Bubble.io Review: A Solid No-Code Web App Builder Solution

Since 2016, I’ve tinkered with different ideas on Bubble’s platform. The only idea I went through with was Vollyy, a social app that focused on connecting people in real life in realtime. After so many years on the platform, I’ve moved on to other no code options like Thunkable. There are so many web app builders out there, and I wanted to add my perspective in helping you finalize your decision on what platform to use. 



Where Bubble Thrives


1. User Authentication


Surprisingly, most builders on the market do not offer a service to create user accounts. It is pretty much required to use Firebase or to learn how to hash passwords using your own database. Bubble offers several options to create user accounts including passwordless authentication through links and text messages. 


2. Database


Speaking of user authentication, Bubble also offers customers their own database to store everything. No need to fiddle with an api and connect an external database. However, there is an issue when it comes to pricing for storage which I will discuss later.



3. Drag and Drop Design


True drag and drop design is near impossible to find. Bubble has an option to drag and drop elements on a web page and manipulate them the way you want. They also have a responsive design system that uses the principles of CSS flex box. The page is divided into 9 quadrants and this guides how the page will look on different devices. 


4. Wrapper


While you can’t build a native app on the Bubble platform, they do have the option of creating applications specifically for mobile use. The one page mobile option closely emulates native app capabilities. When I created Vollyy, I used SuperView to deploy my final app to the App Store. There are some free web wrappers that can get the job done as well.


5. Community


Bubble has a thriving community of users that openly share information and solutions to the features you’re thinking about adding to your application. If you come across a problem, more than likely the answer is already waiting for you in the forum.


6. Well Documented


My main frustration with most no code platforms is that they’re not well documented. Littered around the editor are several features that are not well explained. Bubble goes above and beyond by including both videos and a huge manual for help. For every feature, they provide a link on how to use it.


7. Built in Debugger


Plenty of no code builders include a debugger, excluding Thunkable, but what makes Bubble’s debugger special is that you can execute your code step-by-step to find any bugs within your logic. The debugger is very detailed, listing all of the information for each element on the page and any information lifted from the database or the user.




Where Bubble Fails


1. App Elements


The provided app elements leave tons to be desired. This is where you will need to know, or be open to learning, html and css to change the way your app looks. There are no built in options to change the look of most elements. There are no template layout options provided, but they do provide a template for the sign up form. One thing I wish Bubble would add are generators for privacy policy, terms and conditions, and FAQs similar to Shopify. After all, they modeled their pricing tiers after the e-commerce giant.


2. Pricing


For what it’s worth, Bubble is reasonably priced for the amount of features it provides, but if you plan to have an application that will require heavy storage then you will have to use an outside database to avoid paying the high fees associated with Bubble’s storage. If you’re a lean start up, you’ll have to shell out $30/month to get started as they no longer offer a free live option due to the increase in fraud. The plus side to Bubble is there’s no limit based on records in the database or on a site’s bandwidth.


3. SEO


If you’re counting on organic search engine traffic to bring majority of your users then you may want to rethink your marketing strategy. Search engines are not able to index Bubble apps correctly due to known crawl issues. 


4. Plugins


There are several plugins that are available in the marketplace both free and paid. Most of the paid options are overpriced at $10+/month with the option to purchase upfront for $25+. The problem is that many of the plugins become deprecated, because people leave the platform and don’t update them. The documentation for most plugins are poor. My biggest gripe is that there’s no ability to test out the plugins before committing.


5. Speed


With increased data storage there are some speed issues that I’ve noticed, especially when it comes to image files. Searching the database can literally take a minute to complete. There are some timeouts that happen as well. 


6. Background Updates


The engineers at Bubble are constantly updating the service in the background, and while it is great that they’re providing new features, these updates can be completely devastating. The updates with the code can completely break your application. There were numerous times where I was completely embarrassed after telling potential users about my application, because they were not able to create an account, send messages, or view other users. 


Many of Bubble’s updates can change how the logic works, and the upsetting part is that these updates are pushed to live apps, which doesn’t give Bubblers the chance to test out the code to find potential bugs. My application would completely break at least once a month. In the beginning, I thought that maybe it was just me not paying attention to what I was doing, but it became a reoccurring issue where I would spend weeks working on a feature for it to stop working months later. It seems that applications on dedicated servers do not experience this problem, so take that as you please. Ultimately, this is the reason why I left Bubble. 





Final Thoughts



Overall, I feel that Bubble is hands down the best option to quickly develop a prototype. Bubble makes it possible to do almost anything you can imagine. Of course the caveat is that in order to make every aspect of your app come to life, YOU WILL NEED to be comfortable with some coding, mostly javascript, html and css. None of the no code app builders out there provide a full toolbox of features in order to finish a project. NONE. There is a limit to no code, but Bubble is the one platform that has the least limitations. It truly is the best platform to build a SaaS.