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Contentful vs Firebase: What are the differences?

Introduction

In the world of web development, Contentful and Firebase are both powerful tools that offer unique features and functionalities. While both platforms provide solutions for managing and storing data, there are several key differences that set them apart from each other.

1. Database Type:

Contentful is primarily a headless CMS (Content Management System) that stores data in a structured and organized manner. It follows a strict schema where content models define the structure of data. On the other hand, Firebase is a real-time database that stores data in a NoSQL format, allowing for flexible and unstructured data storage.

2. Deployment Flexibility:

Contentful requires a separate deployment process to publish content changes, which involves different environments and a manual workflow. However, Firebase offers a seamless deployment process as it instantly reflects any content or database changes made in real-time without the need for additional deployments.

3. Real-time Capabilities:

Firebase provides real-time synchronization of data, allowing multiple users to access and modify the same dataset simultaneously. This capability is particularly useful for applications that require live updates, such as chat applications, collaborative tools, and real-time dashboards. In contrast, Contentful does not inherently support real-time capabilities and relies on additional technologies or integrations to achieve similar functionality.

4. Authentication and User Management:

Firebase has built-in authentication and user management functionalities that allow developers to handle user authentication, password resets, and user roles with ease. Contentful, on the other hand, does not offer such built-in features and requires developers to integrate separate authentication systems or third-party services to manage users.

5. Query and Search:

Contentful provides robust search functionality, allowing developers to query and filter content based on various criteria. It also supports complex searching using queries written in Structured Query Language (SQL). Firebase, on the other hand, has a simpler querying system where data retrieval is primarily done using key-value pairs or simple filtering based on specific attributes.

6. Hosting Capabilities:

Firebase offers hosting services, allowing developers to deploy and host their web applications directly from Firebase. It provides a user-friendly interface for configuring hosting settings and supports features like SSL, domain management, and CDN (Content Delivery Network) integration. Contentful, on the other hand, does not provide hosting capabilities, and developers need to rely on separate hosting platforms or servers to deploy their web applications.

In Summary, Contentful and Firebase differ in terms of data organization, deployment flexibility, real-time capabilities, authentication and user management, query and search functionality, as well as hosting capabilities. These distinctions make them suitable for different use cases and development scenarios.

Advice on Contentful and Firebase
Kamil Debbagh
Product Manager at Wooclap · | 8 upvotes · 113.3K views
Needs advice
on
ContentfulContentfulprismic.ioprismic.io
and
StrapiStrapi

Hi StackSharers, your help is dearly needed as we're making a move to which we will commit for the next few years.

Problem: As our Marketing team gets growing needs to publish content fast and autonomously, we're trying to add a CMS to our stack.

Specs:

  • This CMS should have fairly advanced marketing features: either natively built, and/or be open source, so we can either find third parties' plugins suiting our needs or build our own plugins homebrew.

  • "Advanced marketing features" like these: Non-devs should be able to handle content autonomously, Should have a non-dev friendly interface, should allow creating a library of reusable components/modules, should show the preview before publishing, should have a calendar with all publications, should show the history/tracking, should allow collaborating (Google Docs like), should display characters limit optimized for SEO.

Solution: We're considering an SSG + Headless CMS combination. We're fairly confident for the SSG (Gatsby), but we're still uncertain which CMS we should choose.

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Replies (3)
Recommends
on
ContentfulContentful

Of all the content management systems out there, contentful seems to be the most flexible. It consist of an user interface with an API a front end app can retrieve data from.

It makes no assumptions about how your data is presented or structured, and you can form any kind of content in the interface. Architectural portfolio with square footage attributes? Check. Carousel section on a page? Check. A blog? No problem. Entire landing pages consisting of sections that have child items in them and attributes for each child? Not an issue. Image hosting / cdn and resizing? No problem. Character limits? Widely supported. Multilingual? Easy peasy

There are two parts of the interface. Content types and content items. Content types is just a definition of how a content item is structured, you can add fields such as title, unique id, image, rich text, lists of child content items, etc. And then the API will just return a list of content items in JSON array or object format.

There is service integration with common apps, or data sources.

Because it’s just an API call, you can use literally any tech stack with it. It won’t stop you from using MySQL or any other technology alongside it. No messing about compilation, Java, maven, like with AEM. No being constrained to the CMS’s programming language or hosting environment like with Wordpress (to an extent, wp has an API too). You can integrate it with any app, whether it be serverless, on a vm, or inside a docker container.

Downside is the front end is really up to you. It’s just a cms for structuring your data. No preview though. How you present it is not handled by contentful. It is it’s greatest strength and not a weakness though

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Krassimir Boyanov
Independent IT Consultant, CEO at KBWEB Consult · | 3 upvotes · 70.7K views

Hi Kamil, Have you considered Adobe Experience Manager (AEM)? It is not completely open-source but is built on top of many open source modules - like Apache Sling, Apache Felix, has a great deal of open-sourced core components, supports SPA - React and Angular Recently and can be deployed as a cloud service. Good luck in your search!

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Gagan Jakhotiya
Engineering Manager at BigBasket · | 1 upvotes · 58.9K views
Recommends

I'd like to share my experience for a similar use case.

A couple of months back I was in a similar place while facing some similar set of challenges within our SEO and Content Team. We were working with WordPress at that moment and for some parts - we still do. While WordPress is a very fast, intuitive and comprehensive tool to power static pages, it's not ideal for: 1. The content team as it requires some level of technical skills 2. Code reusability perspective - impacts performance in a longer run 3. Performance and user experience can easily go for a toss considering content team may not be diligent with everything outside the scope of the content

While evaluating we were looking at these key criterias: 1. SEO, Performance and UX 2. Ease of use for Content Team, developer independence 3. Learning Curve for devs and more importantly content creators 4. Support for complex design cases 5. Cost

Being part of a small org on a tight budget our natural inclination was for open-source solution, Strapi, and so we gave it a go for a smaller project before jumping the marketing wagon.

Strapi is a great tool, easy to learn and pick up. You get most of the design use cases out of the box baked for you. It's a Node.js service so you'll need to manage the service (meaning you'll have to handle monitoring, logging, cdn, auth, etc) and DB - which requires quiet some dev bandwidth. Now Strapi is still very young in term of DB migrations (not a seamless deployment yet - no schema diffing mechanism), setting up different environments required effort and you can do content modeling only in development environment (the db migrations complexity) - which becomes really critical when you want devs, design and content to collaborate simultaneously and don't want repeated work for modeling. Over a 5-6 weeks of use we realised that more and more dev bandwidth is required to do progressive addition of new content and hence we did another PoC with contentful.

Comparing this with contentful - which is a managed service, comes with inbuilt environment and preview setup, gives on-the-fly content modeling (replacing all the dev bandwidth dependency for managing migrations, cdn, auth, service, etc) gives a huge advantage of speed and developer independence at a very moderate price. Plus, the UI is very intuitive (taking some concepts from Tag Manager).

Few other thing to highlight: - Both Strapi and Contentful have plugins for common tooling. - Both the dashboard supports custom data type and UI extensions. I found Contentful UI extensions much more easier to implement. - Contentful has only US based availablility zone. Simple in-memory caching can be used to improve costing and SLA.

Hope this helps!

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Needs advice
on
ApolloApolloFirebaseFirebase
and
Socket.IOSocket.IO

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.

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Replies (3)
Timothy Malstead
Junior Full Stack Developer at Freelance · | 7 upvotes · 471.5K views
Recommends
on
FirebaseFirebase

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.

Node.js Express MongoDB Socket.IO and 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.

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Recommends
on
AblyAbly

Hello Noam 👋,

I suggest taking a look at Ably, it has all the realtime features you need and the platform is designed to guarantee critical functionality at scale.

Here is an in depth comparison between Ably and Firebase

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Recommends
on
8base8base

Hey Noam,

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.

Thanks, Ilya

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Maxim Filimonov
Needs advice
on
ContentfulContentfulprismic.ioprismic.io
and
SanitySanity

Hi Community, Would like to ask for advice from people familiar with those tools. We are a small self-funded startup and initial cost for us is very important at that stage. That's why we are leaning towards Sanity. The CMS will be used to power our website and flutter cross-platform mobile applications.

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Replies (1)
Recommends
on
ContentfulContentful

Former Prismic.io developer here. If you want something robust vs "looks good from a distance," I would recommend Contentful. They are the biggest for a reason. Their CMS handles a lot of use cases and has great documentation. Prismic.io will work well in simple blog-esque use cases. Their more complex features break easily and their documentation is confusing. It has fallen quite a distance behind Contentful. Sanity appears to be a much newer CMS and you might come to regret the lack of features, but I've only briefly reviewed their product.

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Pros of Contentful
Pros of Firebase
  • 30
    API-based cms
  • 17
    Much better than WordPress
  • 11
    Simple and customizable
  • 5
    Images API
  • 3
    Free for small projects
  • 1
    Extensible dashboard UI
  • 1
    Super simple to integrate
  • 1
    Managed Service
  • 1
    Tag Manager like UI
  • 371
    Realtime backend made easy
  • 270
    Fast and responsive
  • 242
    Easy setup
  • 215
    Real-time
  • 191
    JSON
  • 134
    Free
  • 128
    Backed by google
  • 83
    Angular adaptor
  • 68
    Reliable
  • 36
    Great customer support
  • 32
    Great documentation
  • 25
    Real-time synchronization
  • 21
    Mobile friendly
  • 18
    Rapid prototyping
  • 14
    Great security
  • 12
    Automatic scaling
  • 11
    Freakingly awesome
  • 8
    Chat
  • 8
    Angularfire is an amazing addition!
  • 8
    Super fast development
  • 6
    Built in user auth/oauth
  • 6
    Firebase hosting
  • 6
    Ios adaptor
  • 6
    Awesome next-gen backend
  • 4
    Speed of light
  • 4
    Very easy to use
  • 3
    Great
  • 3
    It's made development super fast
  • 3
    Brilliant for startups
  • 2
    Free hosting
  • 2
    Cloud functions
  • 2
    JS Offline and Sync suport
  • 2
    Low battery consumption
  • 2
    .net
  • 2
    The concurrent updates create a great experience
  • 2
    Push notification
  • 2
    I can quickly create static web apps with no backend
  • 2
    Great all-round functionality
  • 2
    Free authentication solution
  • 1
    Easy Reactjs integration
  • 1
    Google's support
  • 1
    Free SSL
  • 1
    CDN & cache out of the box
  • 1
    Easy to use
  • 1
    Large
  • 1
    Faster workflow
  • 1
    Serverless
  • 1
    Good Free Limits
  • 1
    Simple and easy

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Cons of Contentful
Cons of Firebase
  • 5
    No spell check
  • 5
    No repeater Field
  • 4
    No free plan
  • 3
    Slow dashboard
  • 2
    Enterprise targeted
  • 2
    Pricey
  • 2
    Limited content types
  • 1
    Not scalable
  • 1
    No GraphQL API
  • 31
    Can become expensive
  • 16
    No open source, you depend on external company
  • 15
    Scalability is not infinite
  • 9
    Not Flexible Enough
  • 7
    Cant filter queries
  • 3
    Very unstable server
  • 3
    No Relational Data
  • 2
    Too many errors
  • 2
    No offline sync

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