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In case you missed it, a lot has happened in the last two day that could potentially impact the Qt framework, for the worse. :-( It will impact the mobile sector in several and probably not currently acknowledged ways, for sure.

It started yesterday with Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop internal letter depicting Nokia sitting on a burning platform and the need for a big and aggressive shift in business.

A day later, at the Nokia World conference, Nokia announced the partnership with Microsoft, which at the moment resumes to Nokia adopting the Windows Phone 7 platform and development environment, dumping Symbian along the road and tagging Meego as R&D(a pretty dangerous keyword if you ask me), as for Maemo/N900 series I guess it's bye bye for good. I know what you're thinking but no, Qt is not going to be ported to the Window Phone platform. And I'm also scared about this. You can watch the Elop & Ballmer joint press release here.

Now after reading this huge thread on the Qt-interest mailing list I can't help but wonder, what is the future of Qt at Nokia, now that they aren't focused(at all?) on Qt anymore(remember the full focus switch on Qt as main development framework for all Nokia products(including Symbian, yes) back in October?).

I love Qt, in my opinion it is the only true cross-platform application development framework and one of the few to make C++ development a joy(to the extent possible) and good things has happened to the framework and considerable momentum while under Nokia, thus i am wondering, what are the chances that Qt might suffer a slow death at Nokia after this? Yes i know about KDE.org and the fact that Qt is easily spawnable, but I still feel uneasy.

It also must be horrible for all of the efforts either by Nokia employees or third parties that have gone into Symbian and all of the Ovi Store Symbian/Qt content and business and why not, Maemo/Meego. There are also massive layoffs planned, I suspect Symbian techs and Qt?

I'd love to hear your input on this? Is Qt future safe&proof?

LE: The question as been gradually revised, improved and better referenced, thus you might want to throw a quick re-read to see what you might have missed.

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"one of the few to make C++ development a joy(to the extent possible)." That confirms my feeling that most people who like Qt dislike C++. I am exactly the opposite :) –  Nemanja Trifunovic Feb 11 '11 at 19:33
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@Nemanja Trifunovic, not quit true, i like C++ too, if i disliked it wouldn't have been using it anyway, no matter the framework and i think that's the case for everyone. A good framework/library will only empower the language and not the opposite. That's why i wouldn't give Qt development over MFC for eg. in a trillion years. I also don't buy into the fact that you liking C++ makes you dislike Qt..? :-) –  Shinnok Feb 11 '11 at 19:39
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@Shinnok: That's probably because of the fact that a lot of Qt depends on the meta object compiler (moc), and that a lot of Qt code doesn't reflect modern C++ at all (the macros and lack of exception safety, for example). While I understand why the moc was developed, I much rather not have to depend on an external tool in addition to the "standard" C++ toolset. C++ compilers nowadays are good enough that you can do lots of things within the language without an external tool. –  In silico Feb 11 '11 at 20:32
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@In silico: Exactly! Qt reminds me of the C++ from early 1990s: no STL, no exceptions, macros everywhere, inheritance everywhere... That's not how modern C++ looks like. As for the lack of exception safety, that is even worse, but don't get me started there :) –  Nemanja Trifunovic Feb 11 '11 at 20:36
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I do appreciate your points, but let's not spin this off. There's another issue here that we are supposed to approach and tackle. –  Shinnok Feb 11 '11 at 20:44

9 Answers 9

up vote 6 down vote accepted

If Nokia kills support for Qt I think it's still a safe bet as an API for desktop development. Before Qt was completely opened up there were two versions of the library, and the KDE team managed to work with the open source version, and these days there is a much strong focus in the KDE community on making KDE available cross platform, so I could see them keeping up development on Qt even if Nokia abandons the project.

Gnome and GTK+ do seem to have wider commercial support overall, but it's not outside the realm of possibility that another big player might either buy the Qt team from Nokia, or that developers will get hired away to work on Qt for other companies.

That said, I would hope that the execs as Nokia would realize that getting completely on board with WP7 is not the greatest idea, and that they are in fact keeping meego and Qt in R&D with the intention of continuing funding on it as a way of hedging against the failure of WP7 (or just getting a bad deal from Microsoft, as they have a reputation of doing to their partners in deals like this).

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I must admit that I'm confused by this decision. From what I've heard, WP7's sales are so embarrassingly bad that Microsoft won't even publish sales numbers, only "units shipped". Seems to me that trying to improve your mobile positioning by tying yourself to Windows Phone 7 is a lot like a man on a sinking ship grabbing ahold of the anchor to try and keep afloat.

And since QT is a native code framework, and WP7 is supposed to only work with Silverlight and XNA, (with a few very specific exceptions,) this doesn't really gain Microsoft much either, unless they're going to radically rework their development kit.

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Nokia has been in such a disarray for years now. Just take a look at their community services that have been rebranded several times over and failed yet again. Now that their sales figures are taking a poop, they're bailing out of their 60's ways. As far as I'm concerned, this radical shift is the only way they're going to debunk my perception of them being more of a stakeholder money hunger first, common sense and community later kind of business. WP7 is radical and fun, but that's about it. Merging the MS beast that never sleeps and Nokia's repute is a smart move to earn them back some <3. –  Filip Dupanović Feb 11 '11 at 20:02
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Indeed the blogosphere is full of people saying that this is a horrible decision. See news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2205975 for discussion of one such. –  btilly Feb 11 '11 at 20:32
    
| @Pavel: I removed my comment as I'm not allowed to communicate on the subject. –  user2567 Feb 11 '11 at 22:35

My guess would be that Qt as a mobile framework is fscked, permanently.

As a cross-platform desktop toolkit though it probably has a fairly stable future, until MS decides to break any and all native development and force everyone into .NET.

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Native development is definitely not going away on Windows. Especially since they are quite active in implementing C++0x features on their newest compilers. –  In silico Feb 12 '11 at 2:36
    
They're actually pretty far behind the rest. Furthermore, a few of the things they say are "partially done" actually only work in their language fork, C++/CLI. Yet more, the MS developers have been claiming that win32 native code was going the way of the dodo for a few years now. Had a few at the VS2005 convention tell me that very thing. Ended up not happening but its certainly something they're considering. Eventually .NET will be the "native" API and win32/native will be emulated. –  Crazy Eddie Feb 12 '11 at 14:14
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"Eventually .NET will be the "native" API and win32/native will be emulated." - I'm not convinced that will actually happen. It's much, much easier to implement the .NET framework on top of the Windows API (which in fact it does, for example "All WPF elements on the screen are ultimately backed by a HWND") than it is to make .NET the "native" API and have the Windows API sit on top of that. The cost cannot justify such a massive change like that. –  In silico Feb 18 '11 at 22:58

Qt is GPL software. Since KDE depends on it, and it's useful to others outside of Nokia, I think that you'll see an open source foundation make a fork and run with it if Microsoft or Nokia actually does try to mangle the Qt management structure in a way that's not conducive for the community.

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Nah someone needs to car about it and commercial support would be nice.. –  Nils Feb 11 '11 at 20:30

Someone (the original owners mayhap) might still buy TrollTech from Nokia and they can again exist as a separate company. I suppose Nokia won't mind getting rid of non-core business.

And yeah, it's open source, but it's always nice to have some commercial backing that drives the platform forward.

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Canonical could give Qt and Maemo/Meego a new warm home, especially in this context. –  Shinnok Feb 11 '11 at 20:21
    
@Shinnok: Well, I care for Qt a Win/Mac cross-platform GUI than for linux. (Linux is nice for my OS-projects, but commercially I'm targetting MS/Apple desktop.. oh well.) –  Macke Feb 12 '11 at 19:44
    
you're actually right..Canonical might not have the motivation to invest into the Windows and Mac platforms, especially since i don't believe they would keep the commercial support license if they were to buy Qt. A potential Qt buyer must have a special motivation(be it financial or personal interest) for keeping the wide cross-platform orientation that Qt currently thrives to, esp. the mobile side, which i think is doomed at this point. –  Shinnok Feb 12 '11 at 19:53
    
OTOH I think Qt is so cross-platform that it's bound to end up, at least in some form, on any system that has a C++ compiler and a display. ;) Android port is underway, etc etc. –  Macke Feb 17 '11 at 11:23

In the long run, those events will actually be good for QT's future. QT's strenght is the desktop, but Nokia might have forced it to become a touch-UI toolkit for smartphones. Now that Nokia doesn't really need it any longer, it will probably sell it to a party that has better use for it, a party that cares more about PCs, the desktop, and of course desktop software developers.

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And here we go: engadget.com/2011/03/07/… –  user281377 Mar 7 '11 at 10:54

From press release.

Qt will continue to be the development framework for Symbian and Nokia will use Symbian for further devices; continuing to develop strategic applications in Qt for Symbian platform and encouraging application developers to do the same. With 200 million users worldwide and Nokia planning to sell around 150 million more Symbian devices, Symbian still offers unparalleled geographical scale for developers.
Extending the scope of Qt further will be our first MeeGo-related open source device, which we plan to ship later this year. Though our plans for MeeGo have been adapted in light of our planned partnership with Microsoft, that device will be compatible with applications developed within the Qt framework and so give Qt developers a further device to target.

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This is going to be a great partnership. The world's leading phone manufacturer with an awesome OS. It will get better and better. Just look at iOS. When it was released it was laughable and now it is rocking. Android and Apple better be paying attention.

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Microsoft did that with Borland before - CEO - ex M$ guy -> next kill the company that is for reference of all Nokia shareholders. About Qt - probably slowly will go away -that is really sad -because is the best framework right now - compare with wxWidgets, .Net /Mono/ etc. If you do not have the support from commercial developers - the framework is like a hobby for bunch of talented programmers , but without clear vision where is going. Again from the history of M$ - probably the best Qt developers will go to work for M$.- reference Delphi - .Net

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