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Finding data

This section covers how to search for data using constraints
This section takes a long-form look at how searches in Bubble work. To see the the more concise and technical complete list of settings, constraints and operators, you can check out our core reference entry on searches.
Having added and updated data in our database, we'll also need a way search for that data and display it around our app.

Finding data

Whenever you need to find some data in the database, you can perform a search using the Do a search for data source. This lets you set up a dynamic query to the database with specific constraints, and Bubble returns all things of that data type that match the constraints. You can only search for one data type at a time, such as Users.
Let's say you want to search for all users who have the name John. We can set up the Do a search for function like the example below.
Data sources like Do a search for are one of the building blocks in dynamic expressions. To read more about how to work with expressions, check out our dedicated article on the subject: Article: Dynamic expressions
First, we set the Type of content to User and in the Data source dropdown we pick Do a search for:
Then we set up a constraint which instructs Bubble to only return users that have the name John. The result will always be a list, even if it contains just one thing.
In this example we are searching for users named John.
This is the basic way that database queries work: we tell Bubble what kind of data to search for, and then provide one or more constraints that each thing in the returned list needs to match. We can use this logic to find data in all sorts of scenarios:
  • To display the results on a screen
  • As part of a workflow (for example if we want to make changes to one or more things)
  • As part of a conditional expression
In the example above, we used a static value as a constraint: the name John. We can also set this up as a dynamic value. For example, we could change the condition to ask for the value of an input field instead. This would let your users type in a name and search the database for users that match:
In this example we are searching for a dynamic value from an input field called Input search by name. By referring to that value as a search, we can let our users specify what to search for.
Searches performed with the Do a search for data source are synchronised with the database in real-time. This means that any changes happening in the database, even if made by another user, will be immediately visible in your app.

Sorting the results

Sometimes you'll want to sort the result in a specific way, such as showing users in alphabetical order or tasks by their priority or deadline. This can be used to display the records in a list, or it can be used to find a specific record. For example, if you want to load the last user that was created in your database, you can sort the list by creation date and isolate the newest user with the first item or last item operator (depending on the sorting order).
You can set the sort order when you perform a search.
In this screenshot we are sorting users by their name.
In some cases you will be referring to a list that's not loaded from a search, or where for some reason you need to apply the sorting after another operator in the expression. In that case you can use the sorted operator.
In this example we are using another repeating group as the data source and then applying sorting on that list.

The difference between a list and a single thing

Bubble has two ways of handling database records: as single items or as a list. It's important to understand this distinction, because the two are treated differently. For example, when you load data into container elements, a group element will expect a single thing, while a repeating group will expect a list of things.
Whenever you perform a search, the result will be a list – even if it only returns one thing (meaning it's a list with a count of one, but still a list).

Loading a single record from a list

Whenever you set up a data source that returns a list, such as Do a search for, Bubble elements and expression operators that expect a single item will return an error in the issue tracker. In cases like this, you will need to instruct Bubble to load one of the records in the list. You do this by adding another operator in the data source expression:
  • First item will return the first item in the list. What item that will be depends on how the list is sorted. The default sorting is by creation date.
  • Last item will return the last item in the list. What item that will be depends on how the list is sorted. The default sorting is by creation date.
  • Random item will return a pseudorandom item from the list.
  • Item #: will return a single item as specified by its index number in the list. This operator requires you to also define a number, such as Item 5.
By combining search constraints with the first item operator you can often reach the exact thing you were looking for. For example, you could search for users and use the Email field as a constraint. Since emails are unique, you can be sure to find the right record by providing the email address of an existing user. If you then apply the first item to the list of results, you will have turned the list into a single thing.

Turning a single record into a list

Sometimes you'll need to go the other way and turn a single item into a list, even if that list still only contains the one record. To do this, use the Converted to list operator.
In this example we are taking the User loaded into a group called Group User and turning it into a list. The list will still contain just one record, but Bubble will treat it as a last. In the example this makes it a valid data source for a repeating group.

Other data sources

Searching for data in the database with Do a search for is one way of finding data.
Data source
Description
Returns
Do a search for
Searches the database using constraints.
A list of things
Current user
The user currently using the app
One thing
Current page thing
The database record currently loaded onto the page using the Go to page action.
One thing
Get data from page URL
Getting a thing from a URL parameter that contains a unique ID.
One thing
Things's X
Getting a thing from a field saved on another thing, such as Current User's Company
A list or a single item, depending on the field

Other ways to learn

Core reference
Last modified 5mo ago