Concerns about Three20

Yesterday, my company released VSS Food Guide, a vegetarian food guide in Singapore, to Apple iTunes. We are already planning for more app releases in the next few months. However, a technical question for our app development efforts remains: should we continue using Three20, the same framework used to develop Facebook for iPhone. I like the framework, especially its URL-based navigation for navigating a user from one view to another and for persisting an app view state. Because the state of each view is represented by an URL, the entire view state of the app is automatically persisted by saving the URLs of all views when the app exits. Other benefits of Three20 includes a large collection of visual controls, caching, and network utilities. I used Three20 extensively in the VSS Food Guide. The framework is very useful once you get used to the programming model.

Despite all these advantages, I still contemplate using Three20 to develop future apps. The recent discussions in the Three20 forum board echo my concerns. The timing is quite uncanny. The thread expresses concerns over the lack of direction, a general lack of documentation, and fragmentation due to numerous forks of the source. The framework is cool but it can be quite confusing since it isn’t well maintained or documented, which is quite typical of any open-source project at this stage. The good news is that it looks like efforts are being made to steer the project back on course.

MobyFab and our first app

When I returned to the US after a three year hiatus in Asia, I started MobyFab, an small independent software vendor (ISV) and consulting company in Cambridge, MA. We started the company by creating two custom iPhone apps for our clients. But today our app VSS Food Guide, which we developed in close collaboration with the Vegetarian Society (Singapore), was approved by Apple and is now available on iTunes. This is a momentous event for us as VSS Food Guide is our first iPhone app we released on iTunes.
MobyFab is already busy developing the next iPhone app, a virtual counter clicker utility app. I am performing “final polishing” and QA testing at the moment, and hope to submit the app for approval sometime next week. After the release of the new app, I will be returning back to developing custom apps for clients. MobyFab will be developing an location- and social media-based app for an early-stage startup in Cambridge.