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Parse and the Web Server Dependency

The web server dependency

One of the biggest issues with mobile app development is not the app itself but that many ideas require a central web server to house and transfer data.

For instance, a daily deals app we released last year needed a server for a plethora of interactions. It had to provide our users with a download of the daily feed. We also needed user accounts and push notifications so we had to build all that. And, after months of hand-written coding and testing, we came to realization that our server environment is not platform ubiquitous — it’s configured for Apple devices only. If we wanted to add a native Android app, we would be rewriting the server as well.

These are just a few examples of the server dependency baked in to many mobile app ideas. As you can imagine, there are plenty of associated business costs, but arguably the most important are time, budget and technical expertise:

  • Time — Take your codebase and double it, then sprinkle on some service testing time.
  • Budget — Add on more development resources and all the related maintenance costs of running a server.
  • Technical expertise — Know-how on scalable server architecture requires skills beyond native app development.

Why Parse

Parse allows your team to focus on creating a great user experience and forget server maintenance and complex infrastructure.

Depending on your app’s functionality, Parse can completely replace the need for a custom-built web server. Here are some reasons to give it a try:

  • Easy cross-platform support – Parse has SDK’s for most mobile platforms and popular Web languages.
  • Easy scalability – Parse is cloud-based, so it can scale automagically.
  • Easy documentation – Super-duper easy-to-follow tutorials and class references.
  • Easy user account management and ACL – Several lines of code to register a new user and control access through defined roles.
  • Easy Social integration – Facebook and Twitter wrappers make social simple.
  • And, easy push notifications – Channeling and advanced targeting are impressive built-in tools to keep your user’s engaged.

Facebook Contingency

Parse clearly is reshaping a problem area of mobile development with elegance. Whether Facebook lets them continue down this path is the question. Without knowing any specifics, it’s possible Parse could be wrapped up into their parent companies platform strategy and leave space for a new agnostic server-services provider. It should be interesting either way.

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