What is Firebase? Functions, Features, and Advantages – Building an application more easily but the results are still optimal is a developer’s dream. Well, firebase is one of the platforms that supports them to achieve that.
What is Firebase? This Google-owned service has various advanced features that will help developers to develop the backend side of an application. That way, they can focus more on working on the front end.
The function of firebase is indeed related to application development and quality improvement, so it helps businesses grow even more.
What is the full explanation? In this article, you’ll take a deeper dive into Firebase, from understanding firebase to using Firebase.
Let’s see more!
- What is Firebase?
- Firebase Functions and Uses
- What is Firebase Features?
What is Firebase?
Firebase is a Backend as a Service (BaaS) that provides a variety of tools and services to help developers develop applications (web and mobile) faster.
Backend as a Service itself is a category of cloud services that manage the backend of applications. This means that Firebase as BaaS will take care of everything regarding the backend such as databases, authentication, hosting, APIs, and others.
With the help of Firebase, developers can focus more on building the front-end of their app. Because the backend side will be done using Firebase more practically.
One of the advantages of this service developed by Google is its integration with various tools made by Google, such as Google Ads, Data Studio, Google Marketing Platform, Play Store, etc.
Given that these tools are very supportive of the application development ecosystem, especially those related to business, using Firebase is one of the right steps.
Interestingly, Firebase is a platform you can use for free (Spark Plan), which includes 11 Firebase products. Unfortunately, there are still resource limitations in this free version. So, if your resource needs are high enough, you can take advantage of the paid version of the Blaze Plan.
That’s why Firebase is a platform that can be used by businesses of all sizes, from startups to global companies.
For startups, Firebase can be used to create applications, while for large companies, Firebase is suitable for improving the quality of applications and business analytics.
Several large companies such as Duolingo, Trivago, Wattpad, and Gameloft also use Firebase for their applications.
Well, up to this point you already have an idea of what Firebase is, right? Next, let’s find out what Firebase does and how Firebase is used for app development.
Firebase Functions and Uses
In general, there are three main functions of Firebase that you should know about:
1. Create an Application (Build)
With Firebase, it’s easier and faster to build your app. Why is that?
Firebase allows you to build apps without managing servers. Application development will be faster with the support of sophisticated backend infrastructure, and the Cloud Function feature that makes platform integration easy.
The storage capacity provided is also quite large and supports real-time database synchronization.
The features that support the Firebase build functionality are:
- Cloud Firestore
- Realtime Database
- ML Kit
- Cloud Functions
- Cloud Storage
One example of the use of Firebase is in making the share and resize photos feature of an application. This is done by using three Firebase features, namely Cloud Storage, Realtime Database, and Cloud Functions.
The Cloud Storage feature will be used to securely store user photos in the cloud.
The Realtime Database feature will record the path/link of the photo so that it can be shared with other users and ensures that only users who have the link to the photo can see it.
Meanwhile, the Cloud Functions feature allows the application to display photos with original details without requiring users to download the full photos first.
2. Improve Application Quality (Release and Monitor)
Not only building applications, but the next use of Firebase is also to improve the quality of the application. How to?
When the application is finished, the next thing to do is test the application before release. The testing step is important to ensure the application is running correctly and minimize errors.
After the application is released, to improve the performance and quality of the application, you need to do regular monitoring. Because there could be bugs or errors that appear over time.
Now, you can do these things easily thanks to Firebase’s advanced features that can monitor the performance and stability of your app, including:
- Crashlytics – track app crashes
- Performance Monitoring – insight into app performance and how to fix it
- Test Lab – test the app before release
Utilizing the three features above to support Firebase functions can certainly make your application more quality, right?
3. Developing Business (Engage)
The last function of Firebase is to help business development (engage). How to?
Applications that do not provide convenience, will be abandoned by users, right? This will certainly have an impact on business.
With Firebase, you can improve the user experience of the applications you build to ensure user satisfaction.
To do this, you can collect user data with the analytical tools provided by Firebase. With this user data, you can better record what is causing a bad user experience and plan how to fix it.
Several features that support engagement efforts, namely:
- Firebase A/B Testing
- Cloud Messaging
- Remote Config
- Dynamic Links
- App Indexing
For example, you create a welcome back screen feature in your app by leveraging Analytics and Remote Config from Firebase.
The Analytics feature is used to get user information, such as application usage history, location, language, and things they like. The Remote Config feature is used to display specific content based on data from Analytics for each user.
With these two features, you can create custom screens or different pages for each user according to their preferences. This can be done without the need to update the application.
What is Firebase Features?
Firebase provides no less than 18 features or types of Firebase that you can try. Here are some of the key features of Firebase:
1. Realtime Database
What is the Firebase Realtime Database? The Firebase Realtime Database is Firebase’s native database. The purpose of this Firebase Realtime Database is to store data and synchronize between users in real-time.
Interestingly, the synchronization supports both online and offline conditions. However, offline support can only apply to iOS and Android applications. For those of you who have a web application, we do not recommend that you use Realtime Database.
This database is suitable for applications that perform few transactions or applications that only use simple queries. For example, a digital whiteboard application.
In terms of security, Realtime Database has strong user-based security because it is integrated with Firebase Authentication.
2. Cloud Firestore
Do you want to create an application where every user can collaborate? Or do you want the application to be accessible from different devices? If so, Firebase Cloud Firestore is a great choice to use in your app.
Cloud Firestore Firebase is Firebase’s newest database for mobile app development. Cloud Firestore can be used to store, sync, and query app data.
One of the advantages of Cloud Firestore is its ability to run more complex and sophisticated queries when compared to Realtime Database.
This means that Cloud Firestore will be better suited for applications that require complex interactions with very large data, such as e-commerce applications.
In addition, Cloud Firestore also supports offline synchronization on iOS, Android, and web applications. So, your e-commerce application will always be updated every time there is a change in data from a different device.
3. Firebase Authentication
Imagine if you had to set up your app authentication system? It must be difficult and take a long time, right? Not to mention added to the maintenance process, just thinking about it is already complicated. Well, Firebase Authentication is the solution.
Firebase Authentication allows you to add authentication systems such as secure user login with just a few lines of code. Interestingly, Firebase has also prepared a flexible ready-to-use UI. Thus, the implementation process will also be faster.
Firebase Authentication supports authentication using email accounts and passwords, authentication via mobile, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Github, and more.
No need to doubt its security, Firebase Authentication was built by a team of Google professionals who have developed Login with Google, Smart Lock, and created Google Password Manager.
4. Firebase Crashlytics
What is Firebase Crashlytics? Firebase Crashlytics is a useful tool for alerting apps to errors. This tool can be used on Android, iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS applications.
The advantage of Firebase Crashlytics is its reporting system that works in real-time and allows you to get detailed crash analysis. So, you can more easily fix errors.
With that convenience, you don’t have to manually track errors. You can also immediately know which repair priority has the most impact on the user.
5. Firebase Analytics
If you want to grow your business, knowing your app’s user data is a must. By understanding them, you will find it easier to prepare future business strategies.
Well, in Firebase, you can easily retrieve user data because Firebase is integrated with Google Analytics. User data that can be viewed include error data, notification effectiveness, acquisitions, and purchase data for the use of iOS or Android applications that you have.
How can this data be useful?
For example, you have an online store application. By knowing purchase data and user demographics, you can make applications display specific content/items according to their demographics so that users are more interested in shopping through your application.
Not only the ability to view data, but through this feature, you can also create reports using a custom dashboard in Google Data Studio.
6. Remote Config
Firebase Remote Config allows you to change the appearance of your app without requiring users to download app updates.
You can make these changes directly through the Firebase console. That way, you can enable or disable features dynamically or experiment without the need to release a new version of the app.
This way, you can roll out new features gradually to ensure stability and feature performance in existing apps. If the new feature fails, you can also roll back (using the old version) quickly.
With the use of Firebase Remote Config, you can also customize the appearance of your app according to user segments. For example, providing a different look for a multi-language application type or a business targeting an international audience.
7. Cloud Messaging
Firebase Cloud Messaging allows you to send and receive messages and notifications on Android, iOS, or web apps at no cost.
You can target messages according to specific devices or according to user segments that you can create yourself using demographics and user behavior.
As for notification messages, you can also customize them according to the user’s time zone, date, and user behavior history. Interestingly, you can do these things in Firebase Cloud Messaging without any coding.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Firebase
Based on the explanation above, you may realize that Firebase has many advantages thanks to its advanced features. But still, Firebase also has its drawbacks.
In general, we have summarized the advantages and disadvantages of Firebase for you:
Advantages of Firebase:
- Provides a free version.
- The interface is user-friendly so it is easy to use.
- Firebase is a fast and responsive platform
- Using JSON, not using SQL.
- Makes it easier for developers who don’t understand the backend.
- Provides complete documentation that you can access on the official website.
Disadvantages of Firebase:
- Not all products can be used with the free version.
- Resources are limited in the free version, so you’ll need to upgrade if you want additional resources.
- Overkill can occur (application stops) due to the use of centralized data.
- No access to hosted data, application data is not on your private server. So, it will be difficult to recover user accounts.
Such is the explanation of what Firebase is, the functions of Firebase and the uses of Firebase, to the advantages and disadvantages of Firebase.
Firebase is a very useful service for building and managing your apps. Not only is it technically easy, but Firebase also supports app upgrades and maintenance and your business development.
Firebase allows you to develop apps without managing servers. Therefore, this service is suitable even for beginners.