Hassel-free data models for the Parse iOS SDK.
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Hassel-free data models for the Parse iOS SDK.

The ParseModel class automatically maps the properties of your subclass to key/value entries in an underlying PFObject and handles any neccesary conversions (e.g. if your property is an int it is converted to an NSNumber for storage).

ParseModel provides some additional conversions (boxing/unboxing) that the Parse iOS SDK does not support (e.g. NSURL and CLLocation). Additionally, it provides the ability to wrap PFUser objects.


via CocoaPods: pod 'ParseModel'

Why ParseModel?

Parse is a cloud backend as-a-service (or BaaS) that allows developers to quickly get their apps up and running with little or no backend setup.

More often than not, we developers like to work with out own classes and not use the out-of-the-box data models that come with many of these services. Regardless of our approach there comes a time when we need to map the properties of our objects to the backend object. Sometimes we accomplish this by overriding the getters and setters of our properties like this:

@interface MyObject : NSObject

@property (nonatomic, strong) NSString *someString;
@property (nonatomic, strong) PFObject *parseObject;


@implementation MyObject

- (NSString *)someString
    return [self.parseObject objectForKey:kSomeStringKey];

- (NSString *)setSomeString:(NSString *)someString
    [self.parseObject setObject:someString forKey:kSomeStringKey];


The benefits to this approach is that we can define an Objective-C protocol to house these properties and have our model objects conform to this protocol:

@interface MyObject : NSObject <MyObjectProtocol>
@property (nonatomic, strong) PFObject *parseObject;

Now in our app code, we can just deal with id<MyObjectProtocol> pointers instead of worrying about specifics. The benefits of this are pretty obvious…

  1. We have a relatively static interface for dealing with our data (i.e. the backend can change as much as it wants and the majority of our code stays the same).
  2. We can transparently use objects that connect to different backends and services together.
  3. You get it.

Setting up models like this, however, can be time consuming. Nobody likes typing out getters/setters, creating lots of static keys, etc.

This is where ParseModel comes in.

What does ParseModel do?

Using ParseModel

Parse Model was based off an idea from CouchCocoa where to create a model object all you would need to do is create some properties and set them as dynamic. That's it. In our case, all of our properties get mapped to an underlying PFObject as values with the same key.

Here's an example:

@interface MyObject : ParseModel

@property (nonatomic, strong) NSString *someString;
@property (nonatomic, strong) NSString *someOtherString;


@implementation MyObject

@dynamic someString;
@dynamic someOtherString;

+ (NSString *)parseModelClass
    return @"MyObject";


Afer declaring the MyObject class above we can do things like this:

MyObject *myObject = [MyObject parseModel];
myObject.someString = @"Hello there";
[myObject.parseObject saveInBackground];

When someString is set it is automatically mapped to the underlying PFObject.

Lastly, you can created models with existing the following method:

+ (id)modelWithParseObject:(PFObject *)parseObject;

Using ParseModelUser

A PFUser flavored object is also available called ParseModelUser.


  • ParseModel currently works with all types that PFObject supports. This means don't try using a UIImage and expect it to work!
  • ParseModel does not support automatically creating models from PFQuery objects. However, it only takes one line of code to create a ParseModel after a query.

How does this work?

Under the hood, when a property is accessed that has not been created (because of the dynamic keyword in our case), we catch a last-ditch message to our class that says: "Hey, we couldn't find this instance method". If we can detect that it is a setter or getter method for a property that was declared as dynamic, we then create the getter/setter on the fly using a pre-defined block of code that uses a PFObject to store/retrieve the values. That's the gist. Check out Dynamic Method Resolution for more information.

Big thanks to Jens Alfke who wrote CouchModel which was a starting point for this.


Apache license, version 2.0.