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Robin Burchell, Qt Champion 2014

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This post is about Robin Burchell, one of the four 2014 Qt Champions, and how he came to the Qt community.

Robin was nominated in the Maverick-category, as someone who might not always follow the rules to the letter, but gets the job done.

Robin will be doing some guest posts here during the year too. He is an active blogger, and thought of some topics that would fit the Qt blog really well.

But back to today's topic, Robin;

How I got interested in Qt

Back around 2007-2008, I was working as a web developer as my "day job", but I wanted to start doing some desktop applications to meet my own needs. I had used Visual Basic years and years prior when I was still a Windows user, but I had since transitioned to Linux, so that wasn't an option anymore. A good friend of mine recommended Qt to me, as he had been trying it out himself, and as I already had experience with C++ and was a fan of the language, I was pretty much right at home. I quickly got more and more involved in it, as I don't really tend to do anything by halves – and when the Qt repository was open sourced, I quickly started trying to throw patches at it, because well, it's a lot of fun.

My biggest projects

I tend to use Qt for lots of things in lots of ways. One of the biggest personal projects I was involved with was Nemo Mobile, an open source project orchestrated by a group of volunteers designed to use many of the open source components released by Nokia a few years ago around Maemo and MeeGo, and create an open source mobile phone stack and UI (middleware, a home screen and simple applications written in QML). You can see the sort of work that we accomplished at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHpdI_BW6aA. Later, I (and a lot of other contributors around the project) ended up working with Jolla on what became Sailfish OS – the Qt and QML powered operating system.

Of course working on Qt itself has probably been my biggest project. Something which I have continued to work on all along. :-)

My Qt Loves

I've shifted around a lot of Qt over time. Initially, my interests were primarily inside QtCore, QtNetwork, and widgets — but more recently, that has shifted. I've spent a lot of time reading around QPA (the Qt Platform Abstraction), and things like touch input. Touch is another area dear to my heart, I've worked on some of the plugins getting touch input into Qt through different sources such as TUIO and on touch handling in QtQuick – another thing I love.

Performance and resource usage is something I find really important, so that's something I love to focus on – and I also find it a lot of fun. Most recently, I've been looking at how to make QtQuick-based applications faster and slimmer than ever (with a lot of help from others), and hopefully some of that work will start to spread its wings for Qt 5.5. More on that some other day :-)

Memorable Moments

My happiest moments have come at the delivery of each subsequent Qt release containing thousands of hours of work from the partners and community to make things a bit better each time. It's a rare thing that a project with such a large scope can continue to get better at the pace it does, and I'm very happy to see that it shows no signs of stopping. My most memorable moment in recent times, though, would have to be spending a very pleasant afternoon in a beer garden in Berlin just before the opening of the Qt Contributors Summit in 2014...  (it was an exceptionally hot day for June in Berlin, over 30 C in the shade, and around the table were quite a number of key Qt contributors just chatting and having fun)

…and getting nominated as Champion of course, for which I am very humbled. :-)

The best thing about the Qt Community

… would have to be how approachable it is. There's plenty of helpful people in many fields happy to help out, whether you just need advise on how to best write an application, or to contribute to Qt itself, you'll almost always find someone happy to help. There's a great community on IRC, a lot of helpful people on forums, etc. That, together with the great documentation and resources has always given me the impression that Qt is something that is really quite easy to pick up and approach and extend.

I also love how Qt is available as an open source project, so that it can be fixed or improved on by anyone out there. With so many commercial products, that simply isn't possible, meaning that even if you have the time and skill to fix a problem you run into, you can't. You're stuck.


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