Friday, 3 April 2015

Testing Parse

Before you read what follows, consider that setting up and testing Parse took only 33 minutes. Not bad.
I probably had a break in the middle of that. Or maybe not. So, Parse is definitely worth a look, not hard to use. Your grandma can't set it up, but your 12 year old nephew will figure it out in no time.

Recently I discovered a web service named Parse, which claim to eliminate the need for a web server.
I decided to give it a shot and downloaded their test project.

Really funny how people advertise "easy to use solutions" then proceed to rubbing in your face a broken setup while providing shiny examples of bad practices in how not to implement error handling (aka don't muddle through, don't fail silently).

Parse have a startup guide that shows you how to connect your application to the game server. Apparently they haven't realised that people will head over to the startup guide first thing, to find out whether their service is working for them. Anyway this is how it went for me.

  • Downloaded the sample project. Since they don't say anything about Unity 5 (probably corrected by the time you read this) went with their 4.x project anyway.
  • Updated to U5 without glitch. Yay.
  • Oops, they say I should configure a scene object that doesn't exist (dang, took me a while to realise that this is because Unity creates an empty scene whenever opening a new project. C'mon guys it's much more logical than opening the only scene that's in there, isn't it?)
  • Oh my, there's a lonely DLL in there, what am I doing?
  • Scanned their forums, found a rather depressing entry which, well, somehow pointed at the simple operations (create a blank project, add the required script; yes, it is because it is simple that it's so weird they leave it broken) needed to repair the template project.
  • Nnh. They're asking me to input a .net key (lord knows what this is for) and app ID (shall I input something random)
  • So, of course it didn't work. The part that's really beyond me is that, it wasn't didn't work as in "pressing that test button" doesn't do anything. The test button simply wasn't there. I had to guess that it wasn't there because I wasn't logged into Parse. What were you guys thinking I would be thinking when trying to press a button that wasn't there? Yes, it crossed my mind that their server may be down. Yes, it crossed my mind that maybe these guys went out of business. Feeling good about Parse.
  • I logged in and they ask way way way too much details about your app, pretty please pray tell me now, why do you even need to know? Of course I don't have an app name, ID, user facing name and so forth. My mind is a white, snowy blank slate I'll have you know since I'm just testing the test - sorry, tech. Correspondingly, I did left most of everything blank which fortunately they allow.
  • By then I had an inkling that the .net key should be associated with the app (Duuuh, I'm so smart now am I?). Got hold of the key and retried. And of course it didn't work.
  • In the meantime, note that navigating back to the test / easy setup page from inside your user account page is somewhat roundabout.
  • Heading back to the settings. OMG they got an App ID in there, not just a .net key. This stuff is looking so amazing and slick I feel dizzy.
  • Input the other key. Press the test button (quickly, before it un-appears again).
Not much else to say. Very creepy how the client / initialisation goes MIA when something doesn't work. How am I ever supposed to know what went wrong, before I even noticed it did?

I will let you know whether I'm having fun with parse.

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