Parse Migration and Alternatives

February 3rd, 2016

Parse Migration and Alternatives
David Quinn

by David Quinn

VP of Strategy & Partnerships at Gummicube, Inc.

In a surprise to much of the community, Parse is folding up shop and will now be available only as an open-source Node.js project. A quick bit of history - Parse is a BaaS or Backend as a Service, making it easy for developers to build a database of assets for mobile apps, as well as add services like authentication and push to their mobile apps. Facebook acquired Parse in April of 2013, and it looked like the future was bright. Parse had just released an Apple TV SDK and Apple Watch SDK, and updated their user interface and dashboard. Per the announcement from Parse, Parse will start winding down, and will be shuttered as a paid service January 2017. Parse is written in Node.js - so there are several migration paths available for database users, but no support for push notifications or analytics.

Parse Migrations Options

Since Parse is built on Node.js using the Express server framework, publishers can host the new Parse Server wherever they currently host Node.js. Two popular hosting services built specifically for hosting Node.js applications are Heroku and Digital Ocean. For a guide on migrating from Parse to MongoDB on Heroku - check out this guide from Reinder over at migrate-from-parse Migrating your Parse database to a new MongoDB instance and migrating from Parse is (strongly) suggested to be completed by April 28th, 2016. Roughly 90 days from this post. parse-migrate-dates

Alternative Services for Push

The simple integration of push notifications into a mobile app was one of the biggest draws for Parse users - and will not be available in the new Parser Server. As both a user of Parse Push and a big believer in the power of notifications, I think it is fair to say Parse Push was limited in both ability to segment and in managing transactional notifications. Adam Marchick, the CEO of Kahuna - a mobile marketing automation company that uses notifications with email and Facebook ads to drive personalized engagements at scale - weighed in with this post and graphic stating:

The evolution from batch-and-blast messaging to personalized customer experiences.

kahuna-push-parse Urban Airship is another company that has been an industry leader with their mobile engagement platform, with push and local notifications at the heart of their service. urban-airship-offering

Alternative Services for Analytics

While Parse offered both standard and event-driven analytics, offerings from Flurry for iOS, Google Analytics for Android and paid offerings from Localytics and Mixpanel have led this space since the inception of smartphones. Facebook and Apple have added support for mobile analytics as well, and usually some combination of these services depending on goals is the best approach for most apps.

Alternatives to Parse Database and Hosting

Within hours of Parse announcing shutting down, there were several posts with suggestions for alternatives to Parse. Twitter Fabric seems like a potential option, but the two most common recommended alternatives to Parse were Firebase and the AWS Mobile Hub. Firebase is a service not unlike Parse, that offers authentication and other common services for mobile apps. AWS Mobile Hub is a service in beta that extends Amazon’s huge offering of web and (now) mobile services. Many of the alternatives to Parse are not well-known services, even those from the likes of IBM.

The time for research options and next steps appears to be now as the April and July dates for Parse migration are rapidly approaching.

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