On the web, interactivity is king. Users engage much more with anything you present to them when it’s more than just a static page. Bubble is a development platform that makes it easy and (initially) affordable for anyone to create all kinds of dynamic and interactive web applications through its accessible yet powerful visual programming language. Ultimately, professionals may have additional needs, but Bubble is a great entry point for those with no programming experience.
What can you do with bubbles?
Bubble allows you to develop web applications. You use it directly in your browser, just go to Bubble.io. Look through the Bubble storefront and see how many different types of experiences fall into this extremely broad category, from blogs to CRMs. Use Bubble to create a social network to connect with local dog owners, an eCommerce marketplace and crowdfunding platform, or an online survey tool. You can treat Bubble as an interactivity-focused website builder, complete with SEO and analytics, or you can use Bubble as full-fledged consumer-grade game development software and make a little 2D platformer or clone of Bubble. wordle.
With a blank canvas, Bubble’s registration process helps point you in the right direction. He asks what your overall goals are. Is this a personal side project or a serious startup with several employees? Is the application internal or customer-facing? You’ll see sample applications to help spark your inspiration. If you don’t want to build an app completely from scratch, use a recommended template to help you get started. Bubble can even put you in touch with an agency to hire someone else to develop the app for you and hopefully teach you something along the way.
How much does it cost to develop an app in Bubble?
With its simple language and browser-based editor (similar to Construct), Bubble wants to be welcoming. Fortunately, that spirit extends to prices. Like Wix, the Editors’ Choice website builder, Bubble offers a free tier that should satisfy most users. It has all the main features of the platform along with community support. Your apps will carry the Bubble brand.
However, if you want to pay, Bubble will let you. In fact, premium subscriptions get expensive pretty quickly. At $25 per month, the Personal tier is reasonable. That gives you API features along with the core platform, a custom domain, and email support. The Professional and Production levels increase significantly to $115 per month and $475 per month, respectively. Those enterprise tiers include enterprise features such as multiple server capacity units, additional application editors, and enhanced development versions. Your organization must decide for itself if it is worth the cost.
Bubble also has a community marketplace where users can share custom plugins and starter templates to quickly add exciting new features to apps. You can get many of these for free, including Discord and PayPal plugins. However, some users charge money. I tried a preview of a side-scrolling video game template just to confirm that it worked, but if I wanted to use the template in my own apps, I would have to pay $50 for the standard license. Listings include a description, category, seller information, and user reviews. If you’re particularly adept at Bubble, consider selling your own templates.
Developing with bubble
Bubble uses a visual programming language. That means you won’t need to write and analyze long and complicated lines of code. Instead, logic is presented as clear if/then statements. You can see what happens when a button is pressed and edit the resulting action accordingly. Defining the look of your app is as simple as dragging and dropping graphic elements onto the page. Literally having to learn a new language is the biggest barrier to understanding programming, so removing that barrier makes it easier to control Bubble.
All that said, Bubble’s simplified language doesn’t skimp on power. To enable such a variety of applications, the Bubble editor gives you a variety of development tools to express your vision. These tools are found in a handful of categories that can always be accessed on the left side of the interface.
Under Layout, you’ll see the current look of your app. Here you can add text and buttons, rearrange images and videos, and activate responsive design. To see how your app is performing, hit the preview button. The Workflow section shows all the rules that govern your site, the commands and instructions, the “code”. Trigger events when pages load, when users log in or out, or when something goes wrong. If your popups are just too annoying, this is where you fix them.
Like CSS, the Style section allows you to globally adjust the appearance of things like link colors or button borders. Other sections determine how the app should handle user data and track the app’s performance over time. If all this is not enough, install plugins for Disqus, Google Maps, Facebook and other popular tools to get even more features. We play a collection of arcade games built on the advanced Unity engine.
To help you get the most out of the editor, Bubble includes many helpful tutorials on Bubble Academy. However you prefer to learn, you’ll find something that works for you. The short videos contain a ton of information on specific topics. Interactive lessons guide you through the editor itself as you turn images into a slideshow or use an external API to search for iTunes songs. You can even see each step on how to create a recipe management app. Beyond the tutorials, you’ll also find useful knowledge in the forums, including tips on how to export your app to mobile devices, as Bubble doesn’t natively support non-web platforms.
Build web apps that burst with bubbles
When you make a complicated task easier, you usually have to sacrifice something. This makes it all the more impressive how much power Bubble retains, even at the free tier, despite betting on its no-code, accessible visual programming language. The vast majority of people, from personal hobbyists to small business owners, are not professional software engineers. They should still have a way to develop all kinds of fancy web applications. Fortunately, Bubble is an excellent and capable platform for that audience.
The bottom line
Bubble’s powerful yet flexible and understandable visual programming language allows anyone to create a wide variety of creative web applications.
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