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Firebase vs Heroku: What are the differences?


Firebase and Heroku are both popular platforms used for web application hosting and deployment. While they share some similarities, there are also key differences that set them apart in terms of features, scalability, and ease of use.

  1. Pricing Model: Firebase follows a pay-as-you-go pricing model, where you pay for the actual usage of resources such as storage, database, and bandwidth. On the other hand, Heroku offers a dyno-based pricing model, where you pay based on the number of dynos (server instances) you use. This difference in pricing models allows for more flexibility in terms of cost control when using Firebase.

  2. Database Options: Firebase offers a NoSQL real-time database as its primary database component, which is optimized for real-time syncing and offline functionality. Heroku, on the other hand, is a platform that allows you to host your own applications, giving you the freedom to choose any database of your choice, whether it's SQL or NoSQL. This difference in database options provides more flexibility when it comes to choosing the ideal database for your specific application.

  3. Platform Complexity: Firebase is a fully managed platform, which means it abstracts away the infrastructure management and enables users to focus on building their applications. Heroku, on the other hand, provides more control and visibility over the infrastructure, giving users the ability to configure and fine-tune their application settings. This difference in platform complexity allows for more customization options with Heroku but may require more technical expertise compared to Firebase.

  4. Real-time functionality: Firebase is known for its real-time capabilities, providing features like real-time database updates and real-time messaging. Heroku, on the other hand, does not inherently provide real-time functionality but can integrate with other services like WebSocket or third-party tools to achieve real-time communication. This difference in real-time functionality makes Firebase a preferred choice for applications that require real-time updates and messaging.

  5. Scalability and Performance: Firebase is designed to scale automatically based on demand, making it suitable for applications with unpredictable traffic patterns. Heroku, on the other hand, requires manual scaling by adjusting the number of dynos or using add-ons for additional scalability. This difference in scalability and performance management provides Firebase with a more hands-off approach, while Heroku allows for more fine-tuning and control over the application's performance.

  6. Deployment Process: Firebase offers a simplified deployment process, where you can easily deploy your application with a few commands or clicks. Heroku, on the other hand, requires more setup and configuration, with the need to push code to a Git repository and manage deployment pipelines. This difference in deployment processes makes Firebase more beginner-friendly and time-saving, while Heroku provides more options for customization and integration with other development workflows.

In Summary, Firebase offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model, a real-time database, and a simpler deployment process, while Heroku allows for more customization options, a variety of database choices, and more control over infrastructure settings.

Advice on Firebase and Heroku
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 · 474K 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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Decisions about Firebase and Heroku

I'm transitioning to Render from heroku. The pricing scale matches my usage scale, yet it's just as easy to deploy. It's removed a lot of the devops that I don't like to deal with on setting up my own raw *nix box and makes deployment simple and easy!

Clustering I don't use clustering features at the moment but when i need to set up clustering of nodes and discoverability, render will enable that where Heroku would require that I use an external service like redis.

Restarts The restarts are annoying. I understand the reasoning, but I'd rather watch my service if its got a memory leak and work to fix it than to just assume that it has memory leaks and needs to restart.

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Sarthak Saxena
Technical Lead at DreamTune · | 2 upvotes · 17.9K views

(2/3) Numpy: This is a package for scientific computing in python. Vectorised code from this library also makes this very efficient. This is an absolutely essential library for machine learning and will help us develop our models efficiently. SciKit-Learn, our machine learning library of choice, uses Numpy extensively and therefore it has to be used by us.

SciKit-Learn: SciKit-Learn is a machine learning library in python. It includes models for regression, classification, clustering, SVM’s, forests, etc. We have chosen this because of all the types of models it offers and the ease with which they can be integrated with our software.

Stripe: POS system of choice with direct integration to all major forms of payment. By using stripe, we can worry less about payment security as they are innovators in the industry and are dedicated to making POS reliable, fast, and scalable.

Firebase: Direct integration into Python makes this NoSQL database a perfect choice. Search is fast and uses an indexing method similar to Google allowing for low latency. Also has the benefit of allowing context casting to remodel JSON data into workable python objects easily.

Heroku: Heroku integrates really well with GitHub and makes the process of deploying our web app extremely easy. After setting up Heroku on our GitHub project, a simple push to it’s master branch deploys the updates. It’s really simple to set up and uses and it is absolutely free. Furthermore, it makes the web app accessible to everyone instead of deploying it locally which is a huge plus.

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React is used for its functional nature and simplification of ES6. The efficiency of how it re-renders based on components is an added bonus. styled-components is used to simplify CSS 3 styling, and to avoid having additional files.

The Node.js framework, ExpressJS, is used for the back-end to create a RESTful API for the NoSQL Firebase database.

Deployment is done through Heroku. ExpressJS, Firebase, and Heroku are used for their ease of use and simplicity, over its alternatives for this proof of concept application.

They would most likely be migrated into Laravel, aws, and MySQL, for production because of their scalability, and robustness if used with a larger dataset and userbase.

Finally, Visual Studio Code is used as a code editor, due to its combination of features and speed, while also having an integrated terminal.

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Pros of Firebase
Pros of Heroku
  • 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
  • 19
    Rapid prototyping
  • 14
    Great security
  • 12
    Automatic scaling
  • 11
    Freakingly awesome
  • 8
    Super fast development
  • 8
    Angularfire is an amazing addition!
  • 8
  • 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
  • 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
  • 703
    Easy deployment
  • 459
    Free for side projects
  • 374
    Huge time-saver
  • 348
    Simple scaling
  • 261
    Low devops skills required
  • 190
    Easy setup
  • 174
    Add-ons for almost everything
  • 153
    Beginner friendly
  • 150
    Better for startups
  • 133
    Low learning curve
  • 48
    Postgres hosting
  • 41
    Easy to add collaborators
  • 30
    Faster development
  • 24
    Awesome documentation
  • 19
    Simple rollback
  • 19
    Focus on product, not deployment
  • 15
    Natural companion for rails development
  • 15
    Easy integration
  • 12
    Great customer support
  • 8
    GitHub integration
  • 6
    Painless & well documented
  • 6
  • 4
    I love that they make it free to launch a side project
  • 4
  • 3
    Great UI
  • 3
    Just works
  • 2
    PostgreSQL forking and following
  • 2
    MySQL extension
  • 1
  • 1
    Able to host stuff good like Discord Bot
  • 0

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Cons of Firebase
Cons of Heroku
  • 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
  • 27
    Super expensive
  • 9
    Not a whole lot of flexibility
  • 7
    No usable MySQL option
  • 7
  • 5
    Low performance on free tier
  • 2
    24/7 support is $1,000 per month

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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 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.

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Sep 29 2020 at 7:36PM


PythonSlackG Suite+17
Jun 19 2015 at 6:37AM

What are some alternatives to Firebase and Heroku?
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 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.
A set of unified APIs and tools that instantly enables Single Sign On and user management to all your applications.
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.
With Contentful, you can bring your content anywhere using our APIs, completely customize your content structure all while using your preferred programming languages and frameworks.
See all alternatives