Up-and-comers

When we considered the services at the shallow end of the popularity pool, we looked both at the total number of votes each had received (i.e., how many developers out of 200 had used those tools) as well as the “approval rating” (i.e., how many of those developers would recommend that tool to a peer). Based on those criteria, we identified three services that are still relatively nascent in defining their benefits to the developer community.

We do note that these are not necessarily bad services or struggling companies. Rather, especially as many of these tools and features are new, we would suggest that they are not yet as familiar to the developer audience, nor have they had as much time to be crafted to their users’ preferences and needs.

We’re keeping an eye on these services and think they’ll have interesting products to show in the near future.

Adobe Creative Cloud and Edge

Adobe relaunched its entire suite of development, video, design, and animation tools this year, calling the new offering “Creative Cloud.” While most of the products still have downloadable software, a large emphasis has been placed on collaboration, syncing of settings and assets, and other cloud-enabled features.

An important component of Adobe’s Creative Cloud is the Edge suite of services, which are intended to appeal to developers and designers who work primarily or entirely with digital media. Edge Animate is a product for browser-based multimedia creation using HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3, and jQuery. Edge Reflow is a tool for responsive design, especially for the current range of mobile devices and mobile-optimized websites. Edge Code is an HTML editor, and Edge Inspect is a product for testing out native mobile applications before deploying.

Adobe’s primary audience for decades has been traditional, nonweb designers. As many of those professionals are forced to transition their skill sets to include digital media creation and even programming, Adobe is ensuring its products continue to meet their needs as well as the needs of more advanced developers.

Creative Cloud, including the Edge suite, are available through a subscription model, with prices starting at $20 per month for single-product use. Subscriptions for teams needing powerful collaboration tools are available starting at $30 per month per user. As of the second quarter of 2013, Creative Cloud has more than 700,000 subscribers, with Adobe generating more than $1 billion for the quarter from Creative Cloud and other avenues.

While Creative Cloud received some of the most strongly negative sentiment in the survey, Adobe is far from giving up on courting developers. Executives at the company have told us Adobe plans to continue releasing “lightweight, task-specific” tools for web and mobile developers and will continue to bridge the gaps between creative and technical workflows. The company also plans to speed up its release cycle to more quickly respond to developers’ requests.

Kinvey

Kinvey is a backend-as-a-service (BaaS) for mobile developers to set up and operate a cloud-based backend for their applications. The company’s stated goal is to provide developers with plug-and-play “plumbing” for their mobile apps. The service takes care of scaling and maintenance automatically. Developers use any SDK they like and then connect their applications to Kinvey using auto-generated APIs and libraries.

To date, Kinvey has raised $7 million in two rounds of funding. It charges customers on a monthly basis, with free and paid tiers available and scaled pricing for larger instances.

“PaaS offerings were designed and built for a web-centric world, where customers build and host a backend and a web tier on the PaaS technology stack,” said Kinvey investor Fred Destin in a VentureBeat post. “Mobile apps, however, live across native and HTML5 platforms that require libraries that connect to the backend. PaaS doesn’t make this easy. … BaaS provides mobile developers with the entire backend stack, including native mobile and web libraries, which ensure the app keeps the data secure and works online and offline. As a result, developers have a consistent user experience across all devices.”

Parse

Parse is another mobile BaaS. Like Kinvey, it offers a cornucopia of SDKs and a full backend stack. The service includes features for data storage, social media integration, and push notifications.

The company claims it powers more than 100,000 applications. It offers free use for lightweight customers along with monthly price plans for larger and enterprise customers.

In April, Facebook acquired Parse for a reported $85 million. Parse continues to operate as a standalone business, launching features and serving customers independent of Facebook. In May, the company launched a hosting service.

User stories:

“Parse has allowed us to focus on the user-experience and leave the backend to them. It’s been a great experience so far. Parse is always pushing their platform forward, and we feel that it is a huge benefit to be working with a company that is innovating at such a fast rate.”

“I took a look at the documentation and within minutes, I clearly understood Parse’s functionality. Easily some of the best documentation we’ve seen.”

“In my opinion, developers may find better solutions. … Other BaaS solutions (like Kinvey) are more friendly for developers. When I work with Kinvey, if I have problem, I can ask and always get a quick answer. From Parse support, I received answers always, too; but in my opinion, they were minimalistic.”