Facebook's Mobile Back-end Parse Dies Today As Many Opt for Open Source Project

Parse, the Back-end-as-a-Service (BaaS) offering from Facebook, is today in the final stage of its year-long shutdown, with many former users having adopted an open source version of the project.

Parse, like other BaaS services, provided functionality to back mobile (along with Web, desktop and more) apps, such as database access, social log-ins, push notifications, app analytics and more.

"As we previously shared, the Parse service is shutting down today," reads a terse "Parse Shutdown" post published today. "Throughout the day we will be disabling the Parse API on an app-by-app basis. When your app is disabled, you will not be able to access the data browser or export any data, and your applications will no longer be able to access the Parse API."

Having had a year's warning, many users in danger of being left in a lurch and scrambling for alternatives have already availed themselves of the open source Parse Server on GitHub.

"Parse Server is an open source version of the Parse backend that can be deployed to any infrastructure that can run Node.js," the GitHub site says. "Parse Server works with the Express Web application framework. It can be added to existing Web applications, or run by itself."

Although many vendors offered their wares as Parse replacements, and Parse-flavored projects abound on GitHub, the Facebook/Parse team donated the core server component to the community, and it's apparently proving popular with developers. The GitHub project lists 12,595 stars, 3,419 forks, 1,644 commits, 33 branches, 47 releases and 136 contributors.

"During this year-long shutdown/migration process, the open-source and community maintained Parse Server is what most people switched to," said Parse developer advocate Fosco Marotto in a Hacker News post today. "Parse is yours now."

For those mobile devs who haven't migrated to the open source Parse Server, many other alternatives are available. There's even a Parse Alternatives GitHub project that lists dozens of other options, broken down into categories for data storage, push notifications, analytics and many more.

Other alternatives mentioned in the Hacker News commentary include Firebase, Horizon, Scaphold, Backendless and more.

With the one-year warning, popular open source project and a plethora of other alternative options, the Parse shutdown process was generally praised on Hacker News.

"I have seen a fair number of 'abrupt' and poorly executed shutdowns on HN over the last few years, and although I don't use Parse, I feel as though the team did a good job sunsetting this over the last year," read one comment. "Thank you for the product, the open sourced version, and for not ditching your community! Best of luck to everyone who worked on the team."

Others, however, still weren't happy.

"They did a great job with Parse server, but unfortunately for people who just wants their data they basically have been abandoned," said a commenter. "Exporting data in JSON format is no longer supported. The featured has been left broken without any explanation, and they disabled the ability to contact them in regards to data export."

Facebook acquired Parse by buying out its namesake company in April 2013 for $85 million.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.