Just Starting to Use AngularJS and Need a Backend?Posted by Itay Herskovits on Sep 18, 2014
Just getting started with AngularJS? Looking to build the next big app in AngularJS – the one that everyone will be clamoring for, but have no idea about the server-side? Maybe you even have a database in place already. And now you are looking for a back-end to connect to your Angular app. This post will be surprisingly helpful.
Many companies are opting to outsource the back-end portions of their stack to smaller, specialized companies with expertise in scalable back-end solutions. This pattern – also known as Backend as a Service (BaaS) – allows a web developer to focus on the look and feel of their application, leaving the technical management to a third party that provides the power behind the product. In this article, part one of a series, we’ll look at a couple of these small stacks, Parse and Backand, and see what they have to offer.
Parse provides BAAS functionality across a range of platforms and execution targets. They have a range of services that scale – and charge – based upon data transfer and storage rate. Parse provides capabilities for managing push notifications, analytics, and connecting a platform-agnostic back-end to any number of development platforms. Parse’s focus on removing the need for a back-end allows your developers to focus on the look-and-feel of your application.
Parse’s tools are highly focused on platform agnosticism, which means that your app will be making calls to an established API. They provide API access points for grabbing data from your app’s data store, and store data using a key-value pattern indicative of a non-relational RDMS. By tying a JSON representation of these parameters into a REST-ful API, your developers can work with the underlying data without a second thought about how it is stored.
Where Parse focuses their efforts on a highly-generalized cross-platform approach to data representation, Backand has a much more streamlined offering targeting a web interface for data driven and dashboard web apps. The Backand client is built on AngularJS that uses the Backand REST-ful API which is in turn connected to any RDMS database. Backand presents a much more narrow focus front-end than Parse – a major benefit when you are already secure in the technologies in your stack.
With Backand, you simply connect your cloud database to a selected Bootstrap template and via the Backand REST API you have a working skeleton. By working with any Amazon RDS, Backand provides the analytic power of a relational RDMS – a crucial factor for applications focused on maintaining and analyzing data. Backand’s code is also completely open-source, with a seed application available (based on angular-seed) so that you can get a working product up very quickly.
Comparing the Two
On the surface, Parse and Backand handle the same problem domains in different ways. Parse relies upon key-value data stores to provide cross-platform data management capabilities to a wide array of applications, while Backand focuses on a flexible Angular-based stack on top of a RDMS that can power both administrative data management applications as well as analytics suites. One important advantage brought to the table by Backand is that their stack is open-source. Working with Parse can be a fairly black-box endeavor, as the depth of their documentation will show, and is not based on a natural AngularJS design. With Backand, their quick setup tool makes importing an existing database quick and easy, and with the provided Bootstrap templates you can have a powerful and customizable data driven application up and running in no time. While you can accomplish the same things in Parse that you can in Backand, the level of their stack requires you to perform a lot more development to get to a point that Backand gets you from day one.
While there are many different options for platform-independent small-stack drivers (like Firebase, which we’ll discuss in the next part of this series), a development organization is often looking for something that supports their business goals. Large BaaS suites like Parse can provide a lot of flexibility for cross-platform, data-driven applications, but their closed nature and sheer size can be tough to manage. A smaller, targeted, and more-agile provider – like Backand – can provide a much better solution for organizations looking to develop a quick Angular front-end, and the open-source nature of Backand’s stack takes a lot of the headaches out of interacting with the service.
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