With the rise and proliferation of no-code platforms since the pandemic, many companies are trying to figure out whether these tools can actually handle the feature sets and scale needed for their mission-critical apps.
No-code’s promise of building software 10x faster is enticing, but the risk of hitting a limitation halfway through the development process can be equally unnerving. What if you start building only to find out that an essential function, like leveraging custom layouts and illustrations, is simply impossible with the tool?
Fortunately, the no-code platform Bubble may offer a solution – and some peace of mind.
How customizable is a web app built on Bubble?
While many no-code tools focus on specific use cases (e.g., Shopify for e-commerce) or parts of the tech stack (e.g., Airtable for databases), Bubble offers a true alternative to custom code. Bubble is designed to be a flexible full-stack "visual programming language". However, this makes for a steeper learning curve than simpler no-code alternatives.
To see how customizable a web app built on Bubble can be, and determine if it’s the right approach and platform before investing your time and money building, let’s explore its capabilities and limitations.
What the Bubble platform can and can’t do
As a no-code development agency that’s helped entrepreneurs, fast-growing startups, and Fortune 500 enterprises quickly build complex software, we’ve found that the Bubble platform is by far the most flexible, extensible, and customizable no-code tool for web apps. It gives us complete control over design, functionality, and extensibility of each app we build, so we don't fear encountering features we can't deliver on.
However, there are some nuances and considerations to be aware of.
If your company is looking to do custom app development on Bubble, it’s smart to first consider its abilities and limitations. The list below describes all of its capabilities so you can see how customizable a web app built on Bubble is and determine whether or not it’s the best platform for your project needs.
- Pixel-perfect design (vs. fixed templates): The Bubble platform does pixel perfect design, as opposed to fixed templates. This means you can do a fully custom design without hitting limitations.
- Responsive design (vs. fixed width): Bubble's pages are responsive. In other words, they will adjust automatically to the width of whatever device they're seen on. Additionally, you can customize the elements on your page, deciding what collapses, what hides, and when to show something different on mobile devices.
- Importing design: While you can technically import graphics and user interface designs from tools like Figma on Bubble, it’s pretty rudimentary. Expect to mainly develop the designs from scratch within the interface.
- Fully customizable step-by-step process flows (vs. templated actions or limited things like links): The Bubble platform gives you full customization of every step in a series of actions, as opposed to some other tools which will only offer preset actions.
- Broad coding functionality (vs. use case-specific): The Bubble editor is open-ended, and like a traditional programming language, there's no fixed set of possibilities to the type of product you can build. This means you don’t have to work within the rails of a specific use-case.
- Artificial intelligence (AI): Using plugins, you can call your coded AI models and connect them in your Bubble app.
- Custom relational databases (vs. simple CMS or static content): Bubble allows you to create a totally customized database structure and have users on your application interact with that database in any way you want. For example, users can change things in the database themselves, as opposed to you having to do it for them in the administrator section.
- Integrating with external databases: Bubble editor provides a tool, the SQL Database Connector, that allows developers to connect applications to external and internal databases and run SQL queries from within Bubble.
- User sign-ins using OAuth: Bubble allows you to use some external services to authenticate users using their credentials from another service, such as Facebook or Google. It also allows for single sign-on from something like your own internal enterprise login. This is all done through plugins.
- Ability to add custom code: The Bubble platform allows you to extend your app’s capabilities with traditional lines of code. If you come across a limitation, such as doing an AI algorithm, developers can run custom code to extend the app.
- Max scale (100k+ daily users): While there are no known Bubble applications that currently support millions of daily users, it can absolutely handle hundreds of thousands of daily active users and run just fine. If you expect to eventually service millions of daily active users, Bubble is still a good option to launch your app quickly and plan a transition to a traditionally coded tech stack where you can optimize and configure every aspect of your app to perform at this scale.
- Ability to export code: There is no "export to code" button with Bubble – the app logic is hosted within their platform. However, you can integrate the software with external databases and APIs either in the initial build, or as part of a transition to another tech stack.
- Ability to export data: With the Bubble platform, you can always download all of your data and put it into a different system, or use an API to connect it to something else. Your data is very easily portable, meaning you won’t get trapped there.
Airdev makes custom app development with Bubble easy
While Bubble is a no-code tool, it’s not as easy to learn and use as some of the more user-specific, off-the-shelf platforms. Considering all the factors above can be daunting for even experienced product owners. But help does exist!
If you want complex functionality in your web app, but need to launch fast without the cost of hiring traditional developers, Airdev can help. We employ the world’s most proficient Bubble developers to build, launch, and scale your product so that your costs are lower, timeline is shorter, and your idea can be realized and iterated on as quickly as possible.
Still unsure if no-code vs. full code is right for your app?
Read our article, The future of software development: Why most software will be built without code, which details when no-code makes sense – and when it doesn’t.