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Firebase vs Google App Engine: What are the differences?

What is Firebase? The Realtime App Platform. 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? Build web applications on the same scalable systems that power Google applications. 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.

Firebase belongs to "Realtime Backend / API" category of the tech stack, while Google App Engine can be primarily classified under "Platform as a Service".

Some of the features offered by Firebase are:

  • Add the Firebase library to your app and get access to a shared data structure. Any changes made to that data are automatically synchronized with the Firebase cloud and with other clients within milliseconds.
  • Firebase apps can be written entirely with client-side code, update in real-time out-of-the-box, interoperate well with existing services, scale automatically, and provide strong data security.
  • Data Accessibility- Data is stored as JSON in Firebase. Every piece of data has its own URL which can be used in Firebase's client libraries and as a REST endpoint. These URLs can also be entered into a browser to view the data and watch it update in real-time.

On the other hand, Google App Engine provides the following key features:

  • Zero to sixty: Scale your app automatically without worrying about managing machines.
  • Supercharged APIs: Supercharge your app with services such as Task Queue, XMPP, and Cloud SQL, all powered by the same infrastructure that powers the Google services you use every day.
  • You're in control: Manage your application with a simple, web-based dashboard allowing you to customize your app's performance.

"Realtime backend made easy", "Fast and responsive" and "Easy setup" are the key factors why developers consider Firebase; whereas "Easy to deploy", "Auto scaling" and "Good free plan" are the primary reasons why Google App Engine is favored.

Instacart, 9GAG, and Twitch are some of the popular companies that use Firebase, whereas Google App Engine is used by Snapchat, Movielala, and Wix. Firebase has a broader approval, being mentioned in 859 company stacks & 992 developers stacks; compared to Google App Engine, which is listed in 481 company stacks and 343 developer stacks.

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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?
    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.
    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.
    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
    Decisions about Firebase and Google App Engine
    betocantu93
    betocantu93
    Google App Engine
    Google App Engine
    Ember.js
    Ember.js
    Algolia
    Algolia
    Go
    Go
    Firebase
    Firebase
    MySQL
    MySQL

    Ember.js Algolia Go Google App Engine Firebase MySQL

    The new ember.js with SSR using fastboot+prember, without jquery and with npm easy installs via de ember-auto-import addon, angle bracket components in handlebars and ES6 classes is just a breeze to develop, we wanted to try golang for this particular project and it's ok, but I wouldn't recommend it for fast CRUDs, we might change to Elixir Phoenix for the next project, although algolia is super good there are no shortcuts for ember, we had to build them from scratch, but it works super good, we use firebase for our auth with facebook, google, phone, etc...

    See more
    Aliadoc Team
    Aliadoc Team
    at aliadoc.com · | 5 upvotes · 234.2K views
    atAliadocAliadoc
    React
    React
    Create React App
    Create React App
    CloudFlare
    CloudFlare
    Firebase
    Firebase
    Cloud Functions for Firebase
    Cloud Functions for Firebase
    Google App Engine
    Google App Engine
    Google Cloud Storage
    Google Cloud Storage
    Serverless
    Serverless
    Visual Studio Code
    Visual Studio Code
    Bitbucket
    Bitbucket
    #Aliadoc

    In #Aliadoc, we're exploring the crowdfunding option to get traction before launch. We are building a SaaS platform for website design customization.

    For the Admin UI and website editor we use React and we're currently transitioning from a Create React App setup to a custom one because our needs have become more specific. We use CloudFlare as much as possible, it's a great service.

    For routing dynamic resources and proxy tasks to feed websites to the editor we leverage CloudFlare Workers for improved responsiveness. We use Firebase for our hosting needs and user authentication while also using several Cloud Functions for Firebase to interact with other services along with Google App Engine and Google Cloud Storage, but also the Real Time Database is on the radar for collaborative website editing.

    We generally hate configuration but honestly because of the stage of our project we lack resources for doing heavy sysops work. So we are basically just relying on Serverless technologies as much as we can to do all server side processing.

    Visual Studio Code definitively makes programming a much easier and enjoyable task, we just love it. We combine it with Bitbucket for our source code control needs.

    See more
    betocantu93
    betocantu93
    Go
    Go
    Firebase
    Firebase
    Google App Engine
    Google App Engine
    Ember.js
    Ember.js
    Algolia
    Algolia
    Intercom
    Intercom

    For the backend #Backend We're using Go {json:api}, and Firebase for auth deployed in Google App Engine. Ember.js for the #frontend we have severals apps so we splitted logically with ember engines... using a monorepo to hold the whole frontend project. Using services like Algolia for super performant and complex ecommerce searching experience and Intercom chat

    See more
    Tomáš Pustelník
    Tomáš Pustelník
    Firebase
    Firebase

    We use Firebase at work (and I use it for my personal projects) for several reasons:

    1) it is not just real-time DB with subscriptions but a lot more (storage for files, push notifications for mobile, cloud functions etc.) so it allows to build quite a robust solutions, but still possible to use just a minimal set of what you need

    2) In most cases it's pretty cheap (unless you messed up you DB structure, reads/writes etc. - could be problem for a lot of traffic - so in such a case ready pricing and related guides properly), for side projects basically free.

    3) offers free hosting with SSL certificates for static files

    4) you can bootstrap functional prototype really quick and for the production, you do not need to worry about scaling.

    See more
    Jared Wuliger
    Jared Wuliger
    Contractor at Insight Global · | 9 upvotes · 59.4K views
    Firebase
    Firebase

    I started using Firebase over 5 years ago because of the 'real-time' nature. I originally used to use Real Time Database, but now I use Cloud Firestore. I recommend using the Google Firebase PaaS to quickly develop or prototype small to enterprise level web/mobile applications. Since Google purchased Firebase, it has exploded and it growing rapidly. I also find some level of comfort that it is Backed by Google.

    See more
    Interest over time
    Reviews of Firebase and Google App Engine
    Review ofGoogle App EngineGoogle App Engine

    With Cloud Endpoints you can create and deploy mobile backend in one hour or less. And it is free (until you need extra scale). I would not recommend to use Java - python is faster and has all new appengine features.

    Pros: everything is in one place: task queue, cron, backend instances for data processing, datastore, mapreduce. Cons: you cannot easily move your code from GAE. Even with special 3rd party services.

    Review ofFirebaseFirebase

    Firebase is great, cheap and very flexible. Their docs are very helpful and so is the customer support, but the one thing that is so awesome about firebase is that everything is done in realtime!

    Review ofFirebaseFirebase

    We were looking for a solution to find out about all the errors our customers experienced but never informed us about.

    Review ofGoogle App EngineGoogle App Engine

    With Cloud Endpoints you can create and deploy mobile backend in one hour or less.

    How developers use Firebase and Google App Engine
    Avatar of Instacart
    Instacart uses FirebaseFirebase

    We use it for a few things. We use it internally for a few dashboards because it’s actually really nice to have real-time dashboard data with Firebase. We also use it extensively for live order updating. For example, when a shopper is picking your items, you'll be able to go on your order screen. There will be live showing like found or not found or whatever. You'll have live position updating of your shopper on the map. You will have live information of the status of the order like “Nicole is now picking up your order,” and all these kind of things, so you don’t have to reload the page or pull or anything. Just live updates happen natively through Firebase API, which is nice.

    Avatar of Instacart
    Instacart uses FirebaseFirebase

    We use it for a few things. We use it internally for a few dashboards because it’s actually really nice to have real-time dashboard data with Firebase. We also use it extensively for live order updating. For example, when a shopper is picking your items, you'll be able to go on your order screen. There will be live showing like found or not found or whatever. You'll have live position updating of your shopper on the map. You will have live information of the status of the order like “Nicole is now picking up your order,” and all these kind of things, so you don’t have to reload the page or pull or anything. Just live updates happen natively through Firebase API, which is nice.

    Avatar of Casey Smith
    Casey Smith uses Google App EngineGoogle App Engine

    PaaS for back-end components, including external data ingestion APIs, front-end web service APIs, hosting of static front-end application assets, back-end data processing pipeline microservices, APIs to storage infrastructure (Cloud SQL and Memcached), and data processing pipeline task queues and cron jobs. Task queue fan-out and auto-scaling of back-end microservice instances provide parallelism for high velocity data processing.

    Avatar of ttandon
    ttandon uses FirebaseFirebase

    Used for storing results of users (malaria predictions) and displaying to user in the app. Although the realtime aspect wasn't huge in this project, it was much quicker to push data elements for each user as firebase elements since they were purely numerical and very small. And again, the idea of familiarity - I've worked with Firebase at previous hackathons, so no need to spend time going through docs, just straight to the coding.

    Avatar of Lawrence Cheuk
    Lawrence Cheuk uses Google App EngineGoogle App Engine

    checking a swap require a lot of cpu resource, roster normally come out same day of month, every month, at a particular time. Which make very high spike, our flag ship product, iSwap, with the capability looking swap possibility with 10000 other rosters base on user critieria, you need a cloud computing give you this magnitude of computing power. gae did it nicely, user friendly, easy to you, low cost.

    Avatar of NewCraft
    NewCraft uses FirebaseFirebase

    Firebase let's us iterate quickly. We've used the Realtime Database to build rich UX features– like push notifications– fast. Likewise, Firebase Authentication and Cloud Functions save us from having to rebuild redundant server infrastructure. Even though Firebase can get pricey, we've saved money in developer time.

    Avatar of Addo
    Addo uses FirebaseFirebase

    Still in development, but we will soon (January 2016) be releasing a version that uses Firebase to keep the front end up to date in real time. Certain data are synchronised across RDS and Firebase to optimize the user experience.

    Avatar of CommentBox.io
    CommentBox.io uses Google App EngineGoogle App Engine

    App engine fills in the gaps in the increasingly smaller case where it's necessary for us to run our own APIs.

    Avatar of Abhijeet Gokar
    Abhijeet Gokar uses Google App EngineGoogle App Engine

    Very easy to make cloud computing of ML models , and use containers like Kubernetes.

    Avatar of Vamsi Krishna
    Vamsi Krishna uses Google App EngineGoogle App Engine

    Cloud instances to run our app, Cloud MySQL , Network Load Balancer

    How much does Firebase cost?
    How much does Google App Engine cost?