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Monthly Community Update -- January 2021

Hi all,

Happy New Year everyone!!!

2020 was quite a year in a lot of ways. For all the hard times and struggles, though, it was also an incredible year for the no-code movement. We made a video retrospective on the year to take a moment to reflect on everything that’s happened and all the progress we’ve made!

Looking forward to 2021, we’re hoping to see the payoff for a lot of the investments we’ve made in building the team and working on our technical infrastructure. The last few months have felt very much like work-in-progress, and with a lot of the team taking vacations this week and last week, we don’t have too many December updates, but there’s a lot of very exciting things on the horizon. We’re starting the year with two new engineers joining on Jan 4, and we’re expecting a lot of our longer-running projects to have tangible payoffs for the community in Q1.

So, with all that said, here’s the update! (And the link to last month’s in case you missed it).

Changes we made this month

First, a huge shoutout to our first cohort of Immerse participants! We wrapped up the program with a fantastic demo day. A special congratulations to all the finalists and to the winner, Maryssa, for her app TravelTrunk. We’re now accepting applications for the next cohort starting this month!

Other things we released:

  • We added some more quick tips videos and two new tutorials: an introduction to the debugger, and a tutorial on setting up your own custom font. You can see all our videos here!

  • We added a small but very useful new feature for taking a list of things, and formatting it as text

  • We released a new breaking change to clean up the way we decode values stored in urls

  • We almost released a performance improvement to workflows that should make a big difference: we rolled it out, but had to roll it back because we missed a way it could change the behavior of applications. The good news is we’ve found a fix to the problem, and are just waiting til after the holidays to roll it back out again.

  • We just closed the no-code census (more than 700 responses) and will share results this month. Thank you everyone for your responses and for your help spreading the link. This should give us interesting insights in the no-code community at large.

  • We’ve continued our App of the Day series with 10 new posts!

Finally, on the team front, this was an exciting month. Bobby joined us as a designer, and Nick joined the team as a product manager. We also welcomed a new engineering intern, Hannah, who will be with us for the next month or so!

This month in numbers

  • Total number of conversations via bug reports or [email protected]: 5,378 (up 23.4%)

  • Total received messages: 8,256 (up 13.3%)

  • Average response time to messages: (2h 49m during business hours, down 10.7%)

  • Time to resolve bug reports escalated to the engineering team: for bugs resolved in the last 30 days, it took on average 3.4 days for engineers to investigate and deploy a fix or find a workaround for the customer (down from 12.6)

Things on our minds

On the reliability front, there isn’t much to say this month: our major reliability projects moved forward, but none of them hit major milestones, and the overall reliability of the system was about the same as last month (one bad release we had to roll back, and a couple of minor incidents). I’m including this paragraph mainly as a bookmark to say that we’re still keeping an eye on this and consider it an imperative to continue to make Bubble a more stable platform and to get key features like version control working the way we’d like to.

On a more exciting note, we’ve finished the prototyping and planning stages of our responsive design engine, and are ready to start work on it in earnest this month! The direction we picked for our first release is to stay with something fairly close to the status quo: we still plan to let you freely draw elements wherever you want on the page, and then have a separate responsive view that lets you adjust how those elements expand and shrink at different page widths. The huge difference, though, is that we’re going to switch out the underlying layout implementation to use a pure CSS solution (Flexbox for general layout, and potentially Grid for specialized use-cases such as repeating groups). This should result in much better performance when rendering and resizing a page, both in the editor and while running the app. It should also make it a thousand times easier to add new layout options: today, if we want to add a new responsive feature, we have to adjust an extremely complicated algorithm, but after this release, as long as the layout is supported by CSS, it’s just a matter of exposing the proper controls. We also plan to make a ton of improvements to the responsive view to make it easier to see exactly how things will stretch and shrink, including overhauling the way we control margins (no more “left, center, right”).

We were contemplating making more radical changes to the editor, and had asked several members of the community to test a prototype that was exploring one of those directions, but we decided to stick with something closer to the status quo for a couple reasons. The first, most important one, is that whatever we ended up building, switching to a CSS-based rendering algorithm was going to be on the list, and we think that if we later make more ambitious changes to the responsive tab, releasing the project described above won’t be wasted work for the most part. We’d have to make the algorithm transition anyway, which is a big project in itself, and will likely involve a one-time breaking change, where you opt-in either your entire app, or pages in your app (exact details TBD), to the new algorithm, and then make some tweaks and adjustments to ensure it still looks good. In general, it’s a good maxim for software development to ship a feature as soon as you have something valuable that’s worth shipping, rather than holding out for a big release all at once (a principle we’ve violated in the way we’ve approached the editor redesign that we’re working on, to our chagrin). So this release marks a good first shipping point. The second reason is that we’re not convinced that a more structured layout approach would be a net win: a lot of users appreciate the freedom to very quickly get something out that looks mostly right using our free layout option. Adjusting it afterwards to get the correct responsive behavior is a lot of work today, but we think that if the performance of the responsive view was radically increased, and if some of the less intuitive controls were replaced by ones that are easier to work with, it might end up being good enough that there wouldn’t be a need for something more radical. So we’d like to make the algorithm switchover, make improvements to the editor, and then step back and assess again to see where things are at.

What we’re currently working on

Updates on our ongoing initiatives:

  • Our coaching marketplace to connect Bubble users with Bubble coaches is ready to go live in beta next week! If you want to be listed as a coach for the beta release, please reach out to [email protected].

  • We continue to be excited about our bootcamp program, and are looking into specialized bootcamps for specific audiences, in particular a bootcamp geared at people interested in becoming Bubble freelancers. We keep hearing from agencies that there’s a shortage of qualified Bubblers relative to all the customer requests, so it’s a great employment opportunity, and we’d like to help train up as many Bubblers as possible!

  • Our responsive overhaul continues: see the above section for more details.

  • We’re making slow-but-steady progress on merging the Bubble reference into the manual.

  • We’re building a CRM (using Bubble, of course) to help our success team create ongoing context about users and their apps.

  • Moving more of our asset-building to the new system: this is still ongoing. We were hoping to wrap up by end-of-year, but it’s looking like it will push into mid-January.

  • Moving apps between different databases is now working in production, and we’re in the process of redistributing them to have a more balanced, better performing workload! Right now the transfer process is a little slow, so we’re going to do a bit more work to speed it up.

  • Splitting the main cluster into two release tiers, Immediate and Scheduled, missed our goal of getting it ready for release this month. We think we’re close, but there’s a few loose ends to wrap up: it’s a project we need to do extremely carefully, so we don’t want to rush the release.

  • Our Zapier plugin is still waiting on Zapier for approval: a couple more things came up in their review process that took a little time to work through.

  • The complete redesign of our editor entered QA! We had a bunch of team members bang on it, and came up with a long list of bugs and improvements, which we’re now working through. Still looking on track to get actual users using it as their primary editor by the end of the quarter.

  • Hiring: we are actively looking for roles across all aspects of the business!

The whole team sends our best wishes to everyone for a safe, happy, and fruitful 2021! Thanks again,

Josh and Emmanuel

42 Likes

Now this is a biggie :slight_smile:

13 Likes

Can’t wait to see the new responsive algorithm in action, this is really exciting and such a game changer ! :wink:

2 Likes

Why don’t you address the performance issues.

Keep up the good work. Extremely happy you decided to keep the free layout for the design engine.

@alexreed92 I think they are still working on performance. Looks like they tried to roll it out this month but had some issues. It looks promising. :blush: I have seen many performance updates over the last few years. Keep it up @Bubble! :clap:

Looking forward to seeing where this goes! :blush:

Glad about the free layout too! Good decision. :blush:

@j805 www.NoCodeMinute.com

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2 Likes

@J805 I like that you found subtle and effective way of promoting what you do

Is it somehow an automatic addition to each of your posts?

4 Likes

Thanks for the update, Josh!]

I think the CRM for the Bubble Success Team will be huge to get quicker response time as it provides more context for them!

Can’t wait for this! It will be huge to prevent any major app breaks :blush:

:eyes:

Thanks Josh for the update.

I am so glad that the blank canvas approach will continue!

Thanks for this! Very exciting updates coming down the pike this year

Quick question on the responsive rendering: Will the new implementation allow a video to keep playing if the browser changes width? This was one of the big challenges I ran into in the past and caused me to abandon a project I was working on. Thanks for any info!

3 Likes

Thank you for the update. Looks like there are many good things in development.

Can the community do more to help test new features? Maybe this exists already, but I would think there could be an easy way to copy over a whole mix of different kinds of apps to a test server and run all kinds of tests on new features before they are released in the wild. I’m sure the Bubble team has some way to do tests currently, but to my knowledge it doesn’t involve crowd sourcing this back to the community.

I would think the key would be testing with a full variety of different apps across the wide range of implementation styles that Bubble provides for, which of course presents some challenges in determining a representative sample.

I thought it already supports it, including the full-screen mode:
//s3.amazonaws.com/appforest_uf/f1609689501775x398515739937921100/responsive_video_001.mp4

Preview:

3 Likes

Hey smokes you are correct! @josh you can disregard my question :slight_smile:

3 Likes

Yay, flex box… Thanks for the update @josh and team

1 Like

Hey @josh , @emmanuel and team.

From what we can infer by this update, this seems to be the most bubbly way to go. Expose traditional webdev paradigms through a visual and abstracted layer.
Today’s responsive “proposition” (engine + editor) is by far the most unappealing part of the platform. For a basic feature as responsive is today for webapps, it’s hard to get, and hard to seek advice.
Moving slowly away from this proprietary engine to a more standardized option is the way to go. congrats !! Can’t wait to test :slight_smile:

1 Like

Responsive design engine re-haul, flexbox, CSS grid? Sign me up!
Great stuff Bubble Team! I’m excited to test it as well. 2021 here we come…

Amazing news, and I wish the best for .bubble in 2021 :star_struck:… Im Happy for being part and be able to use all the tools to create the best and imaginative projects.

3 Likes