Firebase Vs GraphQL

Firebase vs GraphQL – Which should you build your backend on?

3 Mins read

Firebase is a service for building a flexible backend that can track a wide range of app statistics. GraphQL, on the other hand, is an open standard for defining how data is requested and delivered from a server. Developers can create JSON-based APIs using both technologies, but the goals and structure of each tool are different. This article on firebase vs graphql will help users understand each tool’s use cases and strengths.


A screenshot of the firebase homepage

A screenshot of the firebase homepage

As stated earlier, Firebase is a service for building flexible backend systems. It is a platform that helps handle common problems like user authentication, CRUD logic, hosting, storage, push notifications, and many other pain points developers face when developing backend architecture. 

Created as a company in April 2012 and acquired by Google in 2014, Firebase has rapidly evolved into a platform with multiple offerings used in tons of web, mobile, and IoT projects today. 

Amongst these offerings is Firestore, a cloud-based NoSQL database service that allows for real-time data synchronization between firebase applications and is one of the latest features introduced by Firebase sparked by developer demand for better synchronization tools.   

With Firebase and its highly effective array of features, you are allowed more flexibility to focus on the frontend/appearance of your product than the backend itself, as a lot of the heavy lifting has been done for you already.   

Exploring GraphQL 

screenshot of the homepage

A screenshot of the homepage

GraphQL, on the other hand, is a structure for designing and querying APIs. It is an API standard designed for client applications to fetch the exact data they need from a backend. Because GraphQL gives clients the power to ask for what they need specifically, many developers have found it faster and more convenient to use this tool when building applications.  

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Initially developed and eventually open-sourced by the developer team at Facebook, GraphQL is now maintained and contributed to by many companies and individuals worldwide.      

Open standard for delivering data to and from a server

A GraphQL server provides a client with a predefined schema – a model of the data requested from the server. In other words, the schema serves as a middle ground between the client and the server while defining how to access the data.

Written down in Schema Definition Language (SDL), basic components of a GraphQL schema – types – describe kinds of data that the client can query on that server and their fields.

The schema defines queries allowed to be made, what types of data can be fetched by the client, and the relationships between these types. You can create a GraphQL schema and build an interface around it with any programming language.

Having the schema before querying, clients can validate their query against it to ensure the server will respond to the query. While the shape of a GraphQL query closely matches the result, you can predict what will be returned. This eliminates such unwelcome surprises as unavailable data or a wrong structure.

Once a GraphQL operation reaches the backend application, it’s interpreted against the entire schema and resolved with data for the frontend application.


How do Firebase and GraphQL compare? 

The argument regarding which is better between Firebase vs Graphql will not be a direct one if it is taken up directly. However, let’s take a look at the benchmarks for both tools. 

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Popularity – Yes, the big ol’ popularity benchmark

Judging from Google trends, both technologies have amassed growing interest from developers worldwide as they are both incredibly valuable tools that cut across different areas of application.  

However, comparing web-search interests over time for both tools reveals that Firebase shines brighter. There are relatively more queries across Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) for keywords relating to Firebase.  

firebase vs graphql on google trends

comparing firebase and graphql on google trends


Developer Interest 

Judging from an aspect of developer interest, Firebase seems to dominate yet again as there are seven times more questions tagged Firebase than there are tagged GraphQL.  
questions tagged firebase on
questions tagged graqpql on

Final Notes on Firebase Vs Graphql

So, what is Firebase? And how does it compare to GraphQL? Firebase is a prebuilt backend that you can use to quickly and easily get your app up and running. It’s perfect if your need is drifting towards a simple and time-saving way to handle data collection and managing user authentication. GraphQL, on the other hand, is a flexible platform that shines if you’re looking for more control over the data you deliver to and from your server. It’s an open standard that more and more developers are using every day.

If you’re looking for an advanced system for efficiently caching GraphQL queries, be sure to check out GraphCDN, an advanced system for efficiently caching GraphQL queries at edge computing locations that can recognize when content changes, allowing users to cache content for long periods with the confidence their users will always receive the latest data.

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About author
Oluwaseun Raphael Afolayan is an Established Software craftsman and Technical Writer with over 5 years of experience building and documenting tech solutions for startups. He enjoys running around sweaty PUBG-mobile lobbies in his spare time.
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