LONDON-Already attractive to thousands of developers, the Qt (pronounced “cute”) cross-platform application framework became a lot more attractive to a whole new group of developers recently.
Not only did Qt Software announce the availability of the Qt framework for the Nokia S60 platform on Oct. 20, but the company formerly known as Trolltech and now owned by Nokia also released a technology preview of Qt 4.5, the next version of the software.
On Oct. 21, Qt Software announced the Technology Preview of Qt 4.5-the upcoming new version of its cross-platform application framework for desktop and embedded development. Qt officials said preview packages are now available to commercial and open-source users for download, testing and feedback.
The Technology Preview provides a first, complete look at new Qt features-all of which are aimed at achieving the three primary design goals for the Qt 4.5 release: to improve the run-time performance of Qt-based applications; to allow Qt users to realize the full potential of WebKit; and to future-proof Qt users’ investments on the Mac platform with added 64-bit support, Qt Software officials said.
In a meeting with eWEEK at the Symbian Smartphone Show here, Benoit Schillings, chief technology officer at Qt Software, said his group “spent a lot of time focusing on performance, graphics processing and other things. Compatibility with 64-bit Mac OS is important, as is enhanced support for the WebKit engine. Qt engineers are quite familiar with WebKit.”
Qt Software officials said Qt 4.5 brings a new performance benchmarking library, focused re-engineering of key functionality and a new pluggable graphics system-all aimed at increasing the performance of Qt-based applications. And because most engineering work has been done to the core Qt API, in most cases Qt users need only to upgrade to Qt 4.5 to realize performance benefits immediately, the company said.
And, continuing the Qt tradition of insulating developers from platform-specific changes, Qt 4.5 adds support for developing 64-bit applications on top of the new Mac Cocoa API, making it possible for Qt developers to deploy resource-intensive applications to the latest version of the Mac OS (10.5), Qt Software officials said.
In addition, Qt 4.5 takes advantage of Greenhouse, Qt’s IDE (integrated development environment). Greenhouse “is not a full-fledged IDE like Eclipse or Visual Studio, but a lightweight IDE driven by our needs in that area,” Schillings said.
Nokia S60 Platform Supports Qt Development
Meanwhile, one of the bigger pieces of news at the Symbian Smartphone Show was Nokia’s announcement that the S60 platform will now support Qt development.
At the show, Qt Software announced the porting of Qt to S60 on Symbian OS, which Symbian claims is the world’s leading open smart phone platform. Qt is a C++ application development framework, which makes it easy for developers to create applications once and then deploy them on any of the Windows, Mac, Linux, Windows CE, Windows Mobile and embedded Linux platforms. With the inclusion of the S60 platform, developers have an additional 80 million target devices that they can support with their Qt-based applications, Nokia officials said.
“Qt brings an elegant and intuitive C++ development tool to the S60 platform, improving the ability to develop richer user experiences on the platform and making S60 on Symbian OS even more attractive for developers to target with their applications and services,” said Sebastian Nystrom, vice president of Qt Software at Nokia.
An early technical preview of Qt for S60 is available for download from Qt Software’s Web site. Qt on S60 will work with S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1 and later releases. The first production release of Qt for S60 will be available in the second quarter of 2009, the company said.
“We’re expanding the size of the field of devices that can run Qt,” Schillings said. “In this case, we are integrated with Carbide, the de facto IDE on S60. But keep in mind, the goal is not to go and replace the C++ model; this is a complement. One of the advantages of Qt is the quality of the UI [user interface]. Qt is an excellent tool for application and UI development. People always think if Qt as the furry UI of the KDE desktop, but we also do mobile.”