If you are looking for a backend-as-a-service (BaaS) platform to speed up your web or mobile app development, you might have heard of Firebase and Supabase. These are two popular options that provide various features and services to help you build, release, and monitor your applications. But how do they compare, and which one should you choose for your project? In this post, we will explore the main differences and similarities between Firebase and Supabase, and give you some tips on how to decide which one is right for you.
Firebase is a BaaS platform that was founded in 2011 and acquired by Google in 2014. It offers products in three phases: build, release and monitor, and engage. Firebase's first product was the Realtime Database, an API that synchronizes application data across different devices and platforms while storing it on Firebase's cloud. Since then, Firebase has evolved into a comprehensive platform that provides services such as authentication, storage, hosting, cloud functions, machine learning, analytics, crash reporting, performance monitoring, remote configuration, A/B testing, and more.
Supabase is a newer BaaS platform that was launched in 2019. It is an open-source alternative to Firebase that is based on PostgreSQL, a relational database management system that supports SQL queries. Supabase also provides services such as authentication, storage, hosting, edge functions, real-time subscriptions, and more. Supabase aims to be compatible with Firebase's APIs and SDKs, so that developers can easily migrate from Firebase to Supabase or use them together.
One of the main differences between Firebase and Supabase is the type of database they use. Firebase uses a NoSQL document store called Firestore, which stores data in collections of documents that can have nested fields and arrays. Firestore is schemaless, meaning that you don't have to define the structure of your data beforehand. Firestore also supports offline access, automatic scaling, and complex queries using indexes.
Supabase uses PostgreSQL, which stores data in tables of rows and columns that have predefined data types and constraints. PostgreSQL is schemaful, meaning that you have to define the structure of your data before inserting or updating it. PostgreSQL also supports transactions, joins, views, triggers, stored procedures, and advanced SQL features such as window functions and common table expressions.
The choice of database depends on your project's needs and preferences. Some of the factors to consider are:
- Data structure: If your data is structured and relational, PostgreSQL might be a better fit. If your data is unstructured and hierarchical, Firestore might be more suitable.
- Query complexity: If you need to perform complex queries that involve multiple tables or calculations, PostgreSQL might offer more flexibility and performance. If you need to perform simple queries that involve single documents or collections, Firestore might be easier and faster.
- Scalability: If you need to handle large amounts of data or traffic, Firestore might offer more scalability and reliability. If you need to have more control over your database performance or configuration, PostgreSQL might give you more options.
- Offline access: If you need to support offline access or synchronization for your app users, Firestore might be more convenient. If you don't need offline access or synchronization, PostgreSQL might be sufficient.
Another difference between Firebase and Supabase is the pricing model they use. Firebase offers a free plan that includes generous limits for most of its services. For example, you can have up to 1 GB of storage, 10 GB of downloads per month, 20K writes per day, 50K reads per day, and 20K deletes per day for Firestore. You can also have up to 100 simultaneous connections for the Realtime Database. However, if you exceed these limits or use other services such as hosting or cloud functions, you will have to pay according to the usage-based pricing model.
Supabase also offers a free plan that includes up to 500 MB of storage for PostgreSQL (with unlimited rows), 1 GB of storage for files (with unlimited bandwidth), 100 hours of compute time for edge functions per month (with unlimited invocations), unlimited authentication users (with email/password or OAuth providers), unlimited real-time subscriptions (with up to 100 concurrent connections), and free hosting (with custom domains).
If you exceed the limits of the free plan, you will have to pay according to the usage-based pricing model as well. Supabase's pricing model is similar to Firebase's, but it also offers some discounts for annual payments or open-source projects.
A third difference between Firebase and Supabase is the level of openness and customization they offer. Firebase is a proprietary platform that is owned and managed by Google. It offers a lot of features and integrations out of the box, but it also limits your choices and flexibility. For example, you cannot self-host Firebase, modify its source code, or use a different database than Firestore.
Supabase, on the other hand, is an open-source platform that is built on top of existing open-source technologies such as PostgreSQL, PostgREST, Realtime, GoTrue, and Kong. It offers a lot of features and integrations as well, but it also gives you more freedom and control. For example, you can self-host Supabase, modify its source code, or use a different database than PostgreSQL.
The choice of openness and customization depends on your project's goals and preferences. Some of the factors to consider are:
- Vendor lock-in: If you want to avoid being dependent on a single vendor or platform, Supabase might be more appealing. If you don't mind being tied to Google's ecosystem and services, Firebase might be more convenient.
- Community support: If you want to benefit from a large and active community of developers and users, Firebase might have more advantages. If you want to contribute to or learn from an emerging and growing community of developers and users, Supabase might have more opportunities.
- Innovation: If you want to use the latest and most advanced features and technologies, Firebase might have more edge. If you want to experiment with or customize the features and technologies yourself, Supabase might have more potential.
In conclusion, Firebase and Supabase are both powerful and popular BaaS platforms that can help you build, release, and monitor your web or mobile apps faster and easier. However, they also have some significant differences in terms of database type, pricing model, openness, and customization. The best way to choose between them is to evaluate your project's needs and preferences, and try them out yourself. You can also use them together or switch between them as your project evolves. The choice is yours!