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Comparison of Angular Backend as a Service Providers

Posted by on Oct 21, 2014

In our series on Angular Backend as a Service (BaaS) offerings we’ve covered a wide array of disparate service providers – from bare-metal offerings like Ruby on Rails to highly-focused providers like Backand. Let’s take this opportunity to summarize what we’ve found thus far. Below we’ll revisit each of the providers we have covered, and present guidelines on when a given provider might be the best choice.

Parse

Parse is focused on presenting an easy-to-use cross-platform data access layer. It provides a number of different data management and synchronization facilities for many different platforms, greatly reducing the need to write complex server code to inform clients of updates to your data. Parse is relatively inexpensive, scalable, and known for its ease-of-use. Parse would likely be best used in a scenario where data access flexibility is the end goal, both in terms of access and portability. Parse allows your development team to focus on writing an attractive presentation layer in the native environment of your choice, removing the data access layer considerations that usually arise as a result.

Firebase

Firebase handles the same problem domain as Parse – the data access layer – but with a focus on performance and real-time data presentation. A significant amount of Firebase’s design effort was built on data synchronization and resiliency, with ways to manage apps with intermittent connectivity (such as those on mobile devices) and integrate them with an always-on interface (like a website). Firebase would be an excellent choice for a real-time interactive application, where data accuracy and availability were high priorities in an application that spans multiple platforms.

The Django Project

The Django Project sits at a layer above both Parse and Firebase, focusing on providing a quick way to develop a rich web application experience. Django provides an Object-Relational Mapping system that allows for a quick way to tie your application into your data store, and supports numerous templates – along with a default administrative data interface – that allow your application to be up and running quickly. It is important to note, though, that Django is a stand-alone stack that must be built atop an existing (or new) data layer. Django may be an excellent choice in systems where both a robust and customizable front end and a quick and secure administrative back-end are desirable.

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails is a full-featured web development stack that gives you all of the power of a web development framework built with a focus on Object-Relational Mapping and a Model-View-Controller architecture. While it doesn’t provide much in the way of pre-built functionality, it gives you the full power of the underlying code base – providing no true limits on what you can develop. Ruby on Rails may be a good choice when you want to make sure that your organization has the freedom it needs to grow in any number of directions, and when your desired functionality doesn’t fit neatly into any of the above boxes. However, if you are developing with AngularJS to drive your front end, you may face some unique challenges when mapping the helpers given to you by Ruby to the data models required by Angular.

Backand

Backand takes elements of all of the above and combines them into an easy-to-use application focused on getting a web application up and running as quickly as possible. It is built on AngularJS and Bootstrap, providing a technology stack that consists entirely of JavaScript, and uses Amazon RDS to provide data storage and scalability. Backand is an excellent choice for data-driven Angular applications where speed of deployment and ease of use is the focus, while still allowing for the flexibility necessary to truly represent and manipulate your data as needed.

Conclusion

There is no one right answer to the question of “Which framework should I choose?” Each project covered – from the true BaaS offerings like Parse and Firebase to the more fully-integrated options like Ruby on Rails and the Django Project – has its positives and negatives. Furthermore, there is no need to assume each must be used in isolation. A Ruby on Rails app could easily use Parse for its data layer, while Django could just as easily be built on top of Firebase.  Backand provides an excellent balance, as the only Angular BaaS (ABaaS), between true control of the entire stack and rapid deployment, managing to both take the complexity out of creating a data-driven application while maintaining the configurability that makes other offerings a popular choice.  Ultimately the choice of platform will come down to the needs of your development organization – it is our hope that this series has given you the information you need to make the decisions you must.

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