Bubble Glossary

This is a non-exhaustive list of some Bubble terms you may see in the Reference and Manual. Generally this will only feature terms that have Bubble-specific meanings and will not define technical terms used in their normal sense. (If you're reading through the Manual in order like a book, you may want to skip this page and just refer to it as needed.)

Action

  • A step that a Bubble workflow takes, i.e. the different kinds of things that workflows can do
  • Examples include sending an email, logging the user in, showing an element, hiding an element, etc.
  • To learn more, see Building Workflows section

API Connector

  • A feature that lets the app creator set up an API connection an external service to be used in the app
  • Can set up the API calls to be Data Sources or Workflow actions
  • Can be installed via the plugins library (Plugins > Add Plugins)
  • To learn more, see Adding API Connections (which is framed in the context of creating a plugin, but has a similar flow to the API Connector)

API Workflows

  • Workflows that exist at the app level (i.e. not tied to a specific page) which can be triggered by a workflow anywhere in the app or via an API call
  • These are defined in the "API Workflows" page, which shows up in the page selector dropdown in the topnav, once the feature is turned on in Settings > API
  • These can be scheduled to run at a later time (Personal plan and beyond feature)
  • To learn more, see Using the Bubble API section

App Connector

  • A feature that lets you connect two Bubble apps so that they interact with one another more seamlessly (versus connecting the two strictly via APIs as if one was a third party)
  • Can be installed via the plugins library (Plugins > Add Plugins)
  • To learn more, see section in the Reference

Capacity

  • A measure of the computing power (slightly more technical: server resources) available to run an app
  • In practice, a weighted blend of different limited computing resources, including server CPU, database query execution time, AWS Lambda executions, etc.
  • All apps on the main Bubble cluster (i.e. non-dedicated apps) are allocated a limited amount of capacity per unit of time, to prevent one app from consuming too much capacity
  • Users can pay for more capacity as needed, or move to a dedicated instance
  • Capacity usage of a given app can be seen in Logs > Capacity
  • To learn more, see Performance and Scaling

Custom Event

  • A group of workflow actions that can be defined so that other workflows can invoke that group
  • These must be triggered from another workflow, via the "Trigger a custom event" action
  • Useful when you have multiple UI components or workflows that share some logic in common, and saves time by avoiding copy-pasting the same set of actions in multiple places
  • To learn more, see section in the Reference

Data API

  • A feature that lets outside apps access the data in your Bubble app via API calls
  • Allows querying your data as well as creating / updating / deleting data
  • Controlled via authorization and Privacy rules
  • Off by default; controlled in Settings > API
  • To learn more, see Using the Bubble API section

Data Source

  • A statement that reflects some kind of data which powers dynamic statements in elements or workflows
  • A commonly used data source is "Do a search for...", which allows you to construct a query for data from the app's database
  • Wherever you see an "Insert dynamic expression" button, all the choices in the first dropdown are considered data sources
  • Examples include "Do a search for...", "Current user", "Current date / time"
  • To learn more, see Displaying Data

Data Type

  • A collection of Things in the database that share the same fields, which often semantically refers to a cohesive idea an app wants to represent
    • Slightly more technical: a collection of records with the same fields
    • For those familiar with spreadsheets: a data type is kind of like a single sheet in a spreadsheet file
    • More technical: an "object", or for those familiar with relational databases, a table
  • For example, for a project management app, there might be the "Project" and "Task" data types
  • Built-in Data Type: there is only 1 built-in data type which comes with all Bubble apps: User
    • Unlike Custom Data Types, Users 1) cannot be created by the "New Thing" action; 2) have some extra built-in fields like "email" and "is logged in"; and 3) can be extended with additional extra fields via connecting with a social network or oauth provider
  • Custom Data Type: all the other data types of an app, which an app creator creates and defines
    • The app creator determines which fields each Custom Data Type has (i.e. which columns exist on that table)
  • To learn more, see Working with Data > Key Concepts

Debugger

  • A feature that helps an editor the app see what's happening "behind the scenes" while interacting with an app in Run Mode
  • Appears automatically when getting to Run Mode via the "Preview" button in Edit Mode
  • Has the following features which help with debugging an app:
    • Inspect: focuses in on a specific Element on the page to show you its properties
    • Normal / Slow / Step-by-step: runs the workflows on the page at different speeds so that you can see what goes on at each action of the workflow
    • Errors: a log of errors and warnings that the app triggers as it's running
  • To learn more, see Using the Debugger

Dynamic Expression

  • A statement that isn't the literal text that shows up to the end-user, but which represents a calculation or query that the app does
  • Data sources are all dynamic expressions
  • For elements which show text, the text can be 'calculated' via a dynamic expression (and can even be a mix of static content with dynamic expression(s))
  • To learn more, see Building Dynamic Expressions

Editor

Element

  • The basic building block of what a Bubble website looks like
  • Everything visible on a Bubble page is an element
  • They are generally self-contained pieces of content that a user can see and potentially interact with
  • Examples include "Text", "Button", "Image", etc.; they are found on the left side in the Design tab
  • To learn more, see Building a User Interface and the section in the Reference

Event

  • Something that happens that starts a workflow
  • Examples include a user action (e.g. clicking on an element), certain data changing, some amount of time elapses, "User is logged in", etc.
  • To learn more, see Building Workflows section

Field Type

  • What type of information is stored in a field of a Data Type
  • There is a built-in set of Field Types that all Bubble apps have, including numbers, text, geographic addresses, etc.
  • A field can have a data type as its type - for example, in a classroom management app, for a given class, the Teacher can have "User" as the field type
  • Fields can also be "a list of" a given type - for example, in the classroom management app, for a given class, the Students can have "list of Users" as the field type
  • To learn more, see Working with Data > Key Concepts

Modes

  • Edit Mode - the state of your app when you are editing it on bubble.io
  • Run Mode - the state of your app when your end-users are visiting your app (you can get from Edit Mode to Run Mode by clicking on the "Preview" button in the editor)
  • To learn more, see Testing an Application

Modifier (formerly known as "Message")

  • A transformation that can be applied to data in a dynamic expression
  • These can be chained together to perform a computation
  • For example, in the dynamic expression "Current User's email:number of characters > 5", the following are all modifiers: "email", "number of characters", ">5"
  • When building a dynamic expression, the modifiers available at any point depends on the dynamic expression as written thus far; for example, the ":number of characters" modifier makes sense when attached to some text, but not when attached to a number
  • To learn more, see Building Dynamic Expressions

Privacy

  • A feature in Bubble that restricts who can see the Things of a Data Type based on rules the app creator defines
  • Independently defined for each Data Type in an app's database
  • Handled by creating Privacy Roles that each define a group of users or Things the role applies to and what that role can / can't see
  • To learn more, see Privacy & Security

Property Editor

  • The part of the Design tab that appears when you double-click on an element, where you control the properties of that element
  • Can be made to always be visible by toggling Grid & Borders > Lock Property Editor
  • To learn more, see Building a User Interface

Run as

  • A feature found in Edit Mode (via Data > App Data > "All Users" table) that allows an app editor to run the app (i.e. in Run Mode) as if they were logged in as a specific user
  • To learn more, see section in the Reference

Style

  • A set of properties about the look-and-feel of an element that can be reused on other elements of the same type (e.g. Styles A and B can apply to any buttons in your app, Style C can apply to any text elements in your app, etc.)
  • These are edited via the Styles tab, and can be applied to a particular element via the Property Editor
  • New Bubble apps come with a default set of Styles., i.e. a default Theme (see Theme)
  • Styles help with consistency in the look-and-feel of an app, and if you have a large app, using Styles instead of applying custom individualized look-and-feel properties to each item could result in a performance improvement
  • To learn more, see Using Styles

Template

  • A pre-built app that you can use as a starting point for creating your own app
  • Can only be used when starting a brand new app, i.e. cannot be applied retroactively
  • Usually includes a combination of pages, elements, styles, workflows, etc.
  • Bubble has a template gallery here with templates from (third party) community members

Theme

  • A default set of Styles that come with a new Bubble app, which provides some Styles for all native Bubble elements
  • There are currently 8 Themes to choose from, the default being the "Standard Bubble Theme"
  • You can choose a Theme for your app as part of the New Application Assistant flow when first creating that app, or you can apply a Theme to an existing app by going to Styles > Apply theme
  • To learn more, see Using Styles

Thing

  • A single instance of a Data Type
  • Corresponds to a row (record) in the database (or: it's like a row in a spreadsheet)
  • Bubble generally uses the term "Thing" when it wants the user to provide a Thing but it doesn't yet know which specific data type it is yet
  • To learn more, see Working with Data > Key Concepts

Workflow

  • Logic that a Bubble app runs, defined as what the app does (actions) when something happens (the event)
  • Workflows either belong to a specific page (and thus only run when a user is on that page) or is an API Workflow that can be run anywhere in the app or with an API call
  • To learn more, see Building Workflows section

Workflow API

  • A feature that allows other apps to run workflows (specifically, API workflows) in your Bubble app
  • (Very closely tied to API Workflows, see above)
  • Off by default; controlled in Settings > API
  • To learn more, see Using the Bubble API section

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