Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Pat Romanski, Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan, Fouad Khalil, David H Deans

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business in 2016. However, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will drill down to the components in this fra...
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
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 business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.