Firebase Advantages and Disadvantages
In this article, we shall be discussing the advantages and disadvantages of Firebase. We shall be considering some key benefits like expediting app development tasks, negating the need for tedious infrastructure management, and lots more.
Some of the fundamental disadvantages like a restriction to the Google cloud platform and vendor lock-in shall also be discussed.
Firebase from Google is a well-known platform widely used among developers worldwide, providing lots of useful tools and resources for managing the entire scope of all development. It has been used to build modern apps with advanced features for Android, iOS, and the web.
Google Firebase is an app development backend, that allows developers to build apps faster, and publish apps. Track performance and engage users.
Besides the tools for development, it also empowers developers to scale their apps without stress when the demand increases.
In essence, developers can access all the tools they need to build and manage apps successfully on Firebase. Therefore, developers can focus more on building apps that elevate user experiences.
We shall be providing a detailed summary with a focus on exploring Firebase’s advantages and disadvantages as a backend a service platform.
- 1 Firebase Advantages
- 2 Firebase Disadvantages
- 2.1 A Closed Source Platform
- 2.2 Vendor Lock-In
- 2.3 Complex Billing Estimation
- 2.4 Not Available Globally
- 2.5 Do Not Support SQL Database
- 2.6 Handling of ACID properties
- 2.7 Usage and Limits
- 2.8 Free Plan Support Basic Functions Only
- 2.9 Restricted to Google Cloud
- 2.10 Lacks Dedicated Server and Enterprise Support
- 2.11 No GraphQL APIs
- 3 Conclusion
Here is the list of Firebase advantages when using Firebase to build mobile and web applications.
Access to a free plan called Spark is a beneficial factor on Firebase. You can simply use an existing Google account to log into the Firebase platform and start building your apps. This free plan makes Firebase popular among developers globally.
Although this plan is free, it offers all the features required to build a functional app. Firebase users have the option of upgrading to the blaze plan when they want to build apps with advanced features. The Blaze plan offers all the futures to build sophisticated apps.
While upgrading from the Spark plan, you simply pay for the extra server resources used beyond the limits of the free plan.
Faster App Development
Developing apps on Firebase is faster, so you can start marketing your apps quickly.
App development requires a secure server, backend service, database, and consistent monitoring and server maintenance.
In essence, such a project needs a team with front-end and back-end development experts. Collaboration between frontend and backend developers can be cumbersome and error-prone. It’s also complicated and costlier.
Firebase allows a team consisting of front-end developers only to build apps quickly. This approach is possible because Firebase takes care of the backend development functions such as storage, authentication, analytics, notifications, and others.
The platform also gives access to several readymade services, so a development team doesn’t have to waste time writing boilerplate codes or start coding the backend from scratch.
Given the large online community, extensive documentation, and quality SDKs, it’s easier to integrate the codebase into the Firebase platform.
Turnkey App Development Service
Firebase provides tools that make app development faster and more straightforward. Such as database options of using Firestore and Firestore Realtime Database.
The platform offers resources that support the entire scope of an app development project, including building, deploying, and monitoring the mobile app.
After launching your app, Firebase also offers tools that allow you to engage with users so they can continue using your app.
Google Supports Firebase
One of the top advantages of Firebase is that it’s supported by Google, one of the leading technology giants in the world today.
After Google acquired Firebase, the platform passed through several improvements that offers additional features and enhanced its security and stability.
Firebase takes advantage of the power of Google Cloud and other Google services that can bring value to an app development project.
With this platform, developers can integrate third-party services into their app development projects to give their users amazing app experiences.
Enables Developers to Focus on Frontend Coding.
The extensive support for backend development functions is a major factor that attracts developers to Firebase.
Since the platform takes care of backend development, developers can focus on creating outstanding front-end features and elevating user experience.
With Firebase, developers won’t have to bother about writing boilerplate codes that can slow down app development projects. In essence, app development becomes faster, more convenient, and more cost-efficient.
Other factors that draw developers to Firebase are the simplicity and provision of a standard backend environment for app management, making it easier to train a team to maintain and provide support for the app.
The procedure for managing to scale your server upward or downward to support the app usage can be challenging.
Especially in a scenario when it becomes necessary to increase database cluster to support the performance of an app.
To solve such a technical challenge, you need the services of a team of engineers with extensive experience. In contrast, Firebase allows you to manage and scale your app in a serverless environment.
Perhaps, the best part is that the Firebase serverless environment only charges you for the resources you use.
This payment model allows you to save costs while using the best technology and top-notch servers. The platform scales the server infrastructure up/down as the need arises, without any input from you.
Such a platform empowers developers to manage DevOps, resource planning, and infrastructure effectively.
Integrated Machine Learning Functions
Machine learning is one of the leading-edge features of modern computing. You can integrate advanced machine learning functions into your app to create amazing functions for your mobile and web apps without much experience.
You can use integrated APIs on Firebase to add machine learning functions to your mobile apps. A few of these features include barcode scanning, image labeling, text identification, face detection, and many more.\
Firebase provides features that allow you to navigate app indexing procedures so you can make your app visible on search.
Such features help you increase your app’s ranking which gives more visibility and leads to more downloads and app usage.
Firebase has a feature called Crashlytics that helps find, troubleshoot, and fix issues that affect an app’s stability. You can use this feature to monitor all types of errors, no matter how small. You can also access a detailed crash report that shows the effect on the app users.
Firebase manages backup procedures efficiently, so you don’t have to bother about data loss. The secure Firebase server environment secures your app and ensures your data are protected by making backups regularly. Blaze users can configure automatic backup with the Realtime Database.
Below are some of the Firebase disadvantages while using the platform to build mobile or web apps.
A Closed Source Platform
Given Firebase’s closed-source architecture, app developers’ control over the platform is highly restricted.
This means that you cannot change Firebase’s code, even if what Firebase provides does not suit your app development needs.
However, Firebase developers can access several SDKs and libraries on GitHub which empowers them to circumvent such limitations.
All the same, the close source architecture does not allow the Firebase community to make meaningful contributions to the platform.
Also, self-hosting options are not available for users that find the platform’s pricing structure unacceptable.
The fact that Firebase users are locked in on the platform is a major disadvantage of using Firebase for app development projects.
Many developers seek alternative platforms for app development simply because they cannot move their apps to other platforms when the need arises.
Complex Billing Estimation
Firebase is a powerful platform for app development, but all the amazing features may be expensive.
The free plan offers only basic features that lack the advanced functions that simplify and expedites all development tasks. For many, the self-hosting option is more cost-efficient.
Perhaps one of the reasons that Firebase is expensive is the use of proprietary technology that is costly and must be monetized profitably.
On the contrary, open-source technology uses the power of community-based development to provide free/cheaper options.
It is advisable to consider the costs of using Firebase viz-a-viz creating a cluster on an IaaS platform and maintaining servers before making a choice.
Firebase charges its customers based on the server resources used, making it challenging to calculate the price.
So, estimating the final cost of using Firebase is an issue since some users think it is hard to forecast the scalability requirements within a billing period.
One of Firebase’s benefits is that it gives you a granular account of the resource used and the corresponding billing.
You can avoid unexpected high monthly billing by studying the Firebase billing model and adjusting your service requirements to optimize costs.
You can also opt for a straightforward and predictable billing structure from a Backend as a Service provider like Back4app.
The platform offers a free plan packed with numerous resources, the pricing structure is simple and you can also access dedicated hosting options.
Not Available Globally
Since Firebase is an official Google product with its URL taking a Google subdomain, i.e, firebase.google.com, the service is blocked in China and other countries that block Google services.
Therefore, developers in such countries cannot use the Firebase platform to build and host their app backend.
Do Not Support SQL Database
The two databases available on Firebase are NoSQL databases. In essence, Firebase and Realtime databases cannot support relational database structures.
Although Firebase has added several features and upgrades to Firestore, running complex database queries is still challenging on the platform.
Handling of ACID properties
The way the Realtime database handles ACID may be complicated. In contrast to a relational database, Firebase support for transactions requires the developers to execute codes using the Realtime database. For further information, please read this page at StackOverflow.
Apart from the complexity of the database, data migration is another significant challenge. In contrast to SQL databases, Firebase database migration is slow and complicated.
The use of JSON which lacks SQL functions is a significant factor that makes Firebase databases complicated.
Usage and Limits
While Firestore has excellent features like real-time database updates, offline query, and seamless scaling of the app, the Firebase database still has some quotas such as:
- Maximum of one million concurrent connections,
- Maximum of 10MB API request size,
- Document size limited to 1MB,
- Lack of native aggregation of query,
- Slow queries undermine database performance.
- The query pattern is not very flexible.
Free Plan Support Basic Functions Only
The Spark plan of Firebase that is free offers several free features for building apps. Other useful features are reserved for the premium Blaze plan users.
Some of the advanced features unavailable with the free plan include Machine Learning and Cloud Functions.
Cloud functions do offer a free quota that is restricted to Blaze users only. Once you exceed the free limit, you must pay for the service used.
Restricted to Google Cloud
Since Firebase is hosted on Google Cloud, one of the most powerful cloud services in the world today. However, you cannot use Firebase on other cloud service platforms like DigitalOcean, AWS, or Azure.
In essence, Firebase makes it impossible to select competing hosting options that might be more cost-effective.
Firebase users do not have server-level access. So, customizing the server settings can be a challenging task to accomplish.
Lacks Dedicated Server and Enterprise Support
Firebase does not offer dedicated server plans and there is no option for enterprise-level support. The lack of such services on Firebase poses a significant problem to some classes of users.
While Firebase works excellently as a serverless platform, such a hosting approach might not be appropriate for projects that need a higher level of customization on fully dedicated server clusters.
No GraphQL APIs
Firebase provides REST as the default API option while Graph QL is unavailable. However, you can create a workaround to implement GraphQL API on Firebase.
This article gives a detailed overview of the Firebase advantages and disadvantages. You’ve learned that Firebase, is a product of Google, one of the leading technology companies worldwide.
The platform offers several features like scalable IT infrastructure that make app development assignments seamless and straightforward.
Firebase is a great platform, but also has several shortfalls which include vendor lock-in, closed source, NoSQL database, and lots more.
We hope you find the information in this article beneficial while researching a suitable development platform for your next mobile app development project.