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Firebase vs Google Cloud Pub/Sub: What are the differences?


Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub are both products offered by Google for developers to build and manage their applications. While they serve different purposes, there are several key differences between the two.

  1. Scalability: Firebase is a comprehensive mobile and web development platform that provides real-time database, storage, authentication, and various other services. It is designed to be scalable and can handle large amounts of traffic and data. On the other hand, Google Cloud Pub/Sub is a messaging service that allows decoupling of applications by providing reliable asychronous communication. It is also highly scalable, allowing for the processing of millions of messages per second.

  2. Data Structure: Firebase stores data in a JSON-like format, offering a flexible and document-based database. This makes it easier to work with and allows for easy synchronization between clients and the server. In contrast, Google Cloud Pub/Sub is not a database but a message queue system. It handles messages in the form of binary data or text and does not provide storage for persistent data.

  3. Real-time Updates: One of the main features of Firebase is its ability to synchronize data in real-time between clients and the server. This means that any changes made to the data on the server are immediately reflected on connected clients, enabling real-time collaboration and updating of user interfaces. Google Cloud Pub/Sub, on the other hand, focuses on asynchronous messaging and does not provide built-in real-time updates.

  4. Data Querying: Firebase offers powerful querying capabilities, including sorting, filtering, and retrieving data based on various criteria. It also supports complex queries such as multi-level filtering and ordering. Google Cloud Pub/Sub, being a messaging service, does not provide querying capabilities as it is primarily used for distributing messages between publishers and subscribers.

  5. Authentication and Authorization: Firebase offers built-in authentication and authorization features, making it easy to authenticate users and restrict access to resources based on user roles and permissions. It provides various authentication providers such as email/password, Google, Facebook, etc. Google Cloud Pub/Sub, on the other hand, does not provide authentication and authorization features out-of-the-box. Developers need to handle authentication separately if needed.

  6. Integration with Other Services: Firebase integrates seamlessly with other Google services such as Cloud Functions, Cloud Storage, and Analytics. This allows developers to build advanced backend functionalities and leverage additional services provided by Google. Google Cloud Pub/Sub also integrates with other Google Cloud services but is more focused on messaging and event-driven architectures.

In Summary, Firebase is a comprehensive development platform that provides real-time database, storage, authentication, and various other services with powerful querying capabilities and real-time updates. On the other hand, Google Cloud Pub/Sub is a highly-scalable messaging service that allows decoupling of applications and processing of millions of messages per second, but does not offer querying capabilities or built-in authentication and authorization features.

Advice on Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub
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 · 467.8K 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 Google Cloud Pub/Sub
  • 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
  • 9
    Easy to set-up and start with
  • 2
    A great choice for microservice architecture
  • 2
    Efficient and practical for complex systems

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Cons of Firebase
Cons of Google Cloud Pub/Sub
  • 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
  • 2
    Need integration with stackdriver for monitoring

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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 Cloud Pub/Sub?

Cloud Pub/Sub is a fully-managed real-time messaging service that allows you to send and receive messages between independent applications. You can leverage Cloud Pub/Sub’s flexibility to decouple systems and components hosted on Google Cloud Platform or elsewhere on the Internet.

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What companies use Firebase?
What companies use Google Cloud Pub/Sub?
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What tools integrate with Google Cloud Pub/Sub?

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Jul 2 2019 at 9:34PM


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