Qt for Commercial Applications

qt.gifI have been following Nokia’s Qt story for about 18 months waiting for it to reach the point where I can offer it as a development option for my customers. Two days ago Qt 4.6.0 was released and I wondered if it’s ready yet.

Unfortunately, there are still some things that need to happen before I could say Qt is suitable for commercial development…

  • Shipping phones need to already include any dependent runtimes and libraries. We are told that this might happen from mid 2010. It’s unacceptable to ask end users to download these. Also, they are too large (not downloadable OTA) to include with an application. I also wonder what will happen when, late 2010, phones end up having dependent runtimes/libraries that are out of date. There’s a potential compatibility nightmare here, similar to that which haunted AppForge for many years. Let’s hope the Qt team have thought this through.
  • The Mobility APIs (to access phone features) need to be release level. We are told this will be 1st half 2010 (probably end of June 2010 in non tech speak) and additional APIs including document gallery, Calendar, Sensors and Location will come 2nd half 2010 (December 2010 in non tech speak).
  • The first devices that Qt supported were Nokia S60 3rd Edition, FP1. There needs to be a predominance of these and later devices in the market otherwise end-users are going to be confused/disappointed with respect to compatibility. Given all the other timescales are mid to late 2010 then this might not be so much of a problem.

One other thing is that Qt needs to support start at boot/background applications as nearly all the applications I have written over the last few years use this. Looking though the documentation and forums I haven’t yet determined if this is possible.

It can be seen that it’s going to be a while longer before it’s viable to use Qt for commercial applications.

A full history of Qt can be found at Qt Labs. Details on the mobility APIs can be found at qt.nokia.com.