerful underpinnings of business.
2. We aren’t anti-Adobe or in any way exclusionary.
Everyone (yes, everyone!) is welcome to attend OpenCF Summit. We have an open topic suggestion and call for proposals application (which incidentally we shared with cf.Objective()) that lets you see suggestions and proposals immediately as they’re submitted, and lets you vote for and comment on the topics submitted as well. Anyone can submit any topic they like.
People who want to learn more about free software and open source should attend OpenCF Summit regardless of their CFML engine of choice. Even if you take the CFML engines out of the picture, free and open source software is vital to the future of CFML. If we as a community can build killer open source applications that just happen to be in CFML that’s a powerful way to spread CFML outside the community.
We also encourage people who are skeptical about the open source CFML engines and the role they play in the future of CFML to attend. We want to hear your opinions and learn from your perspectives because it will only make the CFML community stronger as a whole.

“The Future of CFML”: A Clarification

A Little Backstory
What seemed to irk one of the hosts of the CFHour podcast the most is a BOF we have on the OpenCF Summit schedule entitled “The Future of CFML.” This is a joint BOF with OpenBD and Railo in which, as the title indicates, the topic will be the future of CFML as a language and platform.
We intend this to be a session in which OpenCF Summit participants can voice their opinions about anything and everything related to the future of CFML, from language syntax, features, and functionality to higher-level topics like  where CFML is going in relation to cloud computing and other trends in the web development world.
I agree that there’s a missing player here. Let me be completely honest and open about why Adobe is not currently on the schedule.
We’ve had a lot of discussions about the role Adobe might or might not play in OpenCF Summit as we’ve been planning the event. I hope it’s no surprise to anyone that given the focus of the event it didn’t make sense for us to approach Adobe to be a sponsor of OpenCF Summit.
Also, based on a hallway discussion a couple of OpenCF Summit steering committee members had with an Adobe employee at cf.Objective() 2010, it was our assumption--right or wrong--that if we did approach Adobe about sponsorship they would likely decline.
I trust even our critics will be able to see the logic behind our line of thinking on this. Even if you don’t agree with the logic (which could well be flawed), please don’t drum up a conspiracy where there isn’t one.
We Failed to Address This at the Right Time
Where we failed, and I personally take responsibility for this, is once Adobe wasn’t in our minds as a potential sponsor of OpenCF Summit, considering other ways to approach them and see how they might want to participate fell by the wayside.
It’s something that was in the back of my mind but with all the other details related to planning the conference, it didn’t get addressed in a timely fashion. Please bear in mind that this is the first year for OpenCF Summit so some details--large and small--do slip through the cracks.
We see now how this might appear deliberately exclusionary. That was never our intent, and for that we apologize.
We Welcome Adobe to Participate
We welcome Adobe to participate in OpenCF Summit if they’re willing.
While we haven’t yet thought through specifically what “participation” would mean (and we’re very interested to hear Adobe’s thoughts on how this might work), this is our open invitation to representatives from Adobe to participate in OpenCF Summit.
Rest assured that we will also be contacting folks from Adobe directly in the event they don’t read this rather lengthy blog post. ;-)
I for one think it would be unbelievably beneficial to have the people behind the three CFML engines all in the same place at the same time, not only so they could talk openly about some of the issues all the engines are facing, but also so OpenCF Summit attendees can interact with representatives from all three engines in person, simultaneously.

Hope That Helps!

This post covers a lot of issues that we should have addressed quite some time ago, so we hope it helps people understand the reasoning behind the creation of OpenCF Summit and our goals for the event.
If you have comments feel free to add them to this post, or if it’s something you’d rather discuss with us directly, email and we’ll be more than happy to have a conversation with you.
Hope to see you all at OpenCF Summit in February! Go register now and help us out by telling a friend to do the same!

1 comment:

  1. Would love to have been there to spruik for FarCry (pioneering open source CF since 2003). Maybe next year :)