Firebase vs. Parse Server

Firebase vs. Parse Server

Are you looking for an effective Backend as a Service solution to power the backend of your applications? A strong backend of an application ensures success of application as well as enhances its credibility. No matter how attractive your application looks, absence of robust backend can fail your application to deliver the best.

However, when it comes to pick the best backend solution, then multiple factors play a vital role to make a successful selection. Considering effective features of your preferred services are highly important. However, Parse and Firebase are two well-known backend options available. Let’s get deep into these solutions to know which of these can work the best for you.

Google has recently released a new version of Firebase. It provides a unified platform to build Android, iOS, and Web Apps. Admob, Analytics, Authentication, Indexing, Test Lab, ML and Notifications are some of the new features introduced in the latest version of Firebase.

Parse Server is a better choice to build new apps or API’s. Read on to get a sense of comparison between the two and to understand why Parse Server is still better.

Firebase

There are still many Android and iOS apps that have Parse as their backend. But since Facebook has given a deadline to migrate these apps, developers are on a constant lookout for alternatives. Firebase from Google is one such alternative that can host web apps.
Firebase development platform runs on Google Cloud, and below are some of the striking features of Firebase that seem to be advantageous to the developers.

Data Storage

Firebase stores the data in JSON format. JSON data is readily available through REST API’s or by using client libraries. The data is stored in the cloud and thus can be accessed from anywhere.

Real-time data sync

Firebase is designed with a model-observer scheme which is most useful for interactive apps. Any change in data done on the server is updated to the registered clients in real-time. The data syncs almost instantly on the client devices.

Cloud messaging and remote customization of apps enable us to update the app variables instantly.

Authentication and data security

It is robust, cross-platform APIs for Android and iOS apps. It also supports Javascript with a highly flexible security API. Authentication through Twitter, Facebook, and Google are validated.

Central Database

The users need not have to worry about hosting data as Firebase will take care of it. With a central database, Firebase can update all the users with real-time data.

Machine Learning

Firebase machine learning kit is offering users machine learning features including language translator, face recognition and much more. In a nutshell, machine learning feature of firebase can provide SDK which can be integrated with iOS and android applications with ease. It can bring machine learning expertise of google to your applications in an easier yet powerful way.

Kotlin Extensions

This is one of the most recent Firebase releases in 2020. The KTX libraries are now under beta and available for developers using Kotlin in their Android apps. 

Other Firebase features:  App testing, cloud firestore, firebase test lab, remote config, firebase console, crash reporting, Firebase base runs on Google Cloud.

Pricing model for Firebase

When it comes to pricing structure of firebase then fortunately, it is offering highly flexible plans. You can start with its free account and can scale your applications resources as and when required. However, the pricing structure of Firebase is based on pay as you go. So you only have to pay for the services you are utilizing in your application.

 PricingRemarks
Spark PlanFreeLimits Apply
Blaze PlanPay as you goFree usage from Spark plan included

Parse Server

Parse Server is the open source version of Parse that has been supported by a strong community of open source developers. In fact, Parse Server has worked on the shortcomings that were present in Parse and retained the good things that were present in Parse. With the Parse Server self-hosted by the users, it can be the best platform to develop new Android or iOS apps or API’s.

Easy to deploy

Parse Server needs infrastructure that runs on Node.js and it supports the Express web app framework. Once you have the data ready in the database, you don’t need any significant changes to the client code to run your applications.

Spreadsheet like database

Parse server is offering a feature of integrating spreadsheet like database solution for its users. This database feature is meant to store your app and users’ data. Developers can deploy this database with GraphQL and REST APIs within no time. Even more, creating, managing and deploying this database is pretty easier.

GraphQL APIs

One of the most recent releases of Parse happened in 2019 and refers to GraphQL APIs. Nowadays a developer can retrieve data either with REST or GraphQL APIs. To know more, please read here

Data storage

Parse used MongoDB to store data and Amazon S3 bucket to store the file system. Parse Server has enhanced database functionalities such as performance refactoring, data backup and restore, and indexing.
With Parse Server, users can choose a file system of their choice. There is also an option of storing files in JSON format as a backup. These JSON files can be imported whenever needed.
Parse had a cap on the number of queries, cloud functions, and database triggers but Parse Server has no such limitations.

Pointer permission

Parse Server has managed to ensure data security without changing client code. Pointer permission is one of the most recent updates for the Parse Server and is available in the latest version of Parse Server.

Dashboard

Parse was well-known for its dashboard and Parse Server has all the amazing dashboard features of Parse. The dashboard enables users to manage and configure their apps and send push notifications.

Live Queries

Users need not make the same queries every time they need data. Users can construct a query and Parse Server will fetch real-time data as and when the resulting data changes.

Pricing model for Parse

Parse is offering two types of hosting solutions given below:

Download and self-host

Users can download parse solution and host it on their own server. Although this hosting solution is effective to work with. But scaling application with self-hosted parse can become harder.

Parse hosting services

Users can also utilize parse server hosting solutions to run this on their local machines. It can let you develop and test your applications locally or in cloud with ease. Most amazingly, scaling your applications when using parse hosting services is super easier.

 PricingRemarks
Self-HostingFreeDownload and run on local servers or any cloud provider. 
Managed Hosting$5/moPlans start at $5/mo with Back4app

Vendor lock-in

The advantage of the open-source development environment is that the developers have full control over the source code. They have the power of migrating the data to different platforms when they require.
When Facebook announced the shutdown of Parse, developers had to migrate data and application to another BaaS or MBaaS. With such an experience, trusting any other BaaS may seem unacceptable to them anymore.
Parse Server has long-term stability compared to any such vendor-based platform. With a strong community background and feature-rich open-source platform, Parse Server is undoubtedly better than Firebase to develop Android, iOS, or web application API’s.

Quick comparison

Firebase can host Android, iOS and web applications and so does Parse Server. But as far as Parse Server is concerned, it has all the features of Firebase and many more advantages that it can offer to the users.

  • Firebase has a Free tier and a Pay as you Go plan
  • Parse has the option to download and hosting plans start at $5/mo
  • Firebase runs on Google Cloud
  • Parse runs on any cloud
  • Firebase is a proprietary technology from Google
  • Parse is a open-source framework
  • Users of Firebase will not have full access to their source code and IP ownership of app components is denied.
  • With embedded platforms, REST API’s of Firebase cannot be implemented quickly.
  • Reporting tools are not strong enough in Firebase.
  • Data migration is not as easy as Parse Server.
  • Firebase does not support simple Geo queries.
  • Parse Cloud Code is much superior compared to even the latest version of Firebase.
  • Above all, Firebase users are vendor-locked.

FirebasexParse

Conclusion

Services like Firebase and Parse can help developers to get rid of infrastructure and other basic services management headache. Both of these services come up with their own kind of features and benefits. However, when it is about preferring one of these solutions then make sure to see the requirements of your application.

It is because knowing your application’s requirements will let you have a better idea about what will work for you in a more effective way. Ultimately, you will be able to make a better pick without playing any guess game anymore. So, read all the details mentioned above and choose smartly.

What is Firebase?

Firebase is Google’s platform to accelerate app development. It provides a unified platform to build Android, iOS, and Web Apps. Admob, Analytics, Authentication, Indexing, Test Lab, and Notifications are some of the features of Firebase.

What is Parse?

Parse is an open-source framework used to speed up app creation without reinventing the wheel. You can self host it or use specialized services to run it.

Firebase vs Parse: What are the differences?

– Firebase is a proprietary framework from Google.
– Parse is an Open-Source framework.
– Firebase runs on Google Cloud.
– Parse runs in any cloud or specialized vendor.
– Firebase works with REST APIs.
– Parse works with REST and GraphQL APIs.


Comments ( 27 )

  1. ReplyJames Stewart
    Alysson, thanks for sharing this article.Is Firebase a good option to migrate from Parse.com?
    • ReplyAlysson Melo
      Hi James.Actually Firebase its not a good option for Parse migration. Using Firebase you should learn how to use a new technology, rewrite all your backend App, rewrite all the API communication (front-end) and manually migrate all your database data. Additionally I think the Firebase still have the same problem that Parse.com had, the vendor Lock-in. Parse Server now its open source and have, so you can enjoy a powerfull framework without locks! I recommend you use a Parse Server hosting solution. Try back4app!
      • Replycarter
        I cannot use Livequery Parse in my Android or iOS Apps. I have hosted an app in Parse, it works pretty good, but the chat is going down, because i want it to be real time database, and Firebase offers it. Now do you think that its good idea that i should only hosted the chat module with firebase and still running parse for my business model. Or, do you have some real information about how to use Livequery, because it kept showing errors in the cocopoads while running the app.
  2. ReplyHigor
    Nice article! Thank you!
  3. ReplyMike Miller
    Open Source is much better and I will avoid vendor lock in.
  4. ReplyKashif
    But Parse is going to close very soon , so the only option is Firebase
    • ReplyAlysson Melo
      Parse.com will close but Parse Server is open-source and with more than 11k contributors on repository :)
  5. ReplyAwa
    What will happen with back4app once swift 3.0 is out? Will the Parse SDK be updated?
  6. Replyxissburg
    I have been working on migrating to parse open source for a month or two now and it's been a pain in the ass. It has a bunch of bugs that don't get fixed. They're hard to debug and sometimes even understand what's going on. I randomly have issues with ACLs, getting access denied errors which stops happening if I sign out and sign in again. Another huge issue I have is that a few times the server just hanged, stopped responding, no errors, no nothing... had to restart it. That is terrible and unacceptable. This cannot be used in production.
  7. ReplyMahesh
    According to parse official website parse will stop start of 2017
    • ReplyAlysson Melo
      This article is about Parse Server, the open source version of Parse.com.
    • ReplyAlysson Melo
      Parse.com will close but Parse Server is open-source and with more than 11k contributors on repository :)
  8. ReplyJohn Salazar
    Parse Server is a much better option than Firebase.
  9. ReplyFlorian
    You mentioned that Firebase provides ways for authentication. Does Parse Server offer something similar?
    • ReplyAlysson Melo
      Yes. Login with facebook, twitter, LinkeIn, Google+ and others social networks.
  10. ReplyDavid
    Firebase doesn't store data as JSON... It's on Mongo or at least used to be.
    • ReplySteven L
      MongoDB and most NoSql databases store things as JSON. If you want to get really technical it stores documents in Binary JSON which just extends JSON to give it additional field options
    • ReplyMike A
      You can literally put .json at the end of a firebase realtime database url and you will be able to retrieve the requested data. I am not so sure what it is you mean by it not being JSON.
  11. ReplyHimanshu
    Hey, Nice article, does parse server provides infrastructure as well to host APIs and Databases? If not and we use own infra on Amazon will it be cost effective as compared to Firebase, say for example an app with 50K users?
  12. Replyanimal onesie
    My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was entirely right. This post truly made my day. You cann't imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!
  13. Replyadnan
    firebase offers real time updates to all the users.. if my android app is interactive, and location based then parse can provide this functionality..?lets suppose my app is being used by 100k users... if location of one user is changed on map then that update would be visible to other 100k users in real time ..? firebase offers this realtime solution.. can parse or back4app provide this kind of real time experience to users.. ?
  14. Replynoobs2ninjas
    One thing that this article misses that I think is really important is the convenience of Parses SDK. The "ParseObject or PFObject" class is the default data type that's returned from queries which generally subclasses each platforms Object class. Not only does this parse object class enable easy functions like object.save() and object.objectId() but it allows subclassing which, on most platforms, will auto map data values to their instance variable which means no more endless lines of manually mapping values to their model. Add in built-in file saving and auto-referencing and Parse can save many developers hours upon hours of valuable time as well as keeping code much cleaner and shorter. Recently I moved a client from Firebase to Parse which, according to my final merge to master, removed over 5k lines of code.Additionally Id like to point out that Parse now has options to use Postgres.
  15. Replyniacubilla
    Thank you for the article Alysson Melo! Do you have any updated version of the comparison since there's more than 3 year since this article was made and I think some services could be changed/improved.Currently I'm using Firebase for my app, but I want some platform without the vendor lock-in for my next project.

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