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When Parse was acquired by Facebook three years ago; developers knew the end wouldn’t be too far away. At the time, Facebook emphasised that it was an acquisition for the MBaaS service; not for the talent that resided in the company.
Three years on, “we need to focus our resources elsewhere” according to Kevin Lacker, co-founder of Parse. Even though developers knew this day was coming, many of us have continued using Parse as it’s one of the better database services out there. Now, however, any developer that has used Parse’s hosted service will need to migrate data from any of their apps to a MongoDB database.
So Parse, the service, is dead. Parse — the open source server — has been created in its place. By open-sourcing Parse, developers will be able to continue to run most of the Parse APIs, as long as they host Parse Server on their own Node.js servers.
To enable the transition of data from the Parse service, Parse has also created a database migration tool; for pulling data from Parse and migrating it to any MongoDB database. With the data migrated over, the Parse Server will enable apps to run without requiring any major changes to the client-side code. Whilst this may be good for some app developers, for others it will complicate development by needing to deal with servers; or at least moving to another MbaaS.
Already, the Parse Server has a number of resources available for developers. By going open source, it is now in the hands of the development community to influence the direction it goes – which could be good for Parse in the long term.
Even with Parse Server, a number of pieces of functionality will now disappear. These include push notifications, analytics, and the server back-end config capabilities.
The relationship between developers and Facebook has always been tricky. On the one hand, Facebook has a number of great tools — such as social login — that make it easier for people to register in apps. The site is also a great way to advertise and promote apps; yet Facebook also accounts for most of the time people spend on mobile and is actively working on ways to ensure that people spend as long as possible using its services.
With Android N and iOS 10 due to be announced in just over five months, it may be wise for developers to hold off on any large transition or change until the new operating systems have launched.
“The closure of Parse is a concern for app developers all over the globe,” commented Tom Hallam, technical lead at Mubaloo Innovation Lab. “Many developers have came to rely on the functionality offered through Parse and its ease of use. Luckily, Parse has provided tools to aid migration, which can be easily implemented by someone with a background in server management.”
If the migration tools are not an option, a service like Firebase could be considered – on top of storage it offers a variety of real time capabilities for your apps. It won’t be a like for like switch, but it could be a good ‘Plan B’.
What are your thoughts about Facebook’s closure of Parse? Let us know in the comments below.