Thursday, May 08, 2003

Jeremy Allaire,

Jeremy Allaire, co-creator of ColdFusion, Founder Emeritus, Macromedia.

Here Allaire discusses ColdFusion and compares it to competing languages like Active Server Pages, PHP and Perl. He also talks about his career, his fascination with wireless technology, the value of blogs and his role in the history and the future of the Web.

ColdFusion was created for a basic need - to enable dynamic, data-driven Web sites that were easy to build and maintain

One of our early competitors was a company called Aspect Software, a Hawaiian company. Their product, DBWeb, was a VB application that would code-generate basic Web forms and database drill-downs. It really wasn’t very flexible and so I think didn’t do that great. As I mentioned, our own research showed we were out-selling them about 10-to-1 in adoption.

They reacted to ColdFusion with a new product that they were calling iPage, code-named HotLava. It was essentially the same programming model as ColdFusion, but instead of a tag-based language, it used Visual Basic scripting using a licensed VBA engine. That company and beta-product were acquired by Microsoft in the spring of 1996, and later that year that team launched Active Server Pages.

Back in the late fall of 1995, Microsoft contacted They were looking for an acquisition. We declined to really even talk with them about the option, because we were having too much fun and it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do.

Do browsers even matter anymore when the Flash player is being transformed into a standalone application that can run without a browser?

Browser innovation has more or less stopped. That’s largely intentional for Microsoft as they gear up to move beyond the browser. The browser will remain the platform of choice for hypertext documents, document browsing and many Web applications. Over time software applications will move to rich clients, such as Flash Player, and to environments like Avalon, which is part of the Longhorn operating system release from Microsoft.

The browser is just too limited for applications, and increasingly we need content, media, applications and communications all integrated in a much more seamless way, and that’s what Macromedia set out to do with Flash Player, and what I expect you’ll see from Microsoft in a few years.

What is the next big thing on the Web?

Well, Web services are still the next big thing, among many others. Seems like a wide range of positive, reinforcing trends are creating an opportunity for a new Internet environment. A bunch of things that I’m tracking that seem very inter-related include:

Rich clients
Web services
Real-time communications
Digital lifestyle devices
WiFi and wireless devices
Paid content
Blogsphere and syndication networks
Open source and outsourcing
So, combined, we’ve got a great new Internet to go out and build for!

Why would a company like Google be interested in having a hand in the blog industry?

Google has a vision to become a central utility for all users of the Internet. If they believe that asynchronous communications and self-publishing is a central utility, then it makes a lot of sense.

Do blogs add value to the Web? Are they the next big thing or just an easy way for any idiot to become a publisher?

Weblogs are the natural evolution of personal publishing, and their emergence has driven standards like RSS that are now becoming central to professional journalism Weblogs recast the Web into a two-way medium, which to many people is as fundamental to the Internet as browsing. I think they’ll play a big role in a couple of ways.

First, Weblogs and Weblog standards will evolve to accommodate basic personal publishing, the equivalent of a personal home page and a vehicle for sharing life experiences with a personal network of friends and family. I see this aspect converging with digital lifestyle devices, rich media and communications-centric applications.

The second trend, and the one that most people seem to be watching most closely, is the role of true one-to-many public Weblogs as a sort of journalism for the masses. While I think that second trend is true, I believe it will be far less significant than the use of Weblog technology for personal publishing for friends and family.

A final note on this topic is about the role of RSS, or Really Simple Syndication. RSS is taking on a big role in the emerging semantic Web. I’d like to see RSS and related standards play a larger role in data-centric syndication applications, rather than it’s current role as a news and headlines syndication format. Stay tuned.


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