$100,278.05. That is the average base salary of a frontend developer right now, according to Indeed.
Developers can charge that amount for the simple reason that the software industry is growing at an unprecedented rate and shows no signs of slowing down.
The wiser among us have found a rather nifty way to cut costs, though: simply hire a front-end developer remotely.
That way, your company not only saves upwards of 40% on total costs but also gets access to a truly global talent pool: a win-win situation.
Speaking of frontend devs, very few of us have the time to take on backend development at the same time as our other commitments.
However, a free and little-known tool called Firebase may just be the solution to better backend integration and database management — which have traditionally plagued frontend developers for ages.
Firebase Pros, Period
(Applicable for every coder on the planet).
- Free to enter
- Google’s brand reliability and integration
- ML (Machine Learning) capabilities built-in
- It helps in generating traffic for your applications
- Has no-strings-attached Freemium models of service
- Significantly increases the speed of development and reduces the time to MVP
What Is Firebase?
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably an entrepreneurial sort of person who aims to solve humanity’s problems with web or mobile applications.
Traffic flow between your database and frontend is a huge issue, no matter how awesome a developer you are.
So, you have an app that allows photos to be shared.
If you want to access all of those photos, they need to be sent from somewhere, and even with a decent level of SSR (Server Side Rendering), it will probably make your app hang.
To compound problems, authentication tends to be a quirky thing to work out (especially for several simultaneous users).
This is where Firebase comes in.
For the most part, it is an all-in-one solution for backend development that integrates with the frontend part of your website.
Frontend developers are rapidly picking up on just how valuable Google’s free tool can be, and the number of people using it is snowballing.
Why Is Firebase Needed?
Say you’ve built an app.
You want your apps to have the maximum reach possible, which is why you’ll have to consider your Android, iOS, and web app users.
To build for these platforms (or even just one of them), a backend server to build, support, and maintain these apps.
Once the app is ready, most developers will want a login service (also known as “authentication”).
Eventually, as your users grow, your backend will have to scale — which is a lot more complicated than just buying more server space.
After your scaling problems are resolved, you’ll want to find ways to attract even more users.
Now another problem crops up: analytics. You’ve got a decent user base, they’re all active, but you have no way of mentioning any kind of demographics.
The answer to all of these problems is Firebase: a multifaceted backend tool that can take care of authentication, cloud messaging, your app notifications, and much more.
The cherry on top: Firebase also functions as a real-time database that literally updates itself in real-time, which works wonders for rollouts and debugging.
What Can Firebase Do For Me (A Frontend Developer)?
More specifically, it can take loads off of your shoulders.
Firebase comes in handy for those mundane things that developers would typically have to build individually but would rather focus on the UX/ UI instead.
This would include things like push messaging, file storage, cloud services, hosting, and configurations.
Let’s look at which Firebase features make frontend developers’ life easier.
All you need to do to streamline your authentication process with Firebase is download and install the firebase_auth plugin.
Then all you need to do is call it in via your dart code, and you can get right into configuring your authentication services via the native firebase app.
Dart code: import ‘package:firebase_auth/firebase_auth.dart’.
If you want to use a secondary app for any reason, simply use the instanceFor method to do so.
Look at how streamlined the auth process is with Firebase:
- Application gets the credentials (username, password, token, and/ or email)
- Credentials passed to and through the Firebase Authenticator SDK
- Firebase Backend Services go through with verification of these credentials
- The backend returns a response, based on which the user can now write to the database
All you need now is inject an AuthStateChanged() command with a small If…else code, and you should be good to go — it’s that simple.
2. A Real-Time Database
Significant distinction: As a developer, you don’t connect Firebase to your app through HTTP because Firebase utilizes data syncing which is much faster than the former.
That said, you can still use HTTP call functions like GET to access the data should you need to.
Even if you don’t upgrade to a paid Firebase service, developers can enjoy unlimited free read and write functions on the Firebase Real-time dataset service suite.
Main benefits of Firebase’s database:
- Stores any kind of JSON data
- Data is kept in a gCloud bucket, making it accessible from both services
- Clients can pick up “where they left off” if the network connection is bad
- Individual file and groupset security and privacy, allowing maximum flexibility
Long story short: The Firebase real-time database is a cloud-hosted NoSQL database that syncs in real-time across devices for all your users.
Once you use Firebase, you’ll be wondering how you managed without it in the first place.
Firebase has excellent hosting services, supporting everything from web applications to static and dynamic content.
Furthermore, Firebase can also host your CSS, HTML, APIs, and even Express.js microservices.
With the ability to host such a dynamic range of content, there is rarely any need to go with external hosts for your app, but should you need to do so, Firebase supports that.
Firebase uses CDN and SSD-backed hosting, making content delivery super crisp and fast.
Bonus: Firebase hosting comes with free and zero-configuration SSL, keeping your domain safe from external threats.
Granted, Google Analytics is free even as a standalone application, but the buttery smooth integration it enjoys with Firebase app data is a sight to behold.
Adding to that, the analytics features in Firebase also allow you to track and monitor KPIs and metrics with its 52 partner organizations and services.
The analytics apps in Firebase are compatible with Android, iOS, Unity (if you still use it), and C++, among others.
All in all, Firebase’s analytics integration helps improve engagement and retention.
The Firebase suite helps to a large extent with A/B testing,
Firebase offers a whole range of tools to help developers thoroughly test their application before publishing it formally, kind of like a “one size fits all” thing.
What exactly are some of these tools?
- Firebase Test Lab: Tests apps in a real environment with simulated physical and virtual connectivity.
- Firebase Crashlytics: Assists in tracking and resolving scalability problems and version control glitches — major hiccups for new apps.
- Firebase App Distribution: Allows devs to share prelease versions with credible testers.
- Firebase Performance Monitoring: This allows for tracking network behavior, HTTP requests, payloads, response times, and much more.
The above list is simply the tip of the iceberg.
If Firebase continues to grow at its current pace, we’ll be calling it a mainstream tool within the next three years, by my estimates.
And for my backend developer friends, there is no reason to worry about Google gunning for your jobs: you’re still very much relevant for the things Firebase cant do on its own(such as exporting data, mirroring databases, etc.).
In conclusion, Firebase is a tool that every front-end developer should be using because it takes a load off your shoulders when it comes to mundane things.
See you in the next post.
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