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Firebase Vs XMPP: An Ideal Platform For Real-time Chat App Development!

Published On February 23rd, 2024 16400Communication
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When it comes to real-time chat app development for iOS or Android, the battle between Firebase vs XMPP has always been a fierce one. 

This leaves developers at the crossroads of choices, whether to choose XMPP to develop a feature-rich chat app or build a solid messaging app for Android using Google Firebase.

So, to help ease this difficulty, we join hands in this quest of finding the right chat application framework by giving a head-on-head comparison between the two.

Google FirebaseXMPP
Developed by GoogleDeveloped by an open-source community – Jabber
No customizations availableFully customizable codes
100 real-time connections freeUnlimited connections are free due to cloud hosting
Quick to set up and useDifficult setting up
In-built databaseOpen-source database
JSON storage dataXML storage data

The above distinction can be a generic one. Hence, we will see the flexibility, requirements, functionalities, performance, and a lot more between XMPP vs Firebase in the section below:

What is Google Firebase?

Firebase is Google’s own cloud-based application development framework to build high-quality mobile apps. This framework makes use of WebSockets and MongoDB.

Plus, Firebase offers app builders an app development structure consisting of analytics, messaging, databases and crash reporting logs.

Owing to its quick scalability and collaborative ability with other Google consoles, it has become the first choice for most mobile app developers.

Editor’s Note:

Did you know that in May 2023 alone, Google’s Firebase dominated the market as the preferred framework for building over 6,030 Android apps using its SDK?

To make the comparison easier and the judgment to the point, let us divide the points of comparison into 5 factors:

  • Protocol
  •  Setup Convenience
  • Performance
  • Platform Flexibility
  • Security

Must-know Basics About Firebase!

Below are a few benefits and specifics of the Firebase chat app development framework.

1. Performance

Firebase uses WebSockets and MongoDB for real-time database management. They are powerful and facilitate high performance and offer total control across the database. 

Also, Google Firebase has a range of Google suite applications that can be easily integrated for cloud hosting to performance monitoring.

2. Flexibility

Google Firebase gives the flexibility to customize data structures and supports the integration of additional features to the app as and when needed. 

It also allows developers to test and see the results live in action before rolling out the update.

This is of great help in real-time communication instances like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc. where messaging cannot be stopped to update new features.

 
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3. Protocol

Firebase does not have any set of protocols. The user should define the database structure and assign the messaging information. 

The advantage of the Firebase in chat app is that the user can decide what should be In and Out of the database structure.

4. Set-up Convenience

On the scale of setup convenience, Google Firebase is easy and quick to market. It requires minimal procedures to get the app up and going.

5. Security Features

Similar to XMPP, Google Firebase also offers SSL encryption and allows developers to build custom-defined concepts of security and rules that help in securing data manipulation in the NoSQL Firebase database.

Well these being said, I think it would be great if we shed some light on the glimpse of Xmpp in the XMPP vs Firebase concept too, just to get to know the technology.

Firebase-xmpp-coding

What is XMPP?

XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) is an open XML technology that enables real-time communication for iOS, web, or Android chat apps. 

Apart from creating chat applications, XML technology can be used to create apps for customer support, ticketing, and more. 

Further, XMPP’s security and reliability features are the best and have made it the obvious choice for building real-time chat applications like WhatsApp

Another great facet about XMPP is that it is a living standard that is constantly made better by a thriving community of developers.

 
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Read : How WhatsApp Works & its technology?

Must-know Basics About XMPP!

Below are a few benefits and specifics of an XMPP protocol that comes to help developers to build XMPP chats using SDKs.

1. Performance

XMPP’s USP lies in its ability to develop high-end applications and to quickly scale applications from few users to lakhs of users. 

It allows coders to give standards-based presence indicating messaging apps that thousands of users can use simultaneously for communication and file-sharing.

2. Flexibility

XMPP enables developers to create multiple functionalities on top of XMPP. 

It also allows for extending the instant messaging functionalities that go beyond chats like chat rooms, network management, content syndication, file sharing, gaming, collaboration, geolocation sharing, video calling, audio messaging, VoIP among many others.

3. Protocol

XMPP has a set of standard protocols that works with any XMPP server.  

The user can then apply this protocol to their database to exchange the messages for easy communication. And also ensure the network security using DSL to prevent the private messages.

4. Set-up Convenience

Though XMPP stands as an open-source framework, its setup is a bit time consuming primarily because of its additional features. 

5. Security Features

XMPP can be made to behave like a separate company intranet. This feature makes it a perfect pick to build enterprise communication channels. Also, XMPP can be secured with additional security measures like TLS and SASL which prevents data interception.

Now how does Google’s Firebase and open-standard XMPP stand tall against each other?
Should you build your chat app with firebase or XMPP? Let’s discuss further.

Building a chat application using firebase iOS or Android chat application using XMPP are entirely different scenarios. We are getting to the ground-zero of that question in this write-up. This is a close inspection of Firebase and XMPP for building real time chat apps.

Now, if we look up for xmpp vs websockets instant messaging protocol comparison – we can say XMPP to be more extensible and flexible with high-end security features when compared to websockets whereas  websocket gets connected with multiple users easily using lower latency lacking in security.

Final Verdict

Well, by now we would have an idea of the prime highlights of XMPP vs Firebase, and choosing which is the best can be a difficult option as

So, it is best you make a wise decision in choosing the framework. And if you are going ahead with APIs, look for providers that offer chat SDKs with XMPP and Firebase integration.

All the best!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Firebase a backend or database?

Firebase includes both backend and database. This backend-as-a-service platform includes a real-time NoSQL database popularly known as the Firebase Realtime Database. When you build a chat app using firebase, this cloud-based DB lets you store and sync data in real-time and also provides backend services like authentication, database management, chat analytics, storage, hosting and more.

Does Firebase need coding?

Yes, you need coding skills to implement Firebase services on your real time chat apps effectively. Apart from firebase implementation, you’ll need to write codes for defining the functions you want on the Firebase cloud servers.

Is XMPP end-to-end encrypted?

No, XMPP is not  end-to-end encrypted, because the XMPP server which connects the communication devices has access to plaintext. This means, any message that is transmitted through the XMPP is not ciphered. However, you can implement End-to-end encryption on a XMPP server using plugins and extensions like OpenPGP and OMEMO, when building your real time chat app. 

Is XMPP deprecated?

No, XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) is not deprecated. It is still actively used as an open standard protocol to build instant messaging and online presence indicators in iOS, web and Android chat apps.

Vigneshwar

Vigneshwar is a Performance Marketer, guiding providers of healthcare, education, etc., to elevate their conversation value with the help of powerful communication solutions to drive a better communication experience.

39 Comments

  1. Nate Farmer says:

    Can I use Firebase for 1-1 chat application in Android & iOS?

    1. Vigneshwaran says:

      Hi Nate,

      Of course, you can create 1-1 chat app using Firebase. It will support on both Android & iOS.

      1. Emly says:

        Can I make video/voice calling app using Firebase?

        1. Milton says:

          Compared to Firebase and XMPP which is the faster to sending the messaging via chat application

          1. Aparana says:

            How can we connect a new Erlang XMPP server with an Android and iOS mobile chat application?

  2. Jabus says:

    If I build a chat application using XMPP, is this possible to an add extra features?

    1. Vigneshwaran says:

      Hello Jabus,

      Yes, it’s possible to add extra features in the chat application while using XMPP.

      1. Jones says:

        Is it possible to combine both Firebase and XMPP to build a real-time chat app?

        1. Holo says:

          Yes, but feels unnecessary, unless your app needs some functionality that are found separately (as in xmpp has one but lacks another available in Firebase, while firebase lacks something xmpp has). I struggle to figure out what that would be though. XMPP is very versatile

          1. Geffi says:

            Is Firebase a good option to build a web app backend?

          2. Vigneshwar says:

            Yes Geffi, Yes Firebase is a backend-as-as-service that lets you create your web app backend with features like real-time database and cloud functions. You can also choose to configure the firebase chat server to fit your app requirements.

          3. Vigneshwar says:

            Hello Holo, it is completely understandable that choosing between firebase vs XMPP can sometimes be daunting. But our expert team can help you with it. Feel free to contact us now and get your queries resolved!

        2. Vigneshwar says:

          Yes, it is possible to combine Firebase and XMPP to build your real-time chat app. Firebase will help you add features like push notification, authentication and storage while XMPP lets you add chat features that are essential for your messaging app.

  3. Sienna says:

    Trending article! The differentiation of real-time chat application using Firebase and xmpp is good.
    Thanks a lot!!

    1. Manish says:

      How to implement a voice call using XMPP?

      1. Linda says:

        Can we use Firebase to build a web application?

        1. Vigneshwar says:

          Hello Linda,
          Yes, you can use Firebase to build a web chat app with features like user authentication, storage, and chat database management.

      2. Vigneshwar says:

        Hello Manish,
        You can implement voice calls on your real time chat app using XMPP in 5 simple steps:
        Establish a network connection
        Negotiate the audio codec
        Send voice call request
        Exchange audio data
        End the voice call

  4. Hazel says:

    Which technology is used behind the chat app for Firebase and XMPP?

    1. Steve says:

      In Firebase and XMPP, how many concurrent users will support?

      1. Holo says:

        Check the firebase pricing site for concurrent users allowed per tier (there are pricing tiers, but last time I checked, free tier had 100 concurrent, but that was like a year ago)

        With XMPP it depends on the hardware its running on (number of servers, RAM of servers)

        1. Jacob Johnson says:

          Does Firebase support group chat and cross-platform chat (web, android, ios)?

          1. Vigneshwar says:

            Hello Jacob,
            Yes, Firebase provides the real-time database service that supports data sync between multiple devices, enabling group chat features. Whereas, you can implement cross-platform communication across iOS, web or Android chat apps using Firebase cloud messaging service.

        2. Vigneshwar says:

          Hello Holo,
          That was helpful information indeed. Keep educating!

      2. Vigneshwar says:

        Hello Steve,
        Firebase can scale up to millions of concurrent users while XMPP up to thousands of users. However, the actual numbers vary from one chat app to another, depending on the overall infrastructure.

    2. Vigneshwaran says:

      The backend resources used to build a chat application using Firebase is JavaScript, Node.js and XMPP use Erlang, Ejabberd.

      1. Luxe fellas says:

        well, currently Contus is developing my OVP, and I wanted to start conceptualizing on the mobile APP aspect of it, and I want to use Contus Fly as the base engine and start adding video streaming to it

        1. Vigneshwar says:

          Hello Luxe,
          That sounds great! We’d love to help you build the best chat apps. Keep in touch with our team of expert developers and have a smooth development experience with MirrorFly!

      2. Angenlina says:

        I am using XMPP for my Chat application for iOS, but i am not able to mange push notifications in background state using XMPP, how you are managing push notifications in background state, can you give me some idea technically.

        1. Vigneshwar says:

          Hello Angelina,
          To manage push notifications in the background state for your iOS chat application using XMPP, you will need to:

          Configure your XMPP server so that it supports push notifications.
          Use APNS and register your device for push notifications
          Implement the XMPP Extension for Push notifications in your app.
          Handle the incoming push notifications.
          Reconnect XMPP and fetch new messages when the user opens the app if there are any.

    3. Vigneshwar says:

      Hello Hazel,
      The chat app technology of Firebase is based on real time database and cloud messaging whereas the technology behind XMPP is the open-stand real time XMPP protocol.

  5. Romuald DANSOU says:

    What about the cost?

    1. Vigneshwar says:

      Hello Romuald!
      MirrorFly chat SDK comes in 2 pricing models – Monthly pricing and One-time License cost.
      If you need our messaging SDK for a monthly recurring fee, MirrorFly offers you 3 different SaaS plans. You can find detailed information on the plans on our pricing page. Otherwise, you can purchase our completely customizable white-label chat solution for a one-time license cost.

  6. Jerald says:

    Need to make a chat group in Android using firebase?

    1. Vigneshwar says:

      Hello Jerald!
      Sounds interesting! You can implement a group messaging feature to your Android chat app using firebase using MirrorFly chat SDK. Create your developer account and start with the implementation or contact our support team for assistance.

  7. Rachel Willmer says:

    How I connect chat application using MongoDB without XMPP?

    1. Vigneshwaran says:

      XMPP had an inbuilt database is called Mnesia. You can Simply use MongoDB API & Connect to your MongoDB cluster and fetch and send messages.

  8. Vivek Choudhary says:

    Which is the best way to create android chat app using firebase or XMPP?

    1. Vigneshwaran says:

      If you built an app only in Android, Please prefer Firebase. In Android Studio, you will use volley to get any required data from the firebase database. It is very user-friendly and one can easily write, update or run code there.

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