Back4App vs Firebase | What are the differences?

This article will explore the differences and similarities between Back4App vs Firebase. It will provide an overview of both platforms and cover the core features and pricing structure.

Overview of Back4App and Firebase

Both Back4App and Firebase are considered Backend as a Service solutions. Developers can use both platforms to build applications faster and scale without managing complex infrastructure.

The key differences between Back4App and Firebase will rely on the following variables:

  • Open Source vs. Closed Source 
  • Feature Set
  • Easy-of-use
  • Pricing Structure
  • Deployment Options
  • Data Management
  • Support Levels
  • China hosting

Keep reading to learn about Firebase vs Back4App.

Back4App vs Firebase | Comparison Table

Here is a table comparing both platforms:

Back4appFirebase
DescriptionLow-code backend to build modern appsGoogle’s web and mobile app development platform.
Date Founded20152011
TechnologyOpen-SourceClosed-Source
FeaturesLess comprehensiveMore comprehensive
Application TypesMobile Apps / Web AppsMobile Apps / Web Apps
Easy-of-useVery EasyMore complex
Pricing StructureSimple, predictable, few variablesComplex and many variables to control
Free TierYesYes
Enterprise PlansYesNo
Deployment optionsAWS, Google Cloud, Azure, and On-PremisesGoogle Cloud
Dedicated HostingYesNo
Support LevelsCommunity
Emails
Tickets
Slack
Calls
The support is flexible depending on the plan.
Community
Emails
Tickets
Slack
Support levels are standardized. GCP support plans apply to Firebase.
Support Availability24/0724/07
Data ManagementExcel like interfaceJSON tree or collections
GDPRYesYes
Service works in ChinaYesNo

Let’s explore each one of them.

Open-Source vs. Closed Source

Back4App establishes its platform on open-source technologies and is an established open-source alternative to Firebase. It’s an amalgamation of open-source products like NodeJS, GraphQL, Parse Server, Redis, etc. 

On the other hand, Firebase is a proprietary technology from Google. That said, there are several modules and SDKs that are open-source and available on Github. The list includes the iOS SDK, Android SDK, etc.

Privacy Policy

Safeguarding user privacy is essential to Back4App. According to our Privacy Policy, we do not sell your data and only use it for R&D, enhancing the product and services, internal marketing, and administrative objectives.

Firebase also follows GDRP privacy regulations, and you read the details on Firebase’s Privacy Policy.

By default, Google will use Firebase service data for other non-Firebase services. Users can disable this option by unchecking the box, but still, service data will be used for Google products that link to a Firebase project. Below is a print screen of the page. 

Source: Firebase Project

Feature Set

Back4App bases its platform on app-building resources. The list of core features includes a real-time database, GraphQL and REST APIs, Cloud Code Functions, Storage, and Notifications.

Comparing Firebase to Back4App, the Firebase platform provides a more comprehensive set of features and includes resources related to Build, Release & Monitor, and Engage Users. The list of features include, but are not limited to databases, push notifications, analytics, performance monitoring, etc.

Back4AppFirebase
Build FeaturesXX
Release & MonitorX
EngageX

Back4App decided to excel and deliver a best-in-class experience on a limited number of features. Users will access additional features via integrations with third-party providers. Examples of easy-to-understand integrations are Google Analytics, Twilio, Stripe, SendGrid, or even Firebase.

Easy-of-use

Using Back4App is straightforward to start! You will be able to build a backend in less than 2 minutes. Please use the tutorial Creating your first app with Back4App to start using Back4App.

Back4App review

Google Firebase is a more complex platform in comparison to Back4App. Users say the onboarding process is not as easy to understand, and the initial setup may take longer for a beginner.

Pricing Structure

Back4App’s pricing model is easy-to-understand and predictable. It offers a free tier ideal for development purposes, a $25/month entry-level plan great for MVPs, a Pay as you go option for scaling an application, and dedicated infrastructure for more sophisticated applications.

Back4App uses mainly four variables (API requests, data storage, data transfer, and file storage) for pricing purposes. So, it’s easy to understand and forecast the costs of hosting an app with Back4App.

Firebase’s pricing model works under a Pay as you go structure for all paid applications. It also offers a free tier for development purposes and several services like Analytics, A/B testing, and Cloud Messaging that are not charged.

Forecasting and predicting Firebase pricing may be challenging for some users due to many variables. Firebase no longer offers a fixed price plan, and there is no way to cap the pricing to an upper limit. For more information, please read the article Firebase Pricing Model.

Deployment Options

Back4App offers three deployment options:

  • Cloud hosting on AWS for shared hosting;
  • Cloud hosting on any major cloud provider for dedicated hosting;
  • On-premise hosting on the customer infrastructure.

Firebase hosts all applications on Google Cloud and does not offer a dedicated hosting option.

Data Management

Managing data is simple with Back4App! The platform offers a spreadsheet-like graphical interface that allows users to easily visualize data, perform CRUD operations, add relations between the tables, etc.

An additional benefit of Back4App is that it operates like a SQL-based service, and users can perform heavy transactional queries very efficiently.

Back4app data model

Firebase offer two types of data management:

  • A simple JSON tree for the Realtime Database offering;

Here is a sample image extracted from StackOverflow.

Firebase JSON Tree
  • Documents organized under collections for the Firestore offering.

Here is a sample image extracted from StackOverflow.

Firebase collections

Support Levels

Both Backend and Firebase support users around the clock and offer the following support channels:

  • Community 
  • Email
  • Tickets
  • Slack

On top of that, Back4App offers two additional supporting channels. High-volume plans cover the Live Chat and Technical Calls options. 

On top of that, the GCP support plans cover Firebase for users that opted for it. It offers four packages that vary from $29/month to $12.5k/month. More details are available on the GCP support page

China Hosting

Back4App works in China, and the Great Firewall does not block the APIs. That means that Chinese users can access Back4App’s API from Mainland China.

Back4App also offers dedicated hosting options in Hong Kong and Mainland China for users looking for low-latency environments to support the Chinese market. Please fill this China Hosting Form to know more about deployment options in China.

Firebase operates under a Google subdomain, and the Great Firebase blocks all Google-related APIs. That means that Firebase APIs do not work in China and do not offer hosting options inside Mainland China.

Conclusion

This article explained the similarities and differences between Back4App and Firebase.

Back4App and Firebase are designed to accelerate application development, reduce time to market, and scale apps without worrying about infrastructure.

The key differences rely on the use of open-source technologies, feature set, pricing structure, deployment options, and data management.

To know more about Back4App, please read Why Users Love Back4App. For further information about Firebase, please read Firebase Secrets Unlocked.

FAQ

What are the core differences between Back4App and Firebase?

– Back4App works with open-source technologies
– Firebase is a proprietary technology from Google
– Back4App has a more laser-focused feature set
– Firebase has a more comprehensive feature set
– Back4App pricing is simple and predictable
– Firebase pricing is more sophisticated and complex
– Back4App offers multi-cloud and on-premise deployment options
– Firebase offers a Google Cloud deployment option
– Back4App works in China
– Firebase does not work in China


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