How to do a simple search in string in Firebase database?

AndroidFirebaseFirebase Realtime-Database

Android Problem Overview

I want to create a simple search in my app, but cannot find anything on interwebs about it, that's more recent than 2014. There must be a better way. There are startAt and endAt functions but they don't work as expected and are case sensitive. How do you guys solve this problem? How can this functionality still not exist in 2016?

Android Solutions

Solution 1 - Android

In my case I was able to partly achieve a SQL LIKE in the following way:


The character \uf8ff used in the query is a very high code point in the Unicode range (it is a Private Usage Area [PUA] code). Because it is after most regular characters in Unicode, the query matches all values that start with queryText.

In this way, searching by "Fre" I could get the records having "Fred, Freddy, Frey" as value in _searchLastName property from the database.

Solution 2 - Android

Create two String variables

    searchInputToLower = inputText.getText().toString().toLowerCase();

    searchInputTOUpper = inputText.getText().toString().toUpperCase();

Then in the Query set it to:

    DatabaseReference reference = FirebaseDatabase.getInstance().getReference().child("Products");//Your firebase node you want to search inside..

    FirebaseRecyclerOptions<Products> options =
            new FirebaseRecyclerOptions.Builder<Products>()//the Products is a class that get and set Strings from Firebase Database.
            .setQuery(reference.orderByChild("name").startAt(searchInputUpper).endAt(searchInputLower + "\uf8ff"),Products.class)

the "name" it's the node inside the Products Main Node.

the .startAt(searchInputUpper) & .endAt(searchInputLower + "\uf8ff") to make the search as contains all characters that typed in the inputText.getText() that you get.

Solution 3 - Android

Firebase is noSQL therefore it does not have searches built in like you'll find in SQL. You can either sort by values/key or you can equalto

You can find examples at the link above. That is the latest documentation for firebase.

If you are looking for SQL like searches. Then take a look at elastic search. But that will increase the complexity since you need a platform to put it on. For that i could recommend Heroku or maybe GoogleCloudServers

Here is a blog post about advanced searches with elastic search

Solution 4 - Android

This question might be old but there is a documented way of how to achieve this way, It is simple to implement. Quoted:

> To enable full text search of your Cloud Firestore data, use a third-party search service like Algolia. Consider a note-taking app where each note is a document:

Algolia will be part of your firebase functions and will do all the searches you want.

// Update the search index every time a blog post is written.
exports.onNoteCreated = functions.firestore.document('notes/{noteId}').onCreate(event => {
      // Get the note document
      const note =;

      // Add an 'objectID' field which Algolia requires
      note.objectID = event.params.noteId;

      // Write to the algolia index
      const index = client.initIndex(ALGOLIA_INDEX_NAME);
      return index.saveObject(note);

To implement the search, the best way is to use instant search - android

Sample Search Image: GIF

Solution 5 - Android

I my case used:

var query = 'text'

In this way, searching by "test" I could get the records having "Test 1, Contest, One test" as value in 'search' property from the database.

Solution 6 - Android

The feature you're looking for is called full-text search and this is something most databases (including Firebase) don't provide out-of-the-box because it requires storing the data in a format that's optimized for text search (vs optimized for filtering) - these are two different problem sets with a different set of trade-offs.

So you would have to use a separate full-text search engine in conjunction with Firebase to be able to do this, especially if you need features like faceting, typo tolerance, merchandizing, etc.

You have a few options for a full-text search engine:

  • There's Algolia which is easy to get up and running but can get expensive quickly
  • There's ElasticSearch which has a steep learning curve but uber flexible
  • There's Typesense which aims to be an open source alternative to Algolia.

Solution 7 - Android

finally I got it you can use where clause to get you result like SQL LIKE keyword like% or %like syntax :

Firestore.collection(collectionName).orderBy(field).where(field, ">=", keyword.toUpperCase()).where(field, "<=", keyword.toUpperCase() + "\uf8ff").get() 

Solution 8 - Android

I don't know about the certainty of this approach but using the firebase version 10.2.6 on android, i get to do something like this:


It seems to work well sometimes

Solution 9 - Android

Finally joined SO just to answer this. For anyone coming here from/for the python firestore.client here's a solution that seems to work for me. It's based on the accepted answer's concept but via the client rather than db.reference() and mixed with the answer from user12750908. from firebase_admin import firestore users = db.collection("users")
.where("last_name", ">=", last_name.upper())
.where("last_name", "<=", last_name.lower() + "\uf8ff")

It works for the simple test I did, but I'll update my answer if I have issues with it later. And just a reminder, this is similar to

LIKE search%

and not

LIKE %search%.

Edit 1 I didn't see any tags for the question, but the title attribute mentions Android so this may not necessarily answer the question directly, but if you have a python API, this should work. I'm unfortunately not sure if there's an equivalent client/db separation in the Android version like there is in the Firebase Admin for Python. I didn't want to delete the answer since I hadn't seen any answers for firestore client during my search for a similar answer and hope it helps anyone else stumbling around.

Edit 09-03-2020 This works a portion of the time it seems. Most of the time I didn't seem to have an issue, but when I applied it to another project I was getting unexpected results. Long story short you may need to replicate how you save the data you're comparing against. For example, you may need to have a field to save the last_name in all caps and another field to save it in all lowercase, then you change the first where clause to compare last_name_upper and the second to compare last_name_lowercase. In my second project so far this seems to yield more accurate results so you may want to give that a try if the previous answer doesn't work well

EDIT 09-07-2020 Previous edit from 09-03-2020 is partially accurate. During my haste of thinking I had it fully resolved I completely forgot firebase doesn't let you use <, >, <=, >= across different fields. You may need to do two queries and merge them, but you'd probably still be reading more docs than you really intend. Doing the comparison against either the upper or lower version with the appropriate search term seems to give the original results expected from the original answer. For example:

    .where("last_name_upper", ">=", this.searchForm.text.toUpperCase())
    .where("last_name_upper", "<=", this.searchForm.text.toUpperCase() + "\uf8ff")


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Content TypeOriginal AuthorOriginal Content on Stackoverflow
QuestionZigmārs DzērveView Question on Stackoverflow
Solution 1 - AndroidFrancescoView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 2 - Androiduser12750908View Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 3 - AndroidJemil RiahiView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 4 - AndroidLucemView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 5 - AndroidJose Miguel Aguilar MuñozView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 6 - AndroidErJabView Answer on Stackoverflow
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Solution 9 - AndroidMattTView Answer on Stackoverflow