Bubble.io is one of the most popular low code development platforms for publishing web applications. It is a low-code platform utilizing a drag and drop user interface that enables citizen developers to quickly create and publish their own Software as a Service (Saas) applications.
For a long time Bubble.io was one of the only platforms in the space that allowed people to create web first applications. Many competitors were focused on the creation of mobile apps, or saddled by pay per user pricing models that limited the ability to cost effectively publish solutions for the public.
What are the pros and Cons of Bubble.Io?
To best understand the alternatives in the low-code SaaS space, it’s important to look at what Bubble does, and what it does not do well.
Benefits of using Bubble
- Wide range of back-end plugins for companies to create internal tools.
- Pricing structure is friendly for deploying to a large number of users.
- Easily scalable pricing model that increases with your usage.
- An available free plan to learn the platform.
Drawbacks of using Bubble
- Steep learning curve for a low-code platform
- Building an application front-end can be overly complex.
- Some coding knowledge is required to get back-end plugins to work.
- No native support for web and mobile application development.
- Not frequently updated with new features
Even with these limitations and pain points, Bubble has been used by many developers to create their own public facing or internal software solutions. It has been at the forefront of the space since it was launched over 10 years ago. It’s still worth exploring even with newer more modern solutions available. Click here to learn more about pricing and Bubble’s supported features.
Bubble.IO Competitors and Alternatives
While Bubble is a great solution there are many competitors in the space. Bubble competitors can be lumped into three different categories.
- Low-Code App Builders for Software as a Services (SAAS)
- Low Code App Builders for Business
- Low-Code Webpage Builders
Each of these categories brings their own set of benefits, and challenges. The pricing models can vary greatly between providers and the category that they fall into.
Bubble.IO Competitors to Build a SAAS
If you want to build your own piece of software that can be published to the Google Play Store, Apple App Store, and Publish to a Website these are the app builders you should look at. They offer a lot of pre-built connections that make setting up the back-end easy so you can quickly deploy a polished product and begin making money.
Flutter Flow is a Full Featured Alternative to Bubble
Flutter Flow is a low-code platform that allows developers to create web and mobile apps with ease. It offers a visual interface that simplifies the process of designing and building apps, making it an ideal solution for both novice and experienced developers.
Flutter Flow includes pre-built UI components and templates that can be customized to fit specific project needs. The platform offers built-in integrations with popular third-party tools like Stripe, Firebase, and Zapier, making it easy to connect to external services without writing any code. If coding is required, developers can leverage Google’s Dart programming language which is fast, efficient, and easy to learn.
Pricing starts with a free tier and moves up to a paid $70 per team member which includes many features if you’re working with a multi-person development team.
Softr.Io an Alternative to Bubble for Fast Development
While not as full featured as Flutter Flow, Softr.io simplifies the app development process by giving you fewer options. Rather than connecting to a cloud database, or a formal backend applications are based on Airtable or Google Sheets.
There are pre-made sections for websites to setup common tasks like signing in, creating a user profile, and payment process through popular services like Strimp, Paypal or Buy Me a Coffee.
The interface is easy to use, while still allowing users to connect to Custom APIs and integrate many of the most popular cloud services available to run a SAAS.
Softr Pricing: Softr Offers a Free Tier to try the service, and reasonable monthly pricing to help you scale your SAAS offering starting at $49 per month for 1,000 external users and can scale up to a custom enterprise level tier for high volume applications.
WeWeb is an Alternative to Bubble for Quick Front-Ends
The level of features offered in WeWeb is similar to FlutterFlow except they do not have a built in back-end like Firebase. Instead, they rely on making it easy for app builders to connect to their own backend.
They offer a handful of starter templates, and some training resources to get you started. A screenshot below is from their real estate app building template.
WeWeb easily integrates with Xano and other services for back-end deployment.
WeWeb Pricing: WeWeb offers a free tier to start, a starter pack at $59 per month that includes 50,000 monthly page views and can scale up to enterprise level volume with custom pricing.
Xano for an Easy Flexible Back-end
If you don’t want the hassle of creating your own API connections, Xano makes it easy with their no-code API builder. The great thing about Xano is that it lets you be platform agnostic and helps you think about setting up a back-end that is flexible and scalable from day one without having to hire a back-end programmer to set things up.
Xano Pricing: Xano starts with a free tier, then goes up to $59 for a fuller featured paid tier and also inludes the ability to scale to enterprise levels.
Low Code App Development for Business
Businesses have had many great low-code application development platforms available to them for several years. The biggest difference with these platforms is that they are mostly structured around charging business per user per month. The fees can get very steep very quick, and are usually tied to being deployed only within your Domain or Active Directory Group making them unsuitable for a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution or for selling an application as a product.
They’re still worth checking out though, because they have many capabilities built in like Single Sign on, and integration with popular business services like One Drive, or SharePoint.
We cover our favorite low-code for business platforms in depth here:
Bubble vs Website Builders
Bubble is generally going to be harder to use than any of the mainstream website builders. It really comes down to how much functionality you need and how many services you need to integrate into your app solution. If you really only need a front end and a couple of web forms, a website builder could be a better fit for your needs.
Website builders are often used in conjunction with low code application development for things like splash pages, FAQs, and introduction websites because they’re easier to create great looking webpages for marketing and most SEO, and marketing professionals will be familiar with the tools.
Webflow vs Bubble.IO
A website builder such as Webflow has a much better front end design interface. Webflow makes it very easy to create beautiful looking webpages, with dynamic layouts. Pages load fast and the platform is used by thousands of professional web designers and developers for some of the biggest companies in the world.
As an app development platform Bubble has a lot more functionality built in through the available plugins. With Webflow you would need to manage the backend yourself and setup connections through API’s. Bubble makes this part relatively easy, but setting up front end can be a pain.
WordPress vs Bubble.IO
WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder. It’s free, and easily extensible. Like Webflow it is easy to build out a front end but could be more challenging to setup connections to other services. WordPress has the added benefit of being so widely used that there are many low-cost add-ons that can do integrations for you. It’s also highly documented and will be easy for you to find answers to common issues.
Bubble IO Plugins are the Differentiator Compared to Web Builders
In addition to the elements available when first launching Bubble IO App Builder, you can add in a lot of plugins. Some are free to use plugins, others have fees attached to them. The pre-built elements make many complicated tasks much easier than trying to put something together from scratch.
For example, Single Sign On (SSO) is a must have feature for enterprises, while plugins allow you to easily connect your application to many commonly used business services.
An extremely cool feature is the ability to embed Single Sign On and SSO directly into your application. You can set things up to allow users to log in with Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook accounts and many others.
What Training Resources are there for Bubble IO Apps?
A common complaint with Bubble is that it’s difficult to learn, and the training resources are not very good. These are some of the resources that we’ve found to help you overcome the initial challenges of learning the platform if you’re not interested in a Bubble Alternative.
Bubble provides a number of resources to help people learn how to use the platform. They offer various training and learning options such as Bootcamps and the free Bubble Academy or you can seek out community support through Bubble Forums.
You will find much more comprehensive training through third party training courses, such as Udemy
Udemy Training Courses for Bubble
If you want to develop an app using Bubble, we highly recommend taking an online course through Udemy. Courses are highly affordable, and are often split into many sections so after you’ve completed the course, you can use them as a trusted reference guide.
Some of the courses are targeted at creating app clones, such as creating your own version of LinkedIn, Uber Eats, Yelp, WhatsApp or the AirBnb app. These courses can be more valuable than the templates available on the Bubble platform, as they explain the techniques needed to create your own application.
Where to Hire a Low Code App Developer?
Both platforms make it easy to hire freelance programmers. Fiverr tends to be less expensive than WeWork, while WeWork has more domestic programmers that are highly skilled. However, both platforms do provide access to quality programmers to help you with your project.
Hiring a Low-Code Developer for a Proof of Concept
A couple of approaches you may consider are hiring a low-code programmer to build out a proof of concept application. They could help you setup the back end, and you could refine the app yourself after the core infrastructure is established.
You may also want to look at hiring a UX designer to help you layout the front end of your application. Very few programmers and app builders have the experience required to both setup and connect a back-end, and design a beautiful front end interface for your customers or business users to interact with.
Where can you see more examples of apps built with Bubble IO?
The Bubble Showcase highlights many of the pages and applications built using their platform. It’s a great place to get ideas of what your next app could look like and to get a feel for what is possible on the platform.
How Much Does Bubble IO Cost?
Pricing is one of the best features of Bubble IO. You can learn on the platform for free and add additional features for a monthly price based on the features you need and how many compute resources are needed.
- Personal $25 Per Month Custom Domain, API Access, Email Support
- Professional $115 Per Month 3 units of server capacity, 2 app editors
- Production $475 Per Month 10 units of server capacity, 15 app editors
Depending on your use case, the ability to get away from per user per month licensing at such a low cost is huge. Many major application development platforms make it difficult to deploy apps to a wide audience without incurring significant monthly licensing fees.
What are Bubble IO Server Capacity Units?
According to Bubble, mileage may vary. Their site does not provide a user/workflow conversion and points out that the amount of compute resources needed can vary greatly from one app to another. This is fair, obviously a simple web form will not use as much computer power as a more complex app.
Is Bubble IO Good for Mobile Application Development?
No, Bubble.io does not support mobile application development. It is a web first platform. Though you may be able to use a bubble app on a phone while loading it as a website.