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Compiler for an alternative YAML-based syntax for Firebase security rules. The new syntax is much more readable but retains the overall semantics of the traditional JSON format, so there's no surprises.

Getting Started

First, install the compiler:

npm install -g fireplan

Then create a rules.yaml file like this:

  percentage: number && next >= 0 && next <= 100
  canUpdate(subject): root.users[auth.uid].permissions[subject].write
      .read: true
      .write: canUpdate($subject)
      value: required percentage
      description: string
      .read/write: auth.uid == $uid
      role: required oneOf('visitor', 'user', 'admin')
          write: required boolean

Then compile it into rules.json like so:

fireplan rules.yaml


Fireplan security rules are written in YAML, which gets translated to JSON by the compiler. Indentation indicates the hierarchical structure and there's no need for quotes, but otherwise it's pretty similar to the traditional syntax.

One simple up-front difference: the root of the rule hierarchy is root: rather than "rules":, to better match the predefined root variable in security expressions.

Simple Expressions

Security expressions are used in .read, .write and .value rules, as well as in function definitions (explained below). All traditional security expression are valid in Fireplan as well, but there's a few extra features you can take advantage of:

  • You can use next and prev instead of newData and data (but those still work as well).
  • You can use JavaScript-like syntax for accessing children, so that data.child('foo').child($bar) becomes[$bar].
  • You can leave off the .val() calls altogether, as they'll be inferred automatically (unless you're calling a String method like length or contains(), then you must keep the .val()).

Putting all these together, an expression like: newData.child('counter').val() == data.child('counter').val() + 1 becomes: next.counter == prev.counter + 1

Rule Kinds

The three basic kinds of rules are .read, .write and .value, corresponding directly to the original .read, .write and .validate. There's also a couple bits of syntactic sugar:

  • You can specify a single .read/write rule if the .read and .write expressions are the same. This is particularly useful for properties that will be updated transactionally, since transaction() requires both read and write access to its data.
  • If a property only has a validation rule, you can specify it directly as its value. So foo: auth.uid == 'admin' is the same as foo: {.value: auth.uid == 'admin'} or
  .value: auth.uid == 'admin'

Children Properties

A very common validation need is to check whether a property has the expected children. You can do this manually using hasChildren() and $other: false catchalls, but Fireplan has a special syntax that makes it much easier. By default, any child listed under a property is optional but you can make it required by starting its value constraint with the keyword required. Normally no children other than the required and optional ones listed are allowed, but if you'd like to accept any others as well (with no further validation) you can add .more: true to the property.

To make some Firebase queries run efficiently you also need to earmark some children for indexing. You can do this by adding the keyword indexed to a child's value constraint. (If both required and indexed are used together, they can come in any order but must precede any other constraint code.) All children marked as indexed will be collected into the Firebase .indexOn property of the parent of their nearest wildcard ($keyCapture) ancestor, creating "deep" indexes automatically as necessary.

Putting it all together looks like this:

    bar: required string
      .value: required
      qux: number
      .more: true
    name: required indexed string

This means that foo is optional, but if written it must have children bar (a string) and baz, and no others. In turn, baz can have any children at all, but if qux is specified then it must be a number. Other children of root ($stuff) need to have a name property (a string), and will be indexed on it.


As security rules grow more complex, you may find yourself repeatedly writing out the same expression snippet in various contexts. To cut down on duplication, Fireplan allows you to define functions that can then be "called" from expressions (including other functions). The definitions go into a top-level functions: block like this:

  foo(bar, baz): next.qux == bar || auth.uid == baz
  foo2: foo('arrr', 'matey')

A function can take any number of arguments; if it doesn't take any, you can leave out the empty parentheses. Function names must be unique (there's no dispatch on the number of arguments). A function's body is an expression just like that of any security rule, and can access the function's arguments as well as the usual security rules globals (auth, next, etc.).

Functions are called in the usual way, like foo('bar', next.baz). A function can call other functions in its body but recursion is forbidden (and will crash the compiler). If a function doesn't take arguments you can also call it without parentheses, like foo2. This is especially convenient for defining new "value types", like percentage in the example at the top.


Fireplan predefines three value types string, boolean and number like so:

  string: next.isString()
  boolean: next.isBoolean()
  number: next.isNumber()
  any: true  # also implies .more: true for this child 

There's also a special predefined function oneOf that is used to constrain a property to one of a list of values (typically strings). Use it like this (and prefix with required to taste):

  foo: oneOf('bar', 'baz', 'qux')

Finally, for object types, you can apply YAML's referencing mechanism to reuse a definition in multiple places:

  foo: &fooType  # establish a reference called fooType 
    bar: string
    baz: required number
  qux: *fooType  # dereference fooType 
    # bar and baz are filled in here automatically 

If you want, you can set up a separate types: hierarchy and define type references there—Fireplan doesn't care if you have extra top-level keys.


Fireplan makes available a special env variable that lets you substitute environment variable values at compile time. For example, if you need to distinguish between the development and production datastores in your rules, you could set export DATASTORE=dev or export DATASTORE=prod in your build, then check for it in your rules like so:

  .write: env.DATASTORE == 'dev'


Fireplan supports Firecrypt encryption annotations.

You can prefix a .value rule with the keyword encrypted (mixed in any order with required and indexed), or suffix a key with /encrypted, to indicate that that value or key needs to be encrypted. You can additionally include a pattern after the keyword to indicate which parts of the key or string value should be encrypted, like encrypted[#-#-.], where # indicates an encrypted chunk and . an unencrypted one.

You can also suffix a $ wildcard key with /few to indicate that you don't expect there to be a lot of children there, and that it's safe to try to load all of them at once. Judicious application of this annotation can greatly speed up bulk encryption / key rotation operations in Firecrypt.

If any encrypted or few annotations are present, Fireplan will emit a rules_firecrypt.json file that you can then feed into Firecrypt and related tools.

That's All!

Please let me know if you have any problems.