Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Qt Developer Days in Munich -Nov.15

By Toni Nikkanen

Qt Developer Days, hosted by Nokia Qt Development Frameworks 24.-26th of October 2011 in Munich, Germany, was an event packed with developers, exhibitors and expectations.

The Tuesday morning keynote session was hosted by Alexandra Leisse, Qt's Web Community Manager. The first keynote speaker was Marco Argenti, Nokia's SVP of Developer Experience. His main message was that despite the strategic shift to Windows Phone, Qt continues to be important for Nokia and Nokia developers: over 100 million Qt phones have been shipped (Symbian, N9) with millions more still going to ship, and 90M apps are downloaded from the Nokia Store every day. What I would have liked to hear is how much money developers are making with Qt apps on Nokia Store right now.

"Qt for the next billion" was given as the reason why Qt will continue to matter for Nokia in the future: Nokia will make affordable phones that will have apps, and Qt is at the centre of this plan. Unfortunately this was not further elaborated. For the credibility of Qt, Nokia should communicate their future Qt plans more clearly. With Qt 4.8 being the last version of Qt for Symbian, some people even asked does this mean Qt 5 will be irrelevant for the mobile device sector? The answer was that Qt 5 will be very important for Nokia's mobile device plans, but they simply can't speak openly about it for now. My guess is that the planned release schedule (first half of 2012) for Qt 5 will coincide with product releases from Nokia.

Argenti also said Nokia has finally addressed the lack of Qt on Windows Phones, having released porting guides both from Qt to Windows Phone, but also from Windows Phone to Qt.

The major next steps for Qt will be the 1H 2012 release of Qt 5, and the move to Open Governance. Qt 5 will introduce several new features and improvements, such as increased modularity, small footprint, major upgrade of Qt Quick to version 2.0 with 10 major new features, an all-new graphics stack, and moving all platforms to use the QPA (Qt Platform Abstraction) system. On platforms with OpenGL (ES) support, the new graphics stack will perform about 2.5x fast as Qt 4.x, which could enable apps written using Qt to perform well on less powerful devices than currently possible. Open Governance means Qt is now developed entirely in the open, with collaboration and contributions welcomed.
Picture: Jari Saarhelo at Teleca being interviewed on NFC solutions.

After the keynotes it was time to head for the technical sessions. I gained lots of useful information on topics such as optimizing Qt Quick apps, Qt Quick 3D, persistent object storage for Qt Quick, and Qt on Android. It was intriguing to see how far the Qt for Android project has gotten to and that it is actually quite easy to make and sell a Qt app on the Android Market. And I was glad to find out how little rocket science or college math you need to remember in order to take advantage of 3D graphics using Qt Quick 3D.

I also browsed through the exhibitions and noted that while a lot of the exhibitors were Nokia subcontractors or partners, there were also many companies that have no other tie to Nokia other than that they use Qt, or offer services related to Qt. Qt wasn't an all-Nokia show before Nokia's acquisition of Trolltech in 2008, and today it still isn't. Qt always was, and still is, first and foremost a high-quality cross-platform application development framework with Nokia platforms being just one out of many possible platforms you can target with it.


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