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Defragmenting Qt and Uniting Our Ecosystem

Published on Wednesday August 06, 2014 by Lars Knoll in Community Qt News | Comments

Over the last years, many changes have been happening in the Qt ecosystem. One of the biggest was the creation of Qt Project where Qt is now being developed as an open source project. The Qt Project was created to provide a space open for all to further develop and foster innovation for the Qt technology.

Qt has always been a commercial product. During the Trolltech days licensing income funded development of the product. While Nokia’s motivations were different, at Digia, our goal is to again make sure that Qt thrives for all industries, all companies, all users no matter what platform. That said, we need to make sure the business of selling Qt as a product is successful in order to fund its future development for the good of everyone in our ecosystem. The importance of Digia’s commercial business for securing the future of Qt cannot be underestimated as it drives Qt’s foundation and everyday operations. A look into the commit statistics shows that around 75% of all code submissions to qt-project.org come from Digia employees. In addition, Digia manages the release process and the CI and testing infrastructure, thus covering more than 85% of the costs of developing Qt.

But even though the open source project and the commercial side of Qt are highly dependent upon each other, they have over the last years drifted apart. The installers and product packages for the open source and enterprise versions are different, and there is a complete disconnect between qt-project.org and the commercial pages on qt.digia.com.

In the long term, this split is helping nobody. The fragmentation actually weakens our ecosystem and makes it difficult to position Qt against competing technologies and tools. It also makes it very hard to speak with one voice and consistently highlight the benefits of the technology and product.

Because of the separation between the open source and commercial offerings, we often end up competing against ourselves instead of competing against other technologies. The two web sites do not allow for consistent messaging and it’s impossible to explain the full story around the product in one place and provide accurate information for our various target groups. In addition, the separate packages make it difficult and cumbersome to upgrade from the open source to an enterprise version.

We are now starting a conscious effort to overcome these problems. As you might have read, Digia has decided to move the Qt business into a company of it’s own. Thus we will soon have a company (owned by Digia), that will focus 100% on Qt. At the same time we would like to take the opportunity and retire qt.digia.com and merge it with the content from qt-project.org into a new unified web presence. The unified web page will give a broad overview of the Qt technology, both enterprise and open-source, from a technical, business and messaging perspective.

We are also planning on unifying the Qt packages, to have only one set of installers for both open source and enterprise users. This will not only allow for an easier migration path from the open source to the enterprise version, but it will also significantly simplify our releasing process. With these simplifications we expect to be able to deliver better tested and higher-quality packages to the whole ecosystem.

The plan has already been discussed with and accepted by the main contributors at the Qt Contributor Summit in June. We are now moving forward with it and you will see the first pieces coming together already before the release of Qt 5.4 in October.

I have been with Qt for many years and seen it evolve and grow to a software development framework I am proud of. I believe that this change and next step in Qt’s life will help us strengthen the Qt ecosystem as a whole and lead to a stronger, better and more competitive product.

Our goal is to unify our Qt ecosystem and do things together. So please don’t hesitate to send us any feedback, questions or concerns you might have.

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