Firebase Realtime Database vs Cloud Firestore: Choice in 2022

In 2022, Backend as a Service(BaaS) demand will be increasing because everything is adapting real-time nowadays, and when it comes to Database as a Service, the first name that comes up in our mind is FIREBASE. Google Firebase is the one-stop solution for real-time database, push notification, crashlytics, cloud storage, and hosting. Before get deep dive into today’s topic, let’s see what a real-time database is and what Firebase has to offer.

What is Realtime Database

A real-time database is a database system that uses real-time processing to manage workloads whose state is constantly changing. It differs significantly from the traditional database, which mostly unaffected by time.

When we were working with traditional web applications, we sent a POST request to a server, and it saves the data in the database; then, to retrieve the data, we send a GET request. To get the latest information from the database, we need to refresh our page. On the other hand, a real-time database doesn’t even need to refresh the page. It automatically gets updated when the new data is added or modified.

Google Firebase offers two types of cloud-based database solutions for web and mobile development that support real-time data syncing.

  1. Firebase Realtime Database
  2. Cloud Firestore

Firebase Realtime Database

Realtime Database is Google Firebase’s original cloud-based database service. Realtime Database stores and sync data with the NoSQL cloud database. Data is synced across all clients in real-time, and it remains accessible even when your app goes offline.

Firebase Realtime Database stores the data JSON format and synchronizes it in realtime to every connected client. When you create cross-platform apps with AndroidiOS, and JavaScript SDKs(Angular, React, and Vue), all of your clients receive one Realtime Database instance, and it automatically get updates of the newest data.

Features

  1. As its name suggests, it updates in real time.
  2. Firebase apps remain responsive even when offline because the Firebase Realtime Database SDK persists your data to disk.
  3. It can be accessed from any device and anywhere.
  4. You can split your data into multiple database instances with Firebase blazing plan.

Advantages

  1. It is simple yet provides robust performance.
  2. The data is stored in JSON format, so querying it is easy to compare to a relational database like MySQL.

Applications

  1. If you want to build a real-time application like a chat application, then use Firebase.

What is Cloud Firestore

Cloud Firestore is a resilient, scalable database for mobile and web development from Firebase and Google Cloud Platform.  Cloud Firestore keeps your data in-sync across all the client apps through real-time listeners and offers offline support for mobile and web so you can craft responsive apps that work regardless of Internet connection like the Firebase Realtime Database.

Features

  1. Cloud Firestore supports a hierarchical data structure.
  2. Cloud Firestore uses queries to retrieve individual, particular documents or fetch all the documents in the collection that match your query parameters. 
  3. Offline support.

Advantages

  1. Cloud Firestore is built for enterprise-level applications.
  2. It stores data as collections of documents.

Similarities between Firebase Realtime Database and Cloud Firestore

  1. Both provide the free tier; if you want to go higher, pay for what you use.
  2. Realtime updates.
  3. Both provide client-first SDKs with no servers to deploy and maintain.

Firebase Realtime Database vs. Cloud Firestore: Pricing

Firebase Realtime Database and Cloud Firestore are both available on the following plans.

  1. Spark (Free) plan
  2. Flame ($25/month) plan
  3. Blaze (Pay as you use) pricing plans.

Realtime Database charges only for bandwidth and storage, but its rate is very high.

Cloud Firestore prices are based on your database’s operations (CRUD) and, at a lower rate, bandwidth and storage.

Firebase Realtime Database vs. Cloud Firestore: Realtime and offline support

We have seen that both have mobile-first, real-time SDKs and support local data storage for offline-ready apps. But real-time database provides offline support for iOS and Android platforms and does not provide for web-client whereas, Cloud Store provides offline support for iOS, Android, and web-client.

Firebase Realtime Database vs. Cloud Firestore: Data Model

Realtime Database stores data as one large JSON tree.

Cloud Firestore stores data in documents arranged in collections. The simple data is stored in documents.

Firebase Realtime Database vs. Cloud Firestore: Querying

Realtime Database uses deep queries with limited sorting and filtering operations. In a single query, you can either sort or filter, not both, on a property. 

Cloud Firestore uses indexed queries with compound sorting and filtering. Unlike Realtime Database, Cloud Firestore allows chaining the filters and combining filter and sort on the property in a single query.

Firebase Realtime Database vs. Cloud Firestore: Overview

Firebase Realtime DatabaseCloud Firestore
Data ModelIt stores data as a large JSON Tree.It stores data as collections of documents.
Offline Support iOS and Android clients. iOS, Android, and web clients.
Connection statusPresence supported.It is not supported natively.
QueryingDeep queries with limited sorting and filtering functionality.Indexed queries with compound sorting and filtering.

Writes and transactions

You can perform basic write and transaction operations.You can perform advanced write and transaction operations.

 Performance

Realtime Database is a regional solution.Cloud Firestore is a regional and multi-region solution.

 Scalability

Scaling requires sharding.Scaling is automatic.

 Security

Cascading rules language that separates authorization and validation.Non-cascading rules that combine authorization and validation.

Bottom Line

Cloud Store and Firebase Realtime Database share some similarities, but if your project is for enterprise, then use the Firebase Cloud Store; otherwise, Realtime Database works fine for you. If your application has high traffic, then use cloud storage for better performance.

See Also

Firebase vs. AWS

Firebase vs. MongoDB

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