You no longer have to be a college student hacking in your dorm room to create a social network. This tutorial will provide a guide for how to create a Facebook clone using Bubble without having to write any code.
Using Bubble and this guide, you'll be able to customize the app however you want. So, unlike using a whitelabel Facebook template, you can build any feature you can dream up. You'll be able to launch this website and help build a community in no time (unicorn status not guaranteed).
Steps to creating a no-code version of Facebook include:
What is Bubble?
Bubble is a no-code tool that empowers our users to design, develop and host fully functional web applications without writing a line of code. Applications built on Bubble can range from simple prototypes to complex marketplaces and platforms, completely replacing the programming languages and frameworks traditionally used for web development. Bubble's powerful point-and-click editor gives users the complete power and ability to design fully customizable applications and workflows, handling the infrastructure, DevOps, and scaling automatically.
To get started, you'll need to register your Bubble account. That's all you'll need to begin – unlike traditional coding, where you need to juggle the frontend, backend, database, hosting server, etc., Bubble is one tool that does it all.
Before starting on this app, we recommend completing Bubble's introductory lessons, which will guide you step-by-step through some of the most common Bubble features. This will help you get a running start on building your Facebook clone.
How do people even begin building their apps?
The short answer is: it comes down to personal preference. Some Bubblers like to start by designing their pages so that they can visualize what the user interactions are like, then move on to hook up their pages to the database and workflows. Other Bubblers like to start by defining their app's database, which influences how they think about page design and workflows. There's no right answer, so try different approaches over time to see what fits best with your style of thinking.
We'll start off by thinking about the main pages that a Facebook clone needs, at a minimum. These will be the primary interface your users see. Whether you want a design with lots of bells and whistles or something as barebones as Craigslist, Bubble allows you to define pixel-perfect webpage layouts.
A major Bubble feature is the ability to send data to a page. This means that you only need to create one generic version of a page that can reflect information about specific users or things from your database. In our case, you only need to create one "profile" page for the generic user and set it up in a way that the page expects to be told about exactly which user's information to display.
To build an MVP, we'll build these pages of the app:
Bubble has abstracted away most of the technical awkwardness in interacting with databases, but a lot of the same core concepts are there. In databases, you have "tables;" in Bubble, you have a table for each "data type." Bubble's data types have fields, represented as columns, just as you'd expect, and you define what type of data a field has, like text, number or yes/no (binary). One difference is with database joins; Bubble simplifies a lot of that by allowing you to define a field type as a data type you have in the app. If this doesn't make sense to you right now, don't worry - it becomes clearer after you see an example.
Note that some users find it easier to start with setting up their data types, which is essentially setting up the database. Every Bubble app comes with a built-in database that you can configure however you need. The choice of SQL or NoSQL, Postgres or MySQL (or any other database acronym) is so 2000s; Bubble simplifies all of this for you.
We want one data type for each type of entity we want in the app. Each of these data types should have fields appropriate to that type of entity. As we continue building the pages, elements on the page will draw upon different fields of different data types.
At its core, our social networking site will have these data types:
These are the bare minimum fields we'd need to get the app working. As we build more features, we would likely add more data types and fields.
Along with the page designer and the built-in database, an equally important core Bubble feature is "workflows." Workflows allow you to define pieces of logic in the form of "When X happens, do actions A, B, C, etc." In reality, "if X, then A, B, C" statements are the basic building blocks for most interesting features in websites - they connect what users see on the page with the database behind the scenes.
Now that we have some pages and the database set up, we’re going to give the website some oomph by connecting them. In Bubble, the main way to do this is with workflows. Each workflow happens when an "event" happens (e.g. a user clicks on a button), and then runs a series of "actions" in response (e.g. "sign the user up," "make a change to the database," etc.)
In order to build a Facebook clone or similar social networking site, you'll need to build the following features; we've included suggestions about relevant workflow actions and additional reference to consult:
Privacy & Security: Now that you have the basics of your app, don't forget to start setting some privacy rules and conditionals to keep your data secure - starting with roles in the 'Privacy' section of your Data tab.
Here are some fun next feature ideas. These are not only features your users will love, but building these will give you more practice with designing pages, structuring the database, and building workflows.
Hiring a developer or dev team to build this app would cost thousands, if not tens-of-thousands of dollars. Well, now you can treat yourself to a vacation because you can build and launch your app in Bubble for free.
As you launch and grow in users, paid plans allow you to host the app on your own custom domain, and these start as low as $25 per month. Some templates and plugins may cost more, but you can build all the functionality for a social networking app without any additional costs.
If you don't want to build your Facebook clone from scratch, you can purchase one of the social network templates made by our community members. Some templates that demonstrate specific kinds of social networks include:
Here are some different uses for a social media site template:
Bubble can help you build a Facebook clone, or a social network with custom features of your choosing! You can build your idea without code.
To get started for free, sign up here!
Connect with other users building a social network on Bubble's Forum.