An interview with ColdFusion co-creator Jeremy Allaire

In the latest installment of Computerworld's A-Z of programming languages we chat with ColdFusion co-creator, Jeremy Allaire

As part of our series of investigations into interesting programming languages Computerworld talks to one of the creators of web development tool, ColdFusion – Jeremy Allaire.

In the past we have spoken to Larry Wall, creator of the Perl programming language, Don Syme, senior researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge, who developed F#, Simon Peyton-Jones on the development of Haskell, Alfred v. Aho of AWK fame, S. Tucker Taft on the Ada 1995 and 2005 revisions, Microsoft about its server-side script engine ASP, Chet Ramey about his experiences maintaining Bash, Bjarne Stroustrup of C++ fame and Charles H. Moore about the design and development of Forth.

We’ve also had a chat with the irreverent Don Woods about the development and uses of INTERCAL, as well as Stephen C. Johnson on YACC, Steve Bourne on Bourne shell, Falcon creator Giancarlo Niccolai, Luca Cardelli on Modula-3, Walter Bright on D, Brendan Eich on JavaScript, Anders Hejlsberg on C#, Guido van Rossum on Python, Prof. Roberto Ierusalimschy on Lua, John Ousterhout onTcl, Joe Armstrong on Erlang and Rich Hickey on Clojure. We recently spoke to Martin Odersky about the darling of Web 2.0 start-ups and big corporates alike, Scala.

More recently, we heard from Groovy Project Manager, Guillaume Laforge. He told us the development story behind the language and why he thinks it is grooving its way into enterprises around the world.

And we spoke with Brian Kernighan, who helped popularise C with his book, co-written with the creator Dennis Ritchie, The C Programming Language and contributed to the development of AWK and AMPL. After that it was Arduino's Tom Igoe.

But now its time for ColdFusion's Jeremy Allaire, who is also CEO of Brightcove and was the CTO at Macromedia.

Want to see a programming icon interviewed? Email Computerworld or follow @computerworldau on Twitter and let us know.

What prompted the development of ColdFusion?

Back in 1994, I had started a web development consultancy, and was very focused on how the Web could be used for building interactive, community and media based online services. I thought that the Web was an application platform and that you could build open and freely available online services using an open technology such as the Web. I had a lot of ideas for how to build online services, but I was not an engineer and found the existing technologies (Perl/CGI) to be really terrible and difficult. At the same time, my brother was becoming a more sophisticated software engineer, and also became interested in the Web, and he ended up designing the first version of ColdFusion based on the key requirements I had for an online service I was building.

Between you and your brother, J.J., who played what roles?

We each played many different roles over the life-cycle of the company, but early on I guess you could say I was more of a "product manager", someone who was helping to shape the market vision and product requirements, and J.J. was the 'lead architect'. Over time, I played a very significant role in both the shape of the product but also how we articulated our larger vision for the Web as an application platform.

Was there a particular problem you were trying to solve?

Yes, I believed that you could build fully interactive applications through a browser, and that that would open up a wide range of new opportunities in media, communications and commerce. Initially, ColdFusion was built to make it easy to connect dynamic data to a web page, with both inputs and outputs, and in a way that would be easy to adopt for someone who was at least able to code HTML.

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