4 min read

As a web developer, you have to adapt every year to new technologies. In the last four years, the JavaScript world has exploded, and their toolsets are changing very fast. In this blog post, I will describe my experience of changing from a web developer to an app developer.

My start in the Mobile App World

My first attempt at creating a mobile app was a simple JavaScript one-page app, which was just a website designed for mobile devices. It wasn’t very impressive, but at the time, there was no React-Native or Ionic Framework. It was nice, but it wasn’t great.

Ionic Framework

Later, I developed apps using the Ionic/Angular Framework, which uses Cordova as a wrapper. Ionic apps run in a web-view on the device. To work with Ionic was pretty easy, and the performance increased over time, so I found it to be a good toolset. If you need an app that is running on a broad spectrum of devices, Ionic is a good choice.


A while ago, I made the change to React-Native. React-Native was supported only by iOS at the start, but then it also supported Android, so I thought that the time was right to switch to React-Native. The React-Native world is a bit different than the Ionic world.

React-Native is still newish, and many modules are a work-in-progress; so, React-Native itself is released every two weeks with a new version. Working with React-Native is bleeding edge development.

React-Native and Firebase are what I use right now.

When I was working with Ionic, I was using a SQLite database to cache on the device, and I used Ajax to get data from a remote API. For notifications, I used Google GCM and Pushwoosh, and for uploads, AWS S3.

With React-Native, I chose the new Firebase v3, which came out earlier this year. Firebase offers a real-time database, authentication, cloud messaging, storage, analytics, offline data capability, and much more. Firebase can replace all of the third-party tools I have used before. For further information, check out here.

Google Firebase supports three platforms: iOS, Android, and the Web. Unfortunately, the web platform does not support offline capabilities, notifications, and some other features.

If you want to use all the features Firebase has to offer, there is a React-Native module that is wrapping the IOS and Android native platforms. The JavaScript API module is identical to the Firebase web platform JavaScript API. So, you can use the Firebase web docs on this.

Developing with React-Native, you come in touch with a lot of different technologies and programming languages. You have to deal with Xcode, and with Android, you have to add/change the Java code and deal with Gradle, permanent google-service upgrades, and many other things.

It is fun to work with React-Native, but it can also be frustrating regarding unfinished modules or outdated documentation on the web.

It pushes you into new areas, so you learn Java, Objective-C, or both. So, why not?

Firebase V3 Features

Let’s look at some of the Firebase V3 features.

Firebase Authentication

One of the great features that Firebase offers is authentication. They have, ready to go, Facebook login, Twitter login, Google login, Github login, anonymous login, and email/password sign up.

OK, to get the Facebook login running, you will still need a third-party module. For Facebook login, I have recently used this module. And, for a Google login, I have recently used this module.

Firebase Cloud Messages

You can receive notifications on the device, but the differences are depending on the state of the app. For instance, is the app open or closed. Read up here.

Firebase Cloud Messages Server

You may want to send messages to all or particular users/devices, and you can do this via the FCM Server. I use a NodeJS script as the FCM Server, and I use this module to do so Here. You can read more at Here.

Firebase Real-Time Database

You can subscribe to database queries; so, as soon as data is changing, your app is getting the new data without a reload. However, you can only call the data once. The real-time database uses web sockets to deliver data.


As a developer, you have to evolve with technology and keep up with upcoming development tools. I think that mobile development is more exciting than web development these days, and this is the reason why I would like to focus more on app development.

About the author

Oliver Blumanski is a developer based out of Townsville, Australia. He has been a software developer since 2000, and can be found on GitHub @ blumanski.


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