What is Firebase?
It offers tools for tracking analytics, reporting and fixing app crashes. The services are hosted in the cloud and scale with little to no effort on the part of the developer. Client SDKs that are provided by Firebase interact with backend services directly, and there is no need for middleware between the app and service. When we use one of Firebase’s database options, we are basically writing code to query the database in our client app. While building an app for your startup, Firebase can be an essential tool and help you solve various problems through the services it provides.
What kind of apps can Firebase be used for?
Firebase can be used in a multitude of apps, but there is a limit to the platforms it can be used on. Android and iOS are the primary targets for the Firebase SDKs, with increasing support coming up for Flutter, Web, Unity and C++. Firebase has an Admin SDK for various languages to be used with any Backend components required. There is a library called Firebase UI which helps by providing utilities to make Firebase development easier. There are some projects like AngularFire that wrap web SDKs for use with Angular which is open source. Even gaming apps along with traditional apps have a lot of similar needs that are met by Firebase.
How can Firebase help your startup?
1. All-in-one app development platform
Firebase is good for startups because it is an all-in-one app development platform where entrepreneurs can find all tools in the same place. Google Firebase is a great tool to accelerate software development. The processes individually take up a lot of the developers’ time, keeping them away from giving time to other features which would give a better user experience overall. With all the features that it comes with, it helps developers to allocate time to different processes properly. The following are the features:
- Cloud Messaging
- Realtime Database
- Crash Reporting
- Remote Configuration
- Test Lab
2. Analytical powerhouse
Firebase works with the robust backing of Google. So, it is seamless to explore user analytics and app insights. When you opt for Firebase while building your mobile app, one of the most useful and coveted features that comes with it is the brilliantly designed and intuitive Analytics dashboard. The free dashboard can report over 500 distinct event types, including retention ratio, traffic demographics, and user engagement where each of them carries over 25 attributes. With the StreamView property of Google Analytics, Firebase clients can also view live user statistics.
You can also integrate Firebase with Google Ads and AdMob. Having said that, if startups want to get the analytics of their application functions, then they can consider using Firebase Performance Monitoring. The dashboard of this tool presents the core app performance metrics.
These analytics can help you develop a stronger understanding of user interactions within the app, helping you optimize the app and make it better in future.
3. Increase revenue
Firebase is a useful tool for startups to increase their revenue. It is integrated with Google Analytics which helps startups keep an eye on user behaviour and recent trends which helps you get more engagement for your app. The AdMob Firebase feature enables you to monetize the app even when you are in the early stages. Firebase Invites and Notifications play a strong role to attain and retain potential users. With Firebase, you can show your ads to millions of Google Advertisers in real time, select the format that suits your mobile app, and work with over 40 ad networks with AdMob mediation.
4. Easily scalable
Firebase is famous among entrepreneurs because it is highly scalable. As we know, startups begin their journey with small budgets and users where they need limited resources. But with the passage of time, when their venture grows, they want to add more resources. The use of Firebase is very beneficial in this regard because this BaaS platform has the ability to deal with big projects. Clients can extend their resources with Firebase anytime. It works really well when it comes to testing versions of the app, but even when these apps go live and the database grows exponentially, Firebase has an uncanny ability to deal with scaling taking the fears in this regard away.
5. Authentication implementation
Authentication has become really important these days and Firebase helps you in this domain too, in this time of various software being digitally unsafe. Firebase comes with multiple ways of authentication that you can employ in your app like email and password, social media logins (Facebook/Google/Twitter/GitHub), and even phone numbers where you give Google the phone number and Firebase sends a verification code to be used to access the app. With Firebase, you can allow your app users to authenticate, register, reset passwords, and verify emails.
6. Real-time database
One of the biggest highlights of using Firebase is its real-time database where you can store your app data. Firebase all data is grouped into different “nodes” which are defined by you, like “invites” “users” etc. and then add children or sub-nodes. Data can be removed or added directly from the interface. If you are using Firebase, the connections are made through WebSocket, not HTTP. The thing with WebSocket is that they are fast, and a single connection is needed to sync all the data through the single WebSocket.
Limitations of Firebase
It is not open source
Firebase community is considered open-source because its demos, SDKs, libraries and many samples are available on GitHub. But in reality, it is not an entirely open-source platform. Only 88 Firebase repositories are available on GitHub, which is not enough to call it an open-source development platform. open-source development platforms are considered ideal for startups because available codes and resources help the new teams. The closed-source status of Firebase is a setback for using this platform for startup ventures. An open-source alternative for Firebase is Supabase.
Limited Data Modelling
The Firebase database is simply one big JSON file. There’s not even a single way to show many-to-many or one-to-many relationships. When put into practice, it means that you will almost always end up with duplication of data everywhere. An even bigger problem comes up when you have to edit a name. In this case, the developers would have to manually edit the name from each individual place it has been used.
If the developers want to implement any kind of search functionality, they would have to download all the existing data and then use a server, or will have to carry out the entire process with the help of a suitable third-party app.
Firebase is a feature-loaded powerful and efficient backend framework through which various companies build mobile apps for clients. The tools it provides make it easier for developers to find bugs in real-time and also help in app optimization. It is good for start-ups to use this framework to develop a backend for their apps. It has some limitations too, which might tempt startups to use alternatives like open-source Supabase, or custom backends using Node.js, Ruby on Rails, Python etc.