Adobe focuses on ColdFusion

Nearly a year after its merger with Macromedia, Adobe Systems has introduced the first major collaborative upgrade of an existing product for the federal marketplace. It’s the newest version of Adobe’s ColdFusion, a development environment product for Web applications that dates back to 1995.

Adobe’s purchase of Macromedia in December 2005, for a reported $3.4 billion in stock, brought with it Macromedia’s popular Flex application and Flash Player. The combined technology gave the newly enlarged company the opportunity to compete with Microsoft for Web site graphics and animation software products.

Tim Buntel, senior product marketing manager at Adobe, explained that the name ColdFusion came from the controversial physics theory of cold fusion, which supporters championed as an inexhaustible source of energy. But its detractors liken the theory to that of perpetual motion, a physical impossibility.

Buntel said the introduction of the updated version of Flex last summer also included Adobe’s new ColdFusion MX 7, so the two products could work together “and create a new breed of Internet applications.”

Adobe is scheduling agency visits and user group meetings to demonstrate the advances of the upgraded ColdFusion, a well-known product within government information technology circles.

Yefim Natis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said the new ColdFusion will help Adobe pursue agency contracts. The product “is always an option” for high-productivity government projects, especially those that are data-intensive, he said. Natis added, however, that ColdFusion has been around a long time and may not attract as many buyers as a new application.

Ben Forta, senior technical evangelist at Adobe, said standard browsers require users to move back and forth among pages to narrow the search for the desired product or service. But ColdFusion’s rich interaction reconfigures the screen with each new search element. There is no need to scroll back or forward to a new page.

Buntel said the federal government is one of the biggest customers of ColdFusion because it is especially useful to agencies that handle large volumes of data.

He cited the State and Defense departments, the Food and Drug Administration and the new Web site of the Voice of America among the federal agencies that use ColdFusion.

Michele Zozom, Office Automation Staff Web Services manager for the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys at the Justice Department, said her office used ColdFusion to develop Web-based applications.

“The first one we developed here was a paperless, online [Equal Employment Opportunity] claim filing,” she said. “It exponentially increased the efficiency and the number of claims that we were able to process, and the amount of time it took.”

She said the office has been using ColdFusion for about four years and has developed additional EEO processing systems and a content management portal for a local intranet.

Zozom said it took only four months to build the intranet using ColdFusion, “which is a very short amount of time to launch a content management system.”

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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