Oct 04, 2019

Google releases new no-code integrations for Firebase to streamline app creation, but keeps platform closed

With the release of Firebase Extensions, Google is hoping to improve developer productivity with modular services for app developers using Firebase on the Google Cloud Platform. Google, however, missed a key element: developer virality.

Firebase Extensions are powerful pre-packaged solutions that plug into Firebase, Google's comprehensive app development platform. Extensions can complete simple workflows, such as automatically resizing images, translating text, and triggering emails.

Most of the extensions’ functionality is not new, but they offer an easy way to bundle and implement these services directly into apps with minimal coding. According to Google, dropping Extensions into your app on Firebase means “no need to research, write, or debug your own code.”

The only Firebase Extensions that developers can install today are official extensions created by Google—no marketplace to discover or share creations by other developers.

Google is likely wary of privacy and stability issues that arise from community involvement, but in an age of package registries, language modules, and tool extensions, can it afford to restrict its developer tools?

Firebase Extensions are still in beta and are hosted as open source code on GitHub, so Google may open up the platform to developers in the future who hope to create their own extensions.

Firebase is already highly regarded by app developers for its easy setup and its portfolio of rich microservices, like Cloud Firestore and Cloud Messaging, that developers can easily integrate. Firebase Extensions are another step toward a more developer-friendly cloud that could help seriously differentiate Google if it eventually opens the platform to community extensions.

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