Important updates about the beta expression composer

Hi everyone,

I’m Allen and I lead the product team at Bubble. Today, I’m here to talk about the beta expression composer. We will be sunsetting it three weeks from now, on April 10. This decision wasn’t made lightly, so I’d like to share our thought process and what’s on the horizon for Bubble.

The beta expression composer was an ambitious project aimed at refining one of the oldest and most complicated areas of our codebase. We had several goals for this project: to enhance the technical foundation, to improve usability, and to make the feature more intuitive for new users. We reached a point where we felt ready to start a public beta, but we acknowledge that the journey since then has been far from smooth, with more bugs surfacing than we anticipated. We owe you an apology for the frustrations this caused and sincerely appreciate your patience and constructive feedback — thank you to everyone who took the time to submit a bug report.

You might have noticed that over the past few months, we have not addressed bugs in the expression composer. During this pause, we were gathering a comprehensive view of the outstanding issues and, in parallel, thinking about our broader vision of editor modernization. We wanted to take the time to integrate those thoughts into our plans for the expression composer.

Turns out — they influenced our plans a lot! While we haven’t solidified the specifics of the future expression composer (and I might get in trouble with our Design team for sharing too much!), we’re excited about the new direction for the editor. The editor modernization effort is not just a long-term plan, but something already in the works that you’ve started seeing pieces of — e.g., the new elements palette on the design tab, the element styles sub-tab, and, coming soon, the elements tree on the design tab.


The revamped element syles tab — already launched.


A sneak peek of what the new elements tree looks like — coming in a few weeks.

Given that we have a new vision for the future of the expression composer, given that this future is different enough from the beta expression composer, and given that there would still be a ways to go with addressing all the bugs with the beta, we’ve made the tough decision to stop work on the beta expression composer and to sunset the beta. We know that some of you have found value in the new features in the beta expression composer in spite of the bugs. But we don’t want to keep such an unfinished feature out there. Our engineering resources are limited, so we must keep prioritizing the projects that we think will have a bigger impact for our users — such as the overall editor modernization push.

This sunsetting will only affect the beta tooling for creating and editing expressions and will not impact the existing expressions in your apps. In other words, there will be no changes to your app itself. There’s no action required on your end, but if you’ve been actively using the beta expression composer, on April 10, you will no longer have access to the beta and your editor will revert back to the original expression composer. Note that when you’ve turned the expression composer beta off in Settings > Versions, you will see the older experimental feature we have for “Expression parentheses,” which is similar to the parentheses feature in the beta — this older experimental feature will continue to be available.

We understand this may be disappointing, but we’re excited about what’s ahead. Thank you all again for your understanding, support, and engagement with Bubble. We’re eager to continue pushing for the future we all want for the product.

Allen

26 Likes

Tried the beta composer but quickly switched back; it just wasn’t clicking for me. I’m glad to hear that “Expression parentheses” will still be around—it’s incredibly useful! Hoping for ongoing support and upgrades to it’s modularity, but please keep it permanent.

10 Likes

Great idea. Why don’t you push the parentheses to production? We have been using that for a long time and it’s exactly what we want.

Thank you for dropping the beta expression builder. I was worried you guys were going to try to push that to live and cause a bunch of issues. What a relief. :sweat_smile:

10 Likes

The parentheses are super wierd for me since you can’t define explicitly where they go. We don’t use them at all. They definitely need to stay optional.

12 Likes

Or maybe that could be the toggle instead. :man_shrugging: So we have a choice.

Hope they keep the option for you if it doesn’t work the way you need it to.

2 Likes

You can explicitly define where they go. It might not be the best UI/UX, but you definitely can do it.

Expression parentheses are crazy powerful and allow you to do all sorts of things that needed ridiculous workarounds beforehand. Activating them is the first thing i do on any new app.

8 Likes

This was the right call. The beta expression editor was OK (bugs aside) but the whole thing could & should have been wayyyy better. A total rework rather than slight upgrade. After all it is one of the central pillars of bubble.

The only thing I’ll miss is the ability to tweak things at the start or mid way through an existing expression without losing everything that comes after it. :sob:

Also very much looking forward to you guys revamping the workflow editor and the ‘view app data’ layout. :+1:t2::pray:t2::sun_with_face:

3 Likes

Oh man that element tree though! :drooling_face:

Please tell me when I click an element it auto highlights in the tree! Also preserving state or keeping it fully expanded would be a dream!!
:pray::pray::pray::pray:

12 Likes

Elements tree redesign looks cool, great stuff.

Please do confirm though that substantial performance work will be happening for the editor, as that’s just as (and I think is more) important than any design improvements!

3 Likes

@allenyang is there any way to still use parentheses then?

What I did was leave the beta expression composer off most of the time, but occasionally turn it on where I really need parentheses to do calculations and there was no way to set the order of operations correctly otherwise.

1 Like

I just want to say that the beta composer has been very helpful for me. I love being able to edit a mid section of a very long expression without the expressions after it disappear. Adding that being able to insert expressions in the middle of long expressions also helped me so much. On top of that, hovering on a parenthesis to see where the matching opening/closing parenthesis is (much like in any coding editor) is also really nice.

I’m really sad that you’re discontinuing this feature. I do hope that the old composer would still have the benefits I mentioned above.

@allenyang Please keep me in the loop for any test users for improvements in the composer. Would be really happy to give feedback and help! :slight_smile:

8 Likes

You can actually!! Just click the space before or after an existing parenthesis! I’ve been using that to insert expressions midway!

I will definitely miss it, building expressions and adding expressions between was really a big relief :face_exhaling:

4 Likes

I do hope the ability to Shift click in the element tree comes with the next update, I find myself trying to select multiple groups and have to add temporary padding when I have to select multiple.

The beta of the expression editor was a fun time. The ability to do mid-line edits will be missed for sure. Thanks to you and your team for all the work you put into it.

13 Likes

Goodbye new expression composer! Had a tough time the other day with trying to add something at the beginning.

@lois.laput I’m guessing they (hopefully) will have something else for us April 10th so it should be fine.

2 Likes

Used beta expression composer only for parentheses and injecting/changing operators somewhere in the middle of dynamic expression. Just wanna double check - will both things still be possible with old beta feature “Expression parentheses”?

1 Like

If only Bubble gives you an API to manipulate UI elements programmatically. I am sure there would be lots of community-developed IDEs.
Data is already available and workflows as well (partly).

5 Likes

The expression composer is the best tool for us. It saves a lot of work so please keep working on it.

Can you please leave the beta expression composer until you are able to release the new one you’re working on? The original one is such a time waster in my experience.

4 Likes

I hope to see a revamped composer soon. We need this. But the actual beta was far from what Bubblers need and expect. However, I think there’s some other priorities that Bubble need to work on related to WU…

6 Likes