ColdFusion To Be Free For Educational Use

This morning, during the CFUnited keynote, we announced that ColdFusion would be made freely available for educational use (including students and faculty). The program is modeled on the Adobe Flex Builder 3 Pro for Education program, and will use similar distribution and similar eligibility and verification requirements.

This is a really important program for ColdFusion. For starters, there is real interest in teaching ColdFusion, and we definitely need new to be training new developers. But additionally, there is significant interest in teaching RIA development in colleges and universities, and by making both ColdFusion and Flex Builder freely available for educational use, both ColdFusion and Flex benefit.

We had hoped to be able to announce the immediate availability of this program, but the process is taking longer than we had hoped, and is not available yet. So, bear with us a bit longer, and watch for an announcement within the next few weeks.

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Comments (35)

  • Mark Phillips

    Congratulations. That's very exciting news for the whole community.

  • Gary H

    I am based in the UK, and from my limited experience of CF, I would say that it is very much becoming a legacy technology in the UK, my experience comes not from being a developer, but from a support/hosting angle. I have had several requests over the past 12 months to host CF websites and to supply design updates, minor content changes etc. Finding developers who want to do this or even web hosts that have any proficency in hosting CF websites is difficult. I wonder if offering CF for free to educational establishments is a last ditch attempt to try to revive it, in the face of its commercial decline.

    #2Posted by Gary H | Jun 18, 2008, 06:55 PM
  • charlie griefer

    way to spread the FUD, gary. based on your admittedly limited experience of CF, you consider it to be in a commercially declining state. based on information that i've heard from folks who have more than just a "limited experience" with it, it's commercial state is in anything but a state of decline. but hey don't let actual facts interfere with statements that you make online. FUD makes for a more exciting interweb, no? :)

  • Jeff Gladnick

    Amen Ben. I am happy to hear adobe take such a proactive step. It is next to impossible to find college students who already know coldfusion, and hopefully this will change that.

    Adobe might also consider creating some sort of course work plan, perhaps based on CFWACK, and distributing that for free to universities. If you really want to get crazy, create a separate intro, medium, and expert course getting into OO

    #4Posted by Jeff Gladnick | Jun 18, 2008, 07:33 PM
  • Anthony

    Hi Ben,

    What does freely available for educational use mean?

    Does it include educational institutions that use it in their information departments to accomplish the their business activities?

    Or is it only to be solely used by educational institutions faculties to teach CFML?

    thanks for the reply in advance,


    #5Posted by Anthony | Jun 18, 2008, 07:36 PM
  • David

    Great news, thanks Ben! This is something I'll be keeping an eye on, as a local college has asked me to develop a curriculum for them in ColdFusion.



    #6Posted by David | Jun 18, 2008, 08:34 PM
  • Scott P

    Second for Anthony's question. Either way, this is really exciting news and something that we will be using.

    #7Posted by Scott P | Jun 18, 2008, 08:53 PM
  • Ben Forta

    Anthony, it's for educational and training use - classrooms, student work, and so on. The free license is not for IT organizations within education.

    Jeff, the plan is to indeed include curriculum materials.

    --- Ben

    #8Posted by Ben Forta | Jun 18, 2008, 11:10 PM
  • John Allen

    Hip Hip Hooray!

  • Mark Picker

    Hi Ben,

    Just for clarification about the comment: "The free license is not for IT organisations within education". What about a government education department, but not just for student use but used to run department websites etc...


  • barry.b


    What about a government education department

    doubt it. the whole point is to make life easier for teachers to use as a teaching aid in the classroom/ in the labs.

    students using it for classwork, final/group projects, etc. I'd even hazard a guess you could use to showcase student work after they graduate (keep the projects alive).

    And to think we _bought_ two CF std licences just for student work back in 2003. cramming 120+ student websites on CF6.1 std was not fun, especially since it was so new I couldn't work out how to script the creation of truckloads of mappings and datasources until too late.

    @Ben. Glad to see you got your way. congrats.

    #11Posted by barry.b | Jun 19, 2008, 03:00 AM
  • Gary Fenton

    Adobe listens! :-) This is really good news! I'm keen to read the small print of the license (can students use it to host their own sites on the Internet?), but in principle it's a much needed and long awaited move to establish CF as a viable programming platform for students.

    I hope Adobe promote it to schools and colleges otherwise they'll never know about it. I hope they brief their government sales department to spread the word. More importantly, how can CF become a legitimate part of a syllabus if at the moment some courses only support/allow the big 3 languages; .Net, PHP and Java?

    #12Posted by Gary Fenton | Jun 19, 2008, 05:17 AM
  • João Fernandes

    Ben, I might be missing something,

    if it's just for educational and training purposes, what's the difference between having a running enterprise version or the developer one? What will people be able to do that wasn't allowed with the developer version of CF?

  • Lola LB

    Evangelism is the key. I hope Adobe will create an educational evangelist position to go out and touch base with the academic institutions and work closely with them on establishing CF in their curriculum.

    #14Posted by Lola LB | Jun 19, 2008, 06:07 AM
  • Ben Forta

    Lots of good questions, and I am not sure we have all of the answers yet. But, as I said, this modeled on the Flex Builder program, so see the link above - I don't know if all of the requirements and rules will be the same, but it's a good starting point.

    --- Ben

    #15Posted by Ben Forta | Jun 19, 2008, 07:30 AM
  • Rose Pruyne

    Aghhhh. I'm part of an IT team on a tight budget (and what higher ed IT team is not?). I use ColdFusion heavily. When I read this headline, I was absolutely thrilled. Then, finally, I got to the part waaaaaay down on the page that says it's "not for IT organizations within education." How depressing.

  • chief

    I really don't understand how this is any different than the current Developer's Edition? Anyone? Where I work we develop sites for SUNY Albany related entities. Are we going to be eligable to use this new license?

    #17Posted by chief | Jun 19, 2008, 11:56 AM
  • Brian Panulla

    @chief, the Developer's Edition can't server an unlimited audience, or use more than two processors IIRC. So it really is no use on a server, only for local development. It seems to me this license will provide for use on actual hosted installations supporting student classwork, or in Web Development labs or courses.

    I am curious if this applies to research labs as well. We'd be more inclined to use it for prototyping and design in our research projects if this was free.

  • Rob L

    I'd still love to see a price-level for home-based servers. I host my own website at home and really, really wish I could run CF, but $1299 for a hobby can't be justified. Maybe a version with a limited number of daily connections -- like a small business level server?

    #19Posted by Rob L | Jun 19, 2008, 12:45 PM
  • TomdeMan

    This is a great move, and exactly what I was hoping for from Adobe.

    It's not the answer but it's a good start at getting CF out there and expanding the pool of CF developers.

    A very good sign that Adobe is willing to make some moves to keep CF in the CFML game.


    #20Posted by TomdeMan | Jun 19, 2008, 01:45 PM
  • barry.b


    there's already educational discounts for purchasing CF - you shouldn't be paying full price for Education. Please talk to your local Adobe rep or ask for help to follow up via your local ColdFusion UserGroup Manager.

    "I'd still love to see a price-level for home-based servers."
    mate, that's a tough one. At what stage should "home-based" run out? It comes back to your audience: who's gonna access your CF sites? showing off to a friend/potential employer? or are you more a "cottage industry" doing hosting for friends or not-for-profit orgs you're involved in? What I'm getting at is that CF Ent Dev version will give you 2 other IP addresses apart from localhost. restart CF and the next two external IP addresses can view your sites. Enough for hobby use?

    @Lola LB
    It's really hard, y'know? you can show academics all sorts of cool stuff and they can be so caught up in their own little world, you're wasting your time. Last few years I've been in the middle of innovation departments and teaching support for universities and higher education and so far I've failed to get interest in Adobe Connect - you'd think *that* would be a shoe-in but no, Adobe is just another supplier, and their kit just more offerings to add to the pile.

    You're right though, engagement is the key. Microsoft have been making great inroads into this area for years (get 'em young and keep 'em) and now they going further by forming strategic alliances with Universities (holding roadshows on-campus, etc). I could give you a great hit list of on-the-ground evangelising tactics of the Adobe technology stack (don't just push CF but Flex, AIR, CS3) but the end of the day, who's gonna do it? a paid Adobe position? I know Microsoft was considering hiring another evangelist to do exactly this in my region. In contrast, two (IMHO) hard-working Adobe sales staffers (take a bow John Paull, John Trelore) have been working with the limited resources they have to push Adobe product to Education by going right to the top. Federal and state educational departments and big-wig institutional directors.

    you want an easy way? do grass-roots stuff and help your local CFUG/Adobe user group to get a toe-hold within a college/university/training institute that you know. it'll help raise the PD of the teaching staff as well as providing a stream of user group members when the students graduate. market it as part of the "life-long-learning" mindset (you'd be shocked to know how little IT educators know about things like AIR for example)

    somedays evangelising to the Education sector feels like herding cats.

    eh my 2c

    #21Posted by barry.b | Jun 19, 2008, 09:24 PM
  • David McGuigan

    I definitely wouldn't name it "home-based", but a $100.00 "ColdFusion Lite" license that let you have 5 allowed IP addresses (explicitly managed in the administrator instead of on a first-connect basis) would be a huge success. Especially if you could buy additional IP connectivity, say on a $25 per-IP basis. People would be able to run devleopment servers, home projects, small-business start ups could hesitate a lot less when deciding what to use for an initial intranet platform. 8500 problems solved, and all with Adobe instead of half-assed alternatives (no offense open sourcers).

  • rob_md

    Yes, I can definitely see where it becomes hard to measure where a home-based business crosses into a larger business (or even a web hosting situation). Maybe measured in hits/day? So, maybe a model where "small business" is allowed X hits per day -- anything over that requires the user to upgrade their license to the full price?

    So, maybe a $500 small business license for standard edition, $1299 for unlimited standard edition?

    Beyond my own needs, that would let businesses start using CF and as they get more use out of it (i.e., they get addicted), they'll opt to upgrade to the full license?

    #23Posted by rob_md | Jun 21, 2008, 05:43 PM
  • barry.b


    aren't you then advocating the perfect market for the free and now open-source Railo CFML engine?

    if you're not needing remoting or .NET integration or cfexchange, etc, and it's for straightforward use of CFML-based apps, won't Railo's free offering give you exactly what you want?

    don't forget the other announcement: the formation of a language standards committee moving forward, headed by Sean Corfield and having Railo reps onboard.

    which, to be totally honest, was a viable option to use as a teaching aide for CFML anyway...

    #24Posted by barry.b | Jun 21, 2008, 06:16 PM
  • Gary H

    OK its taken a little while to get back to you Charlie but here goes
    CF looks to me to be in decline take a look here

    OK so this is not scientific, but a good indicator.

    IN the UK one of the biggest jobs sites is when you do a search on related jobs you get the following results

    cold fusion 26
    php 361
    asp 741
    ruby on rails 52.
    again not scientific but the 'circumstantial' evidence is building.
    All I was saying is in the UK CF is not popular, based on the information above it IS in decline. Sorry if you dont lke this charlie ut what conclusion would you derive from the above?

    #25Posted by Gary H | Jun 26, 2008, 02:50 PM
  • Wally Kolcz

    I am a Adobe ColdFusion nut. I have a license plate that says 'CF DEV' on my truck. I drink from a CF coffee cup. Having said that...I am failing to understand why Adobe cannot make a lower cost edition of CF for business or why not give a free copy to .edus to use for their IT departments. I almost talked a smaller university into switching from .NET to CF when I first heard about this. Sadly I was mistaken.

    I will use the same reasons that EVERYONE uses. If php and .NET are free, what incentives does business or education have in using CF? What is our selling point? Its a RAD. That is nice, but having a team of .NET devs seems to also get the job done. Don't see many companies failing due to not being quick enough. Its built on Java, but so is Java.

    I am a ColdFusion Developer for the University of Michigan and there is constant talk of moving to all .NET with most of our apps being refactored to .NET or hybrid using BlueDragon.

    Its not like Adobe is poor and doesn't control 90% of the print and web market (just my percentage) so why not take the hit for the sake of actually growing the market.

    Its novel that everyone seems to fluff off the fact take our segment is shrinking, but its a fact. In Michigan our market is small and getting smaller. Other than a couple of the Universities using it, Blue Cross, and a handful of smaller companies, there isn't much work.

    I keep hearing the term 'Evangelize Coldfusion', but what is Adobe giving us as incentive? Might as well Evangelize a Hummer as a grocery getting in this market where gas is $4.00+ per gallon. Yeah, a Hummer will allow you to get more groceries home faster, but cost you a lot more.

    Its nice that Adobe is giving away a free copy of CF for learning, but what incentive do students have in learning a language that has a small employment market? I can only speak about the jobs in MI, but it would be much better to learn .NET to ensure that you'll get a job. (You do not know how much it kills me to say that).

    If you think having my Dev's in the world will make a comeback, I don't think thats how it works. If you started offering Fortran, Cobol, or Basic classes, I don't think there would be a spike in the employment of them either. You need jobs to encourage employees.

    Again, I love ColdFusion. I bleed blue and white for Adobe, but I am being asked to look into learning .NET from the University..just in case.

    Ben, could you ask Adobe to give a serious answer or reason why they cannot help us out? We, the developers, are on the front line fighting the battle, but..

  • Joe Campbell


    While I agree with Adobe's move to make CF available for free for educational use, Adobe needs to go a few steps further if it wants to increase it's market share among young developers.

    First, Adobe is competing with PHP and more recently Ruby on Rails. I know from first hand experience that most of my college peers can remember what these two products are and what they generally accomplish. The problem is that when asked about Coldfusion most of them respond with, "What is that?". Adobe needs to actively recruit and advertise to these people that Coldfusion (in my opinion) is the better choice. I have personally seen ads on some of the college post-it boards about PHP, ASP, and Ruby on Rails. Where is Coldfusion?

    I could continue on but I'll leave it at that considering this is a step in the right direction from Adobe. I agree with some of the other posts about how small the CF community is compared to the .Net crowd.

    P.S. Please give some attention to us developers on shared hosting in CF9!

  • Ben Forta

    Wally, it's not up to me or anyone on the CF team, at least not just us. The finance guys have to approve any change like this, and the CFO has final say. And they look at numbers, and the fact that educational IT department do buy lots of product and so that number would be impacted. Just to be clear, I am not disagreeing with you that this would be a good thing, and I will pass the message along. But, at the same time, we don't have final say on this one.

    Joe, re "Please give some attention to us developers on shared hosting in CF9!", can you provide specifics?

    --- Ben

    #28Posted by Ben Forta | Jun 29, 2008, 10:36 AM
  • James Holmes

    "The program is modeled on the Adobe Flex Builder 3 Pro for Education program, and will use similar distribution and similar eligibility and verification requirements. "

    "Anthony, it's for educational and training use - classrooms, student work, and so on. The free license is not for IT organizations within education."

    These two statements conflict. There's no restriction on Flex Builder 3's usage:

    None of these restricts use to teaching; the latter in fact states, "Adobe Flex Builder 3 Pro is available for free to all education customers. This includes all students, faculty and staff of eligible education institutions."

    I guess we need to wait for the final announcement to know what we're really getting.

  • Wally Kolcz


    I know that you don't have much say in it. I know is a financial thing and not one of pride. And by saying that, I mean that it is financially more important to make money on products that cost money to produce than have the novelty of it being prominently 'out there'. I understand that it may never happen, but gee wouldn't it be great though.

    I guess its hard, as a developer, to push a product that has an additional upfront cost to anyone other than big corporations, government, and education. Since I have been at 2 edu's in the past 2 years, it seems there has been a push to get it out. Being the only developer at Ave Maria School of Law, it made it easier to keep it there, but the University of Michigan seems to be more prone to phase it out. Although the 10 years and 10 Million to do it will keep it here for a while.

    I guess then it comes down to developer preference. You could always go a knock-off version of the CFML server (Ralio or Smith Project), but boy can Adobe spoil us with all those neat tags in 8 (presentation, exchange server, image, pdf, ajax...)

    Luckily for me shared hosting is still a good option (prices going down) to offer CF to my clients (whether they know it or not).

  • Ben Forta

    Just an update ...

    We are still working on this, but the backend systems are not done yet, and it'll take a little longer.

    Also, I may have misspoken (or miscommented) re curriculum, so no promises, and when we know more I'll post it.

    --- Ben

    #31Posted by Ben Forta | Jul 3, 2008, 02:26 PM
  • Darren

    Hi Ben,

    Have you heard anything more about this program? I haven't heard anything yet that would indicate where to apply for this free educational version to date. Thank you for the news.


    #32Posted by Darren | Jul 16, 2008, 04:05 PM
  • Ben Forta


    Last I heard (a week or so ago) it was still a few weeks out. I'll post an update as soon as I have one.

    --- Ben

    #33Posted by Ben Forta | Jul 16, 2008, 05:06 PM
  • Matt Stoner


    Do you think it will be out before MAX? Any word on a date?

    #34Posted by Matt Stoner | Aug 9, 2008, 08:20 PM
  • Ben Forta

    Matt, I'm expecting it to be available before MAX, yes. But still don't have an actual date ... :-(

    --- Ben

    #35Posted by Ben Forta | Aug 10, 2008, 01:26 PM