Introduction to Firebase

Firebase is a mobile and web application development platform developed by Firebase, Inc. in 2011, then acquired by Google in 2014. As of March 2020, the Firebase platform has 19 products, which are used by more than 1.5 million apps.

Firebase evolved from Envolve, a prior startup founded by James Tamplin and Andrew Lee in 2011. Envolve provided developers an API that enables the integration of online chat functionality into their websites. After releasing the chat service, Tamplin and Lee found that it was being used to pass application data that were not chat messages. Developers were using Envolve to sync application data such as game state in real time across their users. Tamplin and Lee decided to separate the chat system and the real-time architecture that powered it. They founded Firebase as a separate company in September 2011 and it launched to the public in April 2012.

Firebase’s first product was the Firebase Real-time Database, an API that synchronizes application data across iOS, Android, and Web devices, and stores it on Firebase’s cloud. The product assists software developers in building real-time, collaborative applications.

In May 2012, a month after the beta launch, Firebase raised $1.1 million in seed funding from venture capitalists Flybridge Capital Partners, Greylock Partners, Founder Collective, and New Enterprise Associates.[10] In June 2013, the company further raised $5.6 million in Series A funding from Union Square Ventures and Flybridge Capital Partners.

In 2014, Firebase launched two products. Firebase Hosting and Firebase Authentication. This positioned the company as a mobile backend as a service.

In October 2014, Firebase was acquired by Google. A year later, in October 2015, Google acquired Divshot, an HTML5 web-hosting platform, to merge it with the Firebase team.

In May 2016, at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference, Firebase introduced Firebase Analytics and announced that it was expanding its services to become a unified backend-as-a-service (BaaS) platform for mobile developers. Firebase now integrates with various other Google services, including Google Cloud Platform, AdMob, and Google Ads to offer broader products and scale for developers. Google Cloud Messaging, the Google service to send push notifications to Android devices, was superseded by a Firebase product, Firebase Cloud Messaging, which added the functionality to deliver push notifications to both iOS and web devices. In January 2017, Google acquired Fabric and Crashlytics from Twitter to add those services to Firebase.

Google Analytics:

Google Analytics is a cost-free app measurement solution that provides insights on app usage and user engagement.

Firebase Cloud Messaging:

Formerly known as Google Cloud Messaging (GCM), Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) is a cross-platform solution for messages and notifications for Android, iOS, and web applications, which as of 2016 can be used at no cost.

Firebase Authentication:

Firebase Authentication is a service that can authenticate users using only client-side code. It supports social login providers Facebook, GitHub, Twitter and Google as well as other service providers like Google Play Games, Apple, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Additionally, it includes a user management system whereby developers can enable user authentication with email and password login stored with Firebase.

Firebase Realtime Database:

Firebase provides a real-time database and back-end as a service. The service provides application developers an API that allows application data to be synchronized across clients and stored on Firebase’s cloud. The company provides client libraries that enable integration with Android, iOS, JavaScript, Java, Objective-C, Swift and Node.js applications. The database is also accessible through a REST API and bindings for several JavaScript frameworks such as AngularJS, React, Ember.js and Backbone.js. The REST API uses the Server-Sent Events protocol, which is an API for creating HTTP connections for receiving push notifications from a server. Developers using the realtime database can secure their data by using the company’s server-side-enforced security rules.

Cloud Firestore:

On January 31, 2019, Cloud Firestore was officially brought out of beta, making it an official product of the Firebase lineup. It is the successor to Firebase’s original databasing system, Real-time Database, and allows for nested documents and fields rather than the tree-view provided in the Real-time Database.

Firebase Storage:

Firebase Storage provides secure file uploads and downloads for Firebase apps, regardless of network quality, to be used for storing images, audio, video, or other user-generated content. It is backed by Google Cloud Storage.

Firebase Hosting:

Firebase Hosting is a static and dynamic web hosting service that launched on May 13, 2014. It supports hosting static files such as CSS, HTML, JavaScript and other files, as well as support through Cloud Functions. The service delivers files over a content delivery network (CDN) through HTTP Secure (HTTPS) and Secure Sockets Layer encryption (SSL). Firebase partners with Fastly, a CDN, to provide the CDN backing Firebase Hosting. The company states that Firebase Hosting grew out of customer requests; developers were using Firebase for its real-time database but needed a place to host their content.

ML Kit:

ML Kit is a mobile machine learning system for developers launched on May 8, 2018, in beta during the Google I/O 2018. ML Kit APIs feature a variety of features including optical character recognition, detecting faces, scanning barcodes, labelling images and recognizing landmarks. It is currently available for iOS or Android developers. You may also import your own TensorFlow Lite models, if the given APIs are not enough. The APIs can be used on-device or on-cloud.

Crashlytics:

Crash Reporting creates detailed reports of the errors in the app. Errors are grouped into clusters of similar stack traces and triaged by the severity of impact on app users. In addition to automatic reports, the developer can log custom events to help capture the steps leading up to a crash. Before acquiring Crashlytics, Firebase was using its own Firebase Crash Reporting.

Performance:

Firebase Performance provides insights into an app’s performance and the latencies the app’s users experience.

Firebase Test Lab:

Firebase Test Lab provides cloud-based infrastructure for testing Android and iOS apps in one operation. Developers can test their apps across a wide variety of devices and device configurations. Test results—including logs, videos, and screenshots—are made available in the Firebase console. Even if a developer hasn’t written any test code for their app, Test Lab can exercise the app automatically, looking for crashes. Test Lab for iOS is currently in beta.

Admob:

Admob is a Google product that integrates with Firebase audience.

Firebase Dynamic Links:

Dynamic Firebase links are smart URLs that dynamically change their behavior to provide “the best available experience” across multiple platforms, including desktop web browsers, iOS, and Android, and in-depth links to mobile apps. Dynamic Links work in all app installs: if the user opens Dynamic Link on iOS or Android and the application is not installed, the user will be prompted to install the app first. Once installed, the application will start running and can access the link.

The above is a brief about Firebase ans its services. Watch this space for more updates on the latest trends in Technology.

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