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Parse shutdown: What now?

Were you caught off guard by Facebook’s abrupt announcement on Jan. 28 statement that its Parse mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) was going to be shut down? You’re not alone. And we’d like to hear from you.

Outrage on the Twitter #parseshutdown page didn’t take long to get revved up. Developers who entrusted code or data to Parse bemoaned its impending demise, wondering what they would do next. Consultants and competing platform providers began to twee advice for migrating data and applications or for offering replacement mobile development platforms.

Burke Holland, director of developer relations at Progress Software, told me about the plight of one developer, victimized by the sudden and unexpected announcement. “I saw a message on Reddit from a developer who said he had deployed his app on Parse literally two hours before the announcement,” he said. He went on to say that there are small developers who may have built their entire business on Parse and who don’t have the latitude to take a hit like this. He’s right.

For Facebook, it may be that Parse simply wasn’t a profitable business, Richard Mendis, chief product officer of MBaaS provider AnyPresence told me.

What we may have lost sight of is how Facebook views the people who use its various services.

In my opinion, whether we’re posting photos of the new grandkid, linking to videos of cats playing piano, or using the company’s APIs to develop compatible applications, remember this: We are not Facebook’s customers, we are Facebook’s product.

Facebook is in the business of generating revenue, mostly through the sales of advertising that reaches the likes of you and me. If you are not paying money to Facebook, you are not a Facebook customer. What the company is doing is delivering eyeballs (that’s us users) to its paying advertisers.

Al Hilwa, program director of software development research at IDC believes the company had hundreds of developers working on Parse, at a cost approaching $50 million that could better be spent elsewhere. Apparently so.

Facebook is taking a year to wind down Parse. It released a database migration tool to ease the transition to any MongoDB database. It also published a migration guide and its open source Parse Server, which provides developers with the ability to run much of the Parse API from any Node.js server of their choosing. Final shutdown will occur on Jan. 28, 2017, exactly one year after the closure was announced.

If you were developing apps on the Parse platform, what’s the impact and what are you going to do about it? Where do you intend to move your code and data? Join the discussion, we’d like to hear from you.