Welcome!

Release Management Authors: David H Deans, Liz McMillan, Jnan Dash, Lori MacVittie, Gilad Parann-Nissany

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
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists looked at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deliver...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st 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 devic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...