Firebase Adds Hosting to Speed Real-Time App Development

Amy Castor
May. 14 2014, 04:12PM EDT

In the past, if you wanted to build apps in minutes, you could rely on the Firebase API to do the hard work for you. But when it came to time to deploying the code, you were on your own. Not any more. Firebase changed all that by announcing a hosting solution. Firebase hosting is backed by a content delivery network (CDN), has SSL certificate provisioning “baked in” and works with custom domains.
 
If you are not familiar with the Firebase API, it essentially provides a backend to your front-end app development, so you don’t need to scale up hardware and servers with providers such as AWS or Rackspace. Firebase CEO James Tamplin likens Firebase to Dropbox, but instead of syncing files, it syncs code. You simply drop in arbitrary JavaScript objects and Firebase does the behind-the-scenes job of notifying clients about any changes in real time.
 

 
 
But after you build your app, you still need a place to host static files, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and images. With Firebase hosting, now you can deploy that content with a single command line. Content is available immediately once you upload it. And if you make a mistake, no worries. A one-click rollback feature lets you immediately go back to an earlier version without having to upload content all over again.
 
“We’ve been in beta for three months and we have 1,300 apps deployed on it so far,” said Tamplin of the new hosting solution. To ensure global users can access content quickly, Firebase partnered with Fastly, a CDN provider with 18 different points-of-presence (POP) across the globe. This way, a user in China can access your Javascript as quickly as a local user in the US.
 
Firebase hosting also does SSL certification provisioning for you. Normally, if you want to make your site secure for transmitting sensitive data, you need to buy an SSL certificate and then you need to apply it. “It’s a process outside the core competency of many developers and not something they want to deal with. So with a single click we go out and provision that certificate for you and apply it,” Tamplin said.
 
And whatever custom domain you have, you can easily tie that into Firebase hosting as well. Firebase offers two tiers of hosting. One tier is free and all of your apps get put on a subdomain with 1GB of storage. A second tier lets you use your own custom domain. It comes with an SSL certificate along with 10GB of storage. 
 
The San Francisco startup is growing fast. It now has 20 employees, up from six a year ago. Tamplin says the company plans to add an additional 10 employees before year end. Firebase competes with Parse, which also offers a hosting solution, and Kinvey

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