Exciting New Firebase Features Announced at Google IO 2017

Last updated: May 19, 2017

Admittedly, Google’s developer event IO has grown to be quite interesting the last couple of years. This year (2017) I was excited to see what would be announced in the world of Firebase.

I’ve been using Firebase on and off for the last couple of years. Recently, I’ve found a renewed sense of excitement in using Firebase again (especially after cloud functions were released).

A few of the new features are more mobile-oriented, Firebase likes to focus on mobile developers and applications but it has value for all platforms.

Cloud functions now support custom domains

Cloud functions are great, but the one thing I hated about them was the silly long CDN URL that you get. This meant you couldn’t use cloud functions as an API.

I have an application I wanted to create an RSS feed on. I didn’t want to tell my users to access the CDN URL that Google provides, so I hacked something else together.

There is a way you can use a custom domain using a third-party proxy, but honestly, I hate having so many moving parts in my applications and that approach is hacky.

With the new announcement, you can now use a custom domain and point a URL at a cloud function only if you use Firebase hosting. In your Firebase configuration file, you pass in a rewrite array and tell it what function to run when a certain URL is accessed.

This means if you’re using Firebase hosting, you can now create API endpoints and even pre-render pages for single page applications without using a third-party service. Neat!

You still cannot add a custom domain to cloud functions if you don’t want to use Firebase hosting. But this is a great start and hopefully, they expand upon it.

Phone authentication

This is a great feature the Firebase team have rolled into their core offering. After acquiring the Fabric team from Twitter a few months back, the newly introduced phone authentication is a continuation of Fabric’s Digits product.

This now makes Firebase’s already great authentication even better with another addition more oriented towards mobile applications. Still, for desktop applications, it is convenient or hybrid applications.

Open sourcing SDK’s

One of the biggest criticisms of Firebase is the public SDK’s are not open source. Currently, you get a minified alphabet soup mess of code, that all changes with Firebase SDK’s going public.

Overall a pretty safe announcement from the Firebase team. But, a good sign that Google are committed to Firebase and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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