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How to configure and interact with a Firestore database in a project

Nihar Raote
Front end web developer working with Vue.js πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’» | Learning React.js | Love to learn new concepts | Aim to be a more proficient developer
・Updated on ・5 min read

Introduction

In the previous part of this series, we created a Firestore database. We already have our Vue app which we created in the first part of this series. Let's connect our database to the app so we can add our notes to the database.

Get keys and secrets for Firebase configuration

To connect our database to our app, we need to initialize an instance of Cloud Firestore database in our app.

First, go to your project in the Firebase console and click on the little gear icon to the right of Project Overview. Click on Project Settings.

Project settings

There is an apps section at the bottom of the page that opened. Currently, there are no apps. Let's create one for the web platform:

Creating an app on the web platform

Enter a name for your web app to which Firebase will be added.

Register Firebase web app

After registering, there will be an API key and other stuff that will be needed to configure Firebase in our Vue app.

Getting config keys when registering app

Click Return to console. Back on the project settings page, there is our app at the bottom. You can refer here anytime to get the API keys again.

Project settings page with new web app

Creating a collection

In Firestore, data is stored in collections. Think of them as drawers in a file cabinet. We don't just jam stuff wherever we want in a file cabinet. There's a drawer for every category of information. There might be a drawer for financial statements, a drawer for biodata of employees, a drawer for statistic datasheets, etc. There's a drawer for keeping all things in their separate sections.

A collection in Firestore serves the same purpose. It's a "drawer" for the different types of information that belong in the same file cabinet (Firestore database). For our project, we only require one collection since we will only be storing our notes. But you can create multiple collections if you want. You can have collections for your study notes, for your notes on any courses you're taking, for work stuff, etc.

Let's add a collection to our database.

Click on Add collection and create a collection called notes.

Adding a collection to the database

You will be prompted to add one document to the collection before it can be created. You can enter any data you want in it. Here is an example:
Adding a document to the collection

Once the collection has been created, you can delete this document by clicking on the three dots on the right and selecting Delete document:
Deleting document

Configure Firebase in the Vue app

We have everything we need to configure Firebase in our Vue app and initialize an instance of Cloud Firestore.

Create files named firebaseConfig.js and firebaseInit.js in the root of the project. firebaseConfig.js will hold the API key, app id, etc while firebaseInit.js will have our instance of Cloud Firestore which we can then import anywhere in our app. Let's create them:

firebaseConfig file
firebaseInit file

You can name these files something else if you want. But naming them this way makes it easy to know what they contain and their purpose.

Submit notes to the database

An instance of Cloud Firestore has been created which we will import and use in our App component. We created a Firestore instance, but we also need to add Firebase to our app.

Run npm install firebase to install Firebase. Although we are using the Firestore database and not Firebase's database, Firestore is still part of Firebase itself. Thus, we can access Firestore from the Firebase package itself. As can be seen from the firebaseInit.js file above, we get access to Firestore with firebase/firestore.

Alternatively, you can also add Firebase to the project with a script tag in the HTML file. You can get the link from the apps section at the bottom of the Project Settings page in your Firestore database.

Our code in the App component already has a method to add new notes to an array. We can simply add a few lines to it to send our notes to the database as well. First, we import the Firestore instance from the firestoreInit.js file and then make some changes to our submitNote() method.

Importing Cloud Firestore instance
Changes made to submitNotes method

Here, the db.collection().add() method adds values to a collection in a database. We've already initialized the Firestore instance using the secret and API key from our database, and the collection to which the data will be added has been specified as well. As for the values in the add() method, it accepts a regular object with key-value pairs, where the key will be a field in the database and the value will be the value of that field.

You can compare the object in the add() method with the first document we added when creating the notes collection:

First document created when creating collection

Similar to the fields in the document, the object we pass to the add() method also has the same fields. The values will be taken from the title and content input fields.

The changes we made to the submitNote() method will add notes to the database while also adding them into the notes array.

The submitNote() method will check whether the title and content input fields were left empty when we clicked the Add Note button. It will first add the new note to the database, then add it to the notes array and finally clear the input fields by assigning a blank string.

Wrapping up

We've linked our database to our Vue app and can now add notes to the database. We can enter a title, type out a note and after clicking on the button below the inputs, the note gets added to the database and also gets added to an array we created. By mapping over the array, we can display the notes in it.

But, if we refresh the page, all our notes are gone. Although the notes in the database are still there, we haven't retrieved them. Let's do that in the next part.

In the upcoming part of this series, we will set up a way to retrieve the notes from our database and also display all our notes. This way, even if we refresh the page, as long as we have them in the database, we can see our notes on the page.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Discussion (1)

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tylermorales profile image
Tyler Morales

I would like to add that I had some difficulty in setting up firebase. The issue I had was placing the firebase scripts and then importing firebaseInit.js in App.js. I would recommend moving those two scrips in the src directory and keeping the import statement the same

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