A couple of weeks ago, the developer community was rocked by the sad ‘parsing’ of Parse. Facebook, three years after acquiring the Mobile backend as a System service, announced what we all expected to happen; it shuttered Parse. With this, developers have until January 2017 to migrate their data to a new database. Whilst the team killed the Parse Service, it did make it open source with Parse Server, enabling developers to host the data themselves.
Whilst the biggest group this will impact is smaller developers who relied on Parse for their services, such as notifications, analytics and other easy to use tools; all is not lost. Last week, Apple quietly announced that CloudKit now supports Server-to-Server web requests.
Even though CloudKit doesn’t have all of the features of Parse; it does enable developers to utilise CloudKit as a backend and to utilise Apple Push Notifications. First announced at WWDC 2014, CloudKit has slowly been building up its functionality to help developers utilise more of its services.
As Apple says on its website, announcing the news, ‘In addition to providing a web interface for users [developers] to access the same data as your app, you can now easily read and write to the CloudKit public database from a server-side process or script with a server-to-server key.’
Until now, developers could only access data from directly within the app. With Apple offering free cloud storage to developers, to store their users’ data, this change means that developers can now build apps and websites that store and modify data in Apple’s, zero-emission, iCloud servers.
CloudKit will only work with websites and iOS apps; so if you’re creating apps for multiple platforms, you should still look at other options. CloudKit may also not appeal to businesses for their own enterprise apps, as they may need to host their data on their own servers.
However, we’re hugely excited about the improvements Apple is driving to its backend services for developers. With Parse now on its way out, CloudKit could well be a great option for a large number of developers to migrate their data to.
For a great write up of CloudKit, check out this blog on CloudKit by Croath Liu.