Google’s Firebase is an app development platform that’s used in building, improving, and growing mobile apps. The platform offers a collection of powerful tools that help you develop, handle, and enhance your apps based on demand.
For developers, Firebase helps to solve issues such as building apps faster, releasing and monitoring apps with confidence, and engaging the users of the app. Not only that, but developers also get access to services they’d normally have to develop on their own.
Developers are also able to shift their focus more on delivering robust app experiences for users, compared to the technical issues of the application.
Some of the standout features you’ll find in Firebase include file storage, hosting, notifications, real-time databases, push messages, authentication, and analytics. The service is cloud-hosted, meaning developers can carry out on-demand scaling without hassles.
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Even though Firebase is all about great features, there are some downsides to using it. Here are some of them.
- It has vendor lock-in
- Slow queries
- Not all its services are free to start
- It runs entirely on Google Cloud
- Only offers NoSQL databases
- No options for Enterprise support or dedicated servers
- Doesn’t offer GraphQL APIs as part of the standard setup
- It’s a subdomain from Google so it doesn’t work in many countries
- It’s not open source so it lacks flexibility and customization to adapt its code
Several open-source alternatives offer far more benefits than using a proprietary one. Here’s why you should be using an open-source alternative to Firebase:
- Open-source tools are free to download as they’re publicly accessible software
- Coding and app development is faster with an open-source platform
- There are multiple support channels
- It’s easier to scale and consolidate
- There’s no risk of vendor lock-in
- You can deploy in any cloud
- Less licensing and maintenance expenses
- Integrates with legacy frameworks
- You have full visibility of what the framework is doing
- Comes with regular bugs and improvements
- Open-source frameworks are thoroughly reviewed as people keep watching for security standards
- You can play with the software much more freely so you have full control over the source code
- Without further ado, here are some excellent open source Firebase alternatives you can try
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Without further ado, here are some excellent open source Firebase alternatives you can try.
Parse is a complete open-source application stack and backend framework that offers a collection of tools and features to help you develop your apps.
The features include a spreadsheet-like database, dashboard, push notifications, APIs, object and file storage, user authentication, and more out of the box.
The software can be deployed to any infrastructure running Node.js, and uses MongoDB or PostgreSQL as a database, compared to Firebase, which only offers the NoSQL databases. You can also develop and test your app locally using Node.
Parse also offers cloud functions, email notifications, social login, GraphQL APIs, REST, and real-time notifications.
Unlike Firebase, which locks you into Google’s framework, Parse is an open-source technology with no vendor lock-in. Plus, you can access its large open-source community, feature-rich framework, and there are no costs associated with it.
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Back4App is an open source, low code, backend alternative to Firebase that’s based on the Parse platform. The software allows you to develop modern apps on a global scale and faster without managing infrastructure.
The platform offers data storage, APIs (REST and GraphQL), cloud code functions, push notifications, authentication, and file storage. You can store and query relational data on the cloud, build relational data models in minutes, and make the app accessible over APIs.
What makes Back4App a better alternative to Firebase is the fact that it’s open source, offers more databases unlike Firebase’s NoSQL, and doesn’t lock you to one vendor.
The platform allows you to perform complex relational queries and build relational data models in minutes within the truly serverless platform. You can deploy apps on any cloud and host web, IoT, and mobile apps.
Plus, you can leverage databases that enable quick and efficient data syncing and updates.
Back4App is easy to use, has a multitenant environment, and provides a low latency but fast performance environment. In addition, you get a fully managed service with 24/7 support and cache/CND implemented by default.
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3. AWS Amplify
AWS is a cloud platform by Amazon that provides a set of tools and services, which can be used on their own or together. Mobile and front-end developers can use AWS Amplify to build scalable full-stack apps powered by the platform.
You can configure app backends and within minutes connect your app, deploy static web apps in a matter of clicks, and manage app content outside of the console.
Plus, you can set up secure authentication quickly using Amplify Auth, which flows with a fully managed user directory. You can also control who gets to access your web and mobile apps with native authorization capabilities.
AWS Amplify configures backends fast, seamlessly connects front-ends, deploys in a few clicks, and you can easily manage your content using the admin user interface. This way, you’re able to offer access to administrators and non-developers.
Among the use cases for AWS Amplify include onboarding flows, real-time collaboration, targeted push notifications and campaigns, and artificial intelligence or machine learning.
Unlike Firebase, whose only database is NoSQL, AWS Amplify provides GraphQL and REST APIs. Plus, Amplify offers an open-source backend, which Firebase lacks, so you’re not locked into Amazon or one vendor as you would with Firebase.
Amplify is fully integrated with AWS and offers user interface components and CLI plugins. You also get fine-grained authorization, pre-built UI components, intuitive configuration, and web and mobile front-end libraries.
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Kuzzle is another open source alternative to Firebase that helps you solve several digital needs such as single sign-on, collaboration, messaging, secondary screens, and more.
This cross-technology and cross-industry platform is useful in various projects including building web or mobile apps, IoT apps, and middleware.
The platform includes a scalable server, administration console, multiprotocol API, and a set of plugins such as real-time pub/sub for advanced functionalities. You also get geofencing and blazing fast search.
A ready-to-use application stack that you can deploy on-premises and a backend with ready-to-use features that you can extend as you would with any framework are also available.
The platform provides a quick and effective way to deliver apps while helping your team focus on user interfaces and business logic. It also comes with native deployment, database integration, API, and search within the platform.
Product owners can give their customers a modern experience such as geofencing, real-time collaboration, and multi-device compatibility among other features. For developers, the platform offers a Node.js backend with multiple protocols, storage, geofencing, search, and an API you can access using Kuzzle SDKs and your favorite dev tools.
Unlike Firebase, which relies on the NoSQL database, isn’t open source, and locks you into Google frameworks, Kuzzle offers Node.js and other databases. Plus, Kuzzle is open source and allows you to develop your custom business and other features for free.
You can also scale Kuzzle on-premises and scale horizontally on the intranet, any cloud service, your existing Linux or Docker infrastructure, and IoT hardware.
Couchbase is an open source, NoSQL document-oriented engagement database, and distributed server that’s designed to support today’s mission-critical apps. The open-source platform runs natively on-device and manages synchronization to the server for mobile and IoT environments.
Couchbase is built to offer large-scale interactive applications the ability to manage low-latency data. The app was designed to satisfy requirements such as search, analytics, query, unified programming interface, core database engine, memory-first architecture, and more.
You get simple, powerful, and uniform app development APIs across connectors, multiple programming languages, and tools that will make it simple to build apps. These tools also help to speed up the time to market for apps.
Developers also get to add intelligence to apps. They can do this by using full-text search, picking data access patterns that meet their requirements, and integrating data into their existing ecosystems.
Its analytics component offers powerful parallel query processing so that developers can execute long-running queries efficiently. This addresses the challenges of supporting apps that are not only scalable but responsive and ad hoc analytics on one dataset.
Unlike Firebase, which works only with NoSQL databases, Couchbase can scale easily to be more hardware efficient compared to other NoSQL databases. Thus, the database adds more RAM, CPU capacity, and disk space to grow horizontally and share the load.
You can use Couchbase for free and provide outstanding performance in the cloud, on-premises, in a container, or edge service at scale.
The native apps you develop use the richness of the mobile platform and offer the performance you need for mobile devices. NativeScript uses native APIs and controls to render, allowing you to create more sophisticated apps compared to using a hybrid approach.
In hybrid apps, you don’t get the same performance or flexibility because they’re hosted on a different framework and don’t interact directly with low-level mobile APIs.
You can also build truly native apps easily using the Firebase Plugin by Master Verbruggen, to bring the real-time connectivity and speed of Firebase to NativeScript.
NativeScript is a suite of professional services and products which include troubleshooting reports, performance analysis, in-person training, performance analysis, and coding assistance.
The platform is free and open source, doesn’t have vendor lock-in, and gives you an experience closer to native than those you’d get with hybrid frameworks. This is better compared to Firebase, which has vendor lock-in, runs entirely on Google Cloud and not all services are free to start.
You also get built-in themes, flexibility, and customization unlike what you’d get with Firebase and platform APIs you can access directly from the code.
NativeScript also has plugins that let you access platform-specific and device hardware features. You also get a pre-installed camera plugin that lets you access the camera of your device and take pictures.
You can also install NativeScript Social Share Plugin to add platform-specific features like social sharing.
The platform allows you to build almost any kind of apps like news, social networking, games, and real-time apps like live feeds or chat apps. You can also build video and music streaming apps using the video player plugin, maps and geolocation apps, and apps that access the device hardware.
For user interface-based real-time apps, the RxDB platform makes it easy to develop and also has great performance benefits.
You can replicate data between your server and clients because RxDB offers modules for real-time replication with any endpoints that are compliant with CouchDB and with GraphQL endpoints.
Among the core features of RxDB include real-time queries, replication, schema, encryption, multi-window tab support, and a key compression module.
The platform is open source, unlike Firebase, whose platform doesn’t offer all services for free to start. Plus, you get real-time queries, unlike Firebase, whose queries are slow, and you’re not locked into a particular vendor or Google Cloud framework.
Flutter is another open-source app development framework but it’s part of the Google family of software just like Firebase. The framework is used to build native-looking mobile apps from a single codebase and was created about six years ago.
Flutter is popular for several reasons including the ability to develop apps quickly and achieve native visual consistency and performance on different platforms.
Unlike Firebase, the Flutter platform is built on widgets, including fonts, scrolling, and styles. You can also build apps with Flutter, but it won’t work well on text-rich sites like blogs.
The platform has a growing community that is among one of the best and most helpful and offers resources and documentation of the highest quality.
As Google’s user interface toolkit, you can use it to build beautiful, natively compiled web, mobile, and embedded apps from one codebase.
The platform is a software development kit that also offers tools, libraries, and documentation that help you build cross-platform apps. This way, you can build native interfaces in minutes, ship features with a focus on native end-user experiences, and delight your users with rich features.
The app development framework is fully free unlike Firebase, whose features aren’t all free to start with, and can be used on all major operating systems including Google Fuschia.
LoopBack is an open source Node.js framework that’s highly extensible and helps developers compose scalable APIs quickly. The platform runs on top of the TypeScript framework that’s based on the Express web framework.
This way, you can create dynamic end-to-end REST APIs quickly and connect to backend systems like REST or SOAP databases and services.
You can also create models based on schema, or if you don’t, you can define models and build relationships between them.
The platform includes a new core to deliver great flexibility and extensibility. It also allows you to solve business issues such as expanding products and services to reach audiences of developers who consume the APIs.
LoopBack eases the creation of a REST API with minimal coding while offering a consistent way of designing and implementing APIs including the ORM, REST layer, and models.
The advantage LoopBack has over Firebase is that it’s open source, connects to legacy systems, and works with multiple databases, not just NoSQL like Firebase.
For your platform, you can use LoopBack to start creating your own platform or framework. You can also use it to build standard libraries of reusable components and use connectors to integrate with web services, databases, and other platforms.
SashiDo is a platform that helps developers build APIs quickly. The open source service can help you build global serverless apps using scalable GraphQL API and NodeJS Rest, compared to Firebase, which only uses the NoSQL database.
With SashiDo, you can also build easy-to-use CMS, built-in CDN, CRUD, user management, object and file storage, system emails, relations, push notifications, and cloud functions among others.
You can automatically scale your app based on its need so you won’t have to worry whether or not the app can handle the traffic. SashiDo also eliminates limitations of monthly requests for the service or requests per second, meaning your app is scalable to your needs.
You can also create web and mobile apps on any platform using any SDK you want, and deploy your custom business logic on your server the way you want it to be.
In addition, SashiDo allows you to integrate third-party tools using WebHooks, but you also get countless opportunities to expand your apps’ functionalities.
The open source platform is free to use, including all its features, unlike Firebase, whose features aren’t all free to start. Plus, you’re not locked into one framework and you can enhance your apps however you want to engage with your customers.
These open-source alternatives to Firebase are all completely free to use. Before you pick any of them, consider software architecture, support, maintenance, and integration capabilities.
Think about the business-level compatibility that the app will bring, security, your audience, the features proprietary to the platform, and your return on investment (ROI). This way, you can pick an app development framework that’s unique and fits your business needs.
We recommend AWS Amplify because it’s not just open source but stable, feature-rich, and you’re not locked into a specific vendor.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.