Nokia Update On Qt 5 Provides Open Assurances

by Ostatic Staff - May. 13, 2011

From the time Nokia announced that it is tying its smartphone fortunes to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform, expressions of shock have abounded, and we have written about why there may be problems with this hookup, especially as Apple's mobile OS and Android are taking on so much momentum. One of the looming questions about Nokia's overall mobile strategy has been how much focus it will retain on the Qt framework for mobile application developers. Now, in a blog post, there is an update from Nokia on Qt 5 and evidence that it will remain a development framework that continues to reach out to developers of all stripes.

Qt Labs has steadily worked on new approaches to mobile development, including Qt Mobility, which offers flexible API development tools for mobile apps.  However, Nokia's hookup with Microsoft raised many questions about whether the Qt framework would move forward in an open and constantly improving way.

Now, it's clear that Qt is moving toward an open governance model, and Lars Knoll reports that it will be relatively easy for developers to move applications from Qt 4 to Qt 5:

"With Qt 5 we plan to make selected changes in the APIs and leave behind limitations from the past where required for the best of the future. For those of you that were with us for the transition of Qt 3 to Qt 4, we do not plan to repeat that difficult transition with Qt 5. To be explicit here – we believe we can keep source compatibility for the majority of cases, but we believe that breaking binary compatibility is needed. We will do everything to avoid breaking any fundamentals and to make it easy and very straightforward for the wide majority of applications to move from Qt 4 to Qt 5. The initial thinking is that Qt 5 will focus on a small set of operating systems/platforms (i.e. platforms Wayland and X11 on Linux, Mac and Windows)."

Most importantly, Knoll writes that Qt will move toward a fully open development model. In the past, Trolltech and Nokia have been behind most advancements in the Qt framework, but Knoll says:

"Qt 4 was mainly developed in-house in Trolltech and Nokia and the results were published to the developer community. Qt 5 we plan to develop in the open, as an open source project from the very start. There will not be any differences between developers working on Qt from inside Nokia or contributors from the outside."

This development model is not only best for the open source community, but best for Nokia. Nokia's problems in the last couple of years have come from being too slow to pursue an open source model for the Symbian platform, and other moves that suggest little understanding of open source advantages.

Developers working on Qt 5 will be at the Qt contributor summit in Berlin, June 16-18. Some developers will also be at the Ubuntu developer summit and the MeeGo conference later this month.