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Do you remember Parse? The MBaaS platform that Facebook acquired in 2013 and closed down in 2017?

Let’s recap some history, as it’s been a while! I first linked to it in Issue 2 of this newsletter! 😱 The concept was brand new and very tempting. It promised no need for custom back-end servers—Just integrate the client library, define model objects, and save data to the cloud. Easy! It was Firebase or AWS Amplify, but ten years ago. Parse lasted longer than their major competitor, Stackmob, who was acquired and then shuttered just a few months later. But eventually, in 2017, Facebook turned off the hosted Parse servers.

They did open-source the platform as they closed it down, partially due to the huge number (600,000, according to this article) of apps they'd disrupt without a migration path. I was vaguely aware that the open-source project was still around but I hadn’t paid much attention until I spotted this package pop up in the Swift Package Index RSS feeds this week.

The README looked impressive and seemed to be primarily created by one person, Corey E Baker. I was curious, so I reached out to him, and he explained that his interest came out of wanting to sync some CareKit data through to Parse. The Parse server has received consistent maintenance, but Corey explained that while still functional, the Objective-C client had fallen behind with implementing some newer server features. He jumped in and started working on the Parse Swift library, and just look at that graph! 🥳

Why am I writing about this? Well, it has always been risky to base an app on another company’s back-end server. Yes, it can save a lot of time, but you’re always at the mercy of another company’s business decision, and their priorities almost certainly don’t match yours. Maybe the platform you pick will shut down, fundamentally change its pricing, or make another decision that doesn’t work for you. Your options are limited as these frameworks live at the heart of your app. The Parse platform is now free of many of those problems. As it is open-source, it’s almost impossible to shut down, and being self-hosted, you’re in control of pricing. Even better, the server has been around long enough now that it should be pretty stable and feature-rich. Then, with the tremendous amount of work that has recently gone into the Swift client, it’s looking like a promising project for iOS and macOS apps again.

It’s also so lovely to see a successful project rise out of the ashes of yet another “acquire and shut down” situation. The project is well funded enough to run a Paid Contributors Program, and that’s a terrific thing to see! I was so happy to discover this little corner of the iOS world thriving when I thought it had faded away.

Maybe check it out next time you’re reaching for Firebase or Amplify. 💡

Dave Verwer

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And finally...

These are the WWDC leaks that I'm here for. 🤘