In early 2013, I began looking for a syncing service to use in multiple iOS apps. I was one in a long list of developers who viewed sync as an add on, that sync should be as easy as adding another project dependancy. Parse added much of the functionality I was looking for. It was easy, cheap, and the company seemed to understand the needs of their customers.
It wasn’t long after I began testing Parse integration in a sample project that news broke of the Facebook acquisition. Parse promised that with Facebook’s backing, Parse would be able to grow faster and not worry about monetization. All in the name of good will for developers.
While I applauded their enthusiasm, the acquisition meant that from that day forward, Parse would be acting in Facebook’s best interests, leaving developers in second place.
Because I have zero faith in Facebook, I could not have faith in Parse as a product or a company and began exploring alternatives.
That decision paid off this week. Instead of scrambling to figure out a new backend as a service (BaaS) and migration strategy, I can instead use that time and effort to continue building new apps and making improvements to existing products.
The Parse shutdown has brought the BaaS debate back to the forefront in the developer community. That is, should developers roll their own BaaS or migrate to a Parse alternative like CloudKit?
Instead of relying on Parse, I jumped into Apple’s CloudKit over a year ago. It’s baked into Apple’s platforms and (for now) has Apple’s support. I use CloudKit as a back-end for Screenshot++ and in unannounced projects.
Allen and Marco lay out the two sides of this debate quite well. For many developers who have experience in running their own servers, this has always an easy decision. Experienced backend developers like Marco haven’t had to rely on 3rd party solutions. For them, it’s relatively easy to roll their own solution and today they’re in the clear; it’s hard not to hear the smug comments coming from atop their high horses.
For the rest of us, Parse was the solution to a problem that few app developers have the experience or resources to properly solve. I don’t view Parse as a shortcut and I don’t think the objective should be to rely on a service like Parse until you can create something better in-house.
For the 600,000 apps that used Parse, they’re in a tight spot and most of those will end up abandonware if they’re not already. To insinuate their developers should have all created custom backends is out of touch with today’s App Store economic reality.
With Parse out of the picture and the app BaaS market underserved, now is the perfect time for a new competitor to fill the void.