Firebase – Introduction
Firebase is a product of Google which helps developers to build, manage, and grow their apps easily. It helps developers to build their apps faster and in a more secure way. No programming is required on the firebase side which makes it easy to use its features more efficiently. It provides services to android, ios, web, and unity. It provides cloud storage. It uses NoSQL for the database for the storage of data.
Brief History of Firebase:
Firebase initially was an online chat service provider to various websites through API and ran with the name Envolve. It got popular as developers used it to exchange application data like a game state in real time across their users more than the chats. This resulted in the separation of the Envolve architecture and it’s chat system. The Envolve architecture was further evolved by it’s founders James Tamplin and Andrew Lee,to what modern day Firebase is in the year 2012.
Features of Firebase:
Mainly there are 3 categories in which firebase provides its services.
Build better applications
This feature mainly includes backend services that help developers to build and manage their applications in a better way. Services included under this feature are :
- Realtime Database: The Firebase Realtime Database is a cloud-based NoSQL database that manages your data at the blazing speed of milliseconds. In simplest term, it can be considered as a big JSON file.
- Cloud Firestore: The cloud Firestore is a NoSQL document database that provides services like store, sync, and query through the application on a global scale. It stores data in the form of objects also known as Documents. It has a key-value pair and can store all kinds of data like, strings, binary data, and even JSON trees.
- Authentication: Firebase Authentication service provides easy to use UI libraries and SDKs to authenticate users to your app. It reduces the manpower and effort required to develop and maintain the user authentication service. It even handles tasks like merging accounts, which if done manually can be hectic.
- Remote Config: The remote configuration service helps in publishing updates to the user immediately. The changes can range from changing components of the UI to changing the behavior of the applications. These are often used while publishing seasonal offers and contents to the application that has a limited life.
- Hosting: Firebase provides hosting of applications with speed and security. It can be used to host Stati or Dynamic websites and microservices. It has the capability of hosting an application with a single command.
- Firebase Cloud Messaging(FCM): The FCM service provides a connection between the server and the application end users, which can be used to receive and send messages and notifications. These connections are reliable and battery-efficient.
Improve app quality:
Here majorly all the application performance and testing features are provided. All the features required to check and manage before launching your application officially are provided in this section. Services included are:
- Crashlytics: It is used to get real-time crash reports. These reports can further be used to improve the quality of the application. The most interesting part of this service is that it gives a detailed description of the crash which is easier to analyze for the developers.
- Performance monitoring: This service gives an insight to the performance characteristics of the applications. The performance monitoring SDK can be used to receive performance data from the application, review them, and make changes to the application accordingly through the Firebase console.
- Test lab: This service helps to test your applications on real and virtual devices provided by Google which are hosted on the Google Datacenters. It is a cloud-based app-testing infrastructure which supports testing the application on a wide variety of devices and device configurations
- App Distribution:This service is used to pre-release applications that can be tested by trusted testers. It comes in handy as decreases the time required to receive feedback from the testers.
Grow your app:
This feature provides your application analytics and features that can help you to interact with your user and make predictions that help you to grow your app. Services provided are:
- Google analytics: It is a Free app measurement service provided by Google that provides insight on app usage and user engagement. It serves unlimited reporting for up to 500 distinct automatic or user-defined events using the Firebase SDK.
- Predictions: Firebase Predictions uses machine learning to the application’s analytics data, further creating dynamic user segments that are based on your user’s behavior. These are automatically available to use for the application through Firebase Remote Config, the Notifications composer, Firebase In-App Messaging, and A/B Testing.
- Dynamic Links: Deeps Links are links that directly redirects user to specific content. Firebase provides a Dynamic linking service that converts deep links into dynamic links which can directly take the user to a specified content inside the application. Dynamic links are used for converting web users to Native app users. It also increases the conversion of user-to-user sharing. In addition, it can also be used to integrate social media networks, emails, and SMS to increase user engagement inside the application.
- A/B Testing: It is used to optimize the application’s experience by making it run smoothly, scaling the product, and performing marketing experiments.
Pros and Cons of Using Firebase:
Below listed are the advantages and disadvantages of using a Firebase backend:
- Free plans for beginners.
- Real-time database is available.
- Growing Community.
- Numerous services are available.
- It uses NoSQL so, people migrating from SQL might feel difficulty.
- It is still growing so, it is not tested to an extent.
Companies using Firebase
Below are some reputable organizations that rely on a firebase backend for its functioning:
- The New York Times
There are 2 plans available. Spark plan is initially free but as your user base grows you might need to upgrade to blaze plan. Firebase asks you to pay as you go. For most developers who are just getting started and are on a learning path, they are covered by spark plan.