Firebase Open Source Alternatives

Firebase Open Source Alternatives

Firebase Open Source Alternatives

This blog will provide a list of Open Source alternatives to Firebase and the benefits of using open source technologies for backend development. This article will explore the advantages of using Parse, Back4App, AWS Amplify, Kuzzle and Hoodie as open-source options to Firebase.

Even though Firebase is a feature-rich platform and great product, a proprietary framework has the following disadvantages over open-source platforms:

  • Vendor lock-in
  • Firebase owns the intellectual property over its framework
  • Lack of customization and flexibility to adapt the code
  • Dedicated hosting and private clouds are not an option at Firebase
  • Firebase base does not offer Enterprise contracts

Here is why you should use an open-source framework:

Transparency/Reliability/Security/Freedom

Using an open-sourced frameworks instead of its closed sourced competitors brings a few key advantages that users should understand before committing to a platform. Open-source software relies on a few characteristics, such as transparency, reliability, security, and freedom.

Transparency because you have full visibility of what the framework is doing. Along with that, you have full access to community policies and a full history of how developers address bugs and improvements. No black boxes. You know exactly how your data is handled.

Reliability is present because everyone is watching. When you have a community accepted software, your developers and all others using that framework are continually looking for bugs and improvements. A problem manifested somewhere else can be fixed and the fix delivered to you before it ever manifests in your systems.

Security because the framework is thoroughly reviewed by the same developers. People are always watching for changes in security standards and deploying the latest and greatest to open source frameworks as nobody wants to stay behind, and you benefit from that collaboration.

Freedom because you are not under the risk of becoming locked in by the vendor of the technology. When you get too attached to closed source software, you might become dependent on it and subjected to their vendor’s decisions. They know you can’t just go away without vast amounts of re-development and its costs. Proprietary locks are the chains of the software world.

Customization/Flexibility

Firebase customize code

It’s your company, your product, and your code! Open-source technologies will let you play with the software much more freely, and you will have full control over the source code. You will be able to adapt the source code for the specifics needs of your application and change it at any given time. The examples to illustrate customization possibilities are broad and comprise managing framework versions, installing security patches, and performance optimization.

Example #1: Integration with legacy systems

For instance: let’s suppose you have a report generating an application that must retrieve data from different data sources, and a few of those data sources include legacy systems that need specific drivers that work well but are not maintained anymore.
When working with open-sourced products, you can just use the compatible version, and your reporting application will keep working as it always did. On a closed-source platform, you have two options: hope and pray that the maintainer of that platform will support those drivers, OR, remove that feature from your application, losing functionality and potentially losing users that need that functionality.

Open-sourced platforms also can rely on the power of the community for finding and fixing bugs on the code. If you choose a widely used platform, the chances are that someone will find any kind of potential issues before you do, and sometimes even fix those issues before you also know they existed. Closed source platforms rely only on their development teams, which are much smaller and limited to testing and fixing code. A few issues might take months before they are set, while others might never be fixed at all.

Intellectual property

Firebase Open Source

That’s another essential aspect you need to take into consideration before using proprietary technologies. In general, open-source licenses will allow the source code to be used freely, modified, and shared. Please make sure you read the open-source license before start using it and understand the limits of the licensing.

Deploy in any cloud

Firebase AWS Azure

That’s another benefit of Open Source frameworks over proprietary frameworks. You will be able to choose the most adequate cloud provider to run your application and will not be restricted to a single option. The options can vary from general purposes cloud services like AWS or Azure to niche players like Back4App.

Example #2: Scaling your app

When your App needs to scale up quickly, it will probably need some customization to keep up with the new volume of information handled. Queries might need to be re-written so they perform faster, which can help, but depending on the original amount even OS customizations might be needed: the number of TCP/IP connections can become the next bottleneck or even the number of file descriptors on the hard drive. A fully scalable system must be fine-tuned to be reliable under heavy load. Just spinning up new machines is one solution, but it is far from the very best solution available. Using efficiently every available resource is what makes scalability beautiful.

No vendor lock-in

Firebase-vendor-lock-inYou will never be a hostage and can move away at any given time. On top of that, you can update your product according to your needs and won’t need to follow a pre-defined scheduled determined by Firebase.

Lower Cost

Firebase Cost

The total cost of ownership of an open-source product is usually less expensive in comparison to a proprietary product. A proprietary product requires a single company to invest heavily in Research & Development, and this cost offsets with profit among the users of the product. On the other hand, an Open Source product is created/managed by developers that spontaneously invest time and effort in favor of the community.

Firebase Open Source Alternatives

Here are some excellent Open Source backend as a service alternatives to Firebase.

Parse

Here is the most used Open Source backend open-source framework. The product is feature-rich, and the repositories include:

  • Parse Server – API server for Node/Express
  • Parse Dashboard – A console to manage the applications
  • Parse SDK JavaScript
  • Parse SDK Android
  • Parse SDK iOS

Parse features include database management, cloud functions, social login, email notifications, real-time notifications, REST and GraphQL APIs, etc.

In 2016, Facebook decided to open-source the framework, and more than 600 thousand applications were benefited from this decision. You can download the Parse Server framework on Github, and the link is available below:

Parse Server

Here are the options to host Parse Server:

  • On Premisses: Download and install on your local servers.
  • Self-Hosting (Self-Hosted): Download and install on your preferred cloud provider (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, Digital Ocean, Alibaba)
  • Parse Hosting: Run the open source-source framework on specialized hosting services. See Back4App below.

The advantages of Parse are:

  • It’s a proved open-source technology that has thousands of users.
  • Large open-source community with 16k stars and 4.1k forks on Github.
  • Feature-rich framework. Some cool new features like GraphQL APIs available.

Back4App

That’s the company I work for, and please give it a try! You enjoy it for sure and please feel free to email me your feedback at [email protected]

Back4app is the world’s largest Parse hosting platform. We provide a multitenant environment that allows users to deploy Parse on any cloud. We have all the features available at Parse plus 24/07 support, integrated CDN + cache, tailor-made enterprise contracts, and GDPR ready to use a security environment.

The benefits of Back4App are:

  • Multitenant environment.
  • Cache/CND implemented by default.
  • Fully managed service with 24/7 support.

AWS Amplify

AWS could not be out of this game and does provide an Open Source backend as a service framework too. Amplify is a JavaScript library that can be connected to any cloud provider. By default, it has pre-built integration with Amazon Web Services. The features are similar to Parse and include analytics, authentication, push notifications, APIs, etc.

The benefits of AWS Amplify are:

  • Fully integrated with AWS.
  • CLI plugins
  • UI components available

Kuzzle

It’s an open-source framework that runs on any hosting service compatible with Linux or Docker. The repositories include:

  • Kuzzle – backend for IoT, web and mobile apps
  • Kuzzle Admin Dashboard
  • SDK Javascript
  • SDK Go
  • Koncorde – Real-time engine
  • Documentation

The features include authentication, real-time database, IoT, security, geofencing. Kuzzle does also offer the option for managed services.

The benefits of Kuzzle are:

  • IoT communication protocols.
  • Support Plans.
  • Professional services to implement POCs.

Hoodie

It’s an offline JavaScript backend, and the repositories include:

  • Hoodie
  • Hoodie Account Client – API for the browser
  • First Times Bot
  • Hoodie Website
  • Hoodie Store Client – Offline synchronization and data persistence
  • Hoodie Logs
  • Several other repositories
  • The features include user sign-up, data storage, off-line synchronization, emails, etc.

The benefits of Hoodie are:

  • Focus on Node.JS developers that want to extend the product.
  • Offline first concept. That is, users’ data are stored locally.
  • Runs on Apache CouchDB.

Conclusion

A vital aspect that every developer and company need to take into consideration before using Firebase is the fact that it’s not Open Source. Proprietary platforms have vendor lock-in, are less flexible, will restrict the possibilities to optimize app performance as soon as you scale usage. So, if these aspects are essential for you, an open-source backend may be an excellent path to follow.

Would you like to know more about how to speed up app development? Please read the following articles:

Firebase Alternatives

Backend as a Service

How to make an app?

 


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