Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Mobile IoT, Release Management

Open Source Cloud: Interview

Nokia’s Qt and the Open Road to Code

Exclusive Q&A with Benoit Schillings, Chief Technologist for Nokia’s Qt Software

With the pending acquisition of Sun by Oracle and speculation over whether a new stream of monetization is about to tarnish and dishonor the good name of open source, industry eyes are watching the open code zone more keenly than ever to try and gauge whether a new playing field is about to surface.

Given the burgeoning acceptance of open technologies at the enterprise level, many segments of the IT sector are re-evaluating the way they view open source. The global economic slowdown and the proliferation of user-facing applications such as Firefox have also helped shape the new attitudes coming to the fore.

Open Source Magazine talks exclusively to Benoit Schillings, Chief Technologist for Nokia’s Qt Software (originally Trolltech) to get an insight into the strategic development of the company’s open approach to its cross platform application framework.

Open Source Magazine: Over the last 18 months, Qt has evolved from being a brand inside of Trolltech before Nokia acquired the company, to becoming an entity in its own right under a new parent organization. What has the transition process been like and hasn’t your technology proposition been diluted somewhat along the way as a result of these corporate shifts?

Benoit Schillings: I can understand why people might wonder how the process has been carried out and how well it has been managed, so I can tell you that great care has been taken to retain the spirit & structure of Trolltech as the cornerstone for our existence as a business and to maintain the innovation that the original company has always been recognised for.

We have of course also learned from Nokia and already benefitted from the weight of its research and development function. But far from being tied to Nokia’s overall roadmap, we have in fact gained an extra degree of freedom in our work thanks to our broadened adherence to the Lesser General Public License (LGPL) and the ability to include external contributions to our product that comes with this. We’re also now more focused on framework structures rather than worrying as much about the underlying aspects of the operating system.

Open Source Magazine: Qt Software recently completed its plans to open the Qt source code repositories and to allow contributions from the developer community. What has reaction to this been like to date and what do you think the first tangible impact of this move will be?

Schillings: Just a couple of months into this process, the impact is already visible. We are now seeing improvements come to light that in the past had been carried out by our customers but were never been fully integrated. There is tangible localization of our product & tools to a variety of languages and some very interesting performance improvements, which are certainly down to open exposure to the wider development community.

Just looking at the contributions in the last couple of days I can see 17 ‘check-ins’ related to multi-touch support for instance. I can not tell you how exciting it is to see technology that you yourself have helped shape, get to a certain point and then be open sourced for extended development and refinement. You can check out the latest contributions here to see the process in action: http://qt.gitorious.org/

Open Source Magazine: You have also recently launched a web-based source code management system based on the principles of the Git and Gitorious open source version control and collaboration structure. How will this enable the community to submit patches more easily?

Schillings: The main advantage of Git is the non-centralized process that it operates with, which means that the creation of branches and experiments is easy to do with a good mechanism to merge back. This avoids some of the issues with ‘locked check-outs’, which can become a problem with large collective projects.

For those with an interest, Linus Torvalds has joked that he is a miserable sort of guy and therefore chose the somewhat inglorious name Git (which means an unpleasant person in some cultures) for his freely distributed revision control system as he always names products after himself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Git_(software)

Open Source Magazine: Your company has openly stated that your goal is to build the best cross-platform application and UI framework possible and that you will leverage feedback from the open source community to make sure you do this responsibly. In practice, what kind of augmentations are you expecting to arise as a direct result of software engineers using your product in real world use case scenarios?

Schillings: The short answer is many - I expect augmentations to be numerous and multifarious. Specifically I think we’ll see up front improvements in performance and the rapid creation of new and more appealing interface concepts. I also think we’ll see the use of Qt as a foundation for new devices and new software products. Getting slightly conceptual for a second, Qt in the open source arena now has the potential to fast track towards emerging technologies and experiment in new areas such as 3D GUIs and hybrid browser projects.

Logically, Qt will also now extend to parallel processing scenarios where use of multi-core processors will lead to threading of application streams that run concurrently for more power and speed. So like any technology in this position making its first big steps in open source, I think we’ll see optimisation for specific hardware platforms and chipsets. In short, it will be a wider world technologically speaking.

Open Source Magazine: Tell us about the rollout plans you will be coordinating for the next Qt 4.6 release. Reports suggest that you want to be very much focused on more dynamic user experiences and giving developers the power to build compelling and immersive experiences using multi-touch screen technology without necessarily being a command line guru.

Schillings: Our next releases will all bring with them a new weight in terms of their impact upon the total Qt code base. But you know what? It’s a funny thing - tool chains in software development have a strange way of becoming more complicated to use while staying strangely primitive. For instance, there is still no easy way to include graphics in your source file, or to integrate communication between engineers in the development tools themselves.

The message is that by providing an IDE that is shaped every day by real world programmers, we can add the really useful things we need. For example, the Vi key emulation we have in there now (and I admit this is an extremely geeky part of what we do, but for the record - Vi emulation mimics the modal behavior of the Vi editor) can significantly impact overall productivity. We will continue with a pragmatic view of how to improve software productivity not just with a good framework, but also by improving the tools and the communication channels within a team.

Open Source Magazine: What do you feel will be the single biggest factor that shakes up software application development in the open source and cross platform space over the next five years?

Schillings: I have to tell you that I get slightly annoyed by people who constantly ask me what the next killer application will be and whether it will be created through open source development. I mean come on; if I knew where the next Twitter is coming from I would not tell you!

The next killer application that will result from the combined strength of the open source community as it finally comes of age and gains far closer proximity to the commercial front end of corporate software development will be choice. It’s as simple as that. With choice we have the power to pick best of breed at every level for every device, for every user in every use case scenario across every platform. This is the central reason why Qt open sourced our source code repositories and it will remain the key to the next stage of wider growth and success with our developers and the users that their applications ultimately touch.

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...