Last month, CF developers who simply couldn’t wait for the November Allaire Developer Conference had the opportunity to gather with their compatriots and spend time learning CF tricks and techniques from some of the most popular CF speakers.
Now, if you’re fortunate enough to have a CF user group in your area, you may find that announcement only mildly interesting. CF User groups are popular and meet all over the country, many of them monthly.
But this was no ordinary “CF User Group”. It was CFUN-2k.
No, when Michael Smith of TeraTech began planning and then put out the call for this meeting, billed the CFUN-2K, he had much bigger plans. He arranged a huge auditorium at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.
He decided to charge no fee, and he invited some of the most popular CF speakers in the country. They responded, some from across the country. And they also agreed to speak at no charge.
Then he sent out invitations to thousands of CF developers worldwide. And they responded, by the hundreds. And they spread the word, and invited others.
Michael Smith opens CFUN-2k
In the end, more than a thousand people registered, and Michael and his staff and a group of dedicated co-sponsors began the arduous task of organizing, registering, and pulling off a tremendous example of CF community-building. They’d done it the year before, so they knew what they were getting themselves into.
The CFUN-2K was on, and it was going to be bigger than any CF gathering to date. Bigger than the previous year, and yes, even bigger than last year’s CF Developer conference.
Did I mention this was a weekend event? And not just one, but two days?! During one of the loveliest summers on record in Washington?
Yet still they came. Seven hundred CF developers hungry to learn and willing to sit for several hours each day just watching and listening as speakers covered subjects from basics to business issues to advanced techniques.
Crowds of CF programmers overflow NIH
So many, in fact, that an overflow room with video feed was arranged. Many of the participants and several of the speakers traveled long distances (in a few cases from several hundred miles).
It wasn’t all work, though, as there were not only breaks for refreshments and lunch, but there were constant give-aways including books, software, t-shirts, and more. And to break the ice even further, there was the clever and well-received CF Family Feud and Who Wants to Be a CF Millionaire. More on those in a moment.
T-shirts, software, CFUN-2k CD-ROMs
The meeting was a single-track format with 40-minute presentations. The roster of seventeen speakers included many of the most popular local and national CF personalities. In order of appearance, they were :
- Adam Churvis, purveyor of Database Blocks and a series of CF E-Commerce seminars, who spoke on “Using CF, Stored Procedures, and Triggers” and offered lots of generally useful coding tips
- Christine Pascarella of hosting company VirtualScape who shared insights into the challenges and opportunities as well as security issues involving CF hosting
- Charlie Arehart, of SysteManage and an Allaire Certified Instructor, who showed how to build Wireless (WML) applications using ColdFusion
- John Paul Ashenfelter, of WebDatabase.org and co-author of CF for Dummies, who helped simplify “complex” data types in ColdFusion (arrays, structures, and WDDX)
- Michael Smith, of TeraTech and conference organizer, who spoke on the dynamics of change in the web development industry and on the value of peer-to-peer networking (amongst computers and ourselves!)
- Howie Hamlin, of CoolFusion.com, purveyors of the InFusion Mail Server, who spoke on their tools many features and benefits
- Hal Helms, a well know CFDJ writer, Fusebox guru and consultant was stuck in Florida with a root canal - his talk on Beginning Fusebox was generously given by Steve Nelson
- Robi Sen, of Granularity.com and organizer of the first national CF conference in Ft. Collins CO in 1998, who spoke on business-to-business commerce with a focus on new forms of electronic data interchange and application syndication
- Steve Nelson, of SecretAgents.com and noted Fusebox.org ambassador and soon to be author of a Fusebox book, who spoke on the Fusebox methodology and its significance as an alternative for creating highly reusable CF applications
- Bill Rogers, of Ektron.com, purveyors of the eMPower content management solution, who demonstrated their tool and how it enables content providers in your web site team to offer their content in an easy and inexpensive manner
And that was just the first day! After a Beer Bash at a local pub sponsored by Granularity, CoreActive and TeraTech (with several pool matches into the late hours) and open bar attended by nearly 100 participants, the next morning started right in with the next round of speakers:
CF_Pool at the Shark Club in Bethesda
- Leon Chalnick, of Advanta Solutions and co-contributor to the popular CF Web App Dev Constr. Kit, aka the “Forta book”, was caught during travel unable to attend and Charlie Arehart stepped at Leon’s request to give his presentation on the features and benefits of using ColdFusion Custom Tags
- April Fleming, of Federal Data Corp and organizer of the Orlando CFUG, continued the WDDX theme started by John Paul and showed a working example of using WDDX to syndicate data among CF servers
- Shlomy Gantz, of CoreActive ACG and the most popular speaker at the previous year’s event, demonstrated the power and capability of integration MacroMedia Flash with ColdFusion to create powerfully interactive applications
- Steve Drucker, of Fig Leaf Software and one of the most popular CFUG speakers nationwide, carried forward Shlomy’s Flash ideas and added COM and Java for further open integration
- Michael Dinowitz, master of the CF-talk list and editor of FusionAuthority.com magazine, spoke on programming philosophy, both general and CF-specific, and on the value of the interconnected CF developer community
- Dave Watts, of Fig Leaf Software and most prolific contributor to the CF-Talk mailing list, shared his wisdom on “extreme debugging” and identified several tools to help solve system problems that can affect a CF application
- Michael Imhoff, of OmniCypher, spoke on the plusses and minuses of using Microsoft Access as a database for CF applications in development and production
- Dave Aden, of WWStudios.com and contributor to the recently released Allaire Spectra E-business Construction Kit, gave an introduction to Spectra as well as tips and tricks for those already familiar with it
It was quite a brain dump of CF tips and techniques. The fact that the conference was deemed successful by most, with many choosing to stay more than eight hours each day, was impressive enough.
That the speakers all offered their time and talents at no cost was more intriguing still. But that it was free to all in attendance, and included a CD of all materials and lots of software was just astounding.
Almost all the presentations were made available on the CD and still more are available online at the conference web site at http://www.cfconf.org/cfspeakers.cfm.
As was mentioned before, the weekend was much more than just sessions and speakers. Besides the giveaways and prizes (many organized by Amy Brooks who as User Group coordinator for Allaire deserves a big thanks from all of us all over the country), there were some elaborate and clever contests.
The Who Wants to be a CF Millionaire game was an unabashed copy of the original, with the show’s theme music, fancy graphics for the game board, and Adam Churvis of Database Blocks fame doing a wonderful job as stand-in for Regis. As in the real show, 10 contestants vied for the right to play by in the two games by being asked to rank 4 answers in order, such as ranking 4 tags in order of their number of attributes.
The winner in each round went on to face 10 questions ranging from silly to difficult, spiked with a handful of saucy answers in between and ever-challenged by “Regis” to choose their final answer.
In the CF Family Feud, Michael and company had polled registrants in the weeks before to answer several questions (technical and non-work related) to gather the most popular answers for each. Questions such as what hour do you get to work, what is the most popular CF tag and what do you say to a client when a project is late. As in the real show, two teams of participants, hand-picked by em-cee Chris Mosier (Nashville CFUG) for a balance of skill, strong personalities, and random entertainment value, vied against each other as 2 “families” to pick the most popular answers. Again, the realism in the music, graphics, and Chris's showmanship made for a compelling and entertaining break in the day.
Chris Mosier em-cees the CF Family Feud
And there was still more real technical benefit for the attendees. Every session offered a question and answer opportunity with microphones provided in the auditorium aisles. Some led to interesting interchanges with folks intending to carry on discussions later.
There was also a vendor area outside the hall with several CF companies and conference co-sponsors demonstrating their products and, of course, ready and willing to answer any questions on their product.
Beyond those questions, the CF Doctor (Douglas Smith of TeraTech) was “in” to try to answer random questions throughout the conference, and when he was stumped, he brought them to a panel on Sunday composed of most of the speakers who also addressed questions from the audience.
CF Doctor answers your quick CF questions
The folks at TeraTech, CPCUG and MDCFUG did a yeoman job, staffing the entrance area and performing all manner of support tasks, not only on the day but in the many days leading up to the even including planning, organizing, marketing, registration, and coordination of that CD.
And the speakers and co-sponsors, along with Michael Smith and his company, all deserve a round of applause (and received several) for their tremendous efforts. We’re very fortunate in the DC area to have access to such a wonderful annual ritual.
And if the Washington DC area isn’t yet regarded as the ColdFusion capital of the world, with this as well four area CF user groups meeting somewhere each week of the month and the upcoming Allaire Developer Conference, then you should just join the rest of the folks and come find out for yourself what a great thing we have going on down here. And have some real CF fun!