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Firebase vs Realm: 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; Realm: Realm makes it easy to build reactive apps, realtime collaborative features, and offline-first experiences. 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.

Firebase and Realm are primarily classified as "Realtime Backend / API" and "Mobile Database" 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, Realm provides the following key features:

  • Feels like Home - Realm’s data structures look like the Objects and Arrays of your language, but provide additional features such as: querying, relationships & graphs, thread safety, and more.
  • Memory-Efficient - Realm is not built on SQLite. Instead, a custom C++ core is used to provide memory-efficient access to your data by using Realm objects, which usually consume less RAM than native objects.
  • F-F-Fast! - Realm offers extraordinary performance compared to SQLite and other persistence solutions.

"Realtime backend made easy" is the top reason why over 318 developers like Firebase, while over 4 developers mention "Good" as the leading cause for choosing Realm.

Realm is an open source tool with 13.3K GitHub stars and 1.73K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Realm's open source repository on GitHub.

Instacart, 9GAG, and Twitch are some of the popular companies that use Firebase, whereas Realm is used by SocialCops, Patreon, and Wongnai. Firebase has a broader approval, being mentioned in 859 company stacks & 997 developers stacks; compared to Realm, which is listed in 39 company stacks and 5 developer stacks.

Advice on Firebase and Realm
Needs advice
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 · 234.7K 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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Pros of Firebase
Pros of Realm
  • 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
  • 6
    Good
  • 2
    Cloud Syncing
  • 2
    Elegant API
  • 1
    React Native Support
  • 1
    Strong Adoption Growth

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Cons of Firebase
Cons of Realm
  • 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
    Be the first to leave a con

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    - 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 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.

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

    What companies use Firebase?
    What companies use Realm?
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    What tools integrate with Realm?

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    What are some alternatives to Firebase and Realm?
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