Parse Server: a New Open Source Baas Framework
If you still haven’t settled on an alternative to Parse, the premier cross-platform BaaS that will be shutting down as of January 28, 2017, you’re not alone. Fortunately, Parse has open sourced the code as Parse Server and will let you create amazing mobile apps, expose REST APIs, and GraphQL APIs. Written in Node.js, Parse Server can serve the Parse API from any Node-enabled infrastructure.
New Possibilities with Parse Server
While having to migrate your app is a hassle you didn’t expect, the good news is that you can do many more things with Parse Server than you could with Parse. For example, you can host from anywhere in the world with Parse Server and reach a global audience. You can also develop and test your apps locally to make sure everything’s running smoothly before deploying live. These features are just the tip of the iceberg – using this powerful and flexible platform offers many other advantages over Parse.com and other BaaS frameworks.
Parse very necessarily had to establish a 1,000 object query max and time limits on the hundreds of thousands of apps it hosted. With Parse Server, those limits are history. While you can set up a query max and time limits on triggers, cloud functions, and requests with Parse Server if you choose, there are no preset limits.
Better Database Management
Parse Server delivers much more flexibility and support when it comes to databases. Once you migrate, you’ll have:
- Complete control over which database to use. Developers have already written a handful of adapters for Parse Server that allows you to choose from a variety of database platforms and file storage systems.
- The ability to customize indexes
- True backup and restore functionality, rather than Parse’s manual JSON file exports.
While not everyone will need these features, many developers will appreciate having more control over their databases.
Parse Server supports live queries that generate continual feeds of object updates for things like messaging and real-time games and eliminate the need to run additional queries every time you need new data for these types of applications. You can use Parse Live Queries in Parse Server by using callsubscribe() instead of find(), which tells the server to push object updates in real time. Note that they do not work in Parse.
Recent Additions to Parse Server
Parse Server isn’t an exact copy of Parse; while it supports all of the standard functionality, there’s a small chance that the functionality you need isn’t included just yet. But not to worry – in addition to contributions from the open source community, Parse developers committed to a ensuring a smooth transition have recently shipped several Parse.com features to Parse Server.
Parse released the Parse Dashboard last spring to help you manage your self-hosted apps. It’s easy to install, configure, and update and handles multiple apps from the same Dashboard.
Parse recently added the powerful, easy-to-use functionality of Parse Push to Parse Server and Parse Dashboard, so you can target specific channels and installations and push notifications to your users on both iOS and Android – something that developers had been requesting. And with the new Push Adapter, you can send notifications via any mobile push notifications service that provides an API.
The latest versions of both Parse Server (2.2.10) and Parse Dashboard (1.0.12) also include pointer permissions, which offer a powerful new way to secure all of the objects in a class simultaneously. Pointer permissions easily secure things like messaging and profiles without any new server-or-client-side code.
Finally, you can now use the powerful functionality of Parse Config to configure your app on Parse Server.
Accessing Analytics for your Parse Server App
Parse Server does have its limitations, such as analytics. While the platform doesn’t support analytics, you can easily integrate Parse with Google Analytics or Mixpanel, or use a Parse Server hosting company that provides them.
Getting Started with Parse Server
Parse Server is already a very flexible and powerful hosting solution for your app. And because it’s open source, we expect that it will only improve over time. If you haven’t already, check out Parse.com’s migration guide and screencasts to get started with your installation. Once you become familiar with Parse Server, you may even find yourself creating new features. If you do, consider contributing your code to the GitHub project to help make it an even more awesome service.
Self-Hosted or Backend as a Service
You choose! You can download the framework and run it on your own server or use a BaaS platform to host Parse Server open source backend.