Firebase is 🔥

I’ve had the pleasure to watch the Firebase product grow from an idea our office buddies had as a startup, into a formidable product, and then to a suite of products at Google. I’ve been really impressed with what the founders have done. Hats off to them.

This is not a fluff piece for a friend though. To be honest, and for whatever reason, I never really used the platform until about a year ago; just didn’t have a need.

That has all changed, and, today, I see firebase as more than just a cool product, but one that I truly love and have received tremendous value from. Here is how I got there and why I feel that way.

Remember Parse? Facebook acquired the DB as a service in April 2013, and shut them down in Jan 2017. If I remember correctly, Firebase served as Google’s way to address that chasm and provide a novel, cloud-based, data platform that was especially friendly to mobile developers.

A lot  has changed since, on the Firebase platform. Their systems is more than just a websocket based, real-time, hash database. It is a veneer to the plethora of services that sit locked away in Google’s not-so-friendly-to-use ecosystem.

It was very unlikely that I move from what I know in AWS, to what I do not know, and can not easily navigate, Google Cloud Platform. My initial need for a database that handled live-reloads on data update, grew into me using their storage, auth, hosting, serverless/functions, and logging services. In fact, it didn’t hit me that they were just tapping into GCP until I had to edit some auth/keys in the system; that’s just how seamless it is.

Out of curiosity, I tried to copy the same functionality of my Firebase system by setting up a GCP-only clone. It was a crappy experience! One I would never have taken the time to ramp up  on otherwise.

With firebase, if you want storage, boom you got it. Want to right some serverless functions, easy. Checkout logs and crash analytics, yup you’re covered. Create a key to allow access to your system? No problem. In just a few click or a few lines of code, you can get up and running easily, and have the power of Google (without the admin overhead) behind you.

When it comes to filler features to help keep moving quickly, Firebase is there for you. Whether it is a beautiful auth flow (without a bias to only using Google auth), an invite system, or “who is logged in now”, Firebase does not say “that is not core – go some place else or build it yourself”. I have found myself coming back to them, even when a live-db is not a requirement for the ease in implementing those filler features alone.

If there was a critique, it would be that their use of storage for video is not top notch. They lag behind AWS for their ability to pull content seamlessly. Not much else.

Facebook JS login on Chrome iOS workaround

I was putting together a Facebook JS SDK based login on a site I’m working on – only to find that Chrome on iOS does not support the action.

JH8Un

 

What was even more surprising was the lack of documentation or support online (with Chrome or Facebook) to help work around the issue.

I saw a few suggestion that had solutions based on using Parse or where others suggested using a backend based login API. I didn’t want to install another framework just to solve this problem, and my objective for the interface was to offer a seamless login process that doesn’t interrupt the user’s current modal based workflow.

To make matters worst, and I am really disappointed in Google for this (which is rare,) popping out windows on Google Chrome iOS makes a null reference to the  “opener” in certain situations. This makes it hard to complete a seamless login between two windows once the FB auth page is verified.

Below is a solution that checks if FB is authed, if not, manually opens an FB auth window that forwards the user to an Opener Handler page. That page forces a refresh of the openers auth tokens and closes the window. Once completed the user is sent back to the original page (with no page refresh) and can now proceed with a validated FB auth.


var ABSOLUTE_URI = "http://yourpage.com/openerhandler.html";
var FB_ID = "123456778";
function openFBLoginDialogManually(){
// Open your auth window containing FB auth page
// with forward URL to your Opened Window handler page (below)
var redirect_uri = "&redirect_uri=" + ABSOLUTE_URI + "fbjscomplete";
var scope = "&scope=public_profile,email,user_friends";
var url = "https://www.facebook.com/dialog/oauth?client_id=" + FB_ID + redirect_uri + scope;
// notice the lack of other param in window.open
// for some reason the opener is set to null
// and the opened window can NOT reference it
// if params are passed. #Chrome iOS Bug
window.open(url);
}
function fbCompleteLogin(){
FB.getLoginStatus(function(response) {
// Calling this with the extra setting "true" forces
// a non-cached request and updates the FB cache.
// Since the auth login elsewhere validated the user
// this update will now asyncronously mark the user as authed
}, true);
}
function requireLogin(callback){
FB.getLoginStatus(function(response) {
if (response.status != "connected"){
showLogin();
}else{
checkAuth(response.authResponse.accessToken, response.authResponse.userID, function(success){
// Check FB tokens against your API to make sure user is valid
});
}
});
}

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FB JS Auth

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<html>
<head>
<script type="text/javascript">
function handleAuth(){
// once the window is open
window.opener.fbCompleteLogin();
window.close();
}
</script>
<body onload="handleAuth();">
<p>. . . </p>
</body>
</head>
</html>

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Opened Window

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