Google Is Open Sourcing Firebase SDKs for App Back-End Services

Google is open sourcing the client libraries of its Firebase mobile/Web development platform, which supports apps with a host of back-end services such as the popular Crashlytics crash reporting tool.

In a blog post published on the company's open source site yesterday during the company's Google I/O 2017 developers conference, the company said it's starting its open sourcing program with various products included in several SDKs for different programming languages and platforms.

Chosen for the "first step" of the open sourcing program were products for iOS, JavaScript, Node.js and Python SDKs, all with Apache 2.0 licenses. The Android SDK may follow the same open sourcing route in the future. Some Firebase components aren't yet ready for open sourcing, the company said.

Firebase provides -- along with the Crashlytics functionality that's being integrated following the acquisition of the Fabric development platform -- many services, including: a real-time database; authentication; cloud functions (serverless computing); cloud storage; hosting; test lab for Android; performance monitoring; Google Analytics; cloud messaging; and many more. Although Crashlytics is a popular component of Firebase, it won't be open sourced.

[Click on image for larger view.] Firebase (source: Google)

Here are brief descriptions of the initial spate of open source offerings:

  • Firebase iOS SDK 4.0. Google said this update includes several improvements, including more idiomatic API names for Swift programmers. "By open sourcing our iOS SDKs we hope to provide an additional avenue for you to give us feedback on such features," the Firebase team said. "For this first release we are open sourcing our Realtime Database, Auth, Cloud Storage and Cloud Messaging (FCM) SDKs, but going forward we intend to release more."
  • Firebase JavaScript SDK 4.0: The company is open sourcing the Realtime Database, Cloud Storage and Cloud Messaging (FCM) SDKs for JavaScript. "We’ll have a couple of improvements hot on the heels of this initial release, including open sourcing Firebase Authentication," the company said. "We are also in the process of releasing the source maps for our components, which we expect would really improve the debuggability of your app."
  • Firebase Admin SDKs for Node.js, Java and Python: The company said, "We are happy to announce that all three of our Admin SDKs for accessing Firebase on privileged environments are now fully open source, including our recently launched Python SDK. While we continue to explore supporting more languages, we encourage you to use our source as inspiration to enable Firebase for your environment (and if you do, we'd love to hear about it!)"

In its own blog post, the Firebase team outlined improvements made to the platform, including the integration with the acquired Fabric technology.

The post indicated Crashlytics will be the primary crash reporting tool featured in Firebase. "In January, we announced that we were welcoming the Fabric team to Firebase," the team said. "Fabric initially grabbed our attention with their array of products, including the industry-leading crash reporting tool, Crashlytics. As we got to know the team better, we were even more impressed by how closely aligned our missions are: to help developers build better apps and grow successful businesses. Over the last several months, we've been working closely with the Fabric team to bring the best of our platforms together."

Other cited improvements include: phone authentication; Firebase Performance Monitoring; more robust analytics; Firebase for all -- iOS, games and open source; Dynamic Hosting with Cloud Functions for Firebase; and more.

The Firebase team also touched on the open sourcing project. "Finally, we've taken a big first step towards open sourcing our SDKs," the team said. "We believe in open source software, not only because transparency is an important goal, but also because we know that the greatest innovation happens when we all collaborate. You can view our new repos on our open source project page."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.