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Firebase vs Socket.IO

This Firebase vs Socket.IO 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

Socket.IO

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 / 5

Getting started guides5 / 5

Information architecture and developer journey4 / 5

API reference documentation4 / 5

Readability, design and navigation3 / 5

Quality of code5 / 5

Breadth and quality of tutorials3 / 5

"Much like the solution, the documentation is pretty lightweight. You have an excellent getting started guide that requires no prior Socket.IO or Node.js knowledge. There are tens of code snippets throughout the docs, which is fantastic. There are almost no tutorials (not official ones), but you do have a chat and a whiteboard demo that you can grab from GitHub. The quality of writing is good enough. Most of the time, things are clear. Navigating between documentation, demos, and the API reference is quite annoying. They could have done a better job linking these sections and having them displayed in a common ToC. Although lightweight and generally clear, the documentation seems to have some holes in it, based on the number of GitHub and Stack Overflow questions about Socket.IO."

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.”

1 / 5

Ease of use1 / 5

Stats and reports1 / 5

Functionality1 / 5

"Socket.IO does not provide a developer console or dashboard."

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

1 official client library (JavaScript) for browsers

Note that there are also several community-made client implementations in other languages, such as Java, Swift, Python, or .NET.

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“.

5 / 5

API consistency across SDKs5 / 5

Well structured5 / 5

Intuitive5 / 5

Simple5 / 5

"Socket.IO has a simple JavaScript-based API interface that has intuitive naming conventions. The API reference documentation is very detailed, with each resource described in detail, and with numerous code examples throughout. It’s easy to get started with both the Server and the Client APIs."

Firebase

Socket.IO

"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);
  });
var app = require('express')();
var http = require('http').Server(app);
var io = require('socket.io')(http);

app.get('/', function(req, res) {
   res.sendfile('index.html');
});

//Broadcasting events
var clients = 0;
io.on('connection', function(socket) {
   clients++;
   io.sockets.emit('broadcast',{ description: clients + ' clients connected!'});
   socket.on('disconnect', function () {
      clients--;
      io.sockets.emit('broadcast',{ description: clients + ' clients connected!'});
   });
});

http.listen(3000, function() {
   console.log('listening on localhost:3000');
});

//Handling broadcast events on the client side
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
   <head>
      <title>Hello world</title>
   </head>
   <script src = "/socket.io/socket.io.js"></script>
   <script>
      var socket = io();
      socket.on('broadcast',function(data) {
         document.body.innerHTML = '';
         document.write(data.description);
      });
   </script>
   <body>Hello world</body>
</html>

Firebase

Socket.IO

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

Limited

You can use the rooms feature to broadcast events to a subset of clients, but this applies exclusively to the server-side (i.e. clients don’t have access to the list of rooms it has joined).

You can also use a Redis adapter to broadcast events to clients through the Redis pub/sub mechanism.

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

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 Socket.IO 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

Unknown

Maximum message size 

Unknown, but the default is 1 MB

Maximum number of topics

N/A

Maximum number of concurrent connections

Unknown

Supported development platforms, languages, open protocols and cloud models

Development platforms & operating systems

Which popular development platforms and operating systems do Firebase and Socket.IO 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 Socket.IO 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 Socket.IO 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 Socket.IO 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.

N/A

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

N/A

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%

N/A

Quality of Service

What QoS guarantees do Firebase and Socket.IO 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

N/A

Token-based authentication

Which popular token-based authentication mechanisms do Firebase and Socket.IO 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 Socket.IO 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 Socket.IO 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 Socket.IO 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 Socket.IO 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.

Socket.IO is a free & open-source solution.

Pricing model

How are the Firebase and Socket.IO 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.

N/A

Enterprise package

What benefits do the Firebase and Socket.IO 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

N/A

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.“

5 / 5

Presence on multiple channels5 / 5

Size and activity5 / 5

"Socket.IO is the most popular open-source WebSocket solution. It has a large and very active community. Client SDKs in several different languages? All of them community-made. Troubleshooting and support questions? The community will sort you out, almost always. As you’d expect, Stack Overflow and GitHub are very busy, with tens of thousands of questions, views, and responses about all things Socket.IO."

Support

What types of support options and response times do Firebase and Socket.IO 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

Technical documentation, Slack, Stack Overflow, GitHub.

Enterprise support

N/A

Response time

N/A

Disclaimer: The information presented for Firebase was last updated on 6 November 2020 and on 3 December 2020 for Socket.IO. 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.