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Firebase vs SQLite: What are the differences?

What is 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.

What is SQLite? A software library that implements a self-contained, serverless, zero-configuration, transactional SQL database engine. SQLite is an embedded SQL database engine. Unlike most other SQL databases, SQLite does not have a separate server process. SQLite reads and writes directly to ordinary disk files. A complete SQL database with multiple tables, indices, triggers, and views, is contained in a single disk file.

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

"Realtime backend made easy", "Fast and responsive" and "Easy setup" are the key factors why developers consider Firebase; whereas "Lightweight", "Portable" and "Simple" are the primary reasons why SQLite is favored.

According to the StackShare community, Firebase has a broader approval, being mentioned in 859 company stacks & 997 developers stacks; compared to SQLite, which is listed in 314 company stacks and 478 developer stacks.

Advice on Firebase and SQLite
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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Needs advice
on
Firebase
MySQL
and
SQLite

Hi everyone! I am a high school student, starting a massive project. I'm building a system for a boarding school to be better connected to their students and be more efficient with information. In the meantime, I am developing a website and an android app. What's the best datastore I can use? I need to be able to access student data on the app from the main database and send push notifications. Also feed updates. What's the best approach? What's the best tool I can use to deploy the website and the database? One for testing and prototyping, and an official one... Thanks in advance!!!!

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Replies (3)
Ahmed AlAskalany
Android Developer at Kitab Sawti · | 5 upvotes · 80.9K views
Recommends
Firebase

Firebase has Android, iOS, and Web SDKs; and a console where you can develop, manage, and monitor all the data and analytics from one place. Firebase real-time database is good for online presence and instant feed updates, while Firebase Firestone is good for user profile and other relational data records. Firebase has a UI SDK which makes it easy to interface with the resources in the project, and with tons of tutorials and starter projects it should be easy to quickly have a decent prototype to iterate upon. Since you said Massive, use their pricing calculator to figure if your expected scale will be covered by the free quota or if you go for the pay-as-you-go that the price is reasonable for your project.

Good luck with the project!

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Paul Whittemore
Developer and Owner at Appurist Software · | 4 upvotes · 80.9K views
Recommends
Firebase

It sounds like a server-client relationship (central database) and while SQLite is probably the simplest, note that its performance is probably the worst of the top 20 or so choices you have. It is different from Firebase and MySQL (and most other databases) in that it is embedded in the product, although it could be embedded in your server itself.

MySQL would require a separate MySQL db server, which means either two servers (one for MySQL, and one to provide your specific services to your client app) or both running on a single server machine. There are many alternatives in the same category as MySQL, and a choice of relational databases or document (NoSQL) databases. But architecturally, they are in the same category as MySQL, a separate db server that your application server would get its data from.

Firebase is different yet again, in that it is a service that is already hosted by a company, providing many integrated features such as authentication and storage of user account info. However it does take care of many of the concerns with running a server, such as performance, scalability and management. There are some negatives that you should be aware of though: any investment of time and coding with Firebase is pretty much non-portable, in that you are stuck with Firebase going forward. If you needed to switch to a different service, not only would it be a different API, but it would be a different architecture and much of your coding would need to be discarded. Second, it's owned and run by Google now, so you have a large corporation backing it, but that also means they could decide to discontinue it without any real effect on the Google bottom line. Also some folks would have concerns with storing data on Google servers. That said, I think if you are aware of these in advance, and especially if you are a high school student, that Firebase is a fairly easy winner here. The server is already set up for you, the documentation is very complete and rich, with lots of examples, and Google is not going away. The main concern would be if it really is massive, there could be a rising cost to the service. I suspect though that it is not massive, even if everyone in a school used it. The number of concurrent connections would not be huge (probably not even into the hundreds, even if there are thousands of users).

I'd go with Firebase even though you will need to learn their API, because you'll need to learn something one way or another. SQLite is a bit of a toy database, and MySQL is a real one but you (or someone) would need to manage that server on top of needing to develop the server and client app. With Firebase, much of the server already exists, including a professionally hosted database. There are tons of high-level features provided and initial cost is somewhere between very low and zero.

Part of this is dependent on what language you want to write this in. Javascript for a cross-platform client app (I'd use Vue.js + Vuetify for UI, and provide it as a web app and optionally wrap that with Electron for a desktop app, Apache Cordova for mobile). Server could be Javascript with an Express-based REST API on Node.js, talking to Firebase for services.

If you were a Java developer though, all this goes out the window and I'd recommend a simple Java server with Javalin for REST API, and embedded ObjectDB for database storage (combined into one server). ObjectDB is very very fast and can be separated out into a scalable server if this became truly massive. But you would probably never need to go that far.

All of this is a lot of work. I hope this isn't for something like an assignment. It is in the order of 6 months of work if you know what you're doing, all year if you're learning as you go.

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Michael Maraist
Chief Architect at Pixia Corp · | 2 upvotes · 80.4K views
Recommends
RocksDB

Don't think you can go wrong with MySQL or postgresql. python+postgres is VERY well supported stack and can do almost anything. Great visualization and administrative tools for both. There are some data-mismatch problems, however.. node.js/python with mongodb is a bit more modern and makes it trivial to "serialize" data with sprinklings of indexes. If you're using go-lang, then RocksDB is a great high-performance data-modeling base (it's not relational how-ever) It's more like a building-block for key-value store. But it's ACID so you CAN build relational systems on top. I've used LevelDB for other projects (Java/C) (similar architecture and works great on android - chrome uses it for it's metadata-storage). Rock/Level can achieve multi-million writes on cheap hardware thanks to it's trade-offs.

I'm very familiar with SQLite.. Personally my least favorite, but it's the most portable database format, and it does support ACID.. I have many gripes, but biggest issue is parallel access (you really need a single process/thread to own the data-model, then use IPC to communicate with your process/thread).. (same could be said for LevelDB, but that's so efficient, it's almost never an issue).

If your'e using Java, then JavaDB/DerbyDB/HSQLDB are EXCELLENT systems.. highly multi-threaded, good stand-alone tools. (embedded or TCP-connected). Perfect for unit-tests. Can use simple dumb portable formats (e.g. text-file containing only inserts) all the way to classic journaled binary B-tree formats to pure-in-memory. Java has a lot of overhead, so this is only really viable if you're already using Java in your project.

For high performance "memsql" is mysql API to a hybrid in-memory index + on-disk column-database (feels like classic SQL to you though). Falls into the mysql-swiss-army-knife tool-kit.

Similarly with in-memory there is "redis".. Absolutely a joy to work with. It too is a specialty swiss army knife. Steer clear of redis for primary data that you can't lose.. while redis does support persisting data, it isn't very efficient and will become the bottleneck. redis is great for micro-queue's, topics, stat-aggregators, message-repositories (password-management systems, where writes are rare so persistance is viable). Plus I love that redis uses a pure-text protocol so I can netcat or telnet directly into it and do stuff.

I've loved cloud-data-stores.. Amazon "DynamoDB" or Google BigTable are awesome!!! Cheap compared to normal hosting fees of an AWS EC2 instance.. You can play all day.. put a terabyte up, then blow it away.. pay for what you play with. It's a very very different data-model though.. They give you a very very few set of tricks that let you do complex data-modeling - and you have to be clever and have enough foresight to not block yourself into a hole (or have customer abuse expensive queries).

Then there's Cassandra/Hadoop (HBase). These are petabyte scale databases (technically so is Dynamo/BigTable). They're incredibly efficient at what they do. And they have a lot of plugins to do almost anything you need. I personally love these the best (and RocksDB/LevelDB are like their infant children offspring). You can run these on your laptop (unlike Amazon/Google engines above). But their discipline is very different than all the other's above.

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Pros of Firebase
Pros of SQLite
  • 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
  • 160
    Lightweight
  • 134
    Portable
  • 121
    Simple
  • 80
    Sql
  • 28
    Preinstalled on iOS and Android
  • 2
    Tcl integration
  • 1
    Free
  • 1
    Telefon
  • 1
    Portable A database on my USB 'love it'

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Cons of Firebase
Cons of SQLite
  • 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
  • 2
    Not for multi-process of multithreaded apps
  • 1
    Needs different binaries for each platform

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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 SQLite?

SQLite is an embedded SQL database engine. Unlike most other SQL databases, SQLite does not have a separate server process. SQLite reads and writes directly to ordinary disk files. A complete SQL database with multiple tables, indices, triggers, and views, is contained in a single disk file.

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What companies use SQLite?
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What are some alternatives to Firebase and SQLite?
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.
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.
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