Steve Bryant had a great idea that the entire ColdFusion community should post about how they got started with ColdFusion on the same day. Count me in!
I started my first job after earning my computer engineering degree as a software test engineer in the summer of 1999. If only I knew how boring that would be! Three months in to that job I went to my boss and asked to be put on a different project - it was that bad!
A couple days later he took me down to the first floor of our building and introduced me to Sam Raimond. Sam was an interesting guy - he had an insatiable curiosity for all new technology. While he wasn't really a programmer, he would mess with just about any new piece of software that came out. In the late 90s, there was an awful lot for him to play with!
The first module took me three months to build. The second, third, and fourth combined took three weeks. Even if we had set out an aggressive rebuild schedule we wouldn't have expected this to come together so quickly. Needless to say, ColdFusion made a lot of people we reported to very, very happy!
I learned how to do this by spending lots of time on the (at the time) Allaire forums and regular attendance at both the DC and Baltimore ColdFusion User Groups. Sam was insistent that we never miss a meeting of either group, even though I was extremely reluctant to go at first. The thing is, once you meet the CF community any reluctance to go as a "newbie" falls away quickly. I remember being immediately put at ease by the friendly people who were there. Some of the stuff people presented was amazing! I'd always come back to work with a whole bunch of ideas and even less time to build them.
One thing I've never forgotten is that it was because of the welcoming, fanatical ColdFusion community *and* the power of the platform that I have been able to enjoy the career that I do. Macromedia recognized the value of the community when they acquired Allaire and Adobe saw it too when they bought Macromedia. No matter the corporate parent the server has seen tremendous improvement from one version to the next with a corresponding jump in the number of things that developers can do easily. I've made a pretty darn good living and a few really great friends thanks to my ColdFusion skills and intend to continue using it as long as the platform keeps evolving (I'll keep the friends regardless).
Interesting footnote: I've known Rob Brooks-Bilson for (omg) 10 years now. Today, thanks to his "How I got started" post, I learned that our first projects were both conversions from WebDBC to ColdFusion. Ironic, indeed.