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Qt, Applications, OS’s and you

We’ve heard much talk in the media of Nokia being silly for having both Symbian and MeeGo/Maemo, lacking applications and that they should just pick up Android to solve both problems but most of these people either have no idea what they’re talking about or are literally spouting out of their rear orifices :P. Either way, while I have my own opinions on the people who seem to do this as a career, I think I’ll stick to things a bit more pertinent to all of us reading this blog.

The first issue the media seems to bring up with regards to Symbian and MeeGo, even before using them or in the latter’s case is, “THERE AREN’T ANY APPS!!!!!” Now while that may be the case to an extent, it’s been bandied about very much in the developer sphere that coding with Symbian C++ and the dev tools available were difficult as all hell and somewhat antiquated and substandard respectively. While as I’m no coder, I can’t speak to the truth of these claims, the scarcity of QUALITY applications (both in functionality and visual flair) on the newer Symbian platform (S^1) and for the time being S^3would speak very much to an underlying issue at play.

Developing for Symbian  involves the following major steps:

1. Conceptualization

2. Research into the development tools, API’s available, SDK’s, debugging tools etc.

3. Coding

4. Testing

5. Symbian Signing

6. Publishing

The first 2 steps are pretty standard and the norm amongst developers looking at any platform but the latter 4 are where there have been issues with developing for Symbian.

3. Symbian C++ has been described as quirky, difficult to use and understand, possessing a steep learning curve and quite different from Standard C++.  Given that code written using Symbian C++ is for all intents and purposes incompatible with other operating systems developers deciding to develop for Symbian would pretty much have to rewrite entire applications for use with other operating systems. Given the arduous nature of undertaking such a task (unless bankrolled by a massive corporation), the fact that Nokia uses not 1 but 3 major, application capable OS’s and the inability of developers for competing platforms to easily port applications to Nokia’s OS’s,(this ability would be a GREAT thing) or even between Nokia’s own OS’s, Nokia acquired and open-sourced the company Trolltech.

Trolltech is the company responsible for the lovely Qt Libraries & UI frameworks. While Nokia has gone about proclaiming the usefulness and beauty of Qt and what it means for developers, average Joe has yet to see and tangible benefits and even some of us “in the know” don’t fully understand what Qt is.


My following post, tomorrow if nothing goes awry, will discuss in detail:

1. What Qt is.

2. How does it work

3. How is it different from Java or other similar “Write once, deploy everywhere” frameworks

4. What are the benefits of using Qt going forward

5. Things that Qt support can/will bring to both the Symbian and MeeGo platforms

6. Things that Qt can be done using Qt in it’s current iteration, i.e API’s and tie-ins to existing OS’s .

7. Future Qt  releases

Categories: Nokia
  1. Average Joe
    October 21, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    It’s true that Symbian uses a “dialect” of C++. But what about other platforms?
    Android doesn’t use standard Java, but a “dialect” as well (that’s why Oracle are suing them). Also, Android requires *unique* coding patterns (intents, activities, and so on) which have to be learnt expressly, and can’t be reused on other platforms.
    The iPhone requires you to learn a whole new programming language, Objective C, which is pratically unused outside of Apple.
    Blackberries require you to code in Java ME, which is not exactly a modern and comfortable programming environment.

    Also, Symbian applications can be programmed using other languages, such as Java, Python and Flash. In fact, when people say that Symbian has less “apps” than Android and iOS, they should also consider that Symbian phones can install applications from other sources than Ovi Store. Thus adding the thousands of Java applications you can get from third-party app stores such as GetJar to the raw application count.

    Now, I’m not hiding that effectively, the native Symbian SDK sucks. It’s old-fashioned. That’s why Nokia are leaving it behind, replacing it with the Qt SDK which is *very* usable and up-to-date. In fact, it’s probably one of the best I’ve ever used. All they need to do is to provide as soon as possible some *devices* with Qt 4.7 available, and developers will be happy again.

    • Jim
      October 21, 2010 at 7:27 pm

      Qt 4.7 will be available on Q1 2011 on all Symbian 3 devices. actually it was told to me that will be qt 4.7.x where x>=2 . they are doing this because there is some incompatibility with some qt 4.6 apps and developers need to adapt their code to qt 4.7

    • alex68
      October 21, 2010 at 7:57 pm

      Have you heard Java was created for such programmers that even a ballet dancer can learn and code. It DOES work in that way!

      Standard C++ is rather common to used as a teaching language at universities or colleges.

      Symbian (aka EPOC) c++ before is like from another planet. It was not so difficult for me to learn 10 years ago but it is not that plain as c++. It does need certain level of skills and experience to master it and understand the ideology of the architecture design.

    • Don
      October 21, 2010 at 9:59 pm

      Qt creates a very nice comfort zone, nice fast IDE, world class documentation, beautiful API’s. You don’t even see a different between creating for Symbian or a desktop (other than UI/input differences). (Classic symbian is uhhh “special” 🙂

      Qt has bindings for many languages, including Java and python. I don’t know what the plan is, but I would imagine/hope this carries over as well.

  2. webby
    October 21, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    This post has been months in the making! Can’t wait to read it!

  3. Shmerl
    October 22, 2010 at 2:12 am

    Thanks. Please, clarify if you can about porting Qt on other mobile platforms (iOS, Android etc.).

    • Jim
      October 22, 2010 at 9:17 am

      there are some projects like http://www.qt-iphone.com/Introduction.html
      and http://code.google.com/p/android-lighthouse/

      From what I know for iphone will not accept you if it’s not build in their own api, so the only choice is android. or you can build iphone app only for you and freinds but not go to app store

      • alex68
        October 22, 2010 at 9:26 am

        for iphone users, they have to jailbreak to get qt apps.

        The more sense of QT iOS support is to encourage the port of apps or games on ios to Symbian and Meego.

        • Shmerl
          October 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm

          What I was asking is, whether Nokia is interested in supporting such ports, or they’ll be purely community projects. Android and iOS are competing systems, so on one hand Nokia is not too eager to do something in that direction, on the other hand making Qt more cross platform increases Qt value for developers.

          Current state of mobile development is horribly fragmented, and Qt could really save the day if it would be available on all major OSes.

          • alex68
            October 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm

            As far as I know QT is also open sourced now, and the support for iOS and Android was done by community, I recall.

          • Jim
            October 22, 2010 at 4:36 pm

            maybe in a future. for the moment OS development is very fast , every 6 month a new version appear so porting qt to the last is not an easy job. in a few years when the OS become more mature and new versions will appear once per year who knows.

          • Don
            October 22, 2010 at 9:36 pm

            At the Qt developer days, the person (most?) responsible for the Android port of Qt said it’s almost to the point where he’ll make a merge request to Nokia, and then he’ll continue adding an Android imlpementation of the Qt Mobility API’s 🙂

            (Disclaimer, I wasn’t there but got this from a friend who was)

  4. chfyfx
    October 22, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Here is my concern.

    N8 is using amoled and it is experiencing a shortage due to Saumsung’s limited production power.

    Once the S^3 upgradable news comes out, more people are going to buy N8, which makes the sortage worse..

    Can Nokia ditch the amoled and use an LCD with higher res..?

    • Cocco Bill
      October 23, 2010 at 12:52 am

      I hope not. LCDs are horrible after AMOLED experience. I really dislike that blacks are not black on LCDs.

    • stoli89
      October 24, 2010 at 7:59 pm

      I recall Nokia has at three approved sources for its AMOLED’s, not just SAMSUNG.

  5. Shmerl
    October 24, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Don :
    At the Qt developer days, the person (most?) responsible for the Android port of Qt said it’s almost to the point where he’ll make a merge request to Nokia, and then he’ll continue adding an Android imlpementation of the Qt Mobility API’s
    (Disclaimer, I wasn’t there but got this from a friend who was)

    Great news! I hope Nokia will go along with it without problems.

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