SCaLE10x & Qt5
Editor: Tim Samoff
This past weekend's 10th annual Southern California Linux Expo, or SCaLE10x, was both fun and informative. There weren't any earth-shattering breakthroughs to behold, but it was interesting to witness how the open source world has embraced the idea of "the cloud." There are several companies activiely developing open source solutions for those who are investing in cloud computing in some regard. Likewise, it was nice to see a number surprising conference sponsors, like Facebook, HP, IBM, Media Temple, GoDaddy, and more.
For the most part, my time was spent volunteering at the Qt booth with fellow Maemo/Meego/Qt community member Niels Meyer, Nokia's Quim Gil, and a couple of other Qt Project employees. In fact, one of the best parts of the weekend was seeing Gil speak about Qt at an enlightening session in which a beautiful and fully functional UI was coded in about ten-minutes time, utilizing about 50 lines of QML. Other takealways were Qt5's goals as well as the increased level of community-contributed code added to Qt's core over the past several months. Most notably, Qt5's development cycle will freeze on February 4, launching the beta phase of the new version. The official release of Qt5 is expected sometime this summer (possibly in June).
So, what does Qt5 bring to the table for developers? Aside from a completely refactored code-base, Qt will be sporting native openGL, and will be using Wayland as its display server, rather than X server. But, keep in mind that Qt will still be able to switch between Wayland and X11 (and openGL or anything else for that matter), depending on the developer's preference.
One of the biggest draws on the expo floor was a Qt5 media player UI demo running on a Raspberry Pi. The demo (loaded on an SD card) was powered by the ARM-based board with 128 MB RAM, outputting to a full 1080p HD monitor. The UI was quick and responsive and possessed a ton of fancy eye candy - all being rendered in real-time on the GPU. Of course, the Qt booth had some other items of interest as well, such as the Nokia N9, an Android mobile phone showing off a bunch of Qt demos, and the Qt-driven Roku Streaming Player.
Lastly, it's important to add that many of the other exhibitors at the conference were intimately related to Qt in some way. KDE, FreeBSD, Disney Animation, ICS, and other all use Qt for their development purposes. Speaking of which, another volunteer at the Qt booth was a Qt community member and UI developer for the 3D animation and special effects studio Rhythm & Hues - one more company that uses Qt for all of their proprietary applications.
Whatever your opinion is about the direction of Nokia, or even former projects like Maemo and MeeGo, it was clear to see at SCaLE10x that the Qt Project isn't going anywhere anytime soon. innumerable people rely on the robust application UI framework that is Qt. This is true for both those who develop open source applications for Linux as well as plenty of others who use Qt for development within commercial and closed ecosystems. In thinking about the Qt timeline that Quim Gil showed during his information session, Qt5 is quite an exciting release indeed.
To view some photos of the Qt5 experience described in this article, click the TwitPic link below.