What is Google Firebase and how it works

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Philippe Gloaguen


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Google Firebase is an application development platform that allows developers to build iOS, Android, and web apps. Here's why you should use it!

Google Firebase offers many features that make it the ideal backend development tool for web and mobile apps. Reduces workload and development time. And it's a perfect prototyping tool. Firebase is simple, light, friendly and industry recognized.

Tired of writing boring code for your backend or can't even write it? Try Google Firebase. So what is Google Firebase and why should you build your app around it?

What is Google Firebase

Founded in 2011 as a chat API and acquired by Google in 2014, Google Firebase is a platform that now offers an Active Backend as a Service (BaaS) for building dynamic web and mobile apps.

The Firebase concept is simple. When you build a client-side app with JavaScript or one of its frameworks, for example, Google Firebase can turn it into a serverless app in no time. It also eliminates the need to manage databases yourself, as it does it for you.

Therefore, implementing Firebase means attaching a ready-made backend to the client code to make it dynamic. Ultimately, it eliminates the need to write backend code from scratch and offers a fully functional one.

From a security perspective, it also has explicitly built-in security rules that make it a reliable server and data manager. Also, you get a secure backend when using these rules.

Why you should use Google Firebase

In fact, Firebase is a less technical and time-saving alternative to writing full backend code for dynamic apps.

You may also want to consider using this tool if you ultimately want to host and manage your app in the cloud. By being serverless, Firebase eliminates the need to worry about the technicalities of cloud server setup.

As a Google Cloud service, it also gives you access to other Google products and features, such as Google Drive and Sheets. For example, you can import dummy data from Google Sheets and temporarily use it to serve your app.

With Firebase, it's pretty easy to connect and use built-in third-party authentication providers, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, among others. And if you want to use a default authentication UI, you have it at your disposal too.

All of this can save you a significant amount of development costs, as you don't have to pay as much as developing from scratch. Firebase pricing is equally flexible. While there are pay-as-you-go services, you can start with a free plan and use core features if your app is still in its prime.

Firebase is a good choice if you want to quickly deploy a working product on the cloud. Also, as mentioned, you might want to try this if you need a backend but don't have a backend development background.

Cons of Google Firebase

There is hardly a technology without a drawback. So while it's a quick server and backend management option, Firebase may have some errors along the way:

  • If not handled properly, the cost of maintaining Firebase on a pay-as-you-go service accrues as reads and writes increase. So the maintenance costs can increase in some places.
  • It is difficult to export data stored in Firestore to another database. Even if you do eventually find a way, it often requires a high level of technicality. Furthermore, it can also be quite expensive.
  • It may be less platform independent, as it delves deeper into Android than iOS.
  • The bigger the query result, the messier and slower things get.

Getting started with Google Firebase

You can start using Firebase as soon as you sign up and create a project on the. Next, you will need to register your app with your project. And then install Firebase in the root of your project using the package npm :

npm install firebase

This is to get started on your local computer, though. You will need to follow some other instructions as described in to get started. When you add an app to a Firebase project, you'll receive an initialization code to get started.

That said, a project in Firebase is cloud-based. You can manage several apps within one project. But the resources are available on a project basis.

Firebase offers several functions. But like development modules, you can always import what you need to get the best performance. Let's say you've created a client-side app and want to add authentication and storage features. You can get them by calling the relevant Firebase APIs.

Useful features of Google Firebase

Interestingly, the Firebase platform is multifaceted, offering build tools and APIs for database management, authentication, push notifications, cloud hosting, and more.

Let's see some of its main features below.


Google Firebase uses dedicated cloud-based NoSQL databases, Firestore, and a real-time database to store information. Like other NoSQL databases, they store information in libraries and documents.

Querying the data does not depend on the amount of data stored in the database. Instead, it's complicated by the number of results the query brings.

One of the benefits of Cloud Firestore and the real-time database is that they use real-time listeners to update data across platforms. This way, clients get a snapshot of synchronized data even in the event of network downtime. And when they come back online, it automatically updates the clients.


You can also easily host your web app on Firebase. By offering microservices, Firebase allows you to quickly host and deploy your web app with just a few commands. When you do, your app is on globally distributed content delivery networks (CDNs). This ensures that users can read and write on your app with no downtime.

You can add features to your app via remote engagement. So it's easy to update and resize your app in real time without any hassle.


One of the time-saving features you want to explore in Firebase is its authentication service. When you connect your app to Firebase, you may not need to create a separate login interface. To save time, you can use its built-in login UI to log users into your app.

And for more flexibility, you can use the Authentication SDK instead. This allows users to log in using several other authentication methods available.

Firebase ML

Firebase ML is useful if you have a machine learning project to distribute along with your app. Firebase offers machine learning capabilities for training models. Therefore, it allows you to integrate custom templates into your app and host them in the cloud.

Integrated push notifications

Encrypting and implementing push notifications can be difficult. Firebase's built-in push notification lets you add custom, real-time alerting capabilities to your app without writing a separate script from scratch.

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