Yesterday we announced a rather interesting development in the life cycle of our BlueDragon product. We have begun the process to open source the Java J2EE edition of our very popular CFML engine. We will be releasing it under the popular GPL license, which basically mirrors MySQL and Java.
All being well, we should be ready in the summer of 2008 to get it into your hands. But what does this really mean?
Personally I have been involved with open source projects for most of my software life. I have contributed many a patch to open source projects, headed up a couple, and created Java versions of others. I have also had the good fortune to work at the "coal face" of open source logistics by spending a few years working at SpikeSource. Open source works best when there is a community ready to use and contribute to your project.
With nearly 10 years under its belt, BlueDragon has a very large community behind it and we've proven ourselves powering very large scale websites. Now is the right time to bring this to a wider community.
The GPL license is the one that embodies the truest spirit of open source. To put basically, you are free to use, modify, redistribute the code, just as long as you open source (GPL) all your code and put back into the very community you took from.
But what will open sourcing BlueDragon mean to you?
Well first off, don't let the world "open source" scare you - you will never need to look at a single line of Java code if you don't want. Nor will you have to hit a build script to run it. It will be available pre-packaged for you to run, in much the same way as MySQL is available at the moment.
But to answer that question, the "you" part of the question means different things to different people. So I will explain in this by using "real" people.
Consider if you are a CFML consultant, a gun for hire. You develop custom bespoke applications for your client. Your client, most probably, did not specify CFML, and that largely has been your choice. Because afterall you've chosen a language that makes you the most productive. However, you've traditionally had to put a wee sting in the tail when it came to the invoicing. Someone had to pay for the CFML engine license. Sure you passed it onto your client, but wouldn't it have been nicer had you been able to keep that extra for yourself instead of passing it on.
With BlueDragon OpenSource, you are now as free to use BlueDragon as you are MySQL. We won't expect a penny. Thats a few extra thousand in your pocket. We've just made you way more profitable.
The other side of the coin, is that the CFML community has always had a very limited choice of "open source" projects when you compare it to the output of Java or PHP. The volume just isn't there. The problem here is that anyone wishing to use your free open source web application has had to have already purchased a very costly runtime CFML engine (or very reasonably priced if you have a BlueDragon license).
Now, the likes of Ray Camden (who produces many of the free CFML webapps) will be able, (assuming he changes his license of his apps to GPL) be able to bundle his FORUM project for example, as complete blackbox, installable application.
Even if Ray doesn't change from his Apache2 style license, he can still have people use his offerings assuming they have installed BlueDragon first themselves. He just won't be able to bundle BlueDragon as part of his offering.
Either way, suddenly his userbase has opened up to anyone on the Internet. That is a huge userbase. Imagine Ray packaging up his FORUM as a complete tar-ball/rpm/zip/vmware-image that included BlueDragon+Java+MySQL all ready to run. This goes too of all the Content Management Systems out there, (Farcry for example). You starting to get excited at the possibilities?
Then we have the likes of Mark Drew, who is championing the cause of CFEclipse. Being a tools developer, he can now peak inside the code of BlueDragon, and utilise some of the technology to build a fully integrated CFML IDE. Imagine CFEclipse, moving to GPL, and including BlueDragon deep inside it as a debugger, profiler, or a simple tool to dynamically run functions inline. The potential for innovation in this area is now limitless. Just look at the some of the innovation that people have done with Eclipse+Tomcat/Jetty etc.
The majority of people will most probably never look at a single line of BlueDragon code and that is to be expected. I heard a MySQL executive talk once that for every 10,000 users of MySQL; 100 would contribute something to the community side (docs, help, tips), 10 would report bugs and submit the odd patch, and 1 would buy a license. While I have used MySQL/Apache for over 10years, I have never once looked at their code. Nor am I likely to!
BlueDragon is coming to you as a stable, mature, proven technology. The blog in which you are reading this post on is powered by BlueDragon, and this isn't a single blog instance, but part of a much larger farm of machines powering thousands and thousands of blogs.
As part of this open source process, I intend to package up the WIKI part of Blog-City and offer that as a complete standalone GPL package that you will be able to drop onto any server and just run! Now lets give MediaWiki a run for its money. Let the CFML community show these PHP boys how its done! :)
An open source BlueDragon, means you can now bet the farm on CFML. CFML is here to stay and for once in the whole history of CFML, the community will take a lead in the future direction of CFML as a language and platform.
A new chapter has just opened up on the CFML history books, and we hope you're ready to continue reading, because this one is a real page turner.