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Firebase vs Realm: What are the differences?


Firebase and Realm are both popular tools for building and managing databases in mobile and web applications. While they serve similar purposes, there are key differences between the two.

  1. Integrations and Data Sources: Firebase supports a wide range of integrations with other Google products, as well as various data sources such as Cloud Firestore and Realtime Database. On the other hand, Realm primarily focuses on mobile platforms and offers easy integration with mobile operating systems like iOS and Android, with support for offline capabilities.

  2. Data Synchronization: Firebase provides real-time data synchronization out of the box, allowing multiple users to simultaneously access and update the same data. Realm also offers real-time synchronization, but it utilizes its own synchronization protocol called Realm Sync, which provides a more seamless and efficient experience, especially with large datasets.

  3. Query Capabilities: Firebase offers a flexible and powerful querying system with its Firestore, allowing developers to filter, sort, and paginate data effortlessly. Realm, on the other hand, provides efficient query capabilities, particularly when working with large amounts of data on mobile devices. Its queries are based on its own query language called Realm Query Language (RQL), which is easy to use and highly performant.

  4. Data Modeling and Schema: Firebase provides a schema-less structure, allowing developers to store and retrieve data without predefined schemas. This provides more flexibility but may also result in less control over data consistency and validation. Realm, on the other hand, utilizes an object-oriented approach and enforces a predefined schema, allowing for stronger data consistency and integrity.

  5. Deployment and Pricing: Firebase offers a robust infrastructure and easy deployment options through Google Cloud Platform. It provides both free and paid plans, with pricing based on usage and additional features. Realm, on the other hand, can be deployed on-premises or on any cloud provider. It offers a Community Edition for free, as well as a paid Enterprise Edition with additional features and support.

  6. Developer Community and Ecosystem: Firebase has a large and active developer community, offering extensive documentation, tutorials, and support resources. It integrates well with other Google services and has a wide range of third-party libraries and tools. Realm also has a growing developer community, with comprehensive documentation and support resources. It offers a rich ecosystem of open-source libraries and frameworks for various platforms.

In summary, Firebase provides extensive integrations, real-time synchronization, powerful querying capabilities, flexible data modeling, easy deployment options, and a large developer community. Realm, on the other hand, focuses on mobile platforms, offers efficient synchronization and querying, enforces a predefined schema, provides flexible deployment options, and has a growing developer community.

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Needs advice

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 · 469.1K views

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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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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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 Realm
  • 371
    Realtime backend made easy
  • 270
    Fast and responsive
  • 242
    Easy setup
  • 215
  • 191
  • 134
  • 128
    Backed by google
  • 83
    Angular adaptor
  • 68
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 1
    Faster workflow
  • 1
  • 1
    Good Free Limits
  • 1
    Simple and easy
  • 7
  • 3
    Elegant API
  • 3
    Cloud Syncing
  • 2
    React Native Support
  • 1
    Strong Adoption Growth

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Cons of Firebase
Cons of Realm
  • 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
  • 1
    No offline support for web till now

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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 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.

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What companies use Firebase?
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