Today, I wanted to announce the release of a new white paper on a, if not new, still fascinating and, honestly speaking, a little controversial topic. A while back, I published a white paper with the provocative title “Qt vs HTML5 – a practical comparison”. The goal was to highlight the differences in usability of the two technologies and performance of the resulting application based on a real-life experiment.
There are two reasons I wanted to write a follow-up. The debate whether and in which context native or Web technologies is the better technology approach is as alive as it was back when I wrote the old one – both in online forums as well as board meeting rooms. The other reason, was that I became inspired by a piece of valid criticism: Comparing Qt, a full-stack development environment, and HTML5, a standard for a modern implementation of an HTML application in a browser, is maybe not the quite same as comparing apples and oranges, but more like comparing apples to an apple tree. Qt lets you develop both backends and frontends, while Web applications on their own are limited to only displaying frontends.
The initial ambition of this white paper was to take a step back and level the playing field by comparing the architecture of a full stack HTML5 application including its backend software layers, vs. the architecture of a full-stack Qt application. Then I wanted to take it a step further.
We are looking at the structures of your average Qt and Web application, their building blocks and implications of the differences. I also elaborate on how the different technologies affect product strategies throughout the product life cycle and what to look out for. We are also looking at the extended ecosystem, such as what third-party tooling and developer communities can bring to the table, and the impact of your choice of technology on your potential target hardware.
Let me set some expectations: The focus of this white paper is on embedded devices and industry display panels. So while a lot of the basics apply to a desktop or mobile environment, some of the nuances will be more relevant for the embedded/industry field. Secondly, spoiler alert, if you are looking for a definite answer which framework is the best, this white paper (and any other I know of) does not provide it. The truth is, both HTML5 and Qt are terrific options and neither of them is strictly better than the other in every context. If you are instead looking to increase your awareness of which technology fits which situation better, when it makes sense to combine the two, and how to make sure you plan for an open, scalable architecture, please give it a read!