Looking for a Complete Backend Solution for AngularJS?Posted by Itay Herskovits on Sep 30, 2014
In our last article on Backend as a Service (BaaS) providers, we examined Parse and Backand, looking at what each provider had to offer. While Parse provides a versatile and flexible interface that can be adapted to any need, this flexibility comes at the cost of ease-of-use. A smaller, streamlined approach like that offered by Backand can often be superior when it comes to data-driven and admin apps.
In this article, we’ll take a look at Firebase. Firebase is a BaaS vendor that focuses largely on maintaining back-end data connections. As we’ll see below they offer a somewhat smaller feature set than Parse, but they nonetheless can have a lot to offer a development organization looking to offload data synchronization and management tasks.
Looking At Firebase
Firebase is a BaaS provider focusing on one specific element of an application – the data. Firebase replaces the database portion of your development stack with a REST-ful API, handling all storage, replication, and synchronization tasks for you. This can take a lot off your maintenance plate, as well as reducing the effort required for proper scaling of your application.
Firebase also offers data synchronization functionality. Where many web apps will fail when an internet connection is lost, Firebase offers synchronization functionality that works to keep your app’s data current among all of your end-points. If your app loses connectivity – when running on a mobile device with a poor connection, for example – Firebase allows your app to work in offline mode, caching updates for when connectivity is restored. This data resiliency can be costly to implement properly, further reducing the burden on your development organization.
Firebase, with its focus on the data side of your app, provides a great starting point for application development by taking a significant portion of the back-end out of consideration. Backand builds upon this pattern of abstracting away data storage and provides a fuller-stack experience. Backand provides a REST-ful data API, but also allows you to decide upon the back-end storage medium – whether it’s a new Amazon RDMS instance or an existing Oracle database with hundreds of thousands of rows.
Backand doesn’t stop at the data connection, though – providing a quick front-end built on Twitter Bootstrap/AngularJS that allows you to quickly – with a few clicks – deploy a dashboard app perfect for reporting on your data activity, or a management app allowing for real-time updates. By shifting the focus – from data synchronization to small-stack presentation – Backand allows you to quickly develop a solution to manage your data-driven application’s needs.
Comparing the Two
While Firebase gives every impression of presenting only a small portion of the functionality offered by Backand, the reality is more nuanced. Firebase is dedicated to maintaining data integrity across multiple platforms with varying connectivity characteristics, focusing purely on data storage and synchronization. Backand addresses the situation from a step above, allowing for more flexibility on the data storage side while providing useful abstractions built off of popular web development tools that make organizing and presenting the data a relatively painless endeavor – particularly when using the provided seed application.
Employing a BaaS vendor effectively relies a lot upon knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each vendor’s offerings. Firebase offers a robust data connectivity suite that allows for easy and dependable scaling, synchronization across multiple platforms, and easy access through a REST-ful API. Backand allows access to REST-ful API but with more functionality and complex data storages. Backand also provides Angular front-end components for apps developers for quick development and deployment. In future articles we’ll look at other small-stack providers, providing a run-down and highlighting the strengths each offers to a web-development organization.
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