Parse it on

First, my apologies for not writing anything sooner but work has been hectic and also I have written posts for the Create Digital Media blog which will be posted soon, all about OS X ‘Mavericks’ which I hope you will enjoy!

Anyway on with this post and I would like to talk about Parse. Recently my colleague and I, Ben, were lucky enough to attend a meet up at the Facebook HQ in London to learn more about this brilliant platform.

Parse - The perfect cloud for your apps.

A little bit of background first, for a while now we have been using Pushwoosh for our Apple Push Notifications handler and whilst in the main they have served us well we have noticed that as they grow in size and customers the service level has dropped and considering we recommend this service to our customers we want to ensure that any service that we recommend is stable, consistent and robust, which, I am afraid to say, Pushwhoosh is not succeeding in.

For a project we have just finished, but is awaiting release, we needed to find an alternative to Pushwhoosh and in addition a service which supported the new ‘Silent’ push notifications for background downloads and after a little bit of Googling we found Parse Push.

Parse Push

Apart from a really good looking website, which is always a draw, the service level that Parse were offering right out of the box was incredibly enticing, in addition they are backed by Facebook, which told me that they were stable and big enough to be relied upon.

This and the very cool push tester that they have on their site really intrigued me, so I headed over to their Documentation to see what we could with this service and how easy it would be to achieve our requirements and service that of the customer.

Now I cannot stress enough how important clear, informative and concise documentation is to me as a developer and the docs at Parse (Docs) are all of that and more and I was immediately struck at how much they had covered in them.

At Create we work on iOS, Server and Sometimes Android and so any solution we choose it is reasonably important for us to ensure that all bases are covered. And they just were with Parse. In fact more than just our requirements we found that they supported a whole range of technologies right out of the box.

Parse - Supports iOS, OS X, Android, Windows 8 + Phone, .NET, Unity and More!

So this sounds all to good to be true right? yeah well we thought the same and tentatively clicked on the pricing link and literally were dumb founded…

Parse Pricing - Incredibly Generous!

For FREE when you sign up to Parse you will get the Basic plan, this will allow you to process 1,000,000 API requests, not in total but per month. There has to be a catch right? Well, in a word no, it seems that the Parse team are more than happy to provide a solution which for any indie developer will be more than needed to get their app of the ground.

But Parse is so much more than just Push Notifications, they offer a whole suite of services all free in the basic plan which allow the developer to get up and running with a server connected app really quickly and efficiently.

The headlines are:

Data Parse has a really elegant object store in the cloud which allows the developer to create relational data which can be consumed and written to by any application via some pre built and very easy to use SDK’s and more over are scaleable so if and when the application you have built gets lots of traction Parse’s services will grow with the demand.

Cloud Code A developer ultimately wants some control over the data being passed back and fourth via their apps and with cloud code, using simple yet elegant Javascript, the developer can intercept change and work with data on the fly.

Their main paradigms are simple. Before Save, as you would expect before information is committed to the Data object store. After Save, again as you would expect allows the developer to deal with post commit events. And lastly Jobs, these are essentially CRON jobs that can be scheduled to run whenever required and allow for things such as data ingest from third party feeds or even migrations.

Social Having a connection into social SDK’s these days is vital for successful app and Parse makes this super easy as does iOS 7 however Parse goes one step more for this by providing easy to use and implement social login services for Facebook and Twitter.

Hosting Parse provides static asset hosting for images and other such file based data as well as dynamic websites that are built using the Express.js Javascript framework.

Analytics This is a great feature as it allows mobile developers to track and analyse elements of their app and give a wealth of information about the usage of their app in a really elegant and easy to use way.

To conclude then, if you’re a developer of mobile applications or even desktop apps then Parse is definitely for you, I feel that we will be using this service for a long time to come and with the pace that the team seem to be adding features and improvements I feel that Parse will quickly become the gold standard for server side solutions.

On a side note I would like to thank Héctor Ramos, Scott Smith, Ashley Smith, Connor Treacy and the other members of both the Facebook and Parse Team for an excellent event and indeed for a fantastic platform.

Images from the website. - 6 December 2013