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Firebase vs Google App Engine: What are the differences?

Key differences between Firebase and Google App Engine

Firebase and Google App Engine are both popular products offered by Google for building and managing web applications. While they have some similarities, there are key differences between the two:

  1. Scalability: Firebase is designed to provide a scalable backend infrastructure for mobile and web applications, whereas Google App Engine is geared towards building and deploying highly scalable applications in a managed environment. Firebase offers real-time updates and instant scaling capabilities, making it ideal for applications that require high user engagement and rapid growth. Google App Engine, on the other hand, provides a fully-managed platform that automatically scales your application based on demand, making it more suitable for large-scale applications with varying traffic patterns.

  2. Database: Firebase offers Firebase Realtime Database, which is a NoSQL cloud-hosted database that allows for real-time data synchronization across devices. It provides an easy-to-use interface for storing and retrieving data, making it suitable for applications that require real-time updates. Google App Engine, on the other hand, supports a variety of databases, including Cloud Datastore, Cloud SQL, and Cloud Spanner. These databases offer more flexibility and advanced querying capabilities but require additional configuration and management.

  3. Authentication: Firebase provides built-in authentication services that allow for easy integration of user authentication and authorization into your application. It supports multiple authentication providers, including email/password, social media login, and anonymous authentication. Google App Engine, on the other hand, does not provide built-in authentication services, and you will need to implement your own authentication system or integrate with external services.

  4. Serverless Functions: Firebase provides Firebase Cloud Functions, a serverless compute platform that allows you to run backend code in response to events triggered by Firebase features and HTTPS requests. With Firebase Cloud Functions, you can build serverless applications that scale automatically and only pay for the resources you use. Google App Engine, on the other hand, provides App Engine Standard, which offers a fully managed environment for running applications, but does not provide a serverless compute platform like Firebase Cloud Functions.

  5. Deployment: Firebase offers an easy-to-use command-line interface and hosting service that allows you to deploy your web application with a single command. It automatically configures the necessary infrastructure and provides a secure, high-performance content delivery network (CDN) for serving your application. Google App Engine also offers a command-line interface and hosting service for deploying your application but provides more configuration options and flexibility, allowing you to customize the runtime environment and scaling settings.

  6. Pricing Model: Firebase offers a flexible pricing model based on usage, allowing you to pay only for what you use. It provides a free tier with limited resources and offers paid plans for higher usage levels. Google App Engine also offers a flexible pricing model based on usage, but it has a different pricing structure compared to Firebase. It provides a free tier and offers paid plans based on the number of instances, instance hours, and other resources consumed.

In summary, Firebase is a scalable backend infrastructure with real-time database and authentication services, while Google App Engine is a managed platform for building and deploying highly scalable applications. Firebase offers serverless functions and easy deployment, while Google App Engine provides more configuration options and flexibility. The pricing models for both products differ but allow for flexibility and scalability.

Advice on Firebase and Google App Engine
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 · 472.8K 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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Pros of Firebase
Pros of Google App Engine
  • 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
  • 19
    Rapid prototyping
  • 14
    Great security
  • 12
    Automatic scaling
  • 11
    Freakingly awesome
  • 8
    Super fast development
  • 8
    Angularfire is an amazing addition!
  • 8
    Chat
  • 6
    Firebase hosting
  • 6
    Built in user auth/oauth
  • 6
    Awesome next-gen backend
  • 6
    Ios adaptor
  • 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
  • 145
    Easy to deploy
  • 106
    Auto scaling
  • 80
    Good free plan
  • 62
    Easy management
  • 56
    Scalability
  • 35
    Low cost
  • 32
    Comprehensive set of features
  • 28
    All services in one place
  • 22
    Simple scaling
  • 19
    Quick and reliable cloud servers
  • 6
    Granular Billing
  • 5
    Easy to develop and unit test
  • 4
    Monitoring gives comprehensive set of key indicators
  • 3
    Really easy to quickly bring up a full stack
  • 3
    Create APIs quickly with cloud endpoints
  • 2
    Mostly up
  • 2
    No Ops

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Cons of Firebase
Cons of Google App Engine
  • 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
    Be the first to leave a con

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    What is Firebase?

    Firebase is a cloud service designed to power real-time, collaborative applications. Simply add the Firebase library to your application to gain access to a shared data structure; any changes you make to that data are automatically synchronized with the Firebase cloud and with other clients within milliseconds.

    What is Google App Engine?

    Google has a reputation for highly reliable, high performance infrastructure. With App Engine you can take advantage of the 10 years of knowledge Google has in running massively scalable, performance driven systems. App Engine applications are easy to build, easy to maintain, and easy to scale as your traffic and data storage needs grow.

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    What are some alternatives to Firebase and Google App Engine?
    Parse
    With Parse, you can add a scalable and powerful backend in minutes and launch a full-featured app in record time without ever worrying about server management. We offer push notifications, social integration, data storage, and the ability to add rich custom logic to your app’s backend with Cloud Code.
    MongoDB
    MongoDB stores data in JSON-like documents that can vary in structure, offering a dynamic, flexible schema. MongoDB was also designed for high availability and scalability, with built-in replication and auto-sharding.
    Heroku
    Heroku is a cloud application platform – a new way of building and deploying web apps. Heroku lets app developers spend 100% of their time on their application code, not managing servers, deployment, ongoing operations, or scaling.
    Auth0
    A set of unified APIs and tools that instantly enables Single Sign On and user management to all your applications.
    Realm
    The Realm Mobile Platform is a next-generation data layer for applications. Realm is reactive, concurrent, and lightweight, allowing you to work with live, native objects.
    See all alternatives