The Register has recently observed that…
"In a presentation at the Over the Air developers meet, Nokia admitted things were not going well, with developers reporting that "developing for Nokia platforms sucks. So Qt is being presented as the solution"
In June, I had some reservations regarding Qt, in particular how complete would the APIs be? …
"I am curious how deep Nokia will go with Qt. It seems that Nokia will be heavily relying on Qt to simplify development and provide for improved mobile user experience. Will Qt really give developers enough (API) control to allow them to forego the Symbian API for the majority of applications?"
Since then it we have been told that about 10 to 20 per cent of developers will have to dip into native APIs to get the functionality they want. Also, there has been a start at describing how Qt and Symbian can work together. Clearly, this isn’t simple. It involves understanding how to inter-work the different exception handling mechanisms, strings, geometry, containers, images, data, and approaches to multitasking.
Reading this was a ‘deja vu’ moment for me. It’s so similar to the time when Microsoft announced Windows Mobile .NET compact framework in 2002. The premise then, as now, was to provide a (semi) cross platform runtime that would also ease development.
So what happened with Windows Mobile .NET compact framework? As mentioned in my posts ‘Selecting a Windows Mobile API’ and ‘Runtimes, Frameworks and Fragmentation’, it never fully realised its ambitions due to problems of fragmentation of runtime, exclusion of frequently used platform APIs and difficulties of using the two programming idioms together.
In terms of Symbian and Qt, I suspect most serious applications will also end needing to use platform APIs that aren’t in Qt. If this is the case then developers will end up having to learn more (Qt AND Symbian AND how to bridge them) rather than less. Furthermore, documentation becomes confusing for newcomers because there are two ways to do some things. It may not be immediately clear when to use Qt or Symbian – especially as this will depend on the exact needs of the application.
While Nokia has admirable aims and goals I am not sure the end result will end up being the remedy Nokia management might think.