Dabble DB

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Where are the templates?

There’s a question that we get so frequently that it’s really beyond FAQ status; it’s an Always Asked Question. The question goes something like this:

It’s great that you can build something in Dabble DB so easily from scratch, but why don’t you publish some prebuilt templates so people can get going even quicker?

Having a gallery of applications as the starting point generally seems so obvious that many people assume that we simply haven’t gotten to it yet, and probably wonder what exactly we’re waiting for. We thought it was obvious too, so much so that we tried having examples front and center in an early version of Dabble, tested the approach with real users, and promptly removed it. Yes, it turns out this starting point isn’t our next feature, it’s an ex-feature.

Why? Because they made new users’ experiences worse, not better. Time after time, what we’d see is that the users that were starting from templates (and given the choice, almost everyone does) were less successful and less interested in using the application than those who started from scratch or by importing data. Many people that tried out the version with templates never even got as far as adding their own data, much less customizing the fields or views or expanding the model. Those who started from scratch were more engaged, more excited, and were more likely to start using the tool day to day - because what they were building was their idea of a project manager, an event planner, or whatever else, not someone else’s.

Now, this doesn’t mean templates can’t or shouldn’t have *some* place in Dabble. They may well be a source of ideas for users who have already learned to build their own solutions, and could even function as documentation for more advanced features. But I don’t think they should be the first thing people see if they’re just going to mask what’s really cool about Dabble: that it really is that easy to just sit down and build your own applications. We’ll leave the starter application gallery to those tools that need it.

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