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Firebase vs SocketCluster: 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, SocketCluster is detailed as "An open, scalable realtime engine for Node.js". SocketCluster is a fast, highly scalable HTTP + realtime server engine which lets you build multi-process realtime servers that make use of all CPU cores on a machine/instance. It removes the limitations of having to run your Node.js server as a single thread and makes your backend resilient by automatically recovering from worker crashes and aggregating errors into a central log.

Firebase and SocketCluster 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, SocketCluster provides the following key features:

  • Resilient on both the client and backend - Process crashes, lost connections and other failures are handled seamlessly.
  • Scales linearly as you add more CPU cores and workers (assuming a decent OS) - Tested with up to 16 cores.
  • Also designed to scale horizontally across multiple machines. See sc-redis sample.

"Realtime backend made easy" is the primary reason why developers consider Firebase over the competitors, whereas "Cluster mode is awesome" was stated as the key factor in picking SocketCluster.

SocketCluster is an open source tool with 5.35K GitHub stars and 283 GitHub forks. Here's a link to SocketCluster's open source repository on GitHub.

Instacart, 9GAG, and Twitch are some of the popular companies that use Firebase, whereas SocketCluster is used by notthatbad technologies UG, Livevents, and StaffConnect. Firebase has a broader approval, being mentioned in 859 company stacks & 992 developers stacks; compared to SocketCluster, which is listed in 6 company stacks and 3 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 SocketCluster?

SocketCluster is a fast, highly scalable HTTP + realtime server engine which lets you build multi-process realtime servers that make use of all CPU cores on a machine/instance. It removes the limitations of having to run your Node.js server as a single thread and makes your backend resilient by automatically recovering from worker crashes and aggregating errors into a central log.
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    What are some alternatives to Firebase and SocketCluster?
    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.
    Auth0
    A set of unified APIs and tools that instantly enables Single Sign On and user management to all your applications.
    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.
    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.
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    Decisions about Firebase and SocketCluster
    No stack decisions found
    Interest over time
    Reviews of Firebase and SocketCluster
    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 SocketCluster
    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 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 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.

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