Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sunsetting Parse

Ilya Sukhar in 2013:

Some of the world’s best brands trust us with their entire mobile presence, and a growing number of the world’s brightest independent developers trust us with their next big thing. We couldn’t be happier.

As stewards of a good thing, we’re always thinking about the next step in growing Parse to become a leading platform in this age of mobile apps.


Parse has agreed to be acquired by Facebook. We expect the transaction to close shortly. Rest assured, Parse is not going away. It’s going to get better.

Via Nick Heer:

According to their brag page, Parse’s customers included some of the biggest and most popular apps on both iOS and Android. Uniqlo, Eventbrite, Plenty of Fish, Lululemon, and more all used Parse. Stubhub? Parse. Vevo? Yep. Zoosk? HopStop? The fucking White House? Their apps used Parse. Heck, even that shelved new app Panic was working on used it.

Dan Rowinski in 2014 (via Tim Burks):

Parse also sold but in a very different fashion. What Parse did well (create developer community connections to brands) worked really well for Facebook’s aim of bringing developers to its platform. Parse’s product is still alive and well—and supported by Facebook—and that isn’t going to end any time soon.

Kevin Lacker (via Natasha Murashev, comments):

Beginning today we’re winding down the Parse service, and Parse will be fully retired after a year-long period ending on January 28, 2017.


First, we’re releasing a database migration tool that lets you migrate data from your Parse app to any MongoDB database. During this migration, the Parse API will continue to operate as usual based on your new database, so this can happen without downtime. Second, we’re releasing the open source Parse Server, which lets you run most of the Parse API from your own Node.js server. Once you have your data in your own database, Parse Server lets you keep your application running without major changes in the client-side code. For more details, check out our migration guide here.

Manton Reece:

For years I had always heard great things about Parse. I eventually used it for the first time a few months ago on a client project. It’s got a well-designed API, friendly monthly pricing (free for many apps), and it seemed well supported, with new features like tvOS support and a web dashboard redesign rolling out just a month ago.

Michael Yacavone:

Entirely predictable. Even the title is blasé: “Moving On.”

Guy English:

If it had been me shutting down Parse I would have changed the home page to not point out how many “Trust Us”.

Drew McCormack:

Let’s face it: if you want it done properly, you have to do it yourself. Is this the death of SAAS?

I think the biggest problem now is just trust. If FB can’t provide guarantees for your app’s backend, who can?

Jeff Lawson:

“But seriously developers, trust us next time your needs temporarily overlap our strategic interests. And here’s a t-shirt.”

Joel Bernstein:

The subtext to the Parse shutdown is “never trust a Facebook platform ever again, for any reason”

Tim Burks:

Yes, but solutions will emerge. I haven’t looked at the SDK code but expect this can be fixed w/ a URL update.

Parse was a model for selling products to developers. But it also succeeded by burning enough VC money to suffocate its competitors.

Update (2016-01-30): Marco Arment (tweet, 2014):

For whatever it’s worth, running your own Linux servers today with boring old databases and stable languages is neither difficult nor expensive. This isn’t to say “I told you so” — rather, if you haven’t tried before, “You can do this.”

Update (2016-02-01): Allen Pike:

Hundreds of thousands of unsuccessful Parse apps will perish. Like links to long-dead Geocities pages, dead mobile apps that relied on Parse will linger in the App Stores for years, slowly accumulating one-star reviews.

As much as Parse will try to get the word out that they’re shutting down, many apps’ owners don’t even know that they’re reliant on Parse. Parse’s overly generous free plan made them popular with freelancers and consultants building quick app backends for their clients. Many of those clients don’t know what Parse is, let alone that the little app they commissioned a couple years ago is a ticking time bomb.

Marco Arment:

In particular, it’ll be problematic when possibly hundreds of thousands of iOS apps just stop working in a year because their developers have long since moved on, or their contracts expired, or they can’t afford to spend time on a significant update.

One of the most damaging side effects of unhealthy App Store economics is that developers have little motivation or resources to keep apps updated.

Update (2016-02-02): Microsoft:

If you have been using Parse hosting as the backend that supports your mobile apps, this may be the perfect time to try out Azure App Service. Due to recent occurrences, the folks at Parse have provided a way to migrate an existing backend hosted by Parse to another host. When searching for a new host, we hope that you try Azure.

Todd Hoff:

Where should you go? What should you do? By now you’ve transitioned through all five stages of grief and ready for stage six: doing something about it. Fortunately there are a lot of options and I’ve gathered as many resources as I can here in one place.

Update (2016-02-03): Sascha Konietzke (via Hacker News):

When Facebook acquired Parse back in April 2013, many people thought this meant Facebook goes all in on becoming a developer platform. If you recall, Facebook was at a crossroads back then, with a share price below IPO level, desktop traffic plateauing, and mobile revenues a big question mark. Enter Parse, which brought immediate mobile app developer reach, helping Facebook to distribute its SDKs and ensure developers are using Facebook’s login system. That in turn helped secure mobile adoption and a foothold in user profiles and mobile advertising. Fast forward to 2016, and Facebook essentially owns the mobile ads space, and its SDK is #1 in terms of mobile reach. Meaning Parse has run its cause as an SDK distribution vehicle. In other words, they never wanted to host your app, they just wanted you to use Facebook login.

9 Comments RSS · Twitter

When I started designing my app, I chose Core Data + iCloud for syncing, primarily because I wanted to live and breath Apple's own solutions.
Then I found out what many developers already knew: vanilla CD + iCloud was still unreliable.
I needed to start over, and I remember having Parse's home page open in one tab, and's in the next one... I chose Ensembles, and now I get to choose on what to work on next.

Contrived bottleneck bottlenecks - who never saw that coming? The Web is corrupted and corrupt; in thrall to a kleptocratic priesthood of pseudo-professional grifters, incompetents, and techno-narcissists, to the point where noone even notices how far off course it has run. Until such time as everyone realizes this and pledges to redesign and rebuild it from the webserver up to work as originally designed to work† this is never going to change.

(† That is: everyone can read, everyone can write, HTTP is no longer unspeakably abused as message passing for morons, FTP and idiotic pretenders like WebDAV are sleeping pernamently with the fishes, and the only services you're beholden to are the ones you wish to rent off your web provider for whatever purpose you see fit. Because until all web users retain ownership of their own data at all times as an innate function of the web's design, there is always going to be an endless line of breathlessly fly-by-night flim-flammers telling them how much more wonderful their data will be safely entrusted to their shiny prison.)

Wow, that's an excellent round-up. And, quite disturbing. Over the past year, I've been slowly transitioning to self-hosted software. I even considered using Parse for a project a few months ago. The craziest part of this whole ordeal though is that Parse *just* announced new stuff to their platform. I find it hard to believe that this shutdown wasn't known ahead of time.

So sad and disappointing. Who can you trust anymore?

[…] that’s something. A great roundup of rants and insights by Michael Tsai at Sunsetting Parse. Read ‘em all, but here’s some we particularly […]

"I chose Ensembles, and now I get to choose on what to work on next."

Seems to me your choice of what to work on next is very clear... follow Marco's advice and set up your own backend. Two major shortcut services have died (one back bay a company with crazy deep pockets). What are the chances that Ensemble will be around for the life of your app?

@michael I'm the developer of Ensembles, and you're right, I can't guarantee it will be around anymore than any other technology.

But there are differences with BAAS like Parse. Ensembles has an open source version, and the commercial licenses are 'source available', so worst case scenario is we shut down, and you are left with the source code.

But the real kicker is that Ensembles isn't a BAAS — it is an abstraction on top of many BAASes. That's powerful, because when a service is terminated, like Parse or the Dropbox Sync API, Ensembles allows you to move to another backend by changing just a few lines of code.

The demise of Parse is just another reminder that backends come and go regularly. I would love to see more projects abstracting away our dependence on these services.

The only question after that news was simple “What should we do next?”. I see 4 options how to take Parse based apps to another state which keeps them working. My views about this options:

[…] and insights on just how little that something is, head over to Michael Tsai’s and check out Sunsetting Parse. All worth reading to share the pain, but here’s some particularly good […]

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