Qt – Gearing up for the Future

Now, a week after Qt Developer Days Berlin where Digia presented its strategy for Qt moving forward, I wanted to take a moment to recap a bit of what I presented.

When Digia announced the Qt acquisition three months ago we asked everyone to revisit their perception of Qt. Digia’s targeted R&D investments will bring back focus on Qt’s desktop and embedded platform support, while widening the support for mobile operating systems. During the whole acquisition process and now during the integration we have been updating our own vision. This is what we presented in Berlin last week.

It is clear that things will change as Digia will have different targets with Qt than what they were during Nokia times. We have been with Qt quite a long time and thus have good solid foundation to continue the investment. With more than 200 Qt experts in our organisation we will continue remarkable investments for the Qt technology. At the same time, Digia has been pioneering for over a decade with Qt on desktop, embedded and mobile systems having great experience in all key areas of Qt.

Qt is an established and well-recognised technology with hundreds of thousands of developers around the world within dozens of industries. Developing the technology further requires a solid common vision and value proposition – a clear high-level roadmap. Our Qt vision for 2017 includes several elements around the product and the ecosystem. We see these more as values than just elements in a Qt roadmap.

  • #1 in multi-platform support
  • #1 in developer experience
  • #1 in creating great user experiences
  • Dual licensing model
  • Strong value-generating ecosystem.
  • Open business architecture

This is our starting point for a discussion with the ecosystem. Digia will be one of the biggest investors around Qt with approximately 15 MEUR annual investments for R&D and ecosystem activities. We have set these simple vision elements in place to clarify how we are seeing the future of Qt.

Qt is an amazing technology, unmatched by any other solution for cross-platform application development. We see the multi-platform support as a key value proposition of Qt also in the future. Even though Qt has been developed according to the multi-support value during last years, there are still some gaps in platform support. We have already announced the support for iOS, Android but also for BlackBerry and also to some extend for Windows 8. The computer industry is changing rapidly, especially when it comes to user interfaces and user experience but also the market shares have been changing radically. Supporting the key operating systems is the only way to be successful with this promise and achieve the target of #1 in multi-platform support.

Developer experience has been a core value of Qt and it also will be in the future. Qt is developed by the developers for developers. We want to make developer’s lives easier, but this is also an element which requires more concrete actions to become a reality. Namely this is improving the whole contextual environment where developers are working including tools and documentation. This is something we are working on all the time and improvements are hopefully visible gradually in all new versions. Only such development can make us #1 in developer experience.

The requirements for software development have been changing. Networking real-time applications with fluid 60 fps animated user interfaces are here to stay. At the same time most of applications must be available in different form factors – desktop, tablet and mobile. Or they must perform with limited hardware capabilities in an embedded environment. Software developers are facing huge challenges and seeking for a solution to create winning user experience applications. Qt must win the mindshare as the most productive platform and #1 in creating great user experience. This must be a concrete offering in terms of intuitive APIs, easy to use tools and state-of-the-art framework with best of breed performance.

Additionally to these product-related value propositions we would like to emphasize a few items related to the ecosystem and the business environment. Qt is not only a product, but also very lively ecosystem furnishing both businesses and individual developers who have their own targets. Such an ecosystem requires a stable environment to develop and go forward. We strongly believe in the dual licensing model. Maintaining this model will be a foundation for the future success of Qt. Commercial licensing secures the future investments to R&D and the LGPL provides a larger user base and adoption of the technology. Combining the best of both worlds enables the widespread use of Qt.

Securing a stable business environment enables a strong value generating ecosystem. We want to enable the ecosystem to continue contributing to Qt. Additionally, we want to ensure that there are forums to enable the dialogue around the development of Qt. The open governance model and the Qt Project form one venue for everybody to get their needs heard. Additionally, we introduced the Digia Qt Partner Program offering a direct connection to the Digia Qt R&D and management. With this model we would like to offer various industry players a way contribute and steer the common investment.

As a new element in the Qt ecosystem we introduced the principle of open business architecture. Digia’s rationale to invest in Qt is commercial by nature. However, we believe that enabling more business opportunities for everybody via Qt will be beneficial not only for Digia but the entire ecosystem.  Open business architecture is a principle that defines the rules for equal playing ground where everybody is invited to participate. At this point, we see this as a principle, but later on we hopefully are able to develop the whole business architecture forward in such way – and enable more business for everybody.

As you may have heard, Qt5 is coming soon; hopefully in December. It will bring us more performance, better tools and ease of deployment. Next year – 2013 – will bring us more concrete deliverables related to all the values I mentioned.  We have already announced some of them. Lars presented many of these in his roadmap keynote presentation. We hope to be able to share his presentation soon. Things will change. This is the new Qt world from our perspective. I hope the whole ecosystem will join us on the Qt ride.

Have a look at our demos presented in Berlin last week - Qt on Android, iOS, WinRT, VxWorks, Mac.


Blog Topics: