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Learn to build a mobile backend service with Firebase and App Engine

June 30, 2016
Teppei Yagihashi

Google Cloud Platform

At Google I/O 2016, we launched a significant new release of Firebase that consolidates several of Google’s mobile offerings into a single product. The new Firebase reduces the complexity of building mobile client and backend services and provides tools to help you grow your user base, earn revenue from your app and collect and analyze app-event data.

With Firebase, you can easily build a scalable and loosely coupled system. For example, you can add iOS or web clients without any impact to existing Android clients. If you need backend services, App Engine Flexible Environment can add new backend capacity automatically.

We recently published a new solution document that demonstrates how to build a native chat application with a step-by-step guide and sample code for both an Android app and an App Engine-based backend service. The solution, “Build a mobile app using Firebase and App Engine flexible environment,” shows how to handle interactions between the Android app and servlets running in App Engine Flexible Environment.

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By storing data in the Firebase Realtime Database, the Android client app exchanges chat messages with other users and also pushes user-activity logs, such as sign-in and sign-out events and channel-change events, to Java Servlet instances in real-time.

In the sample code, the Servlet instances simply cache activity logs in memory, but that's just a small part of what you can do with Firebase and App Engine Flexible Environments. For example, Servlet instances can be used for:

  • Heavy and asynchronous backend processing — Tasks that are too resource-intensive to run on client devices can be processed asynchronously by a backend service.
  • Real-time fraud detection — Servlets can detect user events from multiple devices in a short period of time.
  • ETL processing — A backend service can pass user-event logs to other data stores such as Google BigQuery, for advanced analysis.

For more information, see the Firebase documentation, or learn about how to build mobile solutions using various Google Cloud Platform products. If you're interested in Firebase and App Engine, you can also sign up for a free trial.

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