We have already discussed the basics of Bubble’s amazing app creator. We also discussed four complex features in the previous part of this 3-part guide, including working with and managing user data; creating localized and multilingual apps; using dynamic data in your apps; and making the app perfectly responsive.
All that is great to build the best app without having to code. But as a top app development company, Bubble also allows users to add more complex features that make the app creator’s life easier.
In this piece, we will look into four such things, namely, APIs, plugins, templates, and integrations. Let us dive right into it!
Fair warning: Programming knowledge is not required to implement these features, but it is also true that technically-inclined users will be more likely to succeed while using these features. The best part? Bubble app creator has a huge documentation resource which allows you to pick up on some critical skills rapidly.
Note that these advanced features can be difficult to set up even for seasoned developers. That is where the vibrant and active community of Bubble comes into the play. You can use the forums or directly ask for support from the API, plugin, or template developer to troubleshoot any problem. If you have any doubt, it is better to first ask around and then tinker around.
Guide to APIs in Bubble app creator
Any app creator worth its salt will have the support for APIs. APIs allow your app to communicate with external data streams and sources, thus extending the functionality of your app. APIs have certainly made the world a smaller place. Bubble is a renowned app development company and they have what it takes to connect a bunch of stuff to your app with minimal effort using APIs.
Bubble app creator allows you to do a lot with APIs.
What are APIs?
APIs or application programming interfaces are like intermediaries. These allow apps to talk to each other. APIs are responsible for requesting bits of information from other apps or even servers and fetching said data to be used in the appropriate way within another app (your app).
An API is a versatile tool. It allows an app creator to directly communicate with other applications, databases, and web services.
For example, if you want to display information from another website in your app, you can use an API to get the data and display it in your app.
Your app requests data > The API delivers the message to the provider > The provider fetches the data and gives it to the API > The API then delivers the remotely fetched data to your app. This data can then be used as you wish.
Using APIs in the Bubble app creator
APIs are programs that allow developers to access data and features from other applications. If you wish to access Facebook’s database of user information, you can use an API to do so. The same is true of Twitter, Instagram, and many other apps that have been built on top of existing platforms.
In Bubble, there are two ways to add an API to your app:
- Logging into a third-party service
- Using our own API gateway
From your dashboard, select “APIs” from the left-hand menu, then click “Add New API.” You will be prompted to select an API Type from a dropdown list of available APIs. Click on the “JSON” option, which provides you with an easy way to read and parse JSON data from third-party services such as Google Maps.
Once you have selected JSON as your API Type, you can add as many endpoints as needed by clicking on “Add Endpoint” and filling out the required fields for each endpoint (as shown below).
Once all of your endpoints are added, click on “Test Endpoint” at the top right corner of your page and enter the required test parameters for each endpoint that you created previously (as shown below).
A good use of an API is adding a map. You can add a map to your app using the Bubble app creator. The map will be linked to your location, and you can create multiple markers on the map for different locations. You can also add directions from one marker to another, as well as directions from your current location to a specific marker.
In order to connect your app to an external service or database, you need to first create a new integration. To do this:
Go to “Settings” > “Integrations” > “New Integration”.
Guide to plugins in Bubble app creator
Plugins also extend the functionality of an app built with the Bubble app development company. However, plugins do it differently from APIs. Both are meant for different use cases. As a powerful no code app creator, Bubble allows you to add countless plugins from its repository of 69 Bubble-built plugins and literally hundreds of community-created plugins in each category.
What are plugins in Bubble app creator?
As a leading app development company currently used by millions of users including developers, Bubble is an extensible platform where the community can add plugins for others to use. The majority of these community-created plugins are well-rated and free. These allow you to do anything imaginable in an app.
The official Bubble-built plugins are all you need for basic functions. These include things like email validation, file storage, progress bars, captchas, localized translations, sidebar menus, payment processors, and connections to top platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google, and more.
The vast community-built plugin directly makes no sense to even talk about here. Anything you can imagine is here. Open Bubble’s plugins page and search for what you need and you shall find a good plugin to do that.
Why and when to use plugins in the Bubble app creator?
Just because you find something you like and want to use does not mean you should get a plugin for it. Have your needs and wants list ready before you begin browsing plugins.
Bubble offers a huge variety of features for creating apps. You can find them all on our website, under the Features section. But how do you use these features in your project? What is the best way to add them to your mobile app?
The answer is – plugins. Plugins are extensions that add new functionality to Bubble and enable you to create more complex and interesting apps. They can be used in three different ways:
- To add some extra functionality to your existing app. If you have created a simple app, but need something more complex or specific, then you can use plugins to extend its functionality with new features like e-commerce, social media integration, etc. You just need to select the desired plugin from our store and configure it in your app builder platform by adding it as an available option during the creation process of each screen of your application.
- To create a separate application from scratch – if you want to build an application from scratch, but do not know how to do it, then you can use plugins as building blocks for creating separate screens which represent separate features of your application (e-commerce cart page, login screen, etc).
When you are building an app, you will eventually want to add some extra features to it. Whether it is a contact form or a payment gateway, the Bubble App Creator has you covered. Plugins are pre-built components that can be plugged into your app and made functional with just a few clicks. They are great for adding complex functionality without writing any code yourself.
As such, it is important to note that you should only use plugins when you are sure your app needs it. There is no reason to unnecessarily bloat your app with plugins that will hardly be used or practical for the end user.
How to add and use plugins in the Bubble app creator?
So, now you have figured out what you need and there is most likely a plugin for that on the Bubble plugin directory. Installing and managing plugins is the next step.
Go the Plugins tab and click on the Add Plugins button in the top. You can sort plugins here. Once you find what you are looking for, install it and click Done.
Configuring the newly installed plugin comes next. A lot of plugins that are based on external services will require you to add some kind of key to authenticate the connection between an account on that service and your plugin on the Bubble app creator. Enter your key from within the Plugins tab.
Guide to templates in Bubble app creator
There are 875 templates on Bubble at the time of writing, and new ones are being added as we speak. With access to hundreds of amazingly well-built templates ready for use, you need to do minimal work to create the best version of your app.
From marketplace templates and startup landing page templates to templates for mobile-first design, login pages, stepped forms, messaging components, job boards, travel apps, directories, analytics, forums, courses, portfolios, music libraries, food delivery, social networks, and so much more – you will find everything here.
As templates allow you to add complex features such as login pages and payment gateways without writing any code, they are an integral part of the whole no code promise of the Bubble app creator.
What does a template really include in the Bubble app creator?
A template is essentially a working version of a page that you can use as a starting point for your own pages. It has already been created and configured with the base information you need to start building out your own content and layout.
Wondering what a template really includes in Bubble app creator? Here is what it can include:
- A single or set of different screens pre-designed for a specific purpose or even a general purpose.
- Pre-designed workflows that maintain the flow of data and logic within the app.
- Modifiable or customizable designs and functions. These are basically configurations or settings meant to personify the template for your particular use.
- Proper grouping, sub-grouping, and naming of the various elements that make up the larger design of the template.
- Responsiveness-specific hacks to make the designs adaptable as per the user’s screen size. Some templates also contain a mobile-specific version while others don’t, and are instead just responsive in the same design.
Templates can be specific designs or:
- Some added functionality, which can be used in different places or accessed from different places.
- Animated screens or modules such as login/signup switcher, social media follow cards, and so on.
- App, website, or web app sections that are pre-designed for a certain purpose such as sliders, carousels, swipeable cards, video backgrounds, full-height cover images, typographic collections, headers, footers, sidebars, menus, and so on.
How to use templates in Bubble?
When you are ready to move on from using templates, there are two ways to do so:
You can delete the template and start from scratch by building out each page manually (which will require more time). Or…
You can convert your template into a custom page which allows you to take advantage of all the power of custom pages (e.g., being able to update content without having to rebuild everything from scratch).
The Bubble app creator is the easiest way to create apps. The app builder offers drag-and-drop templates that you can customize to fit your brand and needs. The process is simple:
- Pick a template from the list.
- Customize the template by adding text, images, buttons, links, and more.
- Publish your app on Apple Store and Google Play Store.
Building apps with the Bubble app creator is a breeze. It is very simple to use, but you can also create complex features via templates if you need to go beyond the basics.
There are three main types of templates:
- Templates for adding text and images
- Templates for adding videos, audio, and social media posts
- Templates for creating tables
Guide to integrations in Bubble app creator
Integrations are third-party services that you can connect to your app in the Bubble app creator. These integrations to third-party services allow you to flesh out your applications and add functionality that is better handled by these external services.
Connecting these external services is a breeze.
What integrations are available on Bubble?
The majority of integrations are done through APIs or plugins. There are three types of integrations on Bubble:
- Features integrations: Airtable, Algolia, Box, Facebook, Figma, Google Maps, Google Optimize, Google Sign-In, Intercom, Mailchimp, Make or Integromat, Mixpanel, OneSignal, Peltarion, Segment, ServiceBot, Slack, Stripe, Twilio, YouTube, Zapier, and Zoom.
- Basic integrations: Amazon, Asana, Basecamp, Buffer, Calendly, Clarifai, Discord, Disqus, Dropbox, Github, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Translate, Gravatar, Heap Analytics, HotJar Analytics, Instagram, LinkedIn, Optimizely, Outlook, PayPal, Pinterest, Plaid, SendGrid, Spotify, Steam, Trello, Twitter, Typeform, Vimeo, Wistia, WordPress, and Yelp.
- Zapier-facilitated integrations: ActiveCampaign, Google Contacts, Google Docs, Quickbooks, Shopify, and SurveyMonkey.
Why use integrations on the Bubble app creator?
Any leading app development company will tell you that only specific and niche applications are useful on their own, while all the other apps require some type of external service to be better. As a leading app development company, Bubble app creator allows you to integrate a bunch of third-party services.
Integrations are a great way to add extra features to your apps, such as connecting them to an e-commerce store or a payment processor. Integrations can also be used to improve the user experience by adding social media buttons or chat windows.
The best part is that integrating any app with Bubble is extremely easy.
Look for the integration you want in the plugins or APIs section. Depending on the integration, it can be in either place. Most likely it will be in the plugins section, if not then try the APIs.
Native integrations are pretty safe and work cross-platform. These are natively supported by all platforms (iOS, Android, and web). These integrations allow you to connect your app with external services like Facebook or Twitter for example. You can also use these integrations to share your content on social media platforms or send push notifications from your website through Bubble.
Some integrations also come with different components. Facebook is a good example. Integrating with Facebook allows you to add the user’s Facebook profile picture, name, and age to your app. You can also add a ‘like’ button for your content to appear on their timeline.
You can also integrate with the following Facebook services separately:
- Facebook Messenger – Send messages to users through Facebook Messenger.
- Facebook Share – Allow users to share their content on Facebook.
Most of the larger ecosystems such as Google or Facebook allow for different types of integrations