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byjoomdude007, June 18, 2010
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Fabrik has a lot going for it, and on first looks is exceptionally promising. It can create a table for you or connect to a table in a different database. And after you've got your head around the quirky way it displays things like tables and elements, you can build all kinds of applications.

But here's the thing. Fabrik isn't as intuitive as the creator would tell you. For the average Joomla webmaster, you'll find there's a limited amount you can do before you need to get your hands really dirty. At that point, you may struggle. And this is why:

* To get the Fabrik manual, you have to become a paid subscriber. Too bad if you just want to evaluate Fabrik to see if it will meet your needs. You either fork over your hard-earned money, *then* see if Fabrik is for you, or you just battle your way through as best you can.

* To get to anything other than basic tutorials, you need to become a paid subscriber.

* The free tutorials are woeful: you'll spend half your time watching a mouse pointer slowly move its way across the screen from point A to point B. Then you'll watch as the "presenter" does something, then apparently changes his/her mind. Sometimes this is done to illustrate a potential trap, but most viewers will find this just plain confusing. There are better ways to present a tutorial.

* You can take out a free registration, which gives you access to the "community" forum where you can post questions. These might be answered by the Fabrik team, but are more likely to be pounced on by well-meaning but unhelpful users (which has been my experience.)

* I won't go into the bugs and security issues here. I believe that the developer would at least investigate problems that could be replicated.

I've noticed that the developer responds to negative reviews like this very defensively, denying that problems exist, or suggesting that the problem is with the user. My message to the developer is this:

You have a *very* promising product that could be a GREAT product...but perhaps being close to it for so long you've lost sight that new users will find the learning curve very steep. Do *yourself* a favor; offer the documentation and tutorials freely so people can get up to speed quickly instead of deleting Fabrik because it is "too difficult". Make it easy for people to use Fabrik and *want* to use it. Improve those tutorials. Get some external feedback on the usability and effectiveness of the tutorials and documentation. When you receive criticism, take it on the chin, and use that to improve your product and business rather than being defensive. People who criticize Fabrik aren't necessarily wrong, but may actually be helping you!

Perhaps you need to offer a "trial" version of Fabrik (with full documentation but no support) and a "commercial" version that is fully supported. Then drop the subscriptions.