Sunday, January 31, 2016

7 Parse alternatives or Parse It Yourself

Last Friday it was a bit disappointing to find out that Parse will discontinue its services. It used to be my favorite mBaaS as it was perfect for prototyping but also suitable for production data. It is a scalable solution, it has great documentation and is easy to use.

Many mobile developers of iOS and Android apps rely on the Parse backend system for data storage and push notifications. The fact that Facebook has decided to discontinue it is a bit surprising as they did put a lot of effort in supporting Apple TV (tvOS) and Apple watch recently.

What is Parse actually?

Parse is a mobile Backend as a Service (mBaaS) that uses a MongoDB database to store data and Amazon S3 to store files. The Parse SDKs for Android and iOS include handy stuff such as caching and uploading data and files in the background. Other features are analytics, push notifications and cloud code, which is useful for the integration of mail and SMS functionality for example.

If you want to create a new app using a mBaas right now there are some interesting alternatives. But if you do have an app that currently is using the Parse SDK probably your only option is to use the Parse Server. Here is a tutorial to find out what you need to keep your app running on the Parse technology. Or have a look on Github where the source for the Parse Server is hosted.

Some of the features supported by the Parse Server:
  • CRUD operations
  • Schema validation
  • Pointers
  • Users
  • Installations
  • Sessions
  • Roles

Some of the not or not fully supported features:
  • Push notifications
  • Facebook login
  • Web based dashboard

It cannot be too difficult to reanimate most of the Parse functionality using the recently published open source Parse Server. And that is what The distance has planned to do. Well, more or less. They have plans to offer hosting for the Parse Server.

7 Parse alternatives

1. Back4App

Updated Back4app is a new mBaaS for building and hosting Parse APIs. It comes with a migration plan for your existing Parse solutions and it looks very promising.

2. Firebase

Firebase is a scalable real-time backend for your web app.


BAASBOX is an open source backend for your mobile app. It has SDKs for iOS, Android and Javascript.

4. Quickblox

QuickBlox is about building blocks for a backend infrastructure. Offers data storage, push notifications, text and video chat, and many other features.

5. Azure

Microsoft Azure comes with support for push notifications and other mobile services. Since the platform is here to stay you could consider to use Azure to store your new Mongo DB and the Parse server.

6. Backendless

Backendless provides an instant mobile Backend as a Service and overall application development Platform.

7. Pubnub

PubNub is a real-time network that enables software developers to rapidly build and scale real-time apps by providing the cloud infrastructure, connections and key building.


It was only in 2013 that Parse was acquired by Facebook. Using a mBaaS for prototyping purposes is great but you can not (fully) rely on it, even when big names are involved with them or should I say in particular when big names are involved?

We will miss Parse but not for a very long time I guess. There are plenty of alternatives and releasing the Parse Server as open source might come with some new and interesting opportunities.

Further reading