Introducing Cloud Firestore: our new document database for apps

Originally posted by Alex Dufetel on the Firebase Blog

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Today we’re excited to launch Cloud Firestore, a fully-managed NoSQL document database for mobile and web app development. It's designed to easily store and sync app data at global scale, and it's now available in beta.

Key features of Cloud Firestore include:

  • Documents and collections with powerful querying

  • iOS, Android, and Web SDKs with offline data access

  • Real-time data synchronization

  • Automatic, multi-region data replication with strong consistency

  • Node, Python, Go, and Java server SDKs

And of course, we've aimed for the simplicity and ease-of-use that is always top priority for Firebase, while still making sure that Cloud Firestore can scale to power even the largest apps.

Optimized for app development

Managing app data is still hard; you have to scale servers, handle intermittent connectivity, and deliver data with low latency.

We’ve optimized Cloud Firestore for app development, so you can focus on delivering value to your users and shipping better apps, faster. Cloud Firestore:

  • Synchronizes data between devices in real-time. Our Android, iOS, and Javascript SDKs sync your app data almost instantly. This makes it incredibly easy to build reactive apps, automatically sync data across devices, and build powerful collaborative features -- and if you don’t need real-time sync, one-time reads are a first-class feature.

  • Uses collections and documents to structure and query data. This data model is familiar and intuitive for many developers. It also allows for expressive queries. Queries scale with the size of your result set, not the size of your data set, so you'll get the same performance fetching 1 result from a set of 100, or 100,000,000.

  • Enables offline data access via a powerful, on-device database. This local database means your app will function smoothly, even when your users lose connectivity. This offline mode is available on Web, iOS and Android.

  • Enables serverless development. Cloud Firestore’s client-side SDKs take care of the complex authentication and networking code you’d normally need to write yourself. Then, on the backend, we provide a powerful set of security rules so you can control access to your data. Security rules let you control which users can access which documents, and let you apply complex validation logic to your data as well. Combined, these features allow your mobile app to connect directly to your database.

  • Integrates with the rest of the Firebase platform. You can easily configure Cloud Functions to run custom code whenever data is written, and our SDKs automatically integrate with Firebase Authentication, to help you get started quickly.

Putting the ‘Cloud’ in Cloud Firestore

As you may have guessed from the name, Cloud Firestore was built in close collaboration with the Google Cloud Platform team.

This means it's a fully managed product, built from the ground up to automatically scale. Cloud Firestore is a multi-region replicated database that ensures once data is committed, it's durable even in the face of unexpected disasters. Not only that, but despite being a distributed database, it's also strongly consistent, removing tricky edge cases to make building apps easier regardless of scale.

It also means that delivering a great server-side experience for backend developers is a top priority. We're launching SDKs for Java, Go, Python, and Node.js today, with more languages coming in the future.

Get started!

Cloud Firestore enters public beta starting today. If you're comfortable using a beta product you should give it a spin on your next project. We can’t wait to see what you build and hear what you think of Cloud Firestore!

Launching Answers growth dashboard: understand your app’s growth

by Steve Wilber, Product Manager

In the mobile industry, the adage “if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking” is as true as ever. Today, there are more than 2 million apps available in the app stores, meaning that competition is fierce and growth isn’t easy. In fact, 13 of the top apps in the U.S. saw their growth rate decline by ~20% this year. Mobile teams know that they cannot simply build an app and expect users to flock to it - they need to actively monitor and grow their users.

To help mobile teams understand their user growth, we’re announcing a new growth analytics dashboard. With this new dashboard, you can answer important questions like: “How many new users did my app gain this week vs. the last? Are they completing key actions inside my app? Are they sharing my app with their friends?”

Understand your user growth in real-time

It’s important for product managers and app marketers to stay on top of their new users count everyday and measure their progress each week. That’s why the new growth dashboard features three key data points at the very top:

  • cumulative number of new users today
  • new users count at this same time last week
  • percentage change based on today’s count versus last week’s

By combining this data, your dashboard gives you an instant snapshot of how your app has been growing today and how well you’re performing comparing to the same point last week. It also helps you understand your growth trend for the week and whether you’re improving overall on a weekly basis!

Know the quality of your new users

The key to sustainable growth is not just getting new users, but ensuring they are taking meaningful actions in your app. With the new growth dashboard, you can now see the percentage of new users who performed a key performance indicator (KPI) each day. This helps you measure how engaged your new users are and see if your daily marketing efforts are attracting one-time users or highly engaged users.

Highly engaged users will come back to your app more often, so another way to gauge user quality is to look at your new user retention. The new growth dashboard helps you keep tabs on the percentage of new users that came back to your app after a day, a week and 30 days of installing your app. If the retention rate on a given day is higher or lower than expected vs. the week before, we’ll call this to your attention. This way you can address any issues quickly if there are any!

From our friends at Ticketmaster:

We believe that winners like scoreboards, and this new growth dashboard has been our favorite scoreboard for our mobile app development and QA teams. Retention is a valuable metric that is less sensitive to concert on-sale dates and the growth dashboard has provided us with several new metrics for us to follow how our fans are engaging with our apps in real-time.



Measure and optimize your organic viral growth

For many mobile-driven businesses, in-app referrals can be one of the most effective channels for user growth. Studies have shown that up to 50% of all buying decisions are a result of word-of-mouth referrals. To help you measure your app’s virality, the new growth dashboard shows you how many users are sharing your app’s content or inviting their friends to download your app. One big question remains though: Are their friends actually installing your app from those invites?

The new growth dashboard gives you the answer via its viral installs graph. Powered by Branch (a multi-channel, deep linking and attribution tool), the viral installs chart shows you how many installs came from the invites sent or content shared by your users with their friends. It also gives you the power to drill into which channel is more successful so you can double down on the one that gives you the highest return.

Your command center for growth in 2017

We’ve built this new dashboard to help you understand your user growth and know where to invest your marketing efforts. With 2017 on the horizon, we hope this dashboard will empower you and your team to march into the new year stronger than ever. Here’s to next year!

Branch now available on Fabric: Grow your app with deep linking

By Jonathan Zazove, Product Manager

Since launching Fabric in 2014, we’ve partnered with some of the best mobile app tools to help you solve the biggest challenges in building your mobile business. Some of the challenges we’ve heard from you is that user acquisition data is often fragmented between different marketing channels, and sharing your app across those channels is really cumbersome. This makes marketing your app difficult, and you wouldn't know if you're converting users effectively.

To solve that, we’re announcing a brand new integration today: Branch, a powerful, multi-channel deep linking and attribution tool for growing your apps, is now available on Fabric.

Know which marketing channels work for your growth

While in-app analytics tools help you understand user engagement within your app, they don’t tell you which channels your users actually came from nor give you the ability to track that data. Branch’s deep links have solved this by carrying your referral data through multiple channels (i.e., web, app store) and the app install process. Now, by integrating Branch with Answers – our mobile analytics tool within Fabric (ranked #1 by SourceDNA) – you can easily start using mobile deep links to gain insights about where your user growth is coming from and how to optimize your marketing campaigns right within your Fabric dashboard.

Because Branch works with Answers right out of the box, you can instantly see which channel/content is driving the most installs – without any additional work on your part. You’ll also know right away how your current users are sharing your app which is vital to your business’s growth (we know first hand how important evangelists are from our own community!)

See Branch’s announcement to learn more about how it works.

Seamless installation for engineering teams

As with our other partner SDKs (e.g., Amazon, Stripe, Optimizely), we'll automatically provision your Branch keys so you can easily onboard your app if you already have an account with  Branch (if not, we can create one for you here). You can also install the Branch SDK or update to the latest version with a simple click on Fabric.

From our friends at 8Tracks:

Fabric's one-click-install and update functionality allows us to be sure that we’ll never miss a critical update for our SDKs. It’s the platform we trust when managing our SDKs!

 

We’re absolutely thrilled to get this into your hands so you can start optimizing your campaigns and get the most bang for the marketing buck. We look forward to continue helping you build and grow your mobile business!

Powerful, real-time analytics on the go with the Fabric mobile app

by Meekal Bajaj, Product Manager

Just a few months ago, we launched the Fabric mobile app so you always have visibility into your app’s stability and usage even on the go. Since then, many of you have requested more functionality within our app that can help you dive deeper into your data and understand how your apps are growing. We’ve listened!

Today, we’re releasing a major upgrade to the app: the ability to drill into your most impactful adoption and stability metrics, such as DAU, MAU, and retention, to stay on top of your new releases — all in real-time.

Your most important metrics, always at your fingertips

The questions driving key product decisions are often asked in meeting rooms and hallways. However, the lack of access to data in the moment means those questions are often left unresolved. This delay can impede even the best of teams from making the call on how to grow the business!

With today’s update, you can now quickly understand how your app’s user activity is changing over time by drilling into the daily active users graph. We’ll show you how many new users you are acquiring every day. By benchmarking your active and new users against the same time last week, you can immediately understand how your app is growing.

Don’t wait to open your laptop to investigate changes in user behavior. Now you can know right away how your retention and new users rates are influencing your monthly active user counts, directly from your phone.

Inform your decisions with the #1 mobile analytics & crash reporting solutions

To build the most engaging and stable apps, you not only need total visibility, but also data that you can trust. The data within the Fabric mobile app is powered by Answers and Crashlytics, the leading real-time mobile analytics and crash reporting solutions. With our latest update, you’ll have the freedom and confidence to make informed product decisions for your mobile apps -- anywhere, anytime.

From our friends at Instacart:

We love the Fabric mobile app. Its real-time analytics makes it the first place we look to when we need to get a pulse on how our apps are doing. Our team checks it at least several times a day!


Keep your latest release at the forefront

Launch day is stressful for any app. With so many moving parts, the risk of something going wrong is high. With the Fabric mobile app, you can stay on top of new releases by monitoring the adoption and stability of your latest version on the go. Also, you can explore the top issues by day through the crash-free users graph. And if you see your stability diverge from what it should be, you can easily filter down to the specific issues and take action.

We’re thrilled to ship this new update and are excited to continue helping you make informed decisions about your app wherever you are. To get the latest features, just update your app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. We can’t wait for you to try it!

Bringing powerful PRs, one-click installation, and enhanced deployment options to fastlane

By Hemal Shah, Product Manager

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We know that time is your most precious asset. Our goal is to help you and your team spend more time creating amazing user experiences — not waste it by drudging through cumbersome, repetitive deployment tasks.

That’s why, eight months ago, we welcomed fastlane into the Fabric developer toolbox streamlining the entire app deployment process. Since then, fastlane has already saved over 1 million developer hours! Here are some more exciting updates from the fastlane family:

Introducing device grid: painlessly preview app changes from PRs

Constantly improving your app is awesome. You know what’s not awesome? Having to manually attach screenshots to every feature change, being forced to download remote changes and compile a new build locally, and having to test a beta build and then fiddle through app screens just to make sure a new feature works.

Instead of doing all this work, wouldn’t it be nice to test your app directly from a pull request? Imagine the amount of time you could save if you were able to interact with code changes in the same place where you already give feedback. Well now you can!

Device grid by fastlane takes the grunt work (and the guesswork of how app changes will look and feel) out of this process by allowing you to easily stream your latest app changes on a virtual simulator right from a browser. With fastlane, GitHub, danger, and Appetize.io, you can interact with your new code straight from a PR. Get started with device grid today.

One click and you’re done: install fastlane via the Fabric Mac app

fastlane makes app deployment fast and simple. So naturally, installing fastlane should be just as fast and simple too, right? Up until now, you could only install fastlane from the command line via Ruby. Moving forward, we’re giving you another, quicker option: fastlane can now be installed with one click from the Fabric Mac app.

We’ll bundle everything you need to run fastlane and even check to make sure you don’t have an existing version installed, so you don’t need to worry about any dependency conflicts.

Two-factor authentication support for greater security and control

We understand that you want extra security when deploying builds using fastlane. Recently, Apple allowed support for two-factor authentication for iTunes Connect, and we’re pleased to announce that all fastlane tools now support two-factor authentication. If you choose to use 2FA for your developer portal or CI systems, we’ve got your back.

Here’s how to use 2FA on a CI system.

Android expansion files and Google Play build promotion

We’re incredibly proud of the open source community around fastlane. Every day, developers contribute amazing things that make fastlane more powerful and efficient. Two particularly awesome community contributions we want to highlight are: support for uploading APK expansion files and a new option for promoting APK between tracks.

These updates will help you better manage your APK expansion files and quickly promote beta builds straight to production on Google Play, skipping the online submission process.

Here are the release notes for uploading APK expansion files and promoting APK between tracks.

More time = more power

Our mission is to solve and automate the tedious aspects of mobile development and give developers more freedom to innovate and create. We can’t wait to see what you build and deploy next with lightning speed!

P.S. As a bonus treat, you can now trigger and run fastlane with the rocketship emoji. Seriously. Give it a try and let us know when your next deployment is underway!