Firebase is a platform for realtime data storage and synchronization across multiple devices. Apps built with the Firebase API also work offline, with automatic data sync when connectivity is restored. Firebase is easy to setup and use. Realtime infrastructure like Firebase is important for building innovative solutions on devices like smartphones and virtual reality. One example of a Firebase-powered app is Vrban, used for exploring three-dimensional urban environments with Oculus Rift. Vrban recently won TechCrunch Disrupt (TCD) New York 2014 Hackathon using Firebase, Esri CityEngine, and three.js browser-based 3D graphics.
Getting Started With Firebase
Firebase has a quick start guide and detailed online documentation. A collection of working examples and code snippets make adding functionality as easy as copy-paste. Data is stored by Firebase as standard JSON. Custom security rules can be managed through a browser-based dashboard. Firebase works with many other platforms, including iOS, Android, MacOS, Java, EmberJS, and node.js.
The Future Is Realtime
Firebase has a list of solutions built on its API, including synchronized music listening, project tracking, and investment trading. As I wrote in a recent blog post, frequent updates are an essential element of virtual reality. Vrban, the hackathon winner at TCD NYC 2014, uses Firebase to enable realtime modeling by urban planners of how building placement effects sunlight and shadows. Changes are visible simultaneously on both smartphones and Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets. Firebase integrates with many development frameworks and offers an available free tier hacker plan.