Welcome!

You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

Blogging & Development Perspectives

Differences between consulting and product development

Newly appointed CFDJ Editorial Board Member Brandon Harper writes: With the proliferation of many respected developers in the ColdFusion community sharing their experiences and knowledge by blogging, we've seen quite a huge jump in both information sharing as well as the discussion of best practices in software development.

These increases in enlightenment also started happening around the time that ColdFusion MX 6.0 was released, which brought a pseudo object-oriented shift to programming in ColdFusion that has greatly influenced the direction of the average CF developer. Who would have thought so many people would be fluent in design patterns and object-oriented terminology four years ago, and that ColdFusion job postings would actually specify this sort of experience?

Given the shift toward blogging as an increasing venue of communication, we've witnessed a fairly powerful community starting to build outside of mailing lists and message forums, previously the places you would most likely encounter those serious about their craft. This was more evident than ever to me when I attended CFUNITED this summer. It was my first big conference (outside of the ones that have been held in Denver), and it was an interesting experience for me. I did my best to introduce myself to people I recognized; while most of them had no idea who I was by name, I mentioned my Web site and the majority of people had a much better idea who I was, especially if they were active bloggers. I thought this was an interesting concept - to be known more for a URL than my actual name, and it demonstrated to me how powerful it is to have your own very small piece of a community.

With an online community comes both good and bad. One of the good things is the availability of so much information, as well as being able to interact directly with so many other people who are intimately involved in ColdFusion. This can also be bad as it's easier to be rude and contriving when posting to a mailing list or a blog rather than saying it to someone in person, so you must think twice about responding tactfully during a heated debate.

Earlier today when I read another great blog post from Joe Rinehart on the recent "Frameworks versus Methodology" debate that has been happening between a few popular ColdFusion blogs, it reminded me of something I've been meaning to write about in my blog, but it seemed more suitable for a long article. A point that he touches on in his entry that I think should be expanded on a bit is the consultant versus product development mindset.

To preface this, I started off the early part of my career working in the consulting world by primarily building Web sites for companies via an ISP, followed by a branding agency for the first three years, and then I made the switch to developing products for companies about four years ago.

One thing I love about product development is that your budget for a given product at its simplest form is dictated by time rather than money. Basically, as a developer, this equates to quite a few things, but the ones off the top of my head are:

  • The cool features that are fun to work on (that clients usually won't pay for in a consulting role) do eventually happen.
  • Being able to spend time for requirements gathering, modeling, and other general R&D for a new initiative without trying to sell why this must be done to a client.
  • In theory, you have the chance to build a mature, scalable, adaptable code base over time and even get a chance to refactor things every now and then rather than hitting a ceiling for billable hours.
  • Typically the functionality is more important and more complex to write. In other words, the product has to do something to actually make money, not just have a pretty face to sell things to people.
That said, there are some things to miss about doing consulting type work for sure:
  • Working with a diverse client base on a variety of high profile Web sites.
  • In general, you work with more stable, predictable technology. Generally content-based sites, intranets, and e-commerce-based sites are fairly easy to scale rather than an internal enterprise integration type project.
  • Getting to start projects from scratch a lot of the time rather than reusing an old crufty code base, which looks more like COBOL than ColdFusion. Or in the case where you are reusing a lot of code, chances are you already have some sort of an established framework that works well and only needs to be customized each time you do a new site.
  • Getting to work with cutting-edge, client-side technologies such as Flex.
One of the main differences that separate a typical developer serving in a consulting role versus a developer in a product development role is the fact that for the consultant, time is money. Ultimately the end goal is to finish a project within the time-frame and price point that the customer is looking for. On the other hand, a typical product developer is more adherent to process and is more likely to follow the various phases in the software development life cycle, especially as the team and company gets bigger. Time is money for them as well, but in a much different fashion; because they have already been budgeted into a position, the resource that they provide is development time, so they have to work more under time constraints than billing-hour constraints.

When I worked as a consultant and was much less experienced, my process to start and complete a project was something like this:

  1. Gather requirements
  2. Design the database to support the requirements
  3. Code!
As I've learned over time, this is usually a recipe for certain disaster for many reasons that is a whole article in itself. However, this was before I started my computer science degree or had any exposure to traditional software development, and it seemed to be the right thing to do when working under billable hour limits, given my background and experience.

With more experience and mistakes to learn from, I grew to at least start using my own framework, which was akin to what Fusebox 3 ended up being. It seemed to work well at the time, but I'd always have to bring other developers up to speed about how it worked and make changes to their code if it didn't fit the "standards" of my framework. In general, it was fine if I were the only one working on a given product, but it would get in the way if someone were to work on something with me.

From my experience during the past several years in product development, the paradigm shift to OO development with the advent of ColdFusion Components, as well as completing the majority of my computer science classes, I've learned a great deal about subjects such as object-oriented programming, the software development life cycle, UML, and design patterns. Let's just say that the aforementioned three steps do not reflect the process I use today.

Generally speaking, the two most important reasons for going through the various phases in the SDLC and using proper OO design is to make sure that the resulting product does what it's supposed to, as well as mitigating the risk of the project failing to meet its objectives. Some great side benefits to this is that it gives a developer time to solve most of the business problems upfront, planning out how the objects will communicate with each other, and lays a good foundation for flexibility and expandability in the future. Specifically, it allows developers time to make sure that they design with object reuse in mind - ensuring that objects are highly cohesive, that there is a reasonable amount of coupling, and that the resulting classes fulfill all of the use cases that were specified during requirements gathering.

More Stories By Brandon Harper

Brandon Harper has been programming in ColdFusion since 1998 and also actively writes applications in Python and Java. He is currently a Senior Software Developer at Acxiom where he works on an enterprise service platform which powers their risk mitigation products. Brandon was also a technical editor for Inside ColdFusion MX, and maintains a blog at devnulled.com.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
OntheNail 08/21/06 12:59:54 AM EDT

[from the article] Generally speaking, the two most important reasons for going through the various phases in the SDLC and using proper OO design is to make sure that the resulting product does what it's supposed to, as well as mitigating the risk of the project failing to meet its objectives.

Soooo true.

LiveCycle 08/20/06 08:21:48 PM EDT

XPAAJ library is now available for use for Adobe enterprise customers - owners of LiveCycle, ColdFusion or Flex enterprise licenses.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, will discuss some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he’ll go over some of the best practices for structured team migrat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they bu...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera offers a radically new approach to data management, where innovative software makes data infrastructure invisible, elastic and able to perform at the highest level. It eliminates hardware lock-in and gives IT organizations the choice to source x86 server nodes, with business model option...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
Digital transformation is changing the face of business. The IDC predicts that enterprises will commit to a massive new scale of digital transformation, to stake out leadership positions in the "digital transformation economy." Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, Oct 31-Nov 2, will find fresh new content in a new track called Enterprise Cloud & Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp emp...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of hybrid cloud enablement solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere Systems was created by file systems experts determined to reinvent storage by changing the way enterprises thought about and bought storage resources. With decades of experience behind the company’s founders, Avere got its ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.