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As web developers, we are always on the lookout for tools and technologies that can help us build and deploy applications more efficiently. One such technology that has gained prominence in recent years is Firebase, a comprehensive suite of tools and services offered by Google for building and scaling web and mobile applications. While Firebase has become a popular choice for many developers, there is a new challenger on the block: Supabase, an open-source alternative to Firebase that aims to provide similar functionality with some additional benefits.

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at Supabase, including its core components, key features, and how it compares to Firebase. We will also walk through the process of getting started with Supabase and discuss its pricing and deployment options.

Supabase Basics

What is Supabase?

Supabase is an open-source platform that provides a suite of tools and services for building and scaling web and mobile applications. It is often referred to as the "open-source Firebase alternative" because it aims to offer similar functionality to Firebase while being open-source and self-hosted. The main components of Supabase include:

  1. PostgreSQL: A powerful, open-source object-relational database system that serves as the backbone of Supabase's data storage and retrieval capabilities.
  2. Realtime: A lightweight, high-performance WebSocket server that enables realtime subscriptions to PostgreSQL tables, allowing for instant data updates and notifications.
  3. Storage: An object storage solution with AWS S3 compatibility, providing an easy-to-use API for storing and managing files.
  4. Auth: A comprehensive authentication and authorization system that supports various OAuth providers and integrates seamlessly with PostgreSQL's row-level security features.

Why use Supabase?

Supabase offers several advantages over Firebase that make it an appealing choice for developers looking for a more flexible and customizable solution. Some of these advantages include:

  • Open-source: Unlike Firebase, which is owned and operated by Google, Supabase is open-source, meaning that you can access its source code, contribute to its development, and even host it on your own infrastructure if desired.
  • Scalability: Supabase is built on top of PostgreSQL, a highly scalable and performant database system that can handle large amounts of data and concurrent connections with ease.
  • Customizability: Since Supabase is open-source, you have the flexibility to customize its components and functionality to suit your specific needs, which is not possible with Firebase.
  • Data ownership: With Supabase, you have full control over your data and can choose where it is stored and how it is accessed, ensuring better data privacy and compliance with data protection regulations.

Key Features of Supabase

Realtime Database

One of the standout features of Supabase is its realtime database capabilities, which allow you to subscribe to changes in your PostgreSQL tables and receive updates instantly via WebSockets. This feature is particularly useful for applications that require live updates, such as chat applications, notification systems, or collaborative tools.

With Supabase's Realtime component, you can:

  • Subscribe to specific tables or rows in your PostgreSQL database
  • Listen for insert, update, or delete events
  • Receive updates via WebSocket communication, ensuring low latency and efficient data transfer

To give you an idea of how realtime subscriptions work in Supabase, here's a simple example using the JavaScript Supabase client library:

import { createClient } from '@supabase/supabase-js';

const supabase = createClient('<>', 'your-public-api-key');

// Subscribe to changes in the 'messages' table
const subscription = supabase
  .on('*', (payload) => {
    console.log('Received update:', payload);

Authentication and Authorization

Supabase provides a built-in user management system that makes it easy to handle authentication and authorization in your applications. With Supabase Auth, you can:

  • Create and manage user accounts with email and password authentication
  • Support third-party OAuth providers such as Google, GitHub, and Facebook
  • Integrate with PostgreSQL's row-level security features to control access to your data on a per-user basis

Supabase's authentication system is designed to be easy to use and flexible enough to support a wide range of use cases. Here's a simple example demonstrating user registration with the JavaScript Supabase client library:

import { createClient } from '@supabase/supabase-js';

const supabase = createClient('<>', 'your-public-api-key');

// Register a new user with email and password
async function registerUser(email, password) {
  const { user, error } = await supabase.auth.signUp({
    email: email,
    password: password,

  if (error) {
    console.error('Error registering user:', error);
  } else {
    console.log('User registered:', user);

In addition to handling user registration and authentication, Supabase's Auth component also integrates seamlessly with PostgreSQL's row-level security features. This allows you to define access policies at the database level, ensuring that users can only read or modify the data they are authorized to access.


Supabase Storage is an object storage solution that allows you to store and manage files such as images, videos, and documents. It is designed to be compatible with Amazon S3, one of the most popular cloud storage services, making it easy to integrate with existing applications and libraries.

Some of the key features of Supabase Storage include:

  • Support for uploading and managing files through a simple API
  • Integration with Supabase authentication for secure access control
  • Automatic conversion of uploaded images to various formats and sizes

Here's a basic example demonstrating how to upload a file using the JavaScript Supabase client library:

import { createClient } from '@supabase/supabase-js';

const supabase = createClient('<>', 'your-public-api-key');

// Upload a file to the 'public' bucket
async function uploadFile(file) {
  const { data, error } = await
    .upload(`uploads/${}`, file);

  if (error) {
    console.error('Error uploading file:', error);
  } else {
    console.log('File uploaded:', data);

Serverless Functions

Supabase supports serverless functions, allowing you to build and deploy event-driven applications without having to manage your own server infrastructure. With serverless functions, you can:

  • Define custom logic that is executed in response to specific events, such as database updates or incoming HTTP requests
  • Integrate with PostgreSQL triggers to automatically invoke functions when data is inserted, updated, or deleted
  • Benefit from automatic scaling and cost efficiencies, as you only pay for the compute resources consumed during function execution

A simple example of using serverless functions in Supabase is to create a function that sends a welcome email to a user when they sign up. You could create a PostgreSQL trigger that invokes a serverless function whenever a new user record is inserted in the database:

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION send_welcome_email()
  -- Call your serverless function with the user's email as a parameter
  PERFORM supabase_http.request('POST', '<https://your-serverless-function-url>', '{"email":}');
$$ LANGUAGE plpgsql;

CREATE TRIGGER after_user_insert
EXECUTE FUNCTION send_welcome_email();

In this example, the send_welcome_email function would be responsible for sending the welcome email using an email service provider like SendGrid or Mailgun. This function could be implemented using any language or platform supported by Supabase's serverless functions, such as JavaScript, Python, or Go.

Getting Started with Supabase

Creating a Supabase Project

To start using Supabase, you first need to create a new project via the Supabase Dashboard. Follow these steps to create your Supabase project:

  1. Go to the Supabase website and sign up for a free account.
  2. Once logged in, you'll be taken to the Supabase Dashboard. Click on the "New Project" button.
  3. Choose a name for your project and select a hosting region. It is recommended to choose a region closest to your users for optimal performance.
  4. Click "Create Project" and wait for the creation process to complete. This may take a few minutes.

After your project is created, you'll be taken to the project dashboard, where you can manage your database, storage, and authentication settings, as well as access your API keys and project URL.

Supabase Client Libraries

Supabase provides client libraries for various programming languages and frameworks, making it easy to integrate Supabase into your applications. Some of the available libraries include:

To install and set up a Supabase client library, follow the instructions in the library's documentation. For example, to install the supabase-js library using npm, run the following command:

npm install @supabase/supabase-js

Then, create a new instance of the SupabaseClient with your project URL and public API key, which can be found in your Supabase Dashboard:

import { createClient } from '@supabase/supabase-js';

const supabase = createClient('<>', 'your-public-api-key');

Basic CRUD Operations

With your Supabase project set up and the client library installed, you can now perform basic CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations on your database. Here are some examples using the supabase-js library:

  1. Insert data:
const { data, error } = await supabase
  .insert([{ key: 'value' }]);

  1. Read data:
const { data, error } = await supabase

  1. Update data:
const { data, error } = await supabase
  .update({ key: 'new_value' })
  .match({ key: 'value' });

  1. Delete data:
const { data, error } = await supabase
  .match({ key: 'value' });

  1. Realtime data subscription:
const subscription = supabase
  .on('*', (payload) => {
    console.log('Received update:', payload);

Supabase Pricing and Deployment

Pricing Plans

Supabase offers a generous free tier, which includes:

  • 500MB of database storage
  • 100GB of data transfer per month
  • 100,000 realtime listeners
  • 1,000 stored procedures and triggers

For larger projects or commercial applications, Supabase provides paid plans with increased resources and features. For up-to-date pricing information, refer to the Supabase pricing page.

Deployment Options

Supabase offers two main deployment options:

  1. Self-hosting: Being open-source, you can choose to host Supabase on your own infrastructure, such as a VPS, cloud provider, or even on-premises. This gives you full control over your data and resources, as well as the ability to customize Supabase's components as needed. Refer to the Supabase self-hosting documentation for more information.
  2. Managed hosting: Supabase also offers managed hosting, where they handle the infrastructure and maintenance for you. This is the easiest way to get started with Supabase, as you can focus on building your application without worrying about server management. When creating a new project, you can choose from several hosting regions to ensure the best performance for your users.

No matter which deployment option you choose, you can always switch between them as your needs change, thanks to Supabase's open-source nature and flexible architecture.


In this article, we explored Supabase as an open-source alternative to Firebase, delving into its core components, key features, and benefits. With its powerful realtime database, built-in authentication and authorization, versatile storage solution, and support for serverless functions, Supabase offers a comprehensive and flexible platform for building and scaling web and mobile applications.

If you're looking for a more customizable and open-source alternative to Firebase, Supabase is definitely worth considering. With its growing community and active development, Supabase continues to evolve and improve, making it an exciting technology to keep an eye on.

We encourage you to explore Supabase further and consider integrating it into your upcoming projects. Whether you're building a simple prototype or a full-fledged commercial application, Supabase has the tools and features you need to create a successful and scalable product.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Supabase compare to Firebase in terms of performance?

While both Supabase and Firebase offer excellent performance for realtime applications, the underlying architecture and technologies they use are different. Supabase is built on top of PostgreSQL, a highly scalable and performant relational database system, while Firebase uses a proprietary NoSQL database called Firestore. The choice between the two depends on your specific use case, requirements, and familiarity with the respective technologies.

Can I migrate my existing Firebase project to Supabase?

Migrating from Firebase to Supabase is possible, but the process may require some manual effort, as the two platforms use different data structures and APIs. You'll need to export your Firebase data, convert it to a format compatible with Supabase (e.g., SQL), and then import it into your Supabase project. Additionally, you'll need to update your application code to use the Supabase client libraries and APIs instead of Firebase's.

What is the learning curve for Supabase compared to Firebase?

Supabase's learning curve largely depends on your familiarity with its underlying technologies, such as PostgreSQL and OAuth. If you have experience with relational databases and SQL, you may find Supabase easier to pick up compared to Firebase's NoSQL Firestore. On the other hand, if you're new to these concepts, you may need to invest some time in learning them before you can fully leverage Supabase's capabilities.

Is Supabase suitable for large-scale, production applications?

Yes, Supabase is designed to be scalable and can handle large-scale, production applications. Its foundation on PostgreSQL, a highly performant and reliable database system, ensures that it can support applications with high levels of data and concurrent connections. Additionally, Supabase's serverless functions and managed hosting options allow you to build and deploy applications without worrying about infrastructure management and scaling.

Does Supabase offer any native support for mobile platforms like Android and iOS?

Supabase does not currently offer official native SDKs for mobile platforms like Android and iOS. However, you can still use Supabase in your mobile applications through its REST API or by leveraging the available client libraries, such as supabase-js or supabase-dart, which can be used with popular cross-platform frameworks like React Native and Flutter. Additionally, the Supabase community is actively working on building native SDKs for various platforms, so native support may become available in the future.

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