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Firebase vs Google Cloud Messaging: What are the differences?

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; Google Cloud Messaging: Simple and reliable messaging to reach over a billion devices. Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) is a free service that enables developers to send messages between servers and client apps. This includes downstream messages from servers to client apps, and upstream messages from client apps to servers.

Firebase and Google Cloud Messaging are primarily classified as "Realtime Backend / API" and "Mobile Push Messaging" tools respectively.

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 Cloud Messaging provides the following key features:

  • Versatile Messaging Targets: Distribute messages to your client app in any of three ways — to single devices, to groups of devices, or to devices subscribed to topics.
  • Downstream Messaging: For purposes such as alerting users, chat messaging or kicking off background processing before the user opens the client app, GCM provides a reliable and battery-efficient connection between your server and devices.
  • Upstream Messaging: Send acknowledgments, chats, and other messages from devices back to your server over GCM’s reliable and battery-efficient connection channel.

"Realtime backend made easy" is the primary reason why developers consider Firebase over the competitors, whereas "Free" was stated as the key factor in picking Google Cloud Messaging.

Instacart, 9GAG, and Twitch are some of the popular companies that use Firebase, whereas Google Cloud Messaging is used by paytm, Ressy Technologies Private Limited, and Life360. Firebase has a broader approval, being mentioned in 859 company stacks & 997 developers stacks; compared to Google Cloud Messaging, which is listed in 18 company stacks and 8 developer stacks.

Advice on Firebase and Google Cloud Messaging
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 · 348.2K views
Recommends
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
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
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 Cloud Messaging
  • 367
    Realtime backend made easy
  • 268
    Fast and responsive
  • 240
    Easy setup
  • 212
    Real-time
  • 188
    JSON
  • 132
    Free
  • 126
    Backed by google
  • 82
    Angular adaptor
  • 67
    Reliable
  • 35
    Great customer support
  • 30
    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
    Firebase hosting
  • 6
    Awesome next-gen backend
  • 6
    Ios adaptor
  • 6
    Built in user auth/oauth
  • 4
    Speed of light
  • 4
    Very easy to use
  • 3
    Great
  • 3
    Brilliant for startups
  • 3
    It's made development super fast
  • 2
    Push notification
  • 2
    Free hosting
  • 2
    Free authentication solution
  • 2
    Cloud functions
  • 2
    JS Offline and Sync suport
  • 2
    Low battery consumption
  • 2
    The concurrent updates create a great experience
  • 2
    I can quickly create static web apps with no backend
  • 2
    Great all-round functionality
  • 1
    Easy to use
  • 1
    Easy Reactjs integration
  • 1
    Free SSL
  • 1
    Faster workflow
  • 1
    Google's support
  • 1
    Simple and easy
  • 1
    CDN & cache out of the box
  • 1
    Large
  • 1
    .net
  • 1
    Serverless
  • 1
    Good Free Limits
  • 9
    Free
  • 6
    Scalable
  • 4
    Easy setup
  • 2
    Easy iOS setup
  • 1
    IOS Support

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Cons of Firebase
Cons of Google Cloud Messaging
  • 31
    Can become expensive
  • 15
    No open source, you depend on external company
  • 15
    Scalability is not infinite
  • 9
    Not Flexible Enough
  • 6
    Cant filter queries
  • 3
    No Relational Data
  • 3
    Very unstable server
  • 2
    Too many errors
  • 2
    No offline sync
  • 1
    Reliability

Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

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 Cloud Messaging?

Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) is a free service that enables developers to send messages between servers and client apps. This includes downstream messages from servers to client apps, and upstream messages from client apps to servers.

Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

What companies use Firebase?
What companies use Google Cloud Messaging?
See which teams inside your own company are using Firebase or Google Cloud Messaging.
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What tools integrate with Firebase?
What tools integrate with Google Cloud Messaging?

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What are some alternatives to Firebase and Google Cloud Messaging?
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.
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