Firebase Databases | What is the best option for your app?

Firebase is a platform for web and mobile application development and provides a range of services and tools to developers so that they can create high-end apps, enhance their user base, and earn more revenue.

Firebase has two types of databases that are as follows.

  • Real-Time database
  • The Cloud Firestore

This article will explore the differences and similarities between these two database options. It aims to help you to make a more bold decision to select the correct database.

Here is summary of what you will learn reading this article:

  • Overview of a Realtime Database
  • Benefits of the Realtime implementation
  • Firebase Database Options
    • The Real Time Database
    • Cloud Firestore
    • Similarities
    • Differences

Want to know more? Please continue reading.

Considering that both Firebase and The Realtime Database deliver realtime updates, let’s understand first the benefits of using a realtime updates for your application.

What is a Realtime Database? 

A database system that makes use of real-time processing to steer workload that continually changes is Realtime Database. That is different from conventional databases, comprising steady data that do not alter with time.

Let’s use an easy to understand example for better comprehension. For instance, a stock market is dynamic as it changes quickly. The graphs of various markets seem to be extremely inconsistent. Yet, a database has to monitor the present values for all the markets in the New York Stock Exchange. In real-time processing, a transaction is processed so fast that the result comes back and is acted upon very quickly.

So, Realtime Databases are suitable for banking, accounting, medical records, law, process control, multimedia, scientific data analysis, and reservation systems.

Why should you use a Realtime Database? 

Below are some benefits of using a realtime database for a software project.

To point out changes immediately

A tiny market change may cause a decrease or increase in a particular product or service’s demand. With the newest information at your disposal, you can single out the situation without creating issues for the venture. For instance, when you have identified a negative situation, you can lower possible risks by adopting amending measures straight away.

To integrate several sources of data and content

A data analysis system in real-time allows you to collect all the data and content associated with the company in a single system. It permits easy access to information, and the time invested to accumulate information from multiple sources is also checked.

Data on mobile devices

All information management programs that work in real-time can be used on mobile devices. Hence, attending a meeting while on a trip and having updated and real information about the business’ condition is possible. It decreases the time required for decision-making or situation solving as you do not have to attend office before acting.

Be concise to rectify divergence in operational procedures

Your suppliers, customers, and partners may not take failure in the process of production very lightly. With real-time tracking of the production process, you can recognize probable failures and what can correct the situation. It helps to make sure that the procedure with an issue does not reach the final stage.

Decrease in the possibility of errors 

By using real-time data analysis systems, failures during communication can be reduced, and data consolidation can be speeded up. The fact that the entire information about the company stays in a single place makes the analysis procedures productive and more effective.

Firebase Database Options 

Are you ready? Let’s explore Firebase’s database options.

The Realtime Database (RTDB)

Home Page Print Screen Of Firebase’s Realtime Time Database

A cloud-hosted database, the Firebase Realtime Database stores data as JSON and syncs it with every client who is connected in realtime. By building cross-platform applications with our Android, iOS, and JavaScript SDKs, you automatically let your clients share a single Realtime Database instance and obtain updates with the latest data.

Benefits of The Realtime Database 

Syncing online and offline data via the NoSQL database is possible with Firebase. It fetches the app data on both online and offline states of the application, which encourages collaboration in realtime on the app data. Mentioned below are some of its advantages.

Benefit 1 – Offline Synchronization

You can access the data even when you are offline. That is because the Firebase Realtime Database SDK assists in saving your data on the local disk. When you are online again, the changes are synced with the server’s current state.

Benefit 2 – Realtime Time Updates

While the supposed requests try to update data across interfaces, the Realtime Database syncs data with every alteration. It helps to mirror the change in realtime in any device that is being used.

Benefit 3 – Data splitting and scaling

With Firebase Realtime Database, you can break your data in several databases in the same project and set rules for every instance of the database.

Benefit 4 – Access from different devices

You can access app data from a number of interfaces and devices, including web and mobile devices, with the help of Firebase Realtime Database.

Benefit 5 – Pricing

The realtime database pricing is a function of the simultaneous connections, GB stored and downloaded. There is no additional charge for operations like read and writes. If your app is operations intensive, the Realtime Database may be a reasonable option pricing wise.

Cloud Firestore

Cloud Firestore Home Page Print Screen

Also referred to as Google Firestore, Cloud Firestore is part of the app development platform called Google Firebase. It is a primarily cloud-hosted and a NoSQL database for data storage and syncing. One can directly access Firestore by web and mobile apps via native SDKs.

It allows users to use options of Go, Unity, C++, Java, and Node.js SDKs – Software Development Kits, and provides support for RPC and REST APIs. Through the Firestore database, enhanced performance, automatic scaling, a high level of dependability and ease of use can be attained. 

Thanks to realtime listeners, Firestore allows data syncing across several client apps. It utilizes the Access Management and Cloud Identity features from Google for the authentication procedure. Firestore stores data in the form of documents, and these documents get stored in collections.

Documents support a massive variety of data types (numbers, nested objects, and strings). Firestore can be integrated with Google Firebase and Google Cloud Platform. Businesses favor Firestore for the security and reliability it provides.

Benefits of Cloud Firestore 

Benefit 1 – Offline support

For web, Android, and iOS platforms, Firestore offers offline support. It means that your apps are updated almost in real-time whenever any change is made to the back-end data.

Benefit 2 – Complex Queries

Cloud Firestore provides support for indexed queries, letting users combine, classify, and filter functionalities with the help of one query. The benefits of ACID transactions are found in collections and documents. 

Benefit 3 – Integrates with Google Cloud

Firestore is a unified project of Google Cloud Platform and Firebase. It provides users with the advantages of both the services. With the scalability of Google Cloud, developers can experience the real-time database properties of Firebase. 

Benefit 4 – Multi Region

Global apps can take advantage of the Multiregion deployment of the Firestore. Having multiple servers distributed worldwide reduces the latency for the end-users, increases performance, and data will not be lost in the event of a catastrophic event in a single datacenter region.

Benefit 5 – Pay as grow go pricing

This database is a cost-efficient choice for developers. Scalability and payment are directly proportional, and so are usage and costs. Also, there is no upper limit in terms of simultaneous connections, and you can scale your app indefinably.

Similarities between Firestore and the Realtime Database

  • NoSQL Structure
  • Realtime Updates
  • Scalable
  • Run on GCP – Google Cloud Platform
  • Proprietary technology from Google

Differences between Firebase Database Options

Now let’s explore the differences between the two Firebase databases. The table below is usage to compare both options:

FirestoreRealtime Database
DeploymentMulti RegionSingle Region
Offline SynchronizationWeb, iOS, AndroidiOS, Android
Data ModelDocument collectionsBig JSON tree
Client Connection StatusVia Cloud CodeNative
QueriesComplexSimple
Writes and TransactionsAdvancedBasic
SecurityNon-cascading rulesCascading rules
ScalabilityNo limitsUp to 1,000 writes and 200,000 simultaneous connections
PricingPricing covers operations, storage, and bandwidth. Pricing per GB less expensive.Does not charge by operations, but only storage and bandwidth. Price per GB more expensive.

Now, let’s explore the more granular information about each database.

Difference 1 – Single Region vs. Multi-Region

Realtime Database is a single-region solution.

  • With very low latency, it is the perfect choice for frequent state-syncing.
  • Databases are available only zonally in one region. 

A multi-region solution, Cloud Firestore scales automatically.

  • Available around the world in multi-regional or regional configurations.
  • Shelters your data in various data centers in specific regions, guaranteeing strong dependability and global scalability.

Difference 2 – Offline synchronization

Both databases offer offline synchronization, but the Realtime Database supports only mobile devices. Firestore supports web and mobile devices.

FirestoreRealtime Database
AndroidXX
iOSXX
WebX

Difference 3 – Data Model 

The Realtime Database stores data as a big JSON tree.

  • Complex hierarchical data is difficult to arrange on a large scale.
  • Simple data can be stored conveniently.

Cloud Firestore stores data as document collections.

  • Simple data can be easily stored in documents, similar to JSON.
  • Complicated, hierarchical data is more convenient for organizing at scale by using subcollections in documents.
  • Needs less denormalization and flattening of data 

Difference 4 – Client Connection Status

When a client goes offline or is online, is useful to be updated about it. Realtime Database can record the status of client connection and offer updates whenever the connection status of a client alters. 

On the contrary, when using Cloud Firestore, leveraging the support of Realtime Database for presence by using Cloud Functions to sync Syncing Realtime Database and Cloud Firestore. 

FirestoreRealtime Database
Client Connection StatusVia Cloud FunctionsNative

Difference 5 – Queries

Realtime Database offers deep queries.

  • By default, queries are deep and always return the whole subtree.
  • Queries can either filter or sort on a property.
  • There is no need for an index in queries. But, some queries degenerate with the growth of your data set. 
  • Data can be accessed by queries irrespective of its granularity, down to leaf-node values in the JSON tree.

On the other hand, in Cloud Firestore, you will find indexed queries with compound filtering and sorting.

  • Shallow queries that solely return documents in a collection group or a particular collection. They do not return subcollection data.
  • In every query, you can chain filters, besides combining sorting and filtering on a property. 
  • Query indexation takes place by default: The performance of a query is not proportional to the size of your data set, but to the size of your result set. 
  • Queries should always return entire documents.  

Difference 6 Writes and transactions

The write and transaction operations are basic in Realtime Database.

  • Write data via the operations of set and update.
  • On a particular data subtree, transactions are atomic. 

In Cloud Firestore, advanced operations of write and transaction take place.

  • Write data operations via set and update operations as well as advanced transformations like numeric or array operators. 
  • Data can be read and written by transactions from any part of the database. 

Difference 7 – Security

In Realtime Database, cascading rules language that segregates validation and authorization.

  • Cascade is ruled by write and read.
  • Writes and reads from mobile SDKs secured by Realtime Database Rules.
  • You separately prove the accuracy of data by utilizing the validate rule.

In Cloud Firestore, non-cascading rules to bring together validation and authorization.

  • Writes and reads from server SDKs secured by Identity and Access Management (IAM).
  • Reads and writes from mobile SDKs secured by Cloud Firestore Security Rules.
  • Rules can restrict queries. In the event that the results of a query comprises data that a user cannot access, the whole query fails. 
  • Without using a wildcard, rules cannot be cascaded.

Difference 8 – Scalability

In Realtime Database, scaling needs sharding.

  • Absence of local limits on write rates to individual data pieces
  • In a single database, scale to about 1,000 writes/second and 200,000 concurrent connections. Scaling past that needs data sharding in various databases.

In Cloud Firestore, scaling is automatic.

  • Has restrictions on write rates to individual indexes or documents
  • Entirely automatic scaling. Presently, scaling limits are about 10,000 writes/second and 1 million concurrent connections. In the future, these limits may be increased.

Difference 9 – Pricing

Realtime Database charges just for storage and bandwidth but at a higher rate. 

Compared to this, Cloud Firestore primarily charges on operations conducted in your database, such as write, read, and delete. And all this is done at a reduced bandwidth, storage, and rate.

Want to know more? Please refer to the official documentation of Firebase here.

Conclusion

Generally speaking, Firestore is a newer and improved database of Firebase. It handles more sophisticated deployments across several regions. it’s a better option for complex queries, and large apps with massive scaling requirements.

The Realtime Database is the first and killer product of Firebase, and it is still the right choice for many projects. In particular, operations intensive applications, solutions that require to know the connection client status and demand simple and less sophisticated queries.

Hopefully, this comparison has assisted you to settle on a Firebase database.

FAQ

What are Firebase’s database options?

– Cloud Firestore
– The Realtime Database

Which database is better?

Generally speaking, Firestore is a newer and improved database of Firebase. It handles more sophisticated deployments across several regions. it’s a better option for complex queries, and large apps with massive scaling requirements.

The Realtime Database is the first killer product of Firebase, and it is still the right choice for many projects. In particular, operations intensive applications, solutions that require to know the connection client status and demand simple and less sophisticated queries.

What are the similarities between the databases?

– NoSQL Structure
– Realtime Updates
– Scalable
– Run on GCP – Google Cloud Platform
– Proprietary technology from Google

What are the differences between Firebase databases?

– Single Region vs. Multi-Region
– Scalability
– Offline Synchronization
– Data Model
– Client connection status
– Queries
– Security
– Operations
– Pricing

  


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