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Exploring Bubble.io in 2024: A practical guide to capabilities & limitations

Exploring Bubble.io in 2024: A practical guide to capabilities & limitations

When you first discovered Bubble.io, you might have experienced a mix of excitement and hesitation. You probably have an innovative app idea or an ongoing project, but the big question is: Can Bubble.io really meet your app development requirements? 

It's natural to have reservations when exploring a relatively new platform for your important project. But we're here to help you make a well-informed decision and put those concerns to rest.

In this article, you’ll learn what you can achieve with this platform and the limitations you might encounter.

Infographic illustrating the various capabilities and limitations of the Bubble.io platform

TL;DR: Bubble.io is a powerful no-code platform that allows you to build all kinds of apps quickly and cost-effectively. It offers integration with 3rd-party plugins and allows for custom code to enhance app functionality (is restricted to JavaScript). Bubble is great for building responsive web apps and it can be used for PWAs but lacks native support for iOS and Android apps. While you can wrap Bubble apps in PWAs or native apps, there are risks and limitations with this approach. Hosting on private servers is not supported, and exporting code from Bubble is not possible. Despite some limitations, Bubble provides a versatile and creative platform for building various web applications.

What you can do with Bubble.io

MVP development

Building an MVP is all about testing the waters before making substantial commitments of time, money, and resources. Choosing to build an MVP with no-code reduces this risk even more. 

You can build an MVP with Bubble in a fraction of the time compared to traditional development. It also allows for faster iterations and is cost-effective. That means you'll reach the market quicker, getting real feedback from users to refine your product, and without breaking the bank in the process.

A few considerations: For most MVPs, Bubble can be a perfect solution, but if your MVP needs to be an iOS or Android native app from the start, you should be aware that this will involve some additional steps, or you could choose another platform instead. We’ll see the particular case of mobile apps later in this post. 

Second, if you want to test your MVP you have the option of hosting it on cheaper, shared servers. You’ll be able to upgrade to a plan with higher computing capacity later on.

These are some impressive success stories of MVPs built with Bubble:

  • Comet: A thriving marketplace connecting tech and data freelancers with potential clients in need of engineering services. From its inception, Comet experienced remarkable growth, achieving a monthly revenue of €600,000.
  • Beelango: With over 100,000 users and generating $300,000 in revenue, Beelango has become a successful language learning platform, empowering people worldwide to master new languages.
  • Plato: Powered by Bubble, Plato successfully built a mentorship platform for engineers and product leaders. Utilizing Bubble for their back office, track systems, and event landing pages, Plato secured an outstanding $13.3 million in funding.

Learn more: Bubble app examples

Integrate with 3rd party plugins

Bubble's integration-friendly platform allows you to seamlessly incorporate the functionality of 3rd-party plugins into your app. For instance, instead of building a payment system from scratch, you can connect with Stripe or PayPal through their plugin.

While Bubble's plugin collection continues to grow daily, some might find it less extensive compared to platforms like WordPress, which boasts hundreds of plugin options. However, if you can't find a specific plugin you need, don't worry! Bubble allows you to build custom features or integrations to suit your exact requirements, giving you the flexibility to create personalized solutions.

Add custom code

Bubble's power lies in its no-code environment, but it also recognizes the need for customizations. That's why it allows you to extend functionality through custom code, which includes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Bubble becomes more powerful and personalized when you combine the convenience of visual programming with the adaptability of custom code. 

Bubble.io allows you to add custom code

For those familiar with coding, this opens up almost endless possibilities for enhancing and tailoring your app to perfection. On the other hand, if you lack coding expertise, don't worry! You can seek assistance from an agency with developers who are well-versed in Bubble.io's custom code capabilities. Learn how to choose the right Bubble agency with our comprehensive guide. Ready to elevate your app to the next level? Book a call with our agency today and let's make your vision a reality.

Build responsive web apps

Web apps, unlike traditional websites that mainly provide informational content, are interactive software applications that offer more advanced functionalities and features. What sets Bubble apart is its ability to create responsive web apps, ensuring that the user interface automatically adjusts and adapts, and performs smoothly on any device, regardless of screen size or orientation. 

Bubble excels in developing many kinds of web applications, such as social networks, SaaS products, and marketplaces. The Bubble editor offers unparalleled flexibility, enabling experienced developers to create pixel-perfect products with complex designs and responsive requirements. Bubble allows you to create a responsive web app without requiring the use of any extra tools, and your app will appear and work seamlessly on every device.

Bubble.io allows you to build responsive web apps

On the other hand, if your goal is to create a traditional website with a focus on content, strong SEO capabilities, and a simpler design, you might find a platform like Webflow more suitable for your needs. 

Build Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

Bubble allows you to build Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) that bring native app features to the web, offering numerous benefits. PWAs are websites that behave like mobile apps, they are easily installable with just one click on Android devices. They eliminate the need for manual updates and maintenance since they are served by web browsers, resulting in a more seamless user experience.

JSON file view from Bubble SEO settings
JSON file view from Bubble SEO settings

With Bubble, you can create web apps and PWAs that feel native, making them an excellent choice for most projects.  It's important to note that building a PWA in Bubble.io may require considerable coding experience. A PWA is made up of a responsive website as well as a Service Worker and Manifest, one is a JavaScript and the other a JSON file. There are also third-party tools like Progressier that can help you build a Bubble PWA.

Build hybrid apps

Bubble also makes it possible to transform your app into a hybrid application for Android Play Store and Apple Store deployment. These apps can be downloaded from the app stores and provide access to native features like payments and push messages.

The great thing about hybrid apps is that they allow you to update your app regularly without going through the hassle of submitting a new version each time to the stores. You can build hybrid apps using Bubble in combination with third-party tools like thebdk.com or buildnatively.com. This way, you get the best of both worlds – the convenience of Bubble and the benefits of native app functionalities!

While Bubble offers a wide array of technical capabilities, it's essential to understand the kinds of applications you can create using this platform. For a detailed look at the various app types you can build, check out our article on type of apps you can build with bubble.

Exploring Bubble's capabilities and limitations for your project? Gain deeper insights with our expert guidance. Contact our Bubble agency today for tailored strategies that fit your needs.

What you can’t do with Bubble.io

Build native iOS/Android apps

Currently, Bubble does not offer native support for iOS and Android apps, but there are indications that it might do so in the future. In the meantime, there is a workaround available that involves wrapping your Bubble app into a Progressive Web App (PWA) or a native app using tools like Jasonette and BDK. While this workaround allows you to have a presence in the app stores, it comes with some limitations.

Using a mobile wrapper can be a viable option, but there are risks associated with it. For instance, Apple discourages apps that offer little functionality beyond what a website could provide. This could lead to app rejections or potential removal from the App Store if they detect that your app is primarily a wrapper.

While wrappers are still commonly used, there is growing concern about updates triggering violations of App Store guidelines. This could lead to the app being taken down, causing potential issues for app owners.

To mitigate these risks and explore alternatives, platforms like FlutterFlow offer a dedicated environment for building native apps without wrappers. With native app support, you can access functionalities like cameras, GPS, and push notifications, which are not available in PWAs or web apps.

Host apps on private or on-premise servers

Unfortunately, self-hosting on a private hosting service or on-premise server is not supported by Bubble at the moment. Bubble provides hosting for its customers through Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud servers.  

While self-hosting might not be an option, there are significant advantages to using AWS cloud servers. Keep in mind that Cloud computing has become the standard due to its exceptional performance, scalability, and security features. AWS, in particular, is recognized as a leading cloud provider, offering reliable and robust infrastructure for hosting applications.

On enterprise subscriptions, Bubble provides the option of a dedicated cluster for you (or your clients). This level of customization is valuable for those who require higher levels of security, compliance, or specific configurations. Although, keep in mind that Bubble doesn’t let enterprise clients run their own instances on their own servers yet.

Incorporate other languages than Javascript

Bubble developers can, in fact, use custom code to augment an application's features. However, to create unique integrations on top of Bubble, developers are currently limited to using JavaScript. Despite this limitation, JavaScript is a powerful and widely used language for web development, and Bubble's support for custom code in JavaScript opens up a lot of possibilities for developers. 

In addition, notice that APIs are a common way for no-code languages to communicate with traditional ones. Bubble is no exception, and it allows you to connect to APIs made in other languages as well as publish an API from your app.

Very advanced UI

It's important to be aware of the limitations in the UI when it comes to very advanced graphical interfaces, such as video games, data diagrams, or interactive maps. While it's not an issue of load or performance, Bubble's positioning as a web app development platform means that it doesn’t prioritize the development of extremely complex graphical interfaces. So, if your ambition is to create highly intricate 3D or platform games, Bubble may not be the ideal choice.

But don't let that deter you! Bubble is not limited to enterprise web apps alone. Despite its limitations, some creative Bubble users have managed to create small games. Who says game development has to be all about advanced graphics and intricate mechanics? Sometimes, the simplest games are the most enjoyable. Remember how fast Wordle became super-popular? Factle, made entirely with Bubble, it’s a fun alternative to the famous game where you order a series of facts based on specific information. Bubble offers the perfect canvas to free your imagination and build all kinds of apps. 

Export code

Bubble apps are exclusively designed to run on the Bubble platform, and this approach aligns with Bubble's business model. As a result, exporting your application’s code is not possible. If you ever decide to transition away from the Bubble platform, you will need to rebuild the application from scratch. 

The trade-off for the ease of development and deployment within the Bubble platform is the dependency on its infrastructure. However, you can still export the application data and any custom code that you have added on top of Bubble.

For an even more in-depth understanding of the platform, including a detailed analysis of over 15 key factors, don't miss our Bubble review.

Finished understanding Bubble's capabilities and limitations? Take the next step in your project's success. Contact us now for a free consultation and get expert support tailored to your Bubble app's unique needs.

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