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Firebase vs Lightstreamer

This Firebase vs Lightstreamer 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

Lightstreamer

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
2 / 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.”

2.50 / 5

Getting started guides2 / 5

Information architecture and developer journey1 / 5

API reference documentation4 / 5

Readability, design and navigation1 / 5

Quality of code3 / 5

Breadth and quality of tutorials4 / 5

“Lightstreamer documentation is overall disappointing. First of all, it’s all over the place in terms of format: from GitHub READMEs to the most basic of HTML pages to PDFs. There’s even a slide deck. Resources are seldom cross-linked, which makes the docs hard to follow. The entire design of the website is from the last century. It’s aesthetically hideous, and the navigation experience is underwhelming. The only positive things are the API reference, which is quite comprehensive, and the GitHub tutorials, which are explained well.“

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 use5 / 5

Stats and reports5 / 5

Functionality2 / 5

“Lightstreamer provides a monitoring dashboard that shows various realtime metrics and stats related to the server-side, such as connections, sessions, or throughput. The event log is pretty useful, showing successful operations/events, warnings, and errors. It’s intuitive and straightforward to use, although the UI is dull and ugly. Unfortunately, there’s no dev console or portal with more extensive functionality to allow you to create and manage resources.“

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

10 production-ready client SDKs

Including:

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Node.js

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“.

3.25 / 5

API consistency across SDKs4 / 5

Well structured4 / 5

Intuitive3 / 5

Simple2 / 5

“Lightstreamer provides APIs covering many languages, operating systems, and development platforms, such as Java, .NET, JavaScript, or iOS. There’s a separate API reference page for each SDK - a highlight in otherwise mediocre documentation. The references are pretty detailed, and the APIs are fairly well structured and consistent across SDKs. But they aren’t simple, and it takes some time to wrap your head around them. They perhaps don’t have the most intuitive naming conventions, and the code samples included are not as clear as they could be“.

Firebase

Lightstreamer

"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);
  });
// Lightstreamer server 

// Data adapter xml file

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<adapters_conf id="HELLOWORLD">
    <metadata_provider>
        <adapter_class>com.lightstreamer.adapters.metadata.LiteralBasedProvider</adapter_class>
    </metadata_provider>
    <data_provider>
        <adapter_class>HelloWorldDataAdapter</adapter_class>
    </data_provider>
</adapters_conf>

// Package.json file for server requirements configuration

{
  "requires": true,
  "lockfileVersion": 1,
  "dependencies": {
    "lightstreamer-client-web": {
      "version": "8.0.2",
      "resolved": "https://registry.npmjs.org/lightstreamer-client-web/-/lightstreamer-client-web-8.0.2.tgz",
      "integrity": "sha512-UFEtoW+K2H+9PZNqdVGD6TqCBZNbsjC3TuZn5M1ee6D/aXlR8yzruKBXfQNdD0pgcpgpcKoMd/dyfeZxOf6EIg=="
    }
  }
}

// Lightstreamer client 

// HTML file with importing lightstreamer.min.js and require.js

<html>
  <head>
    <title>Hello World with Lightstreamer</title>
    <script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/require.js/2.3.6/require.js"></script>
    <script src="lightstreamer.min.js" data-lightstreamer-ns="Ls"></script>
  </head>

  <body>
    <div data-source="lightstreamer" data-grid="hellogrid" data-item="greetings" data-field="message">loading...</div>
    <div data-source="lightstreamer" data-grid="hellogrid" data-item="greetings" data-field="timestamp">loading...</div>

Firebase

Lightstreamer

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

Limited

Queues are supported only via the Lightstreamer JMS Extender, which connects to any third-party JMS server and makes JMS (Java Message Service) available on the Web. Any HTML page running inside a web browser and any Node.js application instantly become JMS clients, able to publish and subscribe on JMS topics and queues.

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

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

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.

Built-in integrations

Which popular services & systems are Firebase and Lightstreamer 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

Throughput 

Depends on server capacity (Enterprise and Enterprise Ultimate packages). 

1 message/second for each subscription done by each client (community/free package).

Maximum message size 

Unknown

Maximum number of channels

Unknown

Maximum number of concurrent connections

Depends on server capacity

Supported development platforms, languages, open protocols and cloud models

Development platforms & operating systems

Which popular development platforms and operating systems do Firebase and Lightstreamer 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 Lightstreamer 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 Lightstreamer 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 Lightstreamer 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%

Unknown

Quality of Service

What QoS guarantees do Firebase and Lightstreamer 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

Limited

Lightstreamer authentication involves the usage of user & password credentials.

Token-based authentication

Which popular token-based authentication mechanisms do Firebase and Lightstreamer 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 Lightstreamer 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 Lightstreamer 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 Lightstreamer 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 Lightstreamer 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.

Lightstreamer’s free package (the community edition) provides a license for one server and unlimited clients. However, the message rate is throttled at one message per second, and some features are unavailable (such as clustering or TLS support).

Pricing model

How are the Firebase and Lightstreamer 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.

Lightstreamer has a complex and confusing pricing model. First, you must choose between the community edition (free) and the enterprise edition (paid). When you select enterprise, you must then opt between the Enterprise or the Enterprise Ultimate package (the latter includes all client APIs, superior message rates, and all features). On top of this, you must choose a licensing scheme, of which there are six options in total. Some examples: Perpetual Upfront per Server License, Monthly Pay-as-you-go Per Core-Hour License, Annual Upfront per Client Licence.

Once you choose a licensing scheme, you must also choose a license type, such as Demo, Evaluation, Production, or Hot-Standby.

There’s no transparency regarding cost estimation or concrete numbers (at least not on their website).

Enterprise package

What benefits do the Firebase and Lightstreamer 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

Lightstreamer has an Enterprise Ultimate package that includes all client APIs (different programming languages), provides unlimited messages without throttling, and grants access to all features.

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.“

2 / 5

Presence on multiple channels2 / 5

Size and activity2 / 5

“The Lightstreamer community is small. There is some activity going on on the Lightstreamer forums - usually people raising issues and asking for clarifications that arguably should have been clear from the documentation. Beyond forums, the Lightstreamer community is basically non-existent. There are only about 30 threads in total on Stack Overflow, and, although there are over 140 Lightstreamer repos on GitHub, they barely have a few stars or open issues and almost no pull requests.“

Support

What types of support options and response times do Firebase and Lightstreamer 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, support forums, phone, technical documentation.

Enterprise support

Lightstreamer provides 8x5 and 24x7 technical support for enterprise and enterprise ultimate packages.

Response time

Unknown

Disclaimer: The information presented for Firebase was last updated on 6 November 2020 and on 7 December 2020 for Lightstreamer. 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.