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Backends as a Service: Appcelerator ACS vs Parse vs Applicasa vs StackMob

January 2, 2013

Backend as a Services, dubbed “BaaS”, are companies that provide easily integrated cloud-based backends for mobile app developers (and web based). Meaning, nowadays, all Mobile Apps (may) need Users, Logins, Checkings, Places, Geolocations, uploading data, pushing data, and so on. It’s a Database on the fly, ready to be queried.

You can of course develop your own, but this comes right out of the box, promises to be secure and scalable (with some even offering Analytics).

On Monday (April 16, 2012) Cocoafish.com turned into Appcelerator’s New Cloud Service, which pushed me to write a post on the affairs of BaaS as it stands today.
(in alphabetical order)

★ Appelerator Cloud Services:

ACS is my first experience into BaaS ( when it was Cocoafish), I was privileged enough to get a Beta account as they launched into beta, and played around extensively with it. They offer you a custom Object you can save on the server, key-value objects, Push NotificationsGeolocation, and easy out of the box APIs such as: Places, Checkings, Users, Social integrations, Email Templates, Photos (& Collections), Posts, Access control lists, Users Status & Chat; And you can export your data if you ever choose to do so.

From what I’ve seen, they have the most feature rich out of all the other BaaS companies, as they also include Analytics (so all calls are being noted).

Libraries

AS3, JS, iOS, Android, REST & TiCloud module

Cost

They Do have a Free Plan, The following is on a Per Month Per App basis:
5 Million Push Notifications & 100’000 Emails
5 Million API Calls
20 GB Storage

Analytics 1 Million


★ Applicasa

Applicasa is the only BaaS that offers Drag & Drop functionalities to create your Custom Objects/Tables on the fly, its a little more tedious than having our of the box features like the ones provided by ACS. Applicasa offers the usual Push Notifications, Promos, Analytics and the only BaaS I’ve found to offer In-App Purchases. It seems they are targeting recently Game developers.

Libraries

There are No Libraries other than iOS & Android.

Cost

Applicasa has a unique business model for Startups they do not charge on the Number of API calls, they charge on the number of Users.
Unlimited Free API calls (and 1 Gb of storage) for the first 100’000 Users, then 0.03$ Per User.
In a way, keep your App clean with ‘active users’.

★ Parse

Parse offers a better freemium model than ACS, their service APIs comprises of Key-Value Data, Push Notifications, Social Integration, Gelocations & Files storage. You can also choose to export you data.

Libraries

I have found Parse to have the most number of Libraries (thanks to third parties). From LuaAS3, JS, iOS, Android and REST.

Cost

For the Free Plan you get on a Per Month Per App basis:
1 Million API Calls 
1 Million Push Notifications
1 Gb
Storage (for files)

An Enterprise Plan will run you 199$/month and provide you with 15 Million API calls + 5 Million Push Notifications and 10 Gb of storage.

★ StackMob

StackMob is the most custom, which also means the most tedious (relative), you can upload your code to their servers to manage any custom server side calls and provide you with those custom APIs, Social Integration, Access control lists, as well as creating your Schema. Interestingly, they have a Marketplace of APIs.

Libraries

Offered: iOS, Android & JS. Also have an SDK with the option to upload your custom server code.

Cost

Their full Price Plans (prices may have changed)
For the Free Plan you get on a Per Month basis:
60’000  API Calls 
60’000 Push Notifications

I did not add Kinvey to this comparison sheet, because they do not have a pricing list, unless they intend for it to be Always Free (which would certainly be an eye opener).

Its your Choice

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From → Backend

4 Comments
  1. Thanks for the StackMob mention. Just wanted to add that we have a JS SDK as well and have ways for people to connect with PHP and Python.

    If I may also gently provide some clarification, StackMob works out of the box without any server-side configuration (so as to not give the misconception that there is more work). You can start hitting the datastore right out of the box. But we do offer the option for more customizability as you mentioned.

    You can start making calls to StackMob from your mobile client and we can automatically generate your schemas programmatically by inferring what you are trying to save. e.g. { username: ‘erick’, userid: 30 } will create a string field for “username” and an int field for “userid”. That auto generation is what lets you use StackMob’s datastore option out of the box with no configuration.
    As mentioned in the article, we also give the developers the option of manually creating schemas if they’d like more control or more advanced options (like indexing).

    The optional server-side custom code part the article mentions does give you more flexibility to run server-side operations (callable from your mobile app) if you’d like to do extras beyond the commodity CRUD/filter/select database operations that already work out of the box. But it is optional. The nice thing is that you only have the write the basic classes that focus almost completely on your app-specific features- the rest of the scaffolding to make your code into a mobile-accessible REST API is already built into StackMob. So the stuff you write it is very honed to your app, no fluff, and you can call that server-side code from your mobile client (and get a JSON response back)

    In short, we can be as simple – or as flexible/accommodating – as developers choose. And if they’d like to put in more work for their app to do more, then they certainly have that choice to customize.

    All in all, thank you for the mention. The space is great right now, and as with many tools, developers will need to choose the right one for their jobs. The more information out there, the better. Hope everybody finds the one that they enjoy.

    Erick
    StackMob Engineer

  2. Yesterday Parse announced their new JS SDK and I did some small edits to the source so it can be used as a JavaScript module in Titanium along with underscore.js I tested the basic example and havent explored a lot more so I am glad to get any comments or suggestions on how to better the integration.
    Here is the Example project:
    https://github.com/juanbermudez/Ti.Parse

  3. David Sheardown permalink

    I think parse.com and appcelerator “feel” like the best of the BaaS at the moment, however with the others listed above, I think it’s time to try out a test app on them too – but thanks for the post, interesting stuff!

  4. Reblogged this on onewaterdrop and commented:
    worth reading

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