August 23, 2013

How to backup your FirebaseDB on Google Drive using Apps Script!

I've recently started using Firebase, and I've got to say that it's pretty awesome! Especially if you use AngularJS as your front-end you can start making live Apps in minutes, and thanks to Google Drive HTML hosting you don't even need to waste time looking for a place to host everything.

I really recommend trying the example "Wire up a Backend" found on the home page of the AngularJS project.You won't believe at first that "that was it", it's so fast and easy that I'm sure you will think that there is something else to do before it starts actually working.

Firebase can do a great job as a Live Data back-end, but it's not very appropriate for historical records for a few reasons:

* Storing static backups takes too much space, and it should be used wisely (the free 100 Mb quota can run out quickly if you are not careful).

* Downloading all the data every time you want to make a report consumes a lot of bandwidth quota, especially when you call many backups to make a time graph with Google Charts.

* It's best to save those precious connections, since those comes with a price too if you exceed the free 50 concurrent connections quota.

So, instead, it's best to save a backup of your precious Firebase Data on a safe place, Firebase already  has a button that let's you save a backup of the interface anytime you want... and that's good! but let's make it great by storing it automatically on a specific folder using the date as the file name. Google Drive's free quota it's more than large enough for millions of backups on most applications, no bandwidth limits and it can hold up to 10 requests per second/user, and they give 10,000,000 free requests a day... So feel free to let users query and make those cool graphs all they want from Drive.This way you use only 1 connection, for a very short time and you only need 1 download (usually once a day) to get a copy of your data.

So, how do you communicate both services? Well, using Firebase with Google Apps Script it's a piece of cake thanks to Firebase's REST APIApps Script URL Fetch Service and Apps Script DocsList Service, let's see how simple it is:

Since Firebase's REST API allows us to get a copy of the DB with a simple URL, we can use it to get all the information directly via URLFetch, in this example we simply store the text inside a specific Google Drive folder, but its also possible to parse and pass the data to ScriptDB, Spreadsheets, Charts, Gmail, etc.

So give it a try, you don't even need to make the example to try this, you can register to Firebase and manually create a DB and some dummy data to work with, Firebase Web interface it's extremely easy to use so you won't have any problems with this.

Promising huh? well, if you want to do some serious data processing, you can use Bigquery or Fusion tables to put all that data together and watch how it evolves through time, also, if anything ever goes wrong, simply upload your most recent backup from drive, Firebase makes this very easy giving an "Import JSON" option.

Looking for a way to communicate your brand-new and super-cool Firebase live DB with your client's "traditional" web server?, you can use Apps Script XML Service, Apps Script JDBC Service, or pass them to ScriptDB and to have a frozen copy that responds to GET or POST requests via Apps Script Content Service, this one it's very usefull to make Charts on web pages using Google Charts Javascript API and some JSONP.

Just keep in mind when you are working with Firebase to be very carefull with your quotas (they are meant to last a month), and use whatever technique you find appropriate to reduce data consumption.

Feel free to let us know your ideas and opinions about this platforms at the bottom of this article and stay tuned for more articles about this great technology combo.

Happy coding!