Fabrik is an extremely powerful tool with many additional tools to extend the core functionality to create nearly any web application you desire. I would liken it to Photoshop for editing photo's, there are so many feature's that making it do what you want can be a bit overwhelming at first. Investing a bit of time to get the basics down is well worth it because once you do, you can throw together amazing web apps and features for your website in a matter of hours.
Knowing now what I do, I am constructing a website community site and I have built a tool for a collaborative art project, using Fabrik to collect data and display it to each collaborator to build on. The collaborative project, took me 4 hours to do the art work and template and 4 hours to construct the collaborative application features with Fabrik. I have a new art project that I need to compile thousands of images, files, notes, various contributors and many more details. I laid out how to construct this with Fabrik in a couple hours and I expect to be able to actually construct this in 2 or 3 days.
Admittedly, when I first started working with Fabrik, I was lost. I paid for the membership and learned to search the forums for tips and samples. My skill with PHP and MySQL is very limited. For the most part, I've learned to construct a basic PHP query of the Database (there are tons of samples in the forum), how to use basic PHP if/else statements and utilized shortcut features included in Fabrik.
The price for Fabrik is very reasonable for the capability you get and most of what you need to learn is available in the forums. The core developers are just a couple of guys who are very committed to the project (Rob & Hugh) and I can't see them getting rich at these prices, but they should be compensated for their talent and the time they put in.
I agree with Joomdude007 that the video tutorials are a bit slow and could be updated, but I would note that you don't need audio for them so there's less of a language barrier and even if you don't speak the language, you can see very clearly what is being done in the same interface you would work in.
Regarding Joomdude007's comment about dealing with security issues and bugs - my experience in reading the forums has been that these are the highest priority. So I'm not sure where that's coming from.
Also, a community with well meaning community members is a good thing! Maybe the advice is incorrect sometimes, but the biggest problem with getting good advice is a good explanation of what you need help with. A lively community is one that can get you support, expecially for the easy stuff within minutes or hours rather than waiting a day or 2 for the admins to get through the volume of support they must handle.
Overall, I’m a big fan of Fabrik. The price is very reasonable considering you’re really just paying for access to some training video’s, a manual and a support forum that get’s higher priority. The product itself is free! Most extensions for Joomla offer some functionality and some customization options. Fabrik, is more like a Joomla Upgrade (I think of it as Joomla Advanced) and you will likely appreciate some support with fabrik because of it’s advanced nature, though you can get by without it. With Fabrik you can now collect as much data from your users as you want, you can present it how you want, you can manage who see’s what, who can change what, export data, import data, you can collect and categorize images and files, generate payments (both 1 off and recurring), you can generate invoices, transaction statements, and so much more - these are just some of the things I’ve done or am working on.
My only warning is that Fabrik is not simple. When you started using Joomla, you needed to wrap your head around how Joomla works. Fabrik will be like Joomla level 2. You will need to wrap your head around it, but just like Joomla, you can fall in love with how much easier things can be - Just stick it out a bit to start until you get it and see the results and the potential you will now have with this killer tool!
Happy Web app building - Jeremy
Another Fabrik Faithful!