There are many tools that developers use every day to abstract away complexity, but many are seriously underutilizing the benefits of "Backend As A Service" tools for developing the entire backend of an app, or at least the key components.
The idea of trusting such a vital part of the development process to a 3rd party tool can be scary; we get it. It's natural to want to have control over every bit of code and build things from scratch, but at what cost?
Many of the features we require in most apps are necessary but don't represent the core product. This includes authentication, security, file storage and database management. Do you really need to reinvent the wheel and build this from scratch every time?
We believe in most cases there is an easier way, which is where the idea of "Backend As A Service" can help.
What is a Backend as a Service (BaaS)
A backend as a service is a third party service that lets you develop the backend part of your application without building things from scratch. It's about NOT reinventing the wheel for every app you launch.
Each BaaS platform has its own set of tools and features, so let's use Appwrite as an example of offerings you may see. A service like Appwrite provides you with a console from which you can manage your entire backend. From your console's dashboard you'll have the ability to create and manage services such as:
Authentication & User Management
The beauty of a good BaaS service is that setting up your backend takes just a few minutes. You can design a database, add some data, and connect to it from a frontend via a REST API, an SDK, or GraphQL. The features that normally take hours or days to build are ready to go in minutes.
Using BaaS to your benefit
Being able to successfully use these tools will in no doubt speed up your development process and save you money. The question is, how will you leverage them to your benefit?
There are two schools of thought we typically see:
First, there are those that use a BaaS platform to build and scale their entire backend. Many have done so successfully and built large-scale apps. The second are those that use BaaS tools incrementally. They pick and choose the tools they need and adopt accordingly. For example, an organization may only need to utilize a BaaS for User Authentication and file storage. The beauty of BaaS tools is that you can choose how deep you want to integrate them into your platform.
In the process of writing this article, we did some research to find out which companies were leveraging BaaS platforms and how they were using them. Amongst our findings were organizations such as Twitch.tv, Instacart, Square, Trustpilot and Zendesk. In one case study Twitch.tv, the streaming service, utilized a BaaS for user authentication and a real-time database for transmitting messages in real time.
Many developers at the highest level are adopting the idea of using these tools to optimize their effectiveness and efficiency. We've seen this in cases from developers trying to get a product to market in the shortest possible time or integrating features with efficiency into large-scale applications.
In one interview, the CEO of Appwrite, Eldad Fux, said, "Appwrite was born out of necessity". After working on multiple startups and years of experience in the industry, Eldad said, "I didn't want to suffer from doing the same thing over and over again."
Choosing a BaaS provider
When searching the market, there are many solutions that thrive in one area or another. However, there is a common theme amongst the developer community with concerns they have with some of most widely adopted platforms.
One of the most common concerns with the largest BaaS provider in the market, Firebase, is vendor lock-in. When building with Firebase, you get locked into Google's ecosystem, making migrating your code away a big headache.
Scalability & pricing
Many providers, especially Firebase, also have had issues with Pricing. Oftentimes, an attractive free tier is offered to developers and startups. However, as your application grows, you may encounter pricing issues. To be specific, Firebase's pricing model can become expensive once you surpass the free tier's limitations, and it may not be cost-effective for larger-scale applications.
Privacy and data ownership concerns
One of the main concerns with using Firebase is that the data stored in Firebase is not owned by the users, but by Firebase itself. When you use Firebase, you entrust Google with your application's data. Google's policies and terms of service may not align with your specific requirements, and you might have limited control over how your data is managed and stored.
The open-source solution
These concerns are exactly why Appwrite was developed as the truly 100% open source Backend As A Service. A platform that is committed to giving you control over your tools and data while developing with the open source community.
Appwrite has addressed many of the problems developers in the community face, which is why it is being adopted at an incredible pace with amazing support! Since its launch in 2019, Appwrite has raised $37 million in seed rounds, was named Product Hunt's #1 product of the day after launching version 1.0, has gained over 33k GitHub stars with over 700 open source contributors, and has grown one of the most active developer communities on discord with over 17,000 members!
Appwrite is committed to providing the best developer experience while building the open source community. Want to give Appwrite a try? You can get started in just a few minutes with the Appwrite console.