Thursday, January 17, 2019

FaaS tutorial 1: Start with Firebase and prepare the ground

As being an organiser of RivieraDEV, I was looking for a platform to host our CFP (call for paper). I've bumped into the open source project conference-hall wandering on twitter (the gossip 🐦 bird is useful from time to time).

The app is nicely crafted and could be used free, even better I've learned afterward, there is an hosted version! That's the one I wanted to use but we were missing one key feature: sending email to inform speaker of the deliberations and provide a way for speakers to confirm their venue.

πŸ’‘πŸ’‘πŸ’‘Open Source Project? Let's make the world 🌎 better by contributing...

On a first look, conference-hall is a web app deployed on Google Cloud Platform. The SPA is deployed using Firebase tooling and make use of firestore database. By contributing to the project, I get acquainted to Firebase. Learning something new is cool, sharing it is even better πŸ€— 🀩

Time to start a series of blogs post on the FaaS subject. I'd like to explore Google functions as a service but also go broader and see how it is implemented in open source world.

In this first article, I'll share with your how to get started configuring a project from scratch in Firebase and how to deploy it to get a ground project to introduce cloud functions in the next post. Let's get started step by step...

Step 1️⃣: Initialise firebase project

Go to Firebase console and Create a firebase project, let's name it test

Step 2️⃣: Use Firestore

  • In left-hand side menu select Database tab, then click Create Database. Follow Firestore documentation if in trouble. The Firebase console UI is quite easy to follow. Note Firestore is still beta at the time of writing.
  • Choose Start in test mode then click Enabled button.
You should be forwarded to the Database explorer, you can now add a new collection items as below:

Step 3️⃣: Boostrap app

We use create-react-app to get an initial react app
npx create-react-app test-crud
cd test-crud
npm install --save firebase
and then we've added firebase SDK.

Insert firebase config

  • We use react-script env variable support
  • In env.local copy variable from firebase console
  • In src/firebase/firebase.js, read env variable and initialise
    const config = {
      apiKey: process.env.REACT_APP_API_KEY,
      authDomain: process.env.REACT_APP_AUTH_DOMAIN,
      databaseURL: process.env.REACT_APP_DATABASE_URL,
      projectId: process.env.REACT_APP_PROJECT_ID,
      storageBucket: process.env.REACT_APP_STARAGE_BUCKET,
      messagingSenderId: process.env.REACT_APP_MESSAGING_SENDER_ID,
This way you keep your secret safe, not committed in your code 🀫🀫🀫

Step 4️⃣: Add routing

npm install --save react-router-dom
mkdir src/components
touch src/components/create.js
And define route in src/index.js
      <Route exact path='/' component={App} />
      <Route path='/create' component={Create} />
In the root path, we'll display the list of items. In the the Create component we'll define a form component to add new items to the list.

Step 5️⃣: Access Firestore in the app

Let's define the content of Create component in src/component/index.js
class Create extends Component {
  constructor() {
    this.ref = firebase.firestore().collection('items'); // [1] retrieve items reference
    this.state = {
      field1: '',
      field2: '',
  onChange = (e) => {
    const state = this.state;
    state[] =;
  onSubmit = (e) => {
    const { field1, field2 } = this.state;
    this.ref.add({                                     // [2] Insert by using firestore SDK
    }).then((docRef) => {
        field1: '',
        field2: '',
    }).catch((error) => {
      console.error("Error adding document: ", error);

  render() {
    const { field1, field2 } = this.state;
    return (
              Add Item
            <h4>Link to="/" >Items List</Link></h4>
            <form onSubmit={this.onSubmit}>
                <label htmlFor="title">field1:</label>
                <input type="text" name="field1" value={field1} onChange={this.onChange}  />
                <label htmlFor="title">field2:</label>
                <input type="text" name="field2" value={field2} onChange={this.onChange} />
              <button type="submit">Submit</button>

export default Create;
It seems a lot of code but the key points are [1] and [2] where we use the firestore SDK to add a new item in the database directly from the client app. the call in [2] is going to be revisited in next blog post to make usage of cloud function.

Step 6️⃣: Deploy on firebase

So we build a small test app accessing firestore DB let's deploy it on the cloud with Firebase tooling πŸ‘ !
  • Start running a production build
    $ npm run build
  • Install firebase tools
    $ npm install -g firebase-tools
    $ firebase login
  • Init function
    $ firebase init
    • Step 1: Select the Firebase features you want to use: Firestore Hosting. For now we focus only on deploying ie: hosting the app
    • Step 2: Firebase command-line interface will pull up your list of Firebase projects, where you pick firebase-crud.
    • Step 3: Keep the default for the Database Rules file name and just press enter.
    • Step 4: Pay attention to the question about public directory, which is the directory that will be deployed and served by Firebase. In our case it is build, which is the folder where our production build is located. Type “build” and proceed.
    • Step 5: Firebase will ask you if you want the app to be configured as a single-page app. Say "yes".
    • Step 6: Firebase will warn us that we already have build/index.html. All fine!
  • deploy!
    $ firebase deploy
    ✔  Deploy complete!
        Project Console:
        Hosting URL:

Where to go from there?

In this blog post you've seen how to configure and deploy an SPA on firebase and how to set up a Firestore DB. Next blog post, you'll see how to write you first Google Cloud Function. Stay tuned.

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