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Upcoming QtCreator support for Qml (or: what is Bauhaus?)

Published on Wednesday January 27, 2010 by Kai Köhne in Qt Quick QtCreator Kinetic | Comments

Declarative UI is one of the big things on the Qt Roadmap for Qt 4.7 and 4.6.x. I already enjoyed working with the Qml language and the developers behind it for quite some time - and believe me, this one will fundamentally change the way slick Qt UIs are designed and look like! If you have not checked it out yet, do so ... although it is not yet part of the Qt package, it is very mature, and just fun to experiment with :)

Anyhow, a technology like this of course does not come out of the blue, neither do the tools to support it - I think the first discussions about a Visual Editor for a language yet-to-be-invented on the basis of the QGraphicsView framework started in summer 2008! In early 2009 I first heard about the name "Qml", and was soon the lead of a development project, with right now 5 people working full time in this project. One of the most important decisions we had to make early on was for a cool project name - we eventually settled for "Bauhaus", as a reminiscence to the famous German school for design.

Back to the facts: What I want to share with you today are our plans for supporting Declarative UI / Qml in QtCreator. This is an important one, because with Declarative UI we target not only the traditional Qt/C++ developers, but also more design centric people - the goal is to let both share the same language, from early prototyping until the final product. We can only achieve this with good tools in place.

Here are the things we are currently working on for the next major version of QtCreator:

Qml Text Editor - We already have some basic syntax highlighting / formatting support in QtCreator 1.3, but in the QtCreator master branch we are right now working on really mature Qml/JavaScript support. This will include all the goodies you kind of expect these days: Code completion, context sensitive help, ...

Visual Qml Editor - After all, we are talking about graphical user interfaces, and you will not make UI designers happy just with a text editor ;-) . Here we decided for a fresh start and developed the components for the Visual Editor from the ground up. Interestingly, we are using Qml heavily ourselves here - e.g. in the Property Editor and States View.

Seamless Integration - It is no either text, or visual editing: You want to use both, and quickly switch between both. This is why we deeply integrate the Visual Editor into QtCreator, share the same Undo/Redo history and are also preserving the Qml file formatting as much as possible when doing file changes.

Debugging - We integrate the Qml debugger, which allows you to inspect the qml item tree and its properties at runtime, to check framerates, to evaluate JavaScript expressions and so on inside QtCreator.

Enough said - Nigel recorded a nice video showing you how the support currently looks like:

If you want to try it out yourself, we also packaged a technical preview of creator, qmlviewer/qmldebugger and the declarative examples & demos in one installer:

qt-creator-win-opensource-1.3.80-qml-tp1.exe (Windows 32 bit)
qt-creator-linux-x86-opensource-1.3.80-qml--tp1.bin (Linux 32 bit)
qt-creator-mac-opensource-1.3.80-qml-tp1.dmg (Mac OS X)

Disclaimer: The binaries are unsupported, and are only meant for early testing. In fact they are based on an untested snapshot of Qt, and an (almost) untested version of QtCreator! If you want to use qml for production work, stay with QtCreator 1.3.1.

Of course we are interested in all kind of feedback, preferably via the bug tracker or on the qt-creator mailing list.

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