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Parse: launch a full-featured app in record time

written by Gabriele Mittica, Jan 01 2013

Parse is a smart service within you can add a scalable and powerful backend in minutes and launch a full-featured app in record time without ever worrying about server management. Parse offers push notifications, social integration, data storage, and the ability to add rich custom logic to your app’s backend with Cloud Code.

I tried Parse in a beautiful social program at Oxygen Accelerator in October, when we helped school children (12-16 yrs) from across Birmingham to create and launch their own businesses publishing a mobile app born from their ideas. We developed the app in two days, and Parse was the perfect choise to get access to a cloud based and ready to go database to use with the app.

Freemium model

Parse is free with some restrictions. There's also a premium version. You can see the plans at this page

SDKs and Documentation

Parse offers a large set of official SDKs (iOS, OS X, Android, javaSCript, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8), and others unofficial for a lot ot languages (PHP included).

Starting with Parse Data

The first step is set a new Class, like a table, in the storage. It's very easy manage columns and rows (also thanks to an online dashboard), selecting from different types (from string to integer, from GeoPoint to Relation). The logic behind the Class is very simple, and you can design your database in few minutes.

parse dashboard

After started your project, you need to download the credentials from the Parser website and configure your project to connect to the cloud. The great advantages is that the Classes are very easy to manage, and you can get, push and find elements in your database with few lines of code.

Internally, Parse stores data as JSON, so any datatype that can be converted to JSON can be stored on Parse. The framework can also handle Date, Bytes, and File types. Overall, the following types are allowed for each field in your object:

  • - String
  • - Number
  • - Boolean
  • - Array
  • - Object
  • - Date
  • - Bytes
  • - File
  • - Null

Thanks to the ACL you can enforce your access patterns. For example:

  • For private data, "read" and "write" access can be restricted to the owner.
  • For a post on a message board, the author and members of the "Moderators" role can have "write" access, and the general public can have "read" access.
  • For logging data that will only be accessed by the developer through the REST API, the ACL can deny all permissions.
  • Data created by a privileged group of users or the developer, like a global message of the day, can have public "read" access but restrict "write" access to an
  • "Administrators" role.
  • A message sent from one user to another can give "read" and "write" access just to those users

Over the Classes, you can access to Parse Push, to mange notifications on you apps, and Parse Social, to connect your users via traditional logins or third party social networks with just a few lines of code, whether they’re on an iPad, Android phone, or a web browser.

Conclusion

Parse is an useful service that you have to try. See some examples here: https://parse.com/samples

About the Author

Gabriele Mittica
Gabriele Mittica I'm a 28 years old web developer with a long experience on dynamic websites. I worked over 7 years on content management systems designing. Now I'm focused on AWS integration and cloud development. In early 2012 I opened a new cloudy startup:Corley.

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