It was announced on Friday night that there are big changes taking place at the helm of the ColdFusion and ColdFusion Builder product teams. As part of the recent change where ColdFusion has been moved from the Platform business unit to the Print and Publishing business unit. Adam Lehman announced the news in this blog post. As part of this, their positions are moving to be a part of that business unit, and will be stationed in Bangalore, while Adam and Alison are moving on to other opportunities within Adobe.

Disclosure:  I got a briefing on this news before it was announced earlier on Friday. Though no longer an Adobe user group manager, Adobe Community Professional or Adobe Community Champion, I have joined the new ColdFusion Customer Advisory Board. As I understand it, they want criticism from the advisory board, and I intend on giving it where appropriate. I will speak my mind.

I consider Adam a friend, and without hesitation, I can say that Adam has done an awesome job as the Adobe ColdFusion and ColdFusion Builder product manager. His vision is something that's going to be difficult to replace. When Jason Delmore, Adam's predecessor, was laid off in the "great layoff of 2008", I thought Adam was the logical choice to succeed Jason. When I heard later that Adam was succeeding Jason, I knew ColdFusion was in good hands.

However, unlike when Adam took over, I can't help but be nervous over who Adam's successor will be. I will say, in retrospect, that it's not the first time that I have been nervous about who'd be steering the ColdFusion ship. I remember when Tim Buntel left Adobe, pre-ColdFusion 8, I was nervous then, too. After some time, it was announced that Jason Delmore would take over for Tim. I didn't know who Jason was, or how he would do in that role, but he turned out being a great product manager for ColdFusion. Things worked out well then, and I am hopeful they will work out well now.

That said, all three of these past product managers, Tim, Jason and Adam, had one thing in common: A passion for ColdFusion. No one can credibly argue that Adam Lehman is not passionate for ColdFusion. He's one of the most passionate people I know in the ColdFusion community. I think he ran ColdFusion like it was his baby, and as John Mason said on his post on the subject, I am sorry to see, like Jason before him, that Adam will not get a chance to manage ColdFusion through the "X" release.

As passionate as Adam is for Adobe ColdFusion, that passion has gotten him in trouble at times. A lot of people saw his opinions as severely biased, and I saw his words twisted, dissected, and watch him be ripped a new one, particularly by anti-ColdFusion/CFML and anti-Adobe ColdFusion types. I, personally, would be concerned if he WASN'T a self-admitted Adobe fanboi. I want to see that passion from the ColdFusion champion, at least privately.

While I have been impressed with the work done by the ColdFusion/ColdFusion Builder engineering team, in my dealings with them on prereleases and in my former ACP (and now CAB) capacity, none of them have ever seemed like they could represent ColdFusion well in a non-engineering capacity. I'm not trying to be critical of the team, but they each come from a Java background, from what I have seen, and not from a ColdFusion background. India has never seemed to be, from what I have seen, a market where ColdFusion is very popular. I'm not saying that there isn't someone in India that could take the product management over and do ColdFusion (and ColdFusion Builder) justice. I'm saying that this is a definite risk in this change.

I'm not exactly sure why the change is needed in the first place. Why is it necessary for the product manager and product marketing manager to be stationed in India, exactly? Is this a managerial preference? A cultural difference in business units? A cost cutting measure? I am sure this will be explained better, as to why this change is necessary, but it's not clear to me right now. I'm sure closeness to the engineering team has something to do with it, but it seemed like some spin control.

Here's a reason why this is risky: There have been issues with ColdFusion and Adobe support. I know Adam has addressed much of this during his tenure, but how is an India-based product manager going to be able to do the same? There is a 10 1/2 hour difference between Bangalore and New York City, and 7 1/2 difference between Bangalore and LA, so how much face time will someone based out of Bangalore have with someone in DC or NYC? Won't that hurt the product? The customer relationships?

For products like Captivate, RoboHelp and even Acrobat, it's probably not important where the team is located, because those are desktop applications, and the customers are users of those desktop applications. ColdFusion is a server product, and its customers are using ColdFusion to make other applications, and its users develop in its language. As such, the relationship between the product manager and its user community is very tight, and I have to think that putting the manager in Bangalore will have an adverse affect on those relationships.

Another reason why I am concerned about ColdFusion X has nothing to do with Adam leaving. Adam says in his post: "ColdFusion X (Link) will have a release cycle that's a bit longer than usual. Quite simply, we are working on some BIG features for ColdFusion X that just couldn't fit within our previous development timelines."

That sounds like we're going to have something incredible once we get ColdFusion X, but when will that be? What happens until then, and how will ColdFusion be affected by the longer release cycle? I want to see ColdFusion continue to evolve in the marketplace. In a rapidly changing marketplace, a long release could be fatal to ColdFusion. Unfortunately, while CF X is being developed, the competitors will be releasing, probably multiple releases, and these releases will take momentum away from Adobe ColdFusion and potentially make ColdFusion less relevant. I wish the big release could be bundled into one or more smaller releases, rather than one big release we have to wait a long time for. A similar release schedule was between MX and MX 7 was ColdFusion MX 6.1. I'd like to see a ColdFusion 9.1 before ColdFusion X. Then, there's also the risk of running into development problems, further delaying its release. I don't want to see version "X" become ColdFusion's Windows Vista, or worse, Duke Nukem Forever.

I think it's healthy to have concerns in this situation, and I do have some concerns over that and more. That said, here's the bottom line: Do *I* think this means anything negative for Adobe ColdFusion  as a viable product? It's often been said that opinions are like a-holes - that everyone's got one. I think this news will be viewed as something negative in places where the opinions and the a-holes intersect. :-) I expect many will use this news as an excuse to make another attempt to drown ColdFusion in a sea of dogmatic anti-CF diarrhea and give ColdFusion a good case of hemorrhoids. Personally, I feel like it's time for me to apply Preparation H and shrink the swelling, while giving those naysayers a healthy dose of Immodium. :-) ColdFusion is not going away, and seeing a bigger investment at a higher level is a good thing for ColdFusion.

I have concerns, and I think talking about those concerns will help to highlight them and help them get dealt with. That means speaking my mind, not staying quiet, as I have done here.

In fact, I have a lot to say, and have had for months now, and I finally have the time and wherewithal to say some of them. I hope I can get it all out.

UPDATE: In fact, there's one more point I want to bring up. Why announce this now??? I don't understand the timing of the announcement. Is there a reason to announce this now vs. after their replacements have been found? And why on a Friday night??? It seems to me that there's no rush in making this announcement, and, to my knowledge, no one outside of Adobe knew about the change until Friday, though I could be wrong. That's troubling. I would think some of their key customers would have some concerns over this decision.