What is Google Firebase and why should you use it?
Google Firebase offers many features that present it as the primary development tool for web and mobile applications. This reduces the workload and the development time. And it’s a perfect prototyping tool. Firebase is simple, light, user-friendly and industry-recognized.
Tired of writing boring code for your backend, or you can’t even write it at all? Try Google Firebase. So what is Google Firebase and why should you build your app around it?
What is Google Firebase?
Founded in 2011 as a chat API and acquired by Google in 2014, Google Firebase is a platform that now offers an active backend as a service (BaaS) for building dynamic web and mobile applications.
Therefore, implementing Firebase means plugging a ready-made backend into your client code to make it dynamic. Ultimately, it eliminates the need to write backend code from scratch and gives you a fully functional one instead.
From a security perspective, it also has explicitly built-in security rules that make it a trusted data and server manager. Plus, you get a protected backend when using these rules.
Why should you use Google Firebase?
This is because Firebase is a less technical and slower alternative to writing full-fledged backend code for dynamic applications.
You can also consider taking advantage of this tool if you eventually want to host and manage your application in the cloud. Being serverless, Firebase eliminates the need to worry about the technical details of cloud server setup.
As a Google Cloud service, it also gives you access to other Google products and features, such as Google Drive and Sheets. For example, you can import dummy data from Google Sheets and use it temporarily to serve your app.
With Firebase, it’s pretty straightforward to log in and use built-in third-party authentication providers including Google, Facebook, Twitter, among others. And if you want to use a predefined authentication user interface, then you have that at your disposal as well.
All of these can save you a significant amount of development costs because you don’t need to pay as much as developing from scratch. Firebase pricing is just as flexible. While there are pay-as-you-go services, you can start with a free plan and use the core features if your app is still at its peak.
Firebase is a good choice if you want to quickly deploy a working product in the cloud. Also, as mentioned, you might want to try it out if you need a backend but don’t have any backend development experience.
Disadvantages of Google Firebase
There is hardly any technology without downsides. So while it’s a quick backend and server management option, Firebase can have some flaws along the way:
- If not properly managed, the cost of maintaining Firebase on a pay-as-you-go service accumulates as reads and writes increase. Thus, maintenance costs may increase at times.
- It is difficult to export the data stored in Firestore to another database. Even if you end up finding a way, it often requires a high level of technicality. Moreover, it can also be quite expensive.
- It may be less platform independent, as it leans more towards Android than iOS.
- The larger the result of the query, the slower and more complicated things become.
How to get started with Google Firebase
You can start using Firebase as soon as you sign up and create a project on the Firebase platform. After that, you will need to register your app with your project. And then install Firebase in the root of your project using the npm wrap:
npm install firebase
This is to start on your local machine, however. You will need to follow a few more instructions as outlined in the Firebase setup documentation to get started. When you add an app to a Firebase project, you get initialization code to get started.
That said, a project in Firebase is cloud based. You can manage multiple applications in a project. But the resources are available on a per project basis.
Firebase offers several functions. But like dev modules, you can still import what you need to get the best performance. Suppose you have created a client side application and want to add authentication and storage functionality. You can retrieve them by calling the relevant Firebase APIs.
5 useful features of Google Firebase
Interestingly, the Firebase platform is multifaceted, offering building tools and APIs around database management, authentication, push notifications, cloud hosting, and more.
Let’s see some of its main features below.
Google Firebase uses dedicated cloud-based NoSQL databases, Firestore, and a real-time database to store information. Like other NoSQL databases, they store information in collections and documents.
Querying for data does not depend on the amount of data stored in the database. Instead, it’s complicated by the number of results the query brings.
One of the great things about Cloud Firestore and Real-Time Database is that they use real-time listeners to update data across all platforms. This way, clients get a snapshot of synchronized data even when the network is down. And when they resume online, customers are automatically updated.
You can also easily host your web application on Firebase. Offering microservices, Firebase allows you to host and deploy your web application quickly with a few commands. When you do this, your application resides on globally distributed content delivery networks (CDNs). This ensures that users can read and write to your application without downtime.
You can add functionality to your app through remote engagement. It is therefore easy to update and evolve your application in real time without any problem.
One of the time-saving features you want to explore in Firebase is its authentication service. When you associate your app with Firebase, you might not need to create a separate login interface. To save time, you can use its built-in login user interface to log users into your app.
And for more flexibility, you can use the Authentication SDK instead. This allows you to log in users using several other available authentication methods.
4. Firebase ML
Firebase ML comes in handy if you have a machine learning project to deploy with your app. Firebase offers machine learning capabilities for training models. Thus, it allows you to integrate custom models into your application and host them in the cloud.
5. Integrated push notifications
Encoding and implementing push notifications can be overwhelming. Firebase’s built-in push notification lets you add personalized, real-time alerting capabilities to your app without writing a separate script from scratch.
Simplify your workload with Firebase
With ease comes so much productivity. As you have seen, you can save a lot of time and eliminate latency with Google Firebase. Although it is actively improving, Firebase already powers many web apps and mobile apps on the internet.
If you have any doubts or are afraid to try it out for a complex project, you might want to start with a smaller project and then scale it up later. Fortunately, you’ll find some handy practices in the documentation to see how this works.
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