A shockwave was felt across the internet on January 28th, when Parse announced the service would be turned off a year from now. It was trending on Twitter within hours, and continued to rank for the next two days. Many were sad because they loved the Parse service, many were upset at Facebook, and many were discussing the tradeoffs of external dependencies for your business. There’s a wrinkle… In the announcement, and in a subsequent post, Parse announced the launch of an open-source replacement for the service. Since these things happened on the same day, some have mistakenly assumed that they were related.
I have been a Developer Advocate at Parse for three years this month, and I take that title literally. I have always argued on behalf of developers internally, and provided external developers with realistic and honest answers. I heard every complaint, wish-list item, and limitation, and experienced them too. I always wanted Parse to be better than it was, to have more features, and to offer more customization. Now it can.
In May of this past year during a Facebook Hackathon, I hacked together a prototype of what is now Parse Server. It supported only the simplest of Parse functionality, saving and retrieving an object using one of the open-source client SDKs. It was the logical next step to me, after all of the open-source work we were doing, and I really wanted it personally. It took a lot of time and effort to convince others on the team that we should build this, some even said it was crazy and/or impossible (hah!). In the end, it was Parse co-founder Kevin Lacker who jumped in with me over a period of several months to build it. It’s not perfect and it’s not done, but it is a great start.
January 28th was supposed to be the release of Parse Server. Blog posts were written and reviewed, and I anticipated seeing the news headline “Facebook Open-Sources Parse.” I arrived at work excited, before learning that the headlines that day would be quite different. Undeterred, I finished the launch procedures to open the code and publish the modules, and set out on social media to make sure developers knew about the open-source server and that it wasn’t some migration tool.
Just one week after release, Parse Server has accumulated 4,700 stars, 900 forks, 200 issues, and 90 pull requests on GitHub. A large community is forming, discussing feature implementations, adding new features, and helping each other diagnose and fix problems. Many infrastructure providers are getting involved, coming up with easier and easier ways to host the server for developers, and I expect we’ll see at least one service pop up to host and manage Parse Server instances for developers who don’t want to touch the back-end.
Parse is an amazing tool, accelerating mobile development with fantastic client frameworks. Now that the server is open-source, the Parse community is free to grow far beyond what was possible before, and you are invited to be a part of it.
If you’d like to discuss Parse Server, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.