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Firebase vs Google Cloud Pub/Sub

This Firebase vs Google Cloud Pub/Sub comparison was created based on reviews from developers and our best attempts to perform analysis by looking at documentation and other publicly available resources.

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Firebase

Google Cloud Pub/Sub

Getting started and developer experience

Time to "hello world"

Reviewed by 3+ independent developers

Ratings were given based on the average amount of time it takes to sign up to a new account and publish the first message.

3 / 5

5 = <30 min
4 = 30 min - 1 h
3 = 1-2 h
2 = 2-4 h
1 = 4+ h

View code example
4 / 5

5 = <30 min
4 = 30 min - 1 h
3 = 1-2 h
2 = 2-4 h
1 = 4+ h

View code example

Demos / Tutorials

A selection of online demos and tutorials so you can test and see the code in action.

Explore Ably's tutorials for our pub/sub messaging platform

Documentation

Reviewed by 3+ independent developers

Explore Ably's documentation for our pub/sub messaging platform
4 / 5

Getting started guides5 / 5

Information architecture and developer journey4 / 5

API reference documentation4 / 5

Readability, design and navigation4 / 5

Quality of code4 / 5

Breadth and quality of tutorials3 / 5

“Good getting started guides, across various languages. The API reference documentation is very detailed, but it lacks any interactivity, which is not great, considering that there's a lot of content. There are a few Codelabs and several multi-feature samples of apps built with Firebase, to showcase functionality, but nothing else that can be regarded as a tutorial. Documentation could be enhanced by including some extra code samples throughout. You can find a lot of samples on GitHub, but you have to do some digging. Including more end-to-end use cases directly in the docs would improve the overall developer experience.”

4.33 / 5

Getting started guides5 / 5

Information architecture and developer journey4 / 5

API reference documentation4 / 5

Readability, design and navigation4 / 5

Quality of code5 / 5

Breadth and quality of tutorials4 / 5

“The docs are neatly organized, with the information split and presented in a logical and largely easily digestible manner. Code snippets are clean, commented, embedded often throughout the documentation, and provided in 8 different languages. A nice thing is that you can trigger actions in the Cloud Console directly from the docs. Getting started guides are to the point and very clear. The same thing can be said about the tutorials, although there’s a limited number of them. The API reference contains a lot of info, which is good. However, you stumble upon the occasional broken link, and the way the information is presented (page layout, writing style, structure) varies greatly across languages”.

Dashboard or dev console

Reviewed by 3+ independent developers

Sign up for free and explore Ably's pub/sub messaging platform
4.67 / 5

Ease of use4 / 5

Stats and reports5 / 5

Functionality5 / 5

“The dev console has a wide range of features available, grouped into five main categories: Project Overview (basically your dashboard), Develop - where you handle everything from auth to storage and serverless functions invocation, Quality - where you can view crash reports and latency stats, Analytics - which includes various stats, including GA, and, finally, Grow - where you can do stuff like A/B testing. Navigation is intuitive, but all the functionality available can be a bit too much if you're new to Firebase, and it takes some time to be able to master it all.”

4 / 5

Ease of use3 / 5

Stats and reports4 / 5

Functionality5 / 5

“The Google Cloud Platform allows you to create and manage your pub/sub pipeline down to the smallest details. The features are rich, but you will need to use the docs to figure out what everything means. The UI is simple to navigate, but it’s also very text-intensive and cluttered - a bit discouraging if it’s the first time you are using Pub/Sub. What’s really nice is that you can transition from the Google Cloud Platform UI to the cloud shell terminal, which allows you to manage and develop your apps directly from the browser.”

SDKs

Note: Only official SDKs were taken into account.

Explore Ably's 25+ SDKs for our pub/sub messaging platform

9 SDKs

Including:

  • JavaScript

  • Android

  • Unity

8 SDKs

Including:

  • Java

  • Node.js

  • C#

API structure

Reviewed by 3+ independent developers

4.50 / 5

API consistency across SDKs4 / 5

Well structured5 / 5

Intuitive5 / 5

Simple4 / 5

“APIs are well documented (even if it’s in a boring way), and the methods are generally easy to read through and can be understood fairly quickly. APIs are straightforward and easy enough to use; there are however slight inconsistencies across SDKs“.

4.50 / 5

API consistency across SDKs4 / 5

Well structured5 / 5

Intuitive5 / 5

Simple4 / 5

“The APIs are structured well and are generally consistent across SDKs. The comprehensive API reference documentation, together with the tens of code samples, help you figure out how Pub/Sub APIs work. Client libraries provide idiomatic code, which makes the APIs simple and intuitive to use most of the time.”

Firebase

Google Cloud Pub/Sub

"Hello world" code example
// SUBSCRIBE CLIENT APP TO A TOPIC 
// These registration tokens come from the client FCM SDKs.
var registrationTokens = [
  'YOUR_REGISTRATION_TOKEN_1',
  // ...
  'YOUR_REGISTRATION_TOKEN_n'
];
 
// Subscribe devices to the topic
admin.messaging().subscribeToTopic(registrationTokens, topic)
  .then(function(response) {
    console.log('Successfully subscribed to topic:', response);
  })
  .catch(function(error) {
    console.log('Error subscribing to topic:', error);
  });
 
// SENDING MESSAGES TO A TOPIC
var condition = "'stock-GOOG' in topics || 'industry-tech' in topics";
 
var message = {
  notification: {
    title: '$FooCorp up 1.43% on the day',
    body: '$FooCorp gained 11.80 points to close at 835.67, up 1.43% on the day.'
  },
  condition: condition
};
 
// Send a message to devices subscribed to the combination of topics
admin.messaging().send(message)
  .then((response) => {
    console.log('Successfully sent message:', response);
  })
  .catch((error) => {
    console.log('Error sending message:', error);
  });
//PUBLISH
// Imports the Google Cloud client library
const {PubSub} = require('@google-cloud/pubsub');

// Creates a client; cache this for further use
const pubSubClient = new PubSub();

async function publishMessage() {
  // Publishes the message as a string, e.g. "Hello, world!" or JSON.stringify(someObject)
  const dataBuffer = Buffer.from(data);

  try {
    const messageId = await pubSubClient.topic(topicName).publish(dataBuffer);
    console.log(`Message ${messageId} published.`);
  } catch (error) {
    console.error(`Received error while publishing: ${error.message}`);
    process.exitCode = 1;
  }
}

publishMessage();

//RECEIVE
// Creates a client; cache this for further use
const pubSubClient = new PubSub();

function listenForMessages() {
  // References an existing subscription
  const subscription = pubSubClient.subscription(subscriptionName);

  // Create an event handler to handle messages
  let messageCount = 0;
  const messageHandler = message => {
    console.log(`Received message ${message.id}:`);
    console.log(`\tData: ${message.data}`);
    console.log(`\tAttributes: ${message.attributes}`);
    messageCount += 1;

    // "Ack" (acknowledge receipt of) the message
    message.ack();
  };

  // Listen for new messages until timeout is hit
  subscription.on('message', messageHandler);

  setTimeout(() => {
    subscription.removeListener('message', messageHandler);
    console.log(`${messageCount} message(s) received.`);
  }, timeout * 1000);
}

listenForMessages();

Firebase

Google Cloud Pub/Sub

Realtime features

Pub/Sub messaging

Pub/Sub is a design pattern that lets any number of publishers (producers) push messages to channels (also known as topics). Multiple subscribers (consumers) can subscribe to a channel to consume published messages.

Explore Ably's pub/sub messaging implementation

Message queues

A message queue is a form of asynchronous service-to-service communication. Messages are stored on a queue until they are processed. Note that each message is only consumed by one subscriber (consumer).

Explore Ably's message queues implementation

Presence

Presence enables you to track the online and offline status of devices and end-users in real time and to store their state. Essential for chat apps and multiplayer games.

Explore Ably's presence implementation

Message history

Message history provides a means to retrieve previously published messages. For this to be possible, message data must be stored (persisted) somewhere.

Explore Ably's message history implementation

Limited 

Normally, acknowledged messages are inaccessible to subscribers of a given subscription. 

You can use the seek feature, which allows you to alter the acknowledgement state of messages in bulk. For example, you can use Seek to replay previously acknowledged messages.

You can also make use of snapshots to replay unacknowledged messages.

Connection state recovery (stream resume)

In the case of unreliable network conditions, clients may suddenly disconnect.Connection state recovery ensures that when they reconnect, the data stream resumes exactly where it left off.

Explore Ably' s connection state recovery implementation

Guaranteed message ordering

Ordering ensures that messages are delivered to consumers in the same order that producers publish them.

Explore Ably' s guaranteed message ordering implementation

Limited

Google Pub/Sub only ensures ordering if messages have the same ordering key and are published to the same region.

Exactly-once semantics

Exactly-once is a system-wide data integrity guarantee that ensures each message is delivered to consumers exactly-once.

Explore Ably' s idempotent publishing implementation

Message delta compression

Message delta compression enables you to only send the changes from the previous message to subscribers each time there’s an update, instead of the entire message. Useful for use cases where there is a significant degree of similarity between successive messages.

Explore Ably' s message delta compression implementation

Native push notifications

Native push notifications can be used to deliver messages even when clients are offline. Useful for geolocation updates or news alerts.

Explore Ably's push notifications implementation

Webhooks

Webhooks provide a mechanism to get messages and other types of events (such as clients entering or leaving channels) pushed to your servers over HTTP.

Explore Ably's webhooks implementation

Serverless functions

A serverless function is essentially an isolated, single-purpose piece of code that is only executed when it’ triggered by an event. For example, you can use serverless functions to send a welcome message to clients when they become present on chat channels.

Note that serverless functions are usually fully managed by cloud vendors.

Explore Ably's serverless functions implementation

Limited

Can only trigger Cloud Functions for Firebase. Does not support other serverless platforms, such as AWS Lambda or Azure Functions.

Limited

Can only trigger serverless functions on Google Cloud Functions. Does not support other platforms, such as AWS Lambda or Microsoft Azure Functions.

Built-in integrations

Which popular services & systems are Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub integrated with?

Explore Ably's library of integrations

Webhooks

  • Custom
  • IFTTT
  • Zapier

Serverless functions

  • AWS Lambda
  • Cloudflare Workers
  • Google Cloud Functions
  • Microsoft Azure Functions

Streaming

  • Apache Kafka
  • Apache Pulsar
  • Amazon Kinesis
  • Amazon SQS
  • RabbitMQ
  • AMQP

Webhooks

  • Custom
  • IFTTT
  • Zapier

Serverless functions

  • AWS Lambda
  • Cloudflare Workers
  • Google Cloud Functions
  • Microsoft Azure Functions

Streaming

  • Apache Kafka
  • Apache Pulsar
  • Amazon Kinesis
  • Amazon SQS
  • RabbitMQ
  • AMQP

Known limits and constraints

Find out practical limits, such as the maximum message size, or the maximum number of concurrent connections.

Explore the practical limits of the Ably pub/sub messaging platform

The information below applies to Firebase Cloud Messaging:

Throughput 

240 messages/minute and 5.000 messages/hour to a single device

Maximum message size

4KB

Maximum number of topics

No limit on the total number of topics, but an app instance can be subscribed to no more than 2000 topics.

Maximum number of concurrent connections

2.500 connections per project

Publisher throughput 

50 MB/s (small regions)

200 MB/s (large regions)

Maximum message size

10 MB

Maximum number of topics

10.000 topics/project

Maximum number of concurrent connections

6.000 (small regions)

24.000 (large regions)

Supported development platforms, languages, open protocols and cloud models

Development platforms & operating systems

Which popular development platforms and operating systems do Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub support via official SDKs?

Explore the development platforms supported by Ably
  • Android
  • Java / JVM
  • iOS
  • macOS
  • iPadOS
  • tvOS
  • watchOS
  • Mono
  • .NET
  • Android
  • Java / JVM
  • iOS
  • macOS
  • iPadOS
  • tvOS
  • watchOS
  • Mono
  • .NET

Languages

Which popular programming languages do Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub support via offical SDKs?

Explore the programming languages supported by Ably
  • JavaScript
  • Node.js
  • TypeScript
  • Java
  • Objective-C
  • Swift
  • Go
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Flutter
  • Clojure
  • Scala
  • JavaScript
  • Node.js
  • TypeScript
  • Java
  • Objective-C
  • Swift
  • Go
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Flutter
  • Clojure
  • Scala

Open protocols

Which popular open protocols do Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub support?

Explore the open protocols supported by Ably
  • WebSocket
  • HTTP / REST
  • AMQP
  • MQTT
  • STOMP
  • SSE
  • Webhooks
  • WebSocket
  • HTTP / REST
  • AMQP
  • MQTT
  • STOMP
  • SSE
  • Webhooks

Cloud models

Which popular cloud models do Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub support?

  • Self-hosted
  • Cloud-managed
  • Serverless
  • Globally-distributed
  • Self-hosted
  • Cloud-managed
  • Serverless
  • Globally-distributed
Global and reliable edge service

Edge messaging network with latency-based routing

Latency-based routing ensures that clients are always routed to the nearest datacenter and point of presence.

Explore Ably's routing mechanism that mitigates network and DNS issues

Limited

Edge-optimized, dynamic datacenter selection is available only for the Cloud Firestore component.

Multi-region data replication (message durability)

Multi-region data replication (storage) protects against single points of failure and ensures message data durability.

Learn how Ably ensures message durability

Uptime SLAs

Here’s what the most common SLAs amount to in terms of downtime over a calendar year:

99.999% SLA = 5m 15s downtime per year

99.99% SLA = 52m 35s downtime per year

99.95% SLA = 4h 22m 58s downtime per year

99.9% SLA = 8h 45m 56s downtime per year

99% SLA = 3d 15h 39m 29s downtime per year

Source: https://uptime.is/

99.95%

99.95%

Quality of Service

What QoS guarantees do Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub provide natively?

Explore Ably's availability and uptime guarantees for our pub/sub messaging platform
  • Multi-region data replication (storage)
  • Exactly-once semantics
  • Guaranteed message ordering
  • Connection state recovery (stream resume)
  • Multi-region data replication (storage)
  • Exactly-once semantics
  • Guaranteed message ordering
  • Connection state recovery (stream resume)
Security

API key authentication

The simplest way to authenticate. Involves using private API keys that you can usually create and edit via a dashboard. Recommended to be used server-side, as private API keys shouldn’t be shared with untrusted parties.

Explore Ably's implementation of API key authentication

Token-based authentication

Which popular token-based authentication mechanisms do Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub support?

Note that token-based authentication is usually the recommended strategy on the client-side as it provides more fine-grained access control and limits the risk of credentials being compromised.

Explore Ably's implementation of token-based authentication
  • Ephemeral tokens
  • JWTs
  • Ephemeral tokens
  • JWTs

Configurable rules and permissions

Which types of configurable rules and permissions do Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub support?

Explore Ably's configurable rules and permissions
  • API keys rules and permissions
  • Operation rules and permissions
  • Admin rights
  • API keys rules and permissions
  • Operation rules and permissions
  • Admin rights

Message encryption

Which types of message encryption do Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub support?

Explore Ably's message encryption mechanisms
  • Encrypted at rest
  • Encrypted in transit
  • Message payload encryption
  • Encrypted at rest
  • Encrypted in transit
  • Message payload encryption

Formal certifications

Which formal certifications are Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub compliant with?

Explore Ably's security and compliance for our pub/sub messaging platform
  • SOC 2 TYPE I
  • SOC 2 Type II
  • HIPAA
  • ISO 27001
  • EU GDPR
  • SOC 2 TYPE I
  • SOC 2 Type II
  • HIPAA
  • ISO 27001
  • EU GDPR
Pricing & Support

Free package

What do the free packages offered by Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub consist of?

Explore Ably's free package for our pub/sub messaging platform

The Spark plan includes several products from the Firebase suite that are entirely free to use, such as cloud messaging (FCM) or in-app messaging. The Spark plan also allows for free usage of most of the other products, up to certain limits. Some examples: first 125k/month Cloud Functions invocations free, 10 GB of free storage (hosting), and 1 GiB of free storage in Cloud Firestore.

10 GB/month for ingestion or delivery of messages.

Pricing model

How are the Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub pricing models calculated?

Explore Ably's pricing model for our pub/sub messaging platform

Firebase offers two pricing plans: the Spark plan (free) and the Blaze plan (pay as you go), which is recommended for building apps at scale.

Most Firebase products are entirely free to use for both plans, with hard limits on some products for the Spark plan (and some missing features, too).  The Blaze plan includes the free usage from the Spark plan and allows access to all Firebase features and products. On top of that, pricing is calculated monthly based on a multitude of factors, such as message ingestion & delivery, document read, write, delete operations, data storage, hosting, or function invocations. For example, Cloud Firestore storage is calculated at $0.18/GiB, and hosting is calculated at $0.026/GB.

Beyond the free 10 GB per month, the price is $40 per TB (tebibyte) of data usage.

Data volume is calculated based on message ingestion & delivery and message storage.

Enterprise package

What benefits do the Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub enterprise packages offer?

Explore Ably's enterprise package for our pub/sub messaging platform

The Blaze plan gives access to all Firebase features and products and has enhanced usage limits.

Key benefits

  • Google Cloud Platform integration

  • Multiple databases per project (Realtime Database)

  • Unlimited number of tests (you are charged for test time only. In contrast, with the free Spark plan, you are limited to 15 tests per day)

  • Cloud Vision APIs

There is no Google Pub/Sub - specific enterprise package.

Community

Reviewed by 3+ independent developers

Explore Ably's community support channel for our pub/sub messaging platform
5 / 5

Presence on multiple channels5 / 5

Size and activity5 / 5

“The Firebase community can be found on several different channels: Slack, Stack Overflow, Google Groups, Firebase forums, YouTube. The community is quite active - there are sample apps and codelabs, meetups, podcasts. If you post a question on forums, you are likely to get an answer from the community in a day or so.“

4.50 / 5

Presence on multiple channels4 / 5

Size and activity5 / 5

“Google Pub/Sub has a decently large community that you can engage on several different platforms, such as Slack, Stack Overflow, GitHub, Google groups. There’s even an issue tracker/feature request page. There are also some useful educational Youtube videos created by the Google team. The community is rather active, with a lot of issues being raised (and fixed) on GitHub, and with some posts on Stack Overflow attracting thousands of questions. There’s also some good quality content on Medium produced mostly by Google Developer Advocates.“

Support

What types of support options and response times do Firebase and Google Cloud Pub/Sub offer?

Explore Ably's support options for our pub/sub messaging platform

General support options

Email/ticket, community (e.g. Stack Overflow and Slack), FAQs, technical documentation. 

Enterprise support

Enterprise support is available through the GCP support console, which provides a Premium Support package. It includes 24/7 support for critical-impact issues, dedicated technical account manager, and operational health reviews. 

Response time

Unknown for Firebase direct support.

15-minute response time for priority 1 issues when support is provided via the GCP Premium Support package.

General support options

Email/ticket, chat, technical documentation, community (e.g. Slack and Stack Overflow), phone. 

Enterprise support

The enterprise support package includes 24/7 support for critical-impact issues, dedicated technical account manager, and operational health reviews. 

Response time

Four-hour P2 response time

Between 1 hour (Production package) and 15 minutes (Enterprise package) response time for P1 events

Disclaimer: The information presented for Firebase was last updated on 6 November 2020 and on 24 November 2020 for Google Cloud Pub/Sub. It is possible that some details may now be out of date. If you think that’s the case, please let us know so we can update them. In any case, you should not rely solely on the information presented here and must check with each provider before deciding to integrate or buy any of these two solutions.