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    Cloud Firestore vs. Realtime Database – Which & When to Choose

    Cloud Firestore vs. Realtime Database – Which & When to Choose

    Tracy Watson


    9 min read

    google firebase database

    Firebase, which is a part of Google, offers two databases: Realtime Database and Cloud Firestone. In this article, we will examine the advantages of both databases so you can decide which one works for you.    


    In the past couple of years, we have seen the rise of Firebase with its Realtime database. This is a very handy tool that lets developers quickly get the backend of a database up and running and provision it as well. Developers love this tool because it has a low entry threshold, few and inexpensive ownership costs and better querying. Firebase wanted to attract a wider audience with Google Firestone. In reality, the Firestone supports pretty much everything that the Realtime Database does but is also a completely different architecture that places emphasis on different things.    

    Realtime Database   

    The Firebase database is cloud-based and is written in NoSQL. Its software development kit supports development for all platforms. You can easily integrate it with other services that Firebase offers. All the data is stored in JSON documents, which means that everything will be a key or a value. All of the data synchronizations are conducted via data sockets which provide for lightning-fast operations. Even when the device is offline, it can install new updates, and all the changes will be synced once the connection is restored.    

    As we mentioned above, it is easy to get the backend of the database up and running, but the best part is that there are no concerns that give system administrators and CTO’s nightmares. In fact, this process can take as little as a couple of minutes, meaning that you can focus on the unique features of your app, this simplifying mobile applications development.     

    Most of the system’s application code will be written on the cloud side, which could be a plus or a minus depending on the perspective. Since you will be handling a lot of the logic on the client side, you will need to duplicate the code across all platforms, unless you create a Firebase Cloud Function to handle all of the requests. However, if you decide to go with this option, you will be losing out on a lot of the things that the Realtime SDK can give you. 

    real time database

    Cloud Firestone   

    Even though Firestone is newer, it is more traditional regarding the relational schema hierarchy. It is also based on NoSQL and is divided into collections. Such collections contain documents, which, in turn, hold collections of their own, called sub-collections, and various data fields. You can think of the two entities as the rows and tables you would find in a relational database since this is how it is traditionally used.    

    Inside the documents are fields which contain all kinds of types, such as boolean, strings, numbers, etc. This is a big deal to developers who are working on maintaining data integrity and eliminating bugs. Now that we are familiar with the two types of databases, it is time compare them.   

    Cloud Firestore vs. Firebase Realtime Database 

    First, let’s start with what these two have in common. They are both easy to integrate into a project with limited setup, and they are compatible with everything else offered by Firebase. Administrators will be able to see the data through the Firebase console, which uses the same scheme in both of them. What this means is that you can scour through the nodes and collections of the top level to find the data or information that you are looking for. Beyond that, they do not offer any further level of exploration. If you know the keys and objects that you are looking for, this will be useful. Now let’s take a look at the differences.    

    • Querying Support – Firestore is more potent in this regard. Locate records that match several field comparisons. Firebase uses a simplistic data structure, which means that you will only be able to run queries that search for the field beginning with your query.   
    • Importing and Exporting Data – This is a feature that Firebase provides. It comes in handy when you are migrating data or if team members who are not developers to make some changes to the data.   
    • Real-time updates – Firebase focuses on real-time updates, which are very useful for handling customers who are using social media or collaborative apps. It gives developers everything they need to determine the customers that are active users in real-time.    
    • Costs – The costs of the Realtime Database will go up as you send more data via reading/write operations. The price of the Firestore database will increase with every API call that you make. However, be sure to look at the entire cost breakdown before making any decisions.    
    firestore vs firebase

    We hope all this information was useful for you in order to determine which database to use when developing your mobile app. Both of these two databases have the pluses and minuses, and a lot will come down to your team’s experience and how comfortable you feel using each of them. All of the projects that you undertake will require a lot of planning and attention to detail to a lot of considerations. Otherwise, you will end up with a lot of delays and wasted resources. One thing is for sure: regardless of which database you end up choosing, you will be getting a great product. 

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