We are starting to work on a web-based platform aiming to connect artists (clients) and professional freelancers (service providers). In-app, timeline-based, real-time communication between users (& storing it), file transfers, and push notifications are essential core features. We are considering using Node.js, ExpressJS, React, MongoDB stack with Socket.IO & Apollo, or maybe using Real-Time Database and functionalities of Firebase.
I would recommend you to take a look into 8base. It has features you've requested, also relation database and GraphQL API which will help you to develop rapidly.
I would recommend looking hard into
Firebase for this project, especially if you do not have dedicated full-stack or backend members on your team.
The real time database, as you mentioned, is a great option, but I would also look into
Firestore. Similar to RTDB, it adds more functions and some cool methods as well. Also, another great thing about Firebase is you have easy access to storage and dead simple auth as well.
Apollo are great technologies as well, and may be the better option if you do not wish to cede as much control to third parties in your application.
Overall, I say if you wish to focus more time developing your
React application instead of other parts of your stack,
Firebase is a great way to do that.
I totally agree with you.
The only issue is most features of firebase are paid (and from my perspective costly) which could be a concern when the app grows and they might need to migrate which would be a lot of work.
But if it's only a prototyping then it's all good.
I hear you. I honestly haven't looked into hosting costs of Firebase vs Express/Mongo much.