This article explores the various benefits of using open-source technology and suggests open-source alternatives to Firebase. We shall also review Back4app, Parse, AWS Amplify, Hoodie, and Kuzzle as viable open-source substitutes to Firebase.
In spite of the various excellent features of Firebase, it suffers some fundamental drawbacks because the application uses a closed-source framework. Below are some shortcomings of Firebase, compared to open-source alternatives.
On the other hand, open-source frameworks provide the following benefits.
The open-Source Advantages
There are many fundamental advantages associated with using open-source BaaS backend platforms compared to closed-source alternatives. Users need to understand the differences before choosing a platform. The philosophy of open-source platforms is focused on promoting reliability, security, transparency, and freedom.
Open source platforms are reliable because the entire community is paying attention. In the case of open-source applications, the open-source community consisting of developers, contributors, and users of the platform make contributions. They collectively find and address vital issues such as bugs and continuous improvements. Once a flaw is discovered by a user, the developers resolve the issue and deliver the fix to the entire community before the problem escalates.
There is enhanced security because the developers continuously make an in-depth review of the framework. The open-source community is well aware of the innovation and improvements in security standards. More often than not, such advancements are developed and applied to open-source platforms first, while the proprietary applications catch up later.
Open source platforms are completely transparent because the mechanisms of the framework are visible to the entire community. Moreover, the community policy is made public and continuous improvement, and bug fixes are well documented. You know how the platform handles your data because the user community is not alienated from the application development process.
Unlike proprietary frameworks, you are not at risk of getting locked down to a specific platform. Migrating from closed-source platforms places a demand on extensive re-development and the financial burden that comes with it. The proprietary vendors want you to depend solely on their platform and be subject to their decisions. You enjoy freedom with open-source.
If you own the company and developing your product, why not own the code as well? Open-source technology gives you absolute control over the source code so you can modify the software the way you like. For instance, you can make changes to an open-source application to adapt it for a specific purpose whenever you want. There are several scenarios where you might need to customize the version of a framework. For instance, you may want to optimize the application performance or install security patches.
Integration with legacy systems
Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario where you are working with a report generation application that extracts data from various sources. You will get stuck if you need to extract data from a legacy system that uses particular drivers that are functional, but no longer maintained. Given the same scenario, you cannot hit a dead end while working with open-source platforms.
In an open-source platform, you can easily use a compatible version of the driver, and your system will continue working correctly. But with proprietary platforms, you can only hope that the developer continues to support those drivers. However, when the unexpected happens, you will be compelled to drop the feature from your application. In essence, your application may end up losing some functionalities, and your business will lose existing and potential customers that need such features.
Most open-source platform has integral bug reporting features which allow the community of users to contribute their quota in finding and fixing bugs in the code. When you are using an open-source platform with an extensive user base, someone will likely find potential issues before you know it. And very often, you will only know a problem exists when you get the fix for the bug. In contrast, closed source platforms solely depend on their development team for testing applications, finding bugs, and fixing the code. Because the proprietary development teams are relatively small, it takes a longer time to discover issues and find fixes for them.
Intellectual property and Licensing
It is important to note that proprietary technology platforms do reserves the right of their intellectual property. This is in direct contrast to open-source licenses that allow you to use, modify, and share the source code freely. However, open-source licenses to vary slightly, so you should read the license to understand its limitations before you start using it.
Freedom to Deploy
The freedom to deploy on the cloud platform of your choice is another fundamental difference between open source and proprietary frameworks. While you are restricted to the deployment platform that the proprietary platform provides, it is not the same with the open-source alternative. You have the freedom to choose your preferred cloud deployment platform based on your best judgment. You may choose from popular cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, Back4App, and many more
Growing your application
Consider a situation where you need to scale your app quickly, you might need some tailor-made changes to enhance robust performance and faster response to queries. However, additional customization of the operating system may be required to improve functions such as TCP/IP connections or I/O performance. A fully scalable system places a demand for reliable performance under heavy load. Although upgrading server machines is a viable option, it is not the best solution. The best approach is to optimize both the hardware and software assets. In such a scenario, unfettered access to the source code is essential for perfect scalability.
No Vendor Restrictions
In contrast to the Firebase proprietary platforms, you cannot be a prisoner when using open-source frameworks. Moreover, you have the freedom to update your product as the needs arise. You are not compelled to wait until Firebase decides its time for an update.
Lower Cost of Development
When it comes to the total cost of ownership, open-source solutions present a more cost-efficient solution compared to proprietary platforms. The reason is simple, proprietary platforms are driven by profit-oriented companies that invested heavily in Research and Development to create a commercial platform or product. In direct contrast, open-source products are developed and managed by not-for-profit organizations and individuals. They invest their time, money, and skill for the good of the open-source community.
Open-Source Alternatives to Firebase
The following are excellent BaaS options you can use instead of Firebase.
The leading Parse hosting platform in the world is Back4app. It provides a robust environment for deployment of Parse on the cloud. Parse offers valuable features such as GDPR-compliant security, integrated CDN + cache, custom corporate contracts, and 24/7 technical support.
The Advantages of Back4Apps include:
Would you like to know more about Back4App? Please read the article below detailing all the features and benefits.
Facebook’s decision to embrace open-source in 2016 led o the advent of Parse as an open-source. Consequently, over 600 thousand application has emerged from the platform. It has vital functions such as database management, cloud features, social login, email, and real-time notifications, REST, and GraphQL APIs, among many others.
Parse is the most commonly used open-source backend framework. It has lots of excellent features and repositories that include the following.
The Parse framework is available for download from GitHub
The benefits of using Parse include:
- It’s a stable open-source platform with thousands of users.
- It has an extensive open-source community over 4K forks on GitHub.
- It’s a rich framework with valuable new features such as GraphQL APIs
Some of the benefits of AWS amplify include:
- Native integration with Amazon AWS
- CLI plugins
- Optional UI components
This open-source platform can be deployed any Linux/Docker compatible hosting service. It offers features such as real-time database, authentication, IoT, geofencing, and security. Developers also have the option of using Kuzzle’s managed services.
It contains the following repositories.
Kuzzle, which is a backend for web, mobile, and IoT applications.
Some of the benefits that Kuzzle offers include:
- IoT communication protocols.
- Professional services for implementing POCs
- Support Plans.
Hoodie contains the following repositories:
- Hoodie Account Client, an API for the browser
- Hoodie Store Client, for offline synchronization and data persistence
- Hoodie Logs
- Hoodie Website
- First Times Bot
- And many other repositories.
Hoodie provides the following benefits:
- It provides extensive support for Node.Js developers that want to extend the product.
- It runs on Apache CouchDB.
- Uses Offline first concept, which means that user data are stored locally.
The fact that Firebase is not open source is an important factor to consider before committing to using the framework. Issues such as vendor lock-in, lack of flexibility will undermine the capacity to optimize your app performance when you need to scale. You should consider using an open-source platform if some of these limitations will pose a problem in the future.
Want to learn more about BaaS — Backend as a Service terminology? Please read:
Originally published at https://blog.back4app.com on October 28, 2019.