Qt Everywhere - Kitware powers up with Qt

Our Qt Everywhere blogs showcase examples of industry leaders using Qt and bring insights straight from the ‘industry floor’ as we examine some of our users and their experiences working with Qt. Today we feature open source visualization experts Kitware, who use the Qt Application and UI framework for open source 3D modeling in high performance computing environments.


Headquartered in Clifton Park, New York, Kitware (http://www.kitware.com/) produces open source visualization, computer vision, medical imaging, data publishing and software process solutions for academic and government institutions as well as private corporations worldwide. The company has been using the Qt application and UI framework in a variety of its visualization products including its ParaView, OverView and VTK open source tools and toolkits for more than three years now.

Paraview by Kitware. Image courtesy Kitware

Kitware’s deployment of Qt is not necessarily focused on building products that can then be sold on or ‘packaged’ as such. Instead, the company has worked diligently to build Qt into the fabric of its technology infrastructure so that it can leverage Qt’s cross-platform flexibility into its High Performance Computing (HPC) deployments in sectors such as the aerospace, defence and energy industries.

Kitware has recently switched to the LGPL licensed version of the Qt framework and is now actively supporting the open contribution model, which helps drive future development of the Qt framework.

“Although we initially used the Qt framework under a commercial license, we moved to using Qt under the LGPL because we recognise that we are now enabling the wider open source community to contribute to the Qt portion of our open source toolkits without being restricted to the GPL,” said Kitware President and CEO, Will Schroeder.

“Moving forward, we intend to continue using Qt as we value the robust nature of Qt’s cross-platform framework. Qt provides us with a great deal of functionality to make developing our cross-platform user interfaces much easier and ultimately, causing them to be better received by our own customer base.”

Today, Kitware uses Qt to develop the graphical user interface of several of its toolkits and products which aid in the production of software typically used by scientists who need massive amounts of data processed in supercomputing environments.

In working practice, Kitware uses Qt to bring a ‘simplified’ edge to its user interface construction such as a toolbar for quick access to commonly used tools. Prior to the company’s conversion to Qt, Kitware used KWWidgets (a Kitware product) to build its toolbars and quick menus. Today, the company is able to share key synergies with Qt to produce offerings such as VTK, a freely available open-source software system for 3D computer graphics, image processing and visualization used by thousands of researchers and developers around the world.

Kitware’s move towards greater proximity in the open source development space with the Qt framework has carried forward into other initiatives that the company has been pursuing with the same positive energy. For example, Kitware’s close relationship with the KDE graphical environment for GNU/Linux and other Unix desktops means that essentially Kitware (through the development of its CMake cross-platform, open-source build system) helped the KDE community with their build process making it possible for them to deploy to multiple platforms including Windows and Mac OS X. KDE has also been extremely vocal in the open source community about their successes using CMake as a build tool, which has increased awareness and the use of CMake over the last several years.

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