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Firebase vs nginx: 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, nginx is detailed as "A high performance free open source web server powering busiest sites on the Internet". nginx [engine x] is an HTTP and reverse proxy server, as well as a mail proxy server, written by Igor Sysoev. According to Netcraft nginx served or proxied 30.46% of the top million busiest sites in Jan 2018.

Firebase belongs to "Realtime Backend / API" category of the tech stack, while nginx can be primarily classified under "Web Servers".

"Realtime backend made easy", "Fast and responsive" and "Easy setup" are the key factors why developers consider Firebase; whereas "High-performance http server", "Performance" and "Easy to configure" are the primary reasons why nginx is favored.

nginx is an open source tool with 9.11K GitHub stars and 3.44K GitHub forks. Here's a link to nginx's open source repository on GitHub.

According to the StackShare community, nginx has a broader approval, being mentioned in 8670 company stacks & 2556 developers stacks; compared to Firebase, which is listed in 859 company stacks and 992 developer stacks.

- No public GitHub repository available -

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 nginx?

nginx [engine x] is an HTTP and reverse proxy server, as well as a mail proxy server, written by Igor Sysoev. According to Netcraft nginx served or proxied 30.46% of the top million busiest sites in Jan 2018.
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    What are some alternatives to Firebase and nginx?
    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.
    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.
    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 nginx
    Tim Abbott
    Tim Abbott
    Founder at Zulip · | 5 upvotes · 39.6K views
    atZulipZulip
    Apache HTTP Server
    Apache HTTP Server
    nginx
    nginx

    We've been happy with nginx as part of our stack. As an open source web application that folks install on-premise, the configuration system for the webserver is pretty important to us. I have a few complaints (e.g. the configuration syntax for conditionals is a pain), but overall we've found it pretty easy to build a configurable set of options (see link) for how to run Zulip on nginx, both directly and with a remote reverse proxy in front of it, with a minimum of code duplication.

    Certainly I've been a lot happier with it than I was working with Apache HTTP Server in past projects.

    See more
    Go
    Go
    Lua
    Lua
    OpenResty
    OpenResty
    nginx
    nginx
    Logstash
    Logstash
    Prometheus
    Prometheus

    At Kong while building an internal tool, we struggled to route metrics to Prometheus and logs to Logstash without incurring too much latency in our metrics collection.

    We replaced nginx with OpenResty on the edge of our tool which allowed us to use the lua-nginx-module to run Lua code that captures metrics and records telemetry data during every request’s log phase. Our code then pushes the metrics to a local aggregator process (written in Go) which in turn exposes them in Prometheus Exposition Format for consumption by Prometheus. This solution reduced the number of components we needed to maintain and is fast thanks to NGINX and LuaJIT.

    See more
    Scott Mebberson
    Scott Mebberson
    CTO / Chief Architect at Idearium · | 5 upvotes · 23.3K views
    Caddy
    Caddy
    nginx
    nginx

    We used to primarily use nginx for our static web server and proxy in-front of Node.js. Now, we use Caddy. And we couldn't be happier.

    Caddy is simpler on all fronts. Configuration is easier. Free HTTPS out of the box. Some fantastic plugins. And for the most part, it's fast.

    Don't get me wrong, it's not lost on me that Nginx is actually a superior product.

    But for the times when you don't need that extra performance, and complexity - take a look at Caddy.

    See more
    Simon Bettison
    Simon Bettison
    Managing Director at Bettison.org Limited · | 6 upvotes · 91.7K views
    atBettison.org LimitedBettison.org Limited
    Amazon EC2 Container Service
    Amazon EC2 Container Service
    Docker
    Docker
    Amazon VPC
    Amazon VPC
    Amazon Route 53
    Amazon Route 53
    Amazon SQS
    Amazon SQS
    Amazon SES
    Amazon SES
    Amazon CloudFront
    Amazon CloudFront
    nginx
    nginx
    Unicorn
    Unicorn
    Ruby
    Ruby
    Travis CI
    Travis CI
    Selenium
    Selenium
    RSpec
    RSpec
    Rails
    Rails
    Amazon ElastiCache
    Amazon ElastiCache
    Redis
    Redis
    Sidekiq
    Sidekiq
    Elasticsearch
    Elasticsearch
    PostgreSQL
    PostgreSQL

    In 2010 we made the very difficult decision to entirely re-engineer our existing monolithic LAMP application from the ground up in order to address some growing concerns about it's long term viability as a platform.

    Full application re-write is almost always never the answer, because of the risks involved. However the situation warranted drastic action as it was clear that the existing product was going to face severe scaling issues. We felt it better address these sooner rather than later and also take the opportunity to improve the international architecture and also to refactor the database in. order that it better matched the changes in core functionality.

    PostgreSQL was chosen for its reputation as being solid ACID compliant database backend, it was available as an offering AWS RDS service which reduced the management overhead of us having to configure it ourselves. In order to reduce read load on the primary database we implemented an Elasticsearch layer for fast and scalable search operations. Synchronisation of these indexes was to be achieved through the use of Sidekiq's Redis based background workers on Amazon ElastiCache. Again the AWS solution here looked to be an easy way to keep our involvement in managing this part of the platform at a minimum. Allowing us to focus on our core business.

    Rails ls was chosen for its ability to quickly get core functionality up and running, its MVC architecture and also its focus on Test Driven Development using RSpec and Selenium with Travis CI providing continual integration. We also liked Ruby for its terse, clean and elegant syntax. Though YMMV on that one!

    Unicorn was chosen for its continual deployment and reputation as a reliable application server, nginx for its reputation as a fast and stable reverse-proxy. We also took advantage of the Amazon CloudFront CDN here to further improve performance by caching static assets globally.

    We tried to strike a balance between having control over management and configuration of our core application with the convenience of being able to leverage AWS hosted services for ancillary functions (Amazon SES , Amazon SQS Amazon Route 53 all hosted securely inside Amazon VPC of course!).

    Whilst there is some compromise here with potential vendor lock in, the tasks being performed by these ancillary services are no particularly specialised which should mitigate this risk. Furthermore we have already containerised the stack in our development using Docker environment, and looking to how best to bring this into production - potentially using Amazon EC2 Container Service

    See more
    Chris McFadden
    Chris McFadden
    VP, Engineering at SparkPost · | 7 upvotes · 62.5K views
    atSparkPostSparkPost
    Lua
    Lua
    OpenResty
    OpenResty
    nginx
    nginx

    We use nginx and OpenResty as our API proxy running on EC2 for auth, caching, and some rate limiting for our dozens of microservices. Since OpenResty support embedded Lua we were able to write a custom access module that calls out to our authentication service with the resource, method, and access token. If that succeeds then critical account info is passed down to the underlying microservice. This proxy approach keeps all authentication and authorization in one place and provides a unified CX for our API users. Nginx is fast and cheap to run though we are always exploring alternatives that are also economical. What do you use?

    See more
    nginx
    nginx

    I use nginx because it is very light weight. Where Apache tries to include everything in the web server, nginx opts to have external programs/facilities take care of that so the web server can focus on efficiently serving web pages. While this can seem inefficient, it limits the number of new bugs found in the web server, which is the element that faces the client most directly.

    See more
    Marcel Kornegoor
    Marcel Kornegoor
    CTO at AT Computing · | 6 upvotes · 13.9K views
    Apache HTTP Server
    Apache HTTP Server
    nginx
    nginx

    nginx or Apache HTTP Server that's the question. The best choice depends on what it needs to serve. In general, Nginx performs better with static content, where Apache and Nginx score roughly the same when it comes to dynamic content. Since most webpages and web-applications use both static and dynamic content, a combination of both platforms may be the best solution.

    Since both webservers are easy to deploy and free to use, setting up a performance or feature comparison test is no big deal. This way you can see what solutions suits your application or content best. Don't forget to look at other aspects, like security, back-end compatibility (easy of integration) and manageability, as well.

    A reasonably good comparison between the two can be found in the link below.

    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 · 21.3K 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 nginx
    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.

    How developers use Firebase and nginx
    Avatar of MaxCDN
    MaxCDN uses nginxnginx

    The original API performed a synchronous Nginx reload after provisioning a zone, which often took up to 30 seconds or longer. While important, this step shouldn’t block the response to the user (or API) that a new zone has been created, or block subsequent requests to adjust the zone. With the new API, an independent worker reloads Nginx configurations based on zone modifications.It’s like ordering a product online: don’t pause the purchase process until the product’s been shipped. Say the order has been created, and you can still cancel or modify shipping information. Meanwhile, the remaining steps are being handled behind the scenes. In our case, the zone provision happens instantly, and you can see the result in your control panel or API. Behind the scenes, the zone will be serving traffic within a minute.

    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 Cloudcraft
    Cloudcraft uses nginxnginx

    Nginx serves as the loadbalancer, router and SSL terminator of cloudcraft.co. As one of our app server nodes is spun up, an Ansible orchestration script adds the new node dynamically to the nginx loadbalancer config which is then reloaded for a zero downtime seamless rolling deployment. By putting nginx in front or whatever web and API servers you might have, you gain a ton of flexibility. While previously I've cobbled together HAProxy and Stun as a poor man's loadbalancer, nginx just does a much better job and is far simpler in the long run.

    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 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 datapile
    datapile uses nginxnginx

    Used nginx as exactly what it is great for: serving static content in a cache-friendly, load balanced manner.

    It is exclusively for production web page hosting, we don't use nginx internally, only on the public-facing versions of static sites / Angular & Backbone/Marionette applications.

    Avatar of PÄ“teris Caune
    PÄ“teris Caune uses nginxnginx

    We use NGINX both as reverse HTTP proxy and also as a SMTP proxy, to handle incoming email.

    We previously handled incoming email with Mandrill, and then later with AWS SES. Handling incoming email yourself is not that much more difficult and saves quite a bit on operational costs.

    Avatar of Wirkn Inc.
    Wirkn Inc. uses nginxnginx

    NGINX sits in front of all of our web servers. It is fantastic at load balancing traffic as well as serving as a cache at times when under massive load. It's a robust tool that we're happy to have at the front lines of all Wirkn web apps.

    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.

    How much does Firebase cost?
    How much does nginx cost?
    Pricing unavailable