Bubble, Bubble, ending the developer struggle?

Point-and-click development platforms are the holy grail, but have never lived up to their promise. Can Bubble buck that trend?

web developer laptop code user programmer

For years now, I've been getting pitches from companies that promised to make application development as easy as finger painting. Instead of lines of code that mean very little to anyone other than a few pointy heads, these platforms all take some kind of stab at a drag-and-click, point-and-shoot tool to create web applications.

Sadly, the reality has generally not lived up to the promise, and increasingly that has been the case. It was always difficult to deliver a high-fidelity development platform for the web age, but in this modern, mobile-first environment where the devices we carry include a plethora of different sensors and the best user experience is a result of a deep tie between code and the device, this democratized development idea seems even further from the truth.

Yet another company is keen to have a crack at the problem. Bubble recently came out of beta and had a public launch. The platformwas created by a couple of smart guys out of New York City, Josh Haas, and Emmanuel Straschnov. Bubble has been totally bootstrapped by the founders. 

The core tenet that Bubble wants to articulate is the belief that coding and programming should be two different things; the former being highly structured text that computers can understand it, the latter about understanding the flow of an application. With Bubble, this programming is done visually by dragging and dropping individual elements onto a page.

“By creating a visual language, more people will have the power to become programmers,” says Straschnov. “As for the engineers, we believe they will be held to a new standard, building plugins that can be integrated into Bubble’s visual platform.”

Somewhat cheekily, someone was able to use Bubble to create a Twitter clone in only a few days. Vladimir Leytus, the MBA graduate risking legal action to do so, found Bubble easy to get going with:

“It only took a couple of weeks to become familiar enough with the platform to take the dive and build a Twitter clone,” says Leytus. “I couldn’t believe how simple and fast the process was — anyone can really start building sophisticated apps with control down to the pixel.”


While Bubble looks really cool, I'm not convinced. In a world where a website was a complete entity in and of itself, Bubble might have had a chance, but increasingly a website is simply a presentation layer for an entire series of different data sources and computational elements that sit underneath it. It is also becoming secondary to the most important delivery medium, the mobile site. And in a mobile world, Bubble is unlikely to deliver the sort of fidelity that a truly "programmed" application can.

I'm interested to see how these guys get on, but I wouldn't be placing any bets on their success just yet.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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