It's been a long, long, long run... but it's time to end it.

At Tuesday's Cleveland CFUG meeting, I officially stepped down as an Adobe User Group manager. Dan Vega, my long time co-manager, has taken over the group. Mike Cooper, the AUG manager, has also decided to step down to spend more time with his family. Andrew Maurer, the Cleveland AUG co-manager, becomes the co-manager of a combined group. I will no longer serve in any official capacity within the group, though I will remain involved, advise, and contribute as time allows.

Why are we merging the groups? The four of us have discussed this quite a bit over the last few months. It's been difficult to attract people to come out to user group meetings on a consistent basis. It's also been hard to come up with content that has mass appeal. For example, the CFUG would do a topic that was too esoteric; framework topics, for example, went over most members' heads, and weren't well attended. At the same time, requests have come in from time to time to present on topics that do not fit with an Adobe technology mix (e.g. Why would we do a Ruby topic?), or are Adobe related but not of a web focus, such as Captivate, print or video editing, which none of us could adequately represent.

The two groups have often run combined group meetings, to the point where it had become the norm and no longer the exception. We believe it no longer makes sense to maintain two separate groups. So, much like it was when I started the Cleveland Macromedia Users Group in 2004, before the CFUG was spun off the following year, we will exist as a single user group going forward.

The plan is that the combined group will become an Adobe user group focussed on web technologies. This allows for more potential general topics that maintain a web focus. This would also encourage, should anyone want to step forward, to start an Adobe group focussed on non-web topics, such as Photoshop, print or video. Should anyone reading this be interested in starting such a group, please let us know and we'd be happy to advise you in how to get started!

The Cleveland Flex & Flash and InDesign groups will continue on as separate entities, and are not affected by the merger.

In semi-related news, you may have noticed that I'm not in the list of Adobe Community Professionals or Adobe Community Champions for 2011. For the first time in nearly eight years, I am no longer affiliated with Adobe in any official or voluntary capacity. I say that with mixed emotions.

So, what now? Am I going away? What about CFConversations? What about LightFront? For that matter, forget about going away... where have I been?

I'll speak to where I've been, and what my plans are, including the podcast, in a separate blog entry. Rest assured, I'm not going away. I'm planning to come back with a vengeance!!!

I want to end this post by saying something about my good friend and successor, Dan Vega. When I first met Dan about five years ago, I saw a guy who was incredibly talented, but in a crappy job where he was not respected by his employers. As talented as Dan was, he lacked confidence, and I thought he deserved better. As Dan said in his post, I took him under my wing. I encouraged him to blog, write, and to speak. I think a turning point for him happened when one of our fellow user group members won a ticket to CFUnited 2008. She couldn't attend, so she switched prizes with Dan and took home an iPod Touch instead and he got the free ticket to the conference. He was my roommate for that conference, and I could see how he came out of it with more confidence in his abilities than ever. He got a better job soon after, blogged like crazy, wrote articles for Adobe.com, gained the confidence to speak in public and started speaking regularly at conferences. As a result of his hard work, Dan made ACP in 2010 & 2011 as a result of that hard work. Mentoring Dan has been one of the highlights of my career, and I could think of no one else better to take over the group. In many ways, the apprentice has eclipsed the mentor, and it is time for the apprentice to take the reigns. I know Dan (and Andrew, of course) will do a great job.