If you’re an Android, iOS or web developer, you’ll love this neat little application suite of services offered by Google.

I’ve been working on this new app for a friend’s annual convention, and so I’m experimenting with Google’s Firebase suite. For hobbyists like myself, the price is right (FREE!) and it’s packed with some handy application utilities like document storage, user signup and authentication, and application crash reporting.

Let me first start with crash reporting. I’m going thru my app and inserting tags (“TAG”) in as many places as possible for the purpose of troubleshooting the app. That’s helpful so long as I’m coding locally, but what about when someone at the convention is using my app and it suddenly crashes on them? Firebase has a quick and easy solution which is only one line of code to add in the Android Manifest (insert compile code here). Then, when the app crashes, you’ll get an email notification along with the lines of code where the crash occurred, just like you would see if you’re building and testing locally. Pretty cool, right? In addition, there’s analytics which you can sync with your Google Analytics to help you see trends in behavior.

Now my first report came in with an issue with Download Manager. Reminder to add that feature for hard and soft permissions!

Crash reporting: powerful, effective and very simple to implement! Just the way I like it.

But this next little feature is something even more impressive: the ability to remotely configure your app.

Let’s say for example you want to change the appearance of your app during a holiday season. You could update the app and then users could download the app again with the new configuration, but users tend to get annoyed every time they have to update their app. Let’s say you wanted to display images or ads for that particular holiday event. It would be a lot easier to just configure the app’s appearance remotely.

In my case, I have several tabs to present to the user, but I’m not sure all of these  fragments will be completed or in the right way for the convention users. So I wanted a toggle to make the tabs appear if they are ready for the user or not. Another need for me was to be able to update the URL for the JSON file location, as this could be updated by my friend during the convention, if any updates were to be made. Note: the Android that app I am coding can’t rely on any Internet based API’s due to the expected poor network connection at these convention areas. So I’m preparing my app so that users will download all the necessary JSON and convention materials ahead of their convention attendance, in a well lit internet area.

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