Parse Is Dead: How To Prepare Your Mobile App For That

On January 28th the unexpected happened – Facebook announced shutting down Parse services. For many mobile app developers it was a stab in the back.

We all know at least few mobile apps that run on Parse: Vine, Periscope, Quip and Expedia’s Orbitz. And there are far more of them.

The problem that arose after the Facebook’s announcement is simple: what now?

You are probably asking yourself questions like:

  • should I migrate to other mobile SaaS backend?
  • should I use Parse on the open sourced one?

Or maybe there are other ways to deal with this situation.

The truth is that it won’t be painless and it will take time. So to not waste any more of it, you should be well prepared for what you will decide to do.

The good news is that you have a full year, since the Parse will be fully retired on January 28, 2017.

 

What Is Parse

If you have no idea what is it all about, let’s just quickly recap what is Parse.

Parse is a MBaaS, which stands for Mobile Backend as a Service. It means that if your mobile or desktop app needs a backend on the internet, it was the cheap and easy possible solutions for you.

The main benefit of using Parse was leaving the infrastructure issues to its team, while you could have focus on the app development.

But…

If you have relied on Parse too much and integrated your app with it strongly, you might have a problem with the transition to other solutions – what we will discuss further in this post.

Parse was (or maybe still is) a good solution for mobile app developers to create simple apps or MVPs. Actually back in the 2013, when Facebook bought Parse services for $85 million, it seemed like a good opportunity for expansion.

However the competition of Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) was too big, especially that they provide much more computing tools and services.

Interesting is that Facebook itself never moved the Parse infrastructure onto its own data centers and off of cloud provider Amazon Web Services.

And here it is – Facebook is shutting down Parse services, giving the developers a year-long period for transition.

So if you have a mobile or desktop app on Parse, now it’s the time to move on and see what you can do about it.

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Keep Calm And Move From Parse

The good news is you’re not alone and Parse is willing to help you. Facebook has even open-sourced Parse Server and provided the Database Migration Tool.

 

“We understand that this won’t be an easy transition, and we’re working hard to make this process as easy as possible.” Kevin Lacker, Parse’s co-founder

 

This is in a way a good news. Having a year-long period for migration and tools like that you can keep calm and do one of those three things:

  1. move your app to another BaaS server
  2. build your own Parse server
  3. rewrite the app on your own server

Every one of those options has its own pros and cons. Now we will cover every one of them so you can have a big picture of what to choose from.

 

1. Move your app to another BaaS server

What the Parse example taught us is that we can never fully rely on any external servers. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t use them.

The key is to not integrate your mobile app with such a server too much, so you can move it with no major issues when needed.

A rule of thumb would be also to find a reliable BaaS that you can trust that won’t be closed any time soon. Good examples are the big ones: Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and AWS. There are actually quite a lot of services like that you can choose from.

Pros: This can be a good but temporary solution. You will be able to keep your app code and the server API will work with the Parse API until they will stop supporting Parse’s SDKs.

Cons: You won’t be able to add new functionalities to you app.

Rewriting your app code can be painful and time-consuming process, we get it. So if you need more time, moving your app to another backend service will give you a while, but it won’t last forever.

 

2. Build your own Parse server

MongoDB server

Source: mlab.com

 

This is a second option if you don’t want to rewrite your app code yet.

The pros are clear – you can still have your app based on Parse and you have it on your own server, so no one will shut it down for you.  Moreover there are two big advantages of this solution:

Until the Parse SDKs are open-sourced and the server is available, the Parse developers community might give it the second life. However some features like push notifications are not yet supported by the new Parse Server, it is a matter of time that all features will be added.

On Twitter you can already find profiles like Parse 2.0 which implies that communities of independent, Parse loving developers are already building up.

Cons: It is risky if you are not familiar with Node.js servers. It will also take some of your developer’s time. Also note that some features are not yet supported on new Parse Server.

So if you have some spare time for development and setting up a Node.js server and you believe that the Parse community will not allow Parse to die completely, this is some sort of solution if you don’t want to rewrite your app code and you don’t want to deal with any other BaaS.

 

3. Rewrite the app on your own server

And here we are – this is definitely the hardest solution, but it is also the one that you can rely on the most.

It requires a lot of development time and setting up your own server, but in long run it pays off much more than the two previous solutions.

Review your app code and find out how much it is integrated with Parse and then get rid of all of it. It is time consuming, it is harsh but after that you will have a clean code and nothing will surprise you anymore.

Pros: You have a rewritten app with backend on your own server. You rule!

Cons: It takes time and resources to do that.

If your app is at early stage or you don’t trust BaaS servers anymore so much that you can make such an investment in rewriting your app, then this is the best solution, that you can fully rely on in the future.

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You Don’t Have To Do It By Yourself

Whatever you will decide on, moving from Parse to any other solution will:

  • take time
  • require knowledge
  • consume your resources

If you can’t afford it, don’t worry. We are here for you.

At Whalla Labs we are making mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone. And we used to use Parse, so we know exactly what you feel right now.

If you don’t know how to:

  • set up Node.js server
  • move to open-sourced Parse Server

Or you don’t have resources to rewrite your mobile app by yourself – we are here for you.

Contact us today and we can discuss which solution is best for you and your mobile app.

 

P.S. Moving the app to other BaaS without enough knowledge or setting up Node.js server can cause you more damage than you already want to deal with.

Put the risk aside and let us do the work for you.

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    Happy Coding & Viva La Open Source,
    SashiDo Team