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Firebase vs Socket.IO: What are the differences?

Firebase and Socket.IO are two popular real-time communication technologies used for building web applications. Let's explore the key difference between them.

  1. Data Storage and Synchronization: Firebase is a real-time database platform that provides a NoSQL cloud database for storing and synchronizing data. It offers various features like authentication, hosting, storage, and more, making it an all-in-one solution for building real-time applications. On the other hand, Socket.IO is a library that enables real-time bidirectional event-based communication between clients and servers. It does not provide data storage or synchronization capabilities. Instead, Socket.IO focuses solely on enabling real-time communication.

  2. Ease of Use and Setup: Firebase provides a user-friendly interface and offers pre-built SDKs for various platforms, making it easy to set up and integrate into applications. It also provides a simple API for reading and writing data, making development faster. Socket.IO, on the other hand, requires more manual configuration and setup and might require custom implementation for different platforms.

  3. Scalability and Performance: Firebase is a fully managed service and provides automatic scaling and load balancing for your applications. It can handle a large number of concurrent connections and offers low-latency real-time updates. Socket.IO, on the other hand, requires manual scaling and load balancing implementation, which can be more complex and time-consuming.

  4. Compatibility: Firebase offers SDKs for various platforms and supports multiple programming languages, including JavaScript, Android, iOS, and more. This makes it a versatile choice for building applications for different platforms. Socket.IO is primarily built for JavaScript and supports various frameworks like Node.js, React, Angular, and more. While it can be used with other languages, it might require additional setup and configuration.

  5. Flexibility and Customizability: Firebase provides a set of pre-built features and functionality, making it easy to get started quickly. However, it might have limitations in terms of customization and flexibility. Socket.IO, on the other hand, provides more control and flexibility, allowing developers to create custom real-time communication solutions tailored to their specific needs.

  6. Real-time Communication Patterns: Firebase provides real-time stream-like updates, where changes to data are pushed to clients in real-time. It is suitable for applications that require frequent data updates, such as chat applications or collaborative tools. Socket.IO, on the other hand, supports various real-time communication patterns, including broadcasting to multiple clients, room-based communication, and more. It offers more flexibility in handling different types of real-time communication scenarios.

In summary, Firebase is a comprehensive real-time database platform with built-in features and capabilities, suitable for applications that require real-time data synchronization. Socket.IO, on the other hand, is a versatile real-time communication library that focuses on providing real-time bidirectional event-based communication between clients and servers, offering more flexibility and control over the communication patterns.

Advice on Firebase and Socket.IO
Moghammad Sabre Khan
Needs advice
on
FirebaseFirebase
and
Socket.IOSocket.IO

We (my team) are building an App where we want to have Bi-directional texting, Single Directional Picture, and audio transfer.

We are building all this using Flutter.

There will essentially be 3 apps, 2 Mobile-based (Android and iOS) and 1 Microsoft Based. We've built up most of the code already, and made a few major mistakes but fixed it(namely had no proper state management).

How things will work:

Person A has a Mobile app 1, Person A presses a button that sends a "communication request" into a Pool of requests. Person B on Desktop App chooses a "communication request" from the pool, and engages in Bi-directional texting with Person A. Person B also opens communication with Person C who is on Mobile app 2, and they engage in Bi-directional texting. Person C will be notified of communication requests through Push Notifications.

So far we've been using Socket.IO, however, I'm starting to think that's not the best.

A problem we've encountered so far is that Person A(Mobile App 1 User), is the person who sends a "communication request" into the "Communication Pool". The Mobile App 1 User, can "cancel" the communication at any point in time. When they do that, I would like for a notification to be sent to Person B, the Desktop User, For them to pick up another communication request.

I am not sure how this should be done however, should it be done in the Back-end, then how does the Front-end get notified of the change?

Any advice on which to choose?

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Replies (1)
Jomai Omar
web developer at tunisofts · | 3 upvotes · 16.7K views
Recommends
on
FirebaseFirebaseSocket.IOSocket.IO

It's so simple when you use Firebase to manage the requests just make new field to the request for example callstate with values like "requesting" "incall" "cancelled" and both A and B can update this field.

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Needs advice
on
ApolloApolloFirebaseFirebase
and
Socket.IOSocket.IO

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 · 469.6K views
Recommends
on
FirebaseFirebase

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
on
AblyAbly

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
on
8base8base

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 Socket.IO
Jack Heaton
Full Stack Developer at Life Story Maps · | 4 upvotes · 36.2K views

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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Pros of Firebase
Pros of Socket.IO
  • 371
    Realtime backend made easy
  • 270
    Fast and responsive
  • 242
    Easy setup
  • 215
    Real-time
  • 191
    JSON
  • 134
    Free
  • 128
    Backed by google
  • 83
    Angular adaptor
  • 68
    Reliable
  • 36
    Great customer support
  • 32
    Great documentation
  • 25
    Real-time synchronization
  • 21
    Mobile friendly
  • 18
    Rapid prototyping
  • 14
    Great security
  • 12
    Automatic scaling
  • 11
    Freakingly awesome
  • 8
    Chat
  • 8
    Angularfire is an amazing addition!
  • 8
    Super fast development
  • 6
    Built in user auth/oauth
  • 6
    Firebase hosting
  • 6
    Ios adaptor
  • 6
    Awesome next-gen backend
  • 4
    Speed of light
  • 4
    Very easy to use
  • 3
    Great
  • 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
    .net
  • 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
    Large
  • 1
    Faster workflow
  • 1
    Serverless
  • 1
    Good Free Limits
  • 1
    Simple and easy
  • 219
    Real-time
  • 143
    Node.js
  • 141
    Event-based communication
  • 102
    Open source
  • 102
    WebSockets
  • 26
    Binary streaming
  • 21
    No internet dependency
  • 10
    Large community
  • 6
    Push notification
  • 5
    Ease of access and setup
  • 1
    Test

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Cons of Firebase
Cons of Socket.IO
  • 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
  • 12
    Bad documentation
  • 4
    Githubs that complement it are mostly deprecated
  • 3
    Doesn't work on React Native
  • 2
    Small community
  • 2
    Websocket Errors

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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 Socket.IO?

It enables real-time bidirectional event-based communication. It works on every platform, browser or device, focusing equally on reliability and speed.

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What are some alternatives to Firebase and Socket.IO?
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