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Firebase vs Heroku: What are the differences?

Developers describe Firebase as "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. On the other hand, Heroku is detailed as "Build, deliver, monitor and scale web apps and APIs with a trail blazing developer experience". 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.

Firebase and Heroku are primarily classified as "Realtime Backend / API" and "Platform as a Service" 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, Heroku provides the following key features:

  • Agile deployment for Ruby, Node.js, Clojure, Java, Python, Go and Scala.
  • Run and scale any type of app.
  • Total visibility across your entire app.

"Realtime backend made easy", "Fast and responsive" and "Easy setup" are the key factors why developers consider Firebase; whereas "Easy deployment", "Free for side projects" and "Huge time-saver" are the primary reasons why Heroku is favored.

StackShare, Heroku, and Product Hunt are some of the popular companies that use Heroku, whereas Firebase is used by Instacart, 9GAG, and Twitch. Heroku has a broader approval, being mentioned in 1504 company stacks & 961 developers stacks; compared to Firebase, which is listed in 859 company stacks and 992 developer stacks.

Advice on Firebase and Heroku
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on
Socket.IO
Firebase
and
Apollo

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 · 237.6K views
Recommends
Firebase

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
Ably

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
8base

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 · 11.8K 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
  • 361
    Realtime backend made easy
  • 264
    Fast and responsive
  • 234
    Easy setup
  • 207
    Real-time
  • 186
    JSON
  • 127
    Free
  • 121
    Backed by google
  • 81
    Angular adaptor
  • 63
    Reliable
  • 36
    Great customer support
  • 26
    Great documentation
  • 23
    Real-time synchronization
  • 20
    Mobile friendly
  • 17
    Rapid prototyping
  • 12
    Great security
  • 11
    Automatic scaling
  • 10
    Freakingly awesome
  • 8
    Chat
  • 8
    Angularfire is an amazing addition!
  • 8
    Super fast development
  • 6
    Awesome next-gen backend
  • 6
    Ios adaptor
  • 5
    Built in user auth/oauth
  • 5
    Firebase hosting
  • 4
    Speed of light
  • 4
    Very easy to use
  • 3
    It's made development super fast
  • 3
    Great
  • 3
    Brilliant for startups
  • 2
    Great all-round functionality
  • 2
    Low battery consumption
  • 2
    I can quickly create static web apps with no backend
  • 2
    The concurrent updates create a great experience
  • 2
    JS Offline and Sync suport
  • 1
    Faster workflow
  • 1
    Large
  • 1
    Serverless
  • 1
    .net
  • 1
    Free SSL
  • 1
    Good Free Limits
  • 1
    Push notification
  • 1
    Easy to use
  • 1
    Easy Reactjs integration
  • 704
    Easy deployment
  • 460
    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
  • 154
    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
    No-ops
  • 6
    Painless & well documented
  • 4
    I love that they make it free to launch a side project
  • 4
    Free
  • 3
    Great UI
  • 3
    Just works
  • 2
    PostgreSQL forking and following
  • 2
    MySQL extension
  • 0
    Security
  • 0
    Sec

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Cons of Firebase
Cons of Heroku
  • 28
    Can become expensive
  • 15
    Scalability is not infinite
  • 14
    No open source, you depend on external company
  • 9
    Not Flexible Enough
  • 5
    Cant filter queries
  • 3
    Very unstable server
  • 2
    Too many errors
  • 2
    No Relational Data
  • 23
    Super expensive
  • 6
    Not a whole lot of flexibility
  • 5
    No usable MySQL option
  • 5
    Storage
  • 4
    Low performance on free tier
  • 1
    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.

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

What companies use Firebase?
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