Bubble is a platform for building web applications using visual programming. The project was started in 2012 and is one of the pioneers in the NoCode field. Over two decades, Bubble has accumulated considerable experience, and most of the solutions offered by the company have already passed the test of time. In the NoCode community, the platform is one of the most mentioned and used tools.
Below, we will look at how Bubble works, the differences between this platform and similar solutions, and examples of successful commercial projects created with Bubble.
How to make a web application on Bubble
The critical feature of Bubble is its powerful and intuitive visual editor. It allows you to create complex web applications with adaptive interfaces and visually build workflows with interactive elements.
Bubble's basic principle is visual programming. While it has many ready-made templates, the tool has a flexible design. The interface of the created application can be customized down to minor details, making it unique and professional-looking.
The application development process in Bubble typically consists of four steps:
- Visual Programming. Using a visual editor, the user creates an interface by placing controls- buttons, text fields, and images- on the canvas.
- Logic and database customization. After creating the interface, the user customizes the application logic - what events occur when clicking on certain parts of the layout, what data is sent, and where.
- Testing and deployment. In the final stage, the application can be tested on the platform and deployed to the web. Bubble provides both hosting and server infrastructure management. It should be noted that application deployment is not included in the free tariff - to publish the project on the Internet, you will need to pay a subscription.
The development process in Bubble does not require programming skills at any of the listed stages. As a result, the platform allows you to quickly create working web applications and fully control their appearance and functionality.
How Bubble differs from other NoCode creation services
Bubble differs from similar web application development platforms in several key ways. Most of them can be found in one project or another, but in the case of Bubble, the time of the platform's existence and the degree of development of each approach are essential.
Built-in features. Bubble has many built-in features that provide basic functionality for most applications:
- email validation,
- file storage,
- progress bars,
- adding captcha,
- localized translations,
- side menus,
- payment processors.
These solutions are designed as standardized blocks with familiar working mechanics. These features simplify the development process, preventing users from worrying about the underlying application infrastructure.
Plugins significantly extend Bubble's capabilities by providing more specific elements, actions, and APIs than built-in functions. These are often more extensive solutions with documentation on the platform. Here are a few favored groups of plugins and individual examples:
- Data import/export: creation and loading of CSV files and other data files, including work with external databases;
- utilities: API Connector allows you to connect to any API on the Internet and exchange data with your application. This gives you more flexibility than using specific plugins to link to specific services;
- integration with third-party services: Airtable, Facebook, Figma, YouTube, Google Maps, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google (full list);
- payment systems: Stripe and PayPal plugins simplify the process of accepting payments in the application;
- barcode and QR code generation: plugins for creating or reading unique identifiers for users, products, or other data.
Since plugins are a more specific solution, they are installed and configured separately in the Plugins tab. Some plugins are created and described by the Bubble team, while others are developed by the Bubble community and companies that use the product.
Most plugins are free, but some require payment to install or may require adding a key to authenticate the connection between your account on the service and the plugin in Bubble. In the latter case, the tariff is determined at the service level.
Built-in database. Unlike many other NoCode platforms, Bubble offers extensive database capabilities. Users can create, modify, and manage complex data structures without writing SQL queries. Database design is as visual as the interface.
Users can create their own data types, essentially tables in traditional databases. These data types can contain various fields, including text, numbers, dates, files, and even relationships with other data types. Complex structures and associations can be modeled as in classical database management systems, such as one-to-many or many-to-many. The data documentation section describes the basic principles of working with data.
Templates. The platform has about 1,500 ready-made templates and examples - easy to create for a marketplace, delivery service, or online school. Templates include pre-designed screens for specific purposes and workflows that support data flow and logic within the application. Templates, just like plugins, are subject to the mechanics of the marketplace: they can be free or paid and are usually supported by specific developer contributors.
Collaboration. Bubble has a convenient way of working with versions, similar to the Git version control that has proven itself in classic development. You can split the story into branches and then merge the work of individual contributors into a single view.
Community. Compared to alternative platforms, Bubble has one of the largest developer communities with an open forum. This allows you to solve problems and find ready-made solutions quickly. There is also an extensive database of tutorial resources, which makes development on the platform accessible even for beginners.
Flexibility and Scalability. Bubble allows you to create scaled applications with your growing business needs. The platform is suitable for small projects and complex systems, which is reflected in the project's fee schedule.
Examples of successful commercial projects based on Bubble
The Bubble platform has enabled the creation of many successful commercial projects:
- Norebase makes it easy to register trademarks in Africa.
- Moone solves the problem of tight work schedules by offering tools for personal and team scheduling.
- Swapstack was one of the first successful projects that simplified the monetization of newsletters by attracting advertisers and sponsors. The project was taken over by the NoCode-based newsletter platform Beehiiv.
- Goodgigs helps green companies find employees from their community. In addition to the job search, Goodgigs offers a separate space for socializing and weekly updates on job openings.
- AwareHealth is a healthcare platform for companies focused on personalized care for employees.
- LifeLegacy simplifies financial preparation for various life events, making writing wills, financial powers of attorney, and other documents easier.
For examples of other companies, check 30 Bubble-based succes stories article.
Bubble was founded in 2012 by Joshua Haas and Emmanuel Strisch. The main idea behind the project was to enable users without technical skills to create potent web applications. At the beginning of its existence, Bubble focused on simplifying the web development process by making it accessible to entrepreneurs, marketers, designers, and non-programmers. Bubble is currently the leader in functionality among NoCode web application builders.
However, it's worth noting that Bubble's confident leadership has a downside:
- Bubble's paid plans are expensive compared to its competitors. For example, Webflow's basic tariff costs $14 versus Bubble's $29, but even with the free tariff you can publish a couple of pages for a test;
- A well-developed ecosystem creates the risk of vendor dependency, but Bubble apps can't be ported to other platforms;
- Bubble focuses on web application specifics and is inefficient regarding atypical backend logic or optimizing complex database queries. Performance and scaling issues can arise under heavy loads.
When considering the platform's limitations, Bubble is a convenient solution for small teams and startups to build web applications quickly.