Interview with Thong Tran of Foobla

We talked with Thong Tran of Foobla Company.

Dave Harris
by | Posted: April 1, 2014 | Updated: April 1, 2014
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 Q. When did foobla start? Where did the name come from? What can you tell us about the company?

Thong: Since 2007 with the name “joomlord”. But it seems that this name is not really a suitable name because in my mind, we are going to make not only Joomla extensions but also Wordpress plugins in future, that’s why we needed a new name. I was trained to be a programmer and in programming, we often use “foo” and “bar” as placeholder variables/methods, but the domain foobar.com was not available so I changed “bar” to “bra”, but my Canadian friend suggested that the “bra” word is not a positive ones (short-form of “Brassiere” word).

 

Finally, I changed “bra” to “bla” and we have “foobla” at the end. Basically, it is just a name with programming in mind.  After we had that name, another Canadian friend designed the logo for us. We are using it til now.

 

Up till now, our products focus on time-saving purpose for Joomla users such as: obSocialSubmit for doing automated social publishing, obGrabber for doing auto posting and other products also designing with the same goal for end-users. And our slogan is Time-Saving Joomla Extensions.

Q. You guys build a lot of Joomla extensions, which one has been the most popular? Which one has been the favorite to develop?

Thong: We released the first Joomla Extension - obRSS since 2008 after the company started for more than 1 year. That RSS Syndicate Joomla extension is the most popular one until now. It is great for news portal Joomla based websites as well as providing data/information to communicate with outside such as: smartphone Apps, web services. Its killer feature is that obRSS can be empowered with extend plugins to create RSS/JSON/ATOM/XML/Google Sitemap Feed for any third-party Joomla Extensions. After several hardworking years, obRSS is now quite stable and we do not have much work to do with it.

 

All foobla products are made with all our heart and we don’t build things that we don’t use. In other words, initially we build Joomla extensions to serve our need, then release it to the public later. That is also the way we test and improve our products. At the moment, we are working on WPPipes Wordpress plugin, it is alike obGrabber but for Wordpress. The first release is almost complete, just need some more tests as well as documentation before bringing it to the Wordpress community. After that Wordpress plugin, we will improve some products to save more time for our usages on foobla.com, for example: DigiStore, obHelpDesk, obPHPlist and obSocialSubmit.

 

Recently, we have opened Joomla Goodies series (branding: obGoodies) which offer both free/paid Joomla Goodies Extensions, small but helpful ones. Take a look at http://foobla.com/joomla-obgoodies and you may find some helpful Joomla goodies extensions for your Joomla projects.

Q. We are huge fans of obRSS, and use it on every one of your sites personal and client that needs RSS feeds created. What can you tell us about obRSS? What is the biggest challenge? Any really creative uses of obRSS you have seen? Any new features you hope add?

Thong: As I mentioned above, obRSS is one of the most successful Joomla Extensions that we have made. Although the obRSS core itself is quite stable, but we often get problems with extend plugins since 2008 till now. The obRSS mission is creating/managing RSS/ATOM/JSON/XML/Google Sitemap Feed for all Joomla Extensions, in one place. The problem is that 3rd-party extensions such as K2, VirtueMart, ZOO, JEvents, … sometimes change dramatically, even their database structures, so that makes us have to update obRSS extend plugins to work with their changes.

 

That is the biggest challenge for this no.1 Joomla RSS Feed Creator.obRSS designed to create RSS Feed for Joomla, but people is now able to create JSON Feed to push content from their Joomla to Android & iPhone apps, that is brilliant way of using obRSS.

 

I must say I was surprised with some customers whom using both obRSS & obGrabber to make transfer content between Joomla sites. They use obRSS to generate RSS Feeds and use obGrabber to fetch their content back into other Joomla site.


Q. Thinking of all your extensions which one do you think is the most useful that people do not know about.

Thong: Hmm, it is an interesting question. Everyone knows obSocialSubmit is for auto posting from Joomla to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn; DigiStore is for making Digital Shopping Cart for selling digital products or subscription/membership; obHelpDesk is for supporting customers.

 

Well, I think it’s the combination between obRSS and obGrabber. People often use obRSS to create RSS or JSON feed to communicate with other web services or iOS, Android Apps; but they don’t know that they can make XML Feed from one Joomla site by obRSS, and then from other Joomla site, they use obGrabber to deal with that XML Feed to store content.

 

By using obRSS, obGrabber in that way, we can easily transfer content from one Joomla site itself to another Joomla site automatically as multiple-site solution, even in different extensions, for example: ZOO RSS Feed from Joomla site A to K2 from Joomla site B by obGrabber. That’s brilliant.


Q. Is foobla available for custom work? If so what types of projects do you like to take on?

Thong: Yes, it is. If you are using our products and need to have some more specific features or to customise something to suit your needs, we are willing to help at a reasonable price. In addition to that, we can do custom works regarding Joomla and Wordpress when our schedule available.


Q. If you could add one feature or feature set to Joomla regardless of the complexity to implement what would you add to the Joomla core?

Thong: Joomla core itself is actually a quite large system with lots of features. I don’t think we should add any more ones to the Joomla core itself, as many Joomla experts believe that: big CMS is a dead CMS. Let’s leave extra features for extra extensions

 

If I can decide how Joomla is, I will get rid of Banners, Contacts, Web links or some more things out of Joomla core, just focusing on the Content/Articles. But the core team will make these extensions as optional and make sure it is free to the community. In the other words, I will make Joomla core even lighter, but end-users still have important features as optional for free which provided by Joomla core team.


Q. Any future plans or extensions in the work for foobla? Anything else you would like to add?

Thong: Last year, we took control of DigiStore from iJoomla.com to foobla family and offered it to the Joomla community as free Digital Shopping Cart for Joomla, it was $77 when it was in iJoomla. That is a brilliant Digital Shopping Cart for Joomla at the point of idea, workflow but honestly, there are lots of bugs, problems with it which need to be fixed and improved. We will busy with it this year.

 

Specially, we are also working on WPPipes as the our first Wordpress plugin. It is going to be released within the month.
Go back to my answer on the question#2, we are going to work hard on obGoodies as well. We used to afraid to build small Joomla! extensions since 2007, but we changed our mind and going to work on small but awesome Joomla extensions to solve problems in brilliant ways. Check it out http://foobla.com/joomla-goodies

 

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