In the field of computer science, they call low code programming as that type of programming that does not need writing the source code but composing pre-established modules (configurations and graphic interfaces). Typically, each platform focuses on a particular type of application to be developed. These platforms can produce fully operational applications or require modifications to develop additional features of the generated application. Since the amount of manual code writing is thus reduced, production processes are accelerated. It also allows people without in-depth programming knowledge to produce apps, however simple they may be.

At Rawfish we already previously addressed such topic in another article dedicated to the OutSystems platform that you can find here. As an OutSystems certified company, we have developed the EnelX project.

For this article, we talked to Stefano Bottelli, head of the Rawfish Startup Area, about another low code platform that is gaining an interesting following: Bubble.

Why is it convenient to use a low-code nowadays?

Stefano has been working in the startup world for more than 10 years. He has a PhD in Information Engineering from the Politecnico di Milano. He has extensive experience gained in many technology companies (Next 14, E-Novia), which allowed him to come into contact with the most modern technologies used in his sector.

Bubble low code rawfish

Why is it convenient to use a low-code nowadays?

Let’s say we need to build a house. To do this we can start by physically building each brick, or we can use already manufactured bricks and start laying them. The difference between a native approach and a no-code / low-code approach is the same. Platforms such as Bubble, Kodular, Airtable, AppGyver provide quality bricks with which it is possible to build excellent digital products. With the same digital product to be developed, the effort can be substantially halved. Of course, the native approach cannot disappear: for example, we may want to build a round room, and this would be impossible with rectangular bricks. However, most houses can be built with standard bricks, and in these situations, making every single brick is not economically advantageous. If you don’t have large budgets available, or if you want to go on the market to test a business without investing too much, no-code / low-code is the perfect solution. For a startup 90% of the times, it is like this.

Are the no-code / low-code tools usable even by non-experts, or do people still need to be familiar with programming?

Let’s say that a person who is unfamiliar with programming can use these tools, but they can do very little. To build an excellent digital product it is necessary to know the basics of good programming, as well as to know what databases, relationships, APIs etc. are. Low-code tools simply make a programmer’s life easier, but they don’t replace it.

What can be built with Bubble?

Bubble is a tool that allows you to create web applications, with their databases and backends. Its interface offers dozens of elements with an enormous degree of customization, which can be positioned on the pages with extreme ease. Creating a database and managing the backend processes is very simple and takes place using a very high-level language that saves a lot of time. Even at the design level, customization is very pushed, and very complex interfaces can also be created from the UI / UX point of view. It also allows you to expose and call APIs, so it can be easily integrated with any external service. Finally, there is a marketplace where anyone can create and sell plugins of all kinds, as with WordPress. In any case, Bubble allows you to integrate low-level components, such as HTML or Javascript scripts, into your app, effectively making the tool’s potential unlimited.

Bubble low-code rawfish

What are the advantages of Bubble over its main competitors?

Bubble is undoubtedly the most advanced low-code tool to date. It has been on the market for more than 10 years and has currently reached a level of maturity that is unmatched. There is a very large community, which integrates the direct support of the company, and which guides the evolutionary choices of the Bubble team.

Is it possible to create your own plug-ins in Bubble, or is it better to use the ones already existing?

It is possible to create your own plugins, and Bubble provides a dedicated environment. This can also be a profitable business since plugins can be sold at the marketplace. However, the Bubble community is very active, and there are already thousands of free plugins available. The interesting thing is that Bubble itself sometimes decides to integrate the most useful plugins with the standard interface, making it a constantly evolving platform.

Bubble rawfish

Is operating on a shared server an advantage or a disadvantage?

In some ways, it is an advantage, as it allows to significantly reduce costs. The first price bracket on Bubble is $ 29 / month, and it allows you to operate on a shared server. If you don’t have to carry out thousands of operations at the same time, there are no problems. For projects with more demanding needs, it is convenient to switch to the second price bracket, which is 129 $ / month, which allows you to have dedicated servers.

Is it possible to publish your apps in the stores once they have been built with Bubble?

Bubble was born to create web apps, not mobile apps. However, the ease of use has made it very interesting also for some partners, who create web app wrapping services, to transform the web application into a mobile app. These wrappers, such as BDK, allow developers to interact with the main peripherals of the smartphone device and to activate the main native features, such as notifications.

Which users is Bubble specifically aimed at?

Bubble’s target ranges from amateur professionals to agencies. More than a specific target of users, I would say that Bubble is ideal for small and medium-sized projects, which want to start billing without investing too much in native development.

Is there the possibility to customize the elements?

Sure. The possibilities for customization range from the natural customization of the element, which is made available by the platform itself, to customization via HTML or javascript.

Featured pic by Thomas Tastet on Unsplash