Plugin that searches and returns a Thing?

Is there a plugin that simply searches for a Thing or list of Things, and returns it?

Then that Thing or list would be available using the Step X reference in later steps.

What are you trying to do, and why do you need a plug-in for that?

Sometimes I would like to re-use a complex search.

This approach would make that easy.

That’s what custom states are for (or groups/repeating-groups)…

I was imagining something that is inline in the workflow…

…would you say more about your proposal?: “That’s what custom states are for (or groups/repeating-groups)…”

Set a custom state and then refer to that in the rest of the workflow (or set a group or RG’s data source - either as part of the workflow, or before - then refer to that)…

You could also use ‘make changes to a thing (or list of things) …. But you will be charged the WU for making those changes, even if you don’t actually make any changes… so there’s really not much point in doing that.

While what @adamhholmes says is true – we don’t need an inline Action that evaluates some expression and forwards it to a “result” output – it would actually be a nice thing to have.

If the client-side Action plugin API supported returning values to the workflow, such an Action would already exist.

Note that the server-side Action plugin API does support returning values and so I have some SSA plugins in my “List Popper and Friends” plugin collection that do this. But they are for server-side only and should not be used client-side for this purpose (as [1] cold start times are high and [2} WU consumption for this in the client-side is pointless).

But yeah, “workflow variables” would be a nice quality-of-life thing. This isn’t such a huge pain as it used to be (one can dynamically create custom states when doing Set State, which in ye-olden-days was not possible, forcing you to go back to design mode to add a Custom State and then return to your workflow to use it).


one option is to use a custom event. add a parameter that will hold the search, trigger it from the main workflow and reference the parameter anywhere in the custom event.


That’s a good workaround as well, @dorilama! Didn’t occur to me.

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Thank you all for the suggestions!

I have never used States that way…but it seems obvious now. Hah! Thanks again @adamhholmes!

@dorilama Thank you…I had never thought of that way to use a custom event either!

@keith Yes, “workflow variable” is what I had in mind…hopefully near-future plugin enhancements will allow for this!


Yeah… @gaharrington… I was also going to mention… if doing this in a backend workflow then using @keith’s List Popper & Friends Flow State SSA (single or list) actions is definitely the way to go… (as there are no custom states in backend workflows)…

But I understand what you’re getting at - and yeah it would be handy to be able to set variables within a workflow and refer directly to them in subsequent steps in the same workflow (although that is really what custom states are, in a round-about sort of way) - but I guess that’s just not the Bubble way…

And I also use Custom events for this purpose where appropriate (as pointed out by @dorilama)… so, as with so much in Bubble, there are various ways to achieve the same end…

That the client-side Action plugin API doesn’t support the creation of this sort of very simple (but very handy) action may be because that API is a bit naïve, or it could be that returning values to the workflow in the client-side is actually quite difficult in that enforcing synchronous behavior in such a situation is difficult in the current Bubble architecture. (I suspect it’s a bit of both.)

And since this thread is turning into a very complete overview of different types of states and different approaches to “local variables” in Bubble, I will go on to mention that there are various element plugins that are like Custom States that can be used in certain situations. A couple of my own plugins (in addition to the aforementioned server-side action Flow State plugins) that offer custom-state-like functionality:

  • List Shifter: Takes a list and/or scalar (single value) expression and forwards the result(s) to various outputs (the exposed states Original List, Shifted List, and Scalar, as appropriate). Unlike a custom state, you don’t need to perform an explicit “set” action, the values update as soon as they can be evaluated. Additionally, if the expressions are Searches or change for some other reason, these outputs update automatically, without any Actions having to be performed. List Shifter has many other features as well, including a built-in Custom List and Custom Value state that can be used much like Custom States (but that support things like duplicate values). List Shifter is now found in my Floppy commercial plugin collection.
  • Floppy Expression Watcher: Does just what I described for List Shifter, but that’s all that it does and so it is lighter weight. (Also found in Floppy.)
  • Polyhedra: Mostly for generating random values but has a huge number of numeric list and scalar states that can store numbers. It can also do simple list-wise math operations in a single action (without having to create a loop). This is an open source plugin and will remain that way.
  • Floppy: The Floppy element itself has built-in list and scalar states that are like Custom States (Floppy’s RAM List and Floppy’s RAM Scalar) in that they only change when you tell them to via an action. The RAM List state supports duplicate values, empty values, and has a wide variety of actions for manipulating the individual items in the list (e.g., easily change specific item values, move items, etc.) that are not possible in vanilla Bubble.
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