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Firebase vs Pusher: 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; Pusher: Hosted APIs to build realtime apps with less code. Pusher is the category leader in delightful APIs for app developers building communication and collaboration features.

Firebase and Pusher can be primarily classified as "Realtime Backend / API" tools.

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, Pusher provides the following key features:

  • Easily build scalable in-app notifications, chat, realtime graphs, geotracking and more in your web & mobile apps with our hosted pub/sub messaging API.
  • Send programmable push notifications to iOS and Android devices with delivery and open rate tracking built in.
  • Easily add 1-1 and group Chat to your web & mobile apps. Presence, message storage, rich media, notifications, typing indicators and more.

"Realtime backend made easy" is the primary reason why developers consider Firebase over the competitors, whereas "An easy way to give customers realtime features" was stated as the key factor in picking Pusher.

Instacart, 9GAG, and Twitch are some of the popular companies that use Firebase, whereas Pusher is used by Product Hunt, Groupon, and Buffer. Firebase has a broader approval, being mentioned in 859 company stacks & 992 developers stacks; compared to Pusher, which is listed in 125 company stacks and 42 developer stacks.

Advice on Firebase and Pusher
Needs advice

I am building an IoT application that will utilize connected air quality sensors to provide real-time indoor air quality in offices. I want to be able to share this data with a few different databases, etc.

Wondering if anyone has any advice on which real-time streaming API would be best for this sort of application, or even how I should think about it?

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Replies (2)
Ben Gamble

For IoT, we support MQTT along with websockets and SSE. The pattern you're suggesting that involves harvesting data from devices and soaking into a database is easy to achieve with one of the Ably integrations (Serverless functions/webhook) . Here are some tutorials to do things like this:

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Philip Rossen

We use Pusher at It works fine. When you reach more users, Pusher gets expensive. We use Pusher for live chat between users. Their software is easy to use. We have had issues with auth on Pusher.

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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 · 346.2K 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 Pusher
Jack Heaton

The start-up guides, tutorials and documentation in general for Firebase are pretty outstanding.

There is 1GB database storage for the free tier as compared to Supabase's 500MB. Not that I think there is anything wrong with Supabase, I intend to try it out someday.

Also if you are doing any sort of personal front-end project, even using a free cluster from MongoDB can be a lot of work and setup, with Firebase (specifically Fire store and Google Authenticator) the implementation of BaaS is quite easy to get up and running.

It's pretty easy to understand the Fires store security rules as well, and if you ever have a hard time trying to figure something out, there is good community support and YouTube tutorials for most topics.

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