Just like in the fable about Isaac Newton, sometimes a great idea hits us on the head while we're going about our daily lives. This was the case for app developer Jacob Hull, who had the idea for his app, Recipe Cloud, after cooking a meal for a friend.
Tell us about yourself, Jacob.
Until recently I was a Rocket Scientist at Space Systems Loral. I left Loral because I needed to bring the awesome Recipe Cloud into the world. I am currently the creator and sole developer of Recipe Cloud.
What's Recipe Cloud all about?
Recipe Cloud is currently an iOS app designed to help users discover, share, and save recipes. The app allows users to manually input recipes or save them from their favorite websites. Users of the app are also able to follow others and find out what recipes they have been cooking. Because of the initial success of the iOS app, I have started a Kickstarter campaign to build a web app and make Recipe Cloud accessible to everyone! You can check out the Kickstarter campaign (and get freshly baked bread) here.
Going from rocket scientist to app developer is a big change; what was the inspiration behind Recipe Cloud?
The idea for Recipe Cloud came after making dinner for a friend. My friend loved the meal and wanted the recipe that I had used. I typed out the recipe and emailed it to him, and then I began to think of the need to create an easier way to share recipes. As I thought about it more, I noticed that there was also a need to store all of these recipes. I had recipes scattered all over the place: in url bookmarks, in cookbooks, in emails and on hand-written recipe cards. Whenever I wanted to cook or share one of them, I would have to go and find it. What I decided to do was create an app where users can save their recipes from all of these different sources into a single digital cookbook, to make it easy locate any recipe at any time. Users of the app can also send specific recipes to their friends, who in turn can save them right to their own digital cookbook. And, whenever a user is looking for a little inspiration, they can browse through their friends' digital cookbooks.
That definitely sounds useful. What brought you to use Parse in the app?
I found Parse while reading through developer forums and looking for a back-end for Recipe Cloud. What sold me on Parse was just how excellent your documentation is; everything is very clearly explained and there are lots of the examples that made it very easy to learn.
Having built Recipe Cloud on your own, what do you think the biggest benefit to using Parse has been?
The biggest benefit was the amount of time it saved me. Parse made it possible for me to create a social network as a sole developer. I was able to focus on the structure of the database and the front-end and let Parse handle the back-end.
How is Parse used in Recipe Cloud?
Parse is very much the core of Recipe Cloud. It stores all of the recipe and user data, lets users connect socially and also sends out the push notifications. I use Parse to send push notifications about user activity. Whenever someone starts following you, wants you to check out a recipe, reposts, or comments on one of your recipes, push lets you know. I also love storing my data with Parse because the Data Browser makes it so easy to manage everything. Since I am storing the data with Parse, using Parse Social was a no-brainer. Recipe Cloud uses Parse to log users in via Facebook, and it also allows users to connect and share with their Facebook friends.
It's wonderful to hear that you're making such great use of the features. Do you use Cloud Code at all?
I am using Cloud Code and it has been a lifesaver. I implemented push notifications in one of the later versions of Recipe Cloud. The problem with doing this was that users with earlier versions of the app would not be sending out push notifications when they liked or commented on a recipe. Here is where Cloud Code came to the rescue. What I did was place my trigger for the push notification inside a Cloud Code afterSave call for the activities. This way, the push notification gets created whenever a user likes or comments on a recipe, no matter what version of Recipe Cloud they are using.
Has using Parse decreased development time and if so, do you have an idea of how much?
Parse has decreased my development time immensely. My best explanation of how much time Parse has saved me is that without parse, Recipe Cloud would not be possible by myself. With parse, Recipe Cloud is possible by myself. I was able to create the first version of Recipe Cloud in a matter of weeks.
Do you know how many downloads there have been of Recipe Cloud so far?
The app launched only a few months ago and it has already received over 12,000 downloads. I would love to see more, but this is a great start.
Do you have any plans to use Parse in the future?
When I was starting on Recipe Cloud I also created Wiki Ingredients, which is currently in open beta. Wiki Ingredients is a community where users can share information about ingredients: when they are in season, how to prepare them, how long they keep, etc. Wiki Ingredients uses Parse to store all of the ingredient data and user information. I think Wiki Ingredients will be awesome, but right now I am focusing my efforts on Recipe Cloud. I will get back to Wiki Ingredients after launching the website for Recipe Cloud.
What is your favorite thing about Parse?
I love Parse because of how easy it is to use. And, on the rare occasion that I cannot figure out how to do something with Parse, the support team helps me out right away.