Monthly Archives: January 2016

Parse – Lessons Learned

Well damn.  If you wander to the “Projects” section of this website you will see my Android apps are all Parse-based.  If you are a Parse user yourself, you are probably now aware of today’s announcement.  This sucks.

I chose Parse because it was straightforward.  I wanted to spent my time developing my app, not deploying, updating, migrating, and whatever else-ing a database on my server.  Parse allowed me to do that, pretty easily.  There was some headache with earlier versions of Parse which required a Javascript middleman between the app and the database to perform certain queries, but hey, any chance to brush up on a rarely used language isn’t that bad.  I then went through the pain of upgrading my apps when they put the API through a fairly major overhaul.  It was worth it because it allowed me to ignore that entire side of the app.  My data would be sitting on a Parse sever and would be easily accessible, no worries.

Now that is going away.  Parse is officially recommending a slow migration to a MongoDB setup followed by a hosting switch where you can run the new open source Parse Server to connect to your fancy new MongoDB instance.  Blerg.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do, I like the fact that I have working apps available, but they aren’t exactly tearing up the Google Play store rankings, so I have to decide what level of effort is acceptable to support essentially unused apps.

The lesson here, I guess, is to be weary of anybody offering you a sweet free service.  Or, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Or something else, I don’t really know.  For now, I’ve got a year to switch away from Parse or let my apps die a slow, quiet, unnoticed death.

It’s Been a While.

I haven’t been around here in a while.  Figured it was time for an update.  I’ve been mostly busy with life; work, family, kid, etc…  so my free tinkering time has been limited of late, but I haven’t been totally idle.

My latest Android app was launched early last year:  Raleigh Wing Guide.  Sitting around eating wings with friends (a fairly regular occurrence), I figured, “we do this enough, we should start reviewing these places” and so the Raleigh Wing Guide was born.  It is a pretty bare bones app, the idea being to provide “expert” opinions and ratings on various aspects of a wing place, and then let the users have some input with a simple thumbs up/thumbs down rating system.

Technically speaking, it was pretty straightforward.  I again used Parse to store the data.  It was my first use of it since they drastically changed their API, so there was a fair amount of re-leaning to do there.  The biggest technical add of this compared to my previous apps was user logins/data.  Parse made this pretty simple for me and I was up and running pretty quickly.  I also used the Android location functionality, which I had played with before, but never in a released app.

Probably the most important technical aspect of the project for me was switching over to Android Studio from Eclipse.  The IDE is functional, I much prefer it to the Eclipse plugins Android used to rely on.  It was also my first exposure to a Gradle build environment, new build setups are always a blast.

Like the disc golf app I wanted to make something with potential appeal to people who aren’t just my friends.  Unlike the disc golf app, the wing guide never got off the ground floor.  It may have the visual appeal of a first generation Android app, but it is functional.  It could use an overhaul, but I’m not sure if the idea warrants an app anyway.  Oh well, I’m happy with what I churned out given the limited time investment, I learned a few things along the way that I’ll be able to apply next time around.

That’s about all I’ve done since the last update.  I’ve spent free time diving into other things, a little bit of data mining and a lot of household chores, but nothing terribly exciting to report.  I’m getting the itch to try another app at some point, I haven’t had any great fits of inspiration for a great new app, so I’m not sure what it will be.  Whatever it is, I’ll be sure to update this blog 9 months after I’m done with it.