"Type of content" and "Data Source" really basic explanation required

The one thing I’m finding quite tricky with Bubble is getting my head round what exactly Type of Content and Data Source mean. Can anyone explain how they work and how to use them firstly, as though I’m the thickest person you ever met and, secondly, without using the word “thing” which I find too generic and confusing.
I’ve read the manual and seen endless YouTubes and I sort of have a rough idea of both these terms but whenever I’m building something I always end up with unexpected options in the expression builder or, more often than not, the part of the database I’m expecting to connect the element to simply doesn’t appear so I end up basically just trying options until the string goes blue and then test it to see if it works.
I’ve been reading the manual word by word and trying to phrase it into ways that I understand but I think my brain has fused.
If anyone has a simple way of explaining how to view these two concepts (Type of Content and Data Source) and how they work with eachother and within Bubble, I think that would help me a lot as it just won’t click in my head.

Many thanks in advance.


Hi Joe,

I’ll try to help. I had trouble with this when I started using Bubble too. Specifically the Data Source.

Thing, Data Source, and Type of Content are all related.

First, a Thing is just something in your Database; it’s just type of data. (e.g., a User, a Book, an Order; whatever data types you have defined in your database)

The Data Source says where your app should look for the data. You can store data in different places, and Data Source is how you specify where to look and how to look for it. The where could be your Database (e.g., by doing a Search For), or it could be the data from the parent group, or it could be data stored in an element’s custom state. And the how you find it could be that you do a Search, or you might use data from the Current User, or you might get data from an API call, etc. By combining where to look and how to look, you tell Bubble how to fetch data.

Type of Content specifies what kind of data you want to retrieve from your Data Source. So if you have a repeating group, in which you want to list all Users, your Type of Content would be User, and your Data Source would probably be “Do a Search For” Users. Type of Content can also be non-database objects (i.e., Non-Things) too. It can be a Text, Number, File, etc. Any of the basic Data Types that Bubble provides.

To get your head around the concepts, I’d recommend creating a new custom data type, manually add 4 or 5 elements, and then try to display them in a repeating group. That might help you grok the relationship between Thing, Data Source, and Type of Content.

Let me know if this helps!


A thing is like a data table in my head

Each thing is it’s own table/sheet

So data sources is where the content comes from or which thing/table the data comes from

Setting the type of content is a way to help match up data types between data source and end element. So if you have a image in the dB, bubble won’t let you set an elements input that wants a number if it’s “type of content” is text for example.


If you set a groups type to a “things” name
And you set the data source to the same “thing
You can display data in a group via workflows or searches. When you access the data in this manner you’re given access to a whole row of data.

Yes, this helps immensely. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain this to me. I come from an MS Access background (used to train it back in the day) but I just couldn’t tally up the terms in Bubble with those I was used to back then.
I had tried to play around with these settings but not in a repeating group - just a group on a page and it didn’t make a whole lot of difference so I’ll certainly give it a go in a repeating group.
I really like this learning curve - thank you so much for helping to keep me on it!
All the best

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Thank you ever so much. This does really help me along with the response above. I’m going to have a thorough look at both of these in full tomorrow based on this new (to me!) information because once I’ve got it sorted, then I think/hope Bubble will be cracked open for me - thank you for supplying a hammer!
Very best wishes.

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I couldn’t agree with you more Joe! …this whole area is a complete road block for me.

It’s very frustrating that seemingly the most crucial aspect of building on Bubble is the most difficult to comprehend and, in my opinion, with the exception of getting very generous help on this forum, is inadequately explained.


Hi Martin

This has certainly been an issue for a while now and you (and I) are not alone. I used to work in technology education and lack of explanation as a product grows is a widespread issue.
Happily though, a YouTube came across my screen this morning informing me that Bubble has recently raised $100m which is going to be invested in more engineers AND making the learning curve less steep for the likes of us in the future. It’s a big boost for confidence in the platform and I can’t wait to have more of the product unravelled. I wasn’t able to watch it all so don’t know when this might be but hang on in there, your prayers could be answered!
All the best

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Thanks Joe

Yes, I heard that news recently too. Fingers crossed that things become easier to learn!

Best wishes

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