Trolltech Aims to Attract Windows Developers

With multiple delays and dropped components for its next-generationVistaoperating system,Microsoft has stirred up plenty of confusion and criticism amongsoftware developers.

Now other software makers, such as Qt cross-platform development framework provider Trolltech, are trying to take advantage of what they describe as “developer alienation” due to Microsoft’s move from older application programming interfaces (APIs) to the new Vista framework.

Norway-based Trolltech is leveraging Qt integration with Visual Studio to attract developers working on Microsoft platform applications.

“For a long time, Qt was a secret tool used by only a few, but nowadays, especially since we released an open source version of Qt 4 for the open source MiniGW compiler, more and more Windows developers are discovering Qt and liking what they see,” said Trolltech documentation manager Jasmin Blanchette. “With the Visual Studio integration, we address what might be the last area where Qt was weaker than Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC).”

Cross-Platform Advantage

When starting new projects, Microsoft recommends using Windows Forms, the successor to the MFC framework; the new Windows Presentation Foundation framework, codenamed “Avalon”; or the user API of Vista, Blanchette explained.

“Windows Forms is the successor to MFC and was released as part of the .Net framework,” he said. “However, it will soon be succeeded by WPF.”

For Windows developers, the choice is between MFC — an obsolete, old-fashioned framework; Windows Forms — a more modern framework whose days are already numbered; or a framework that is still in beta, Blanchette told LinuxInsider.

Now, with Qt Visual Studio integration, developers can edit forms, view Qt online documentation, and edit code in Visual Studio — all while utilizing Qt programming, which is cross-platform, according to Blanchette. Trolltech’s Qt development software is designed for portability to platforms including Mac OS X, Unix and Linux, he noted.

Getting Up to Speed

Although Windows developers are forced to wait for Vista, as well as its frameworks and APIs, Code Project Co-Founder and Chief Editor Chris Maunder argued that there is still plenty to keep them busy.

“The release of .NET CLR 2.0, Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and now .NET 3.0, have meant Windows and .Net developers have had their hands full getting up to speed with the new technologies,” he said.

Windows developers are responding to Vista in two ways: Some have no interest in the new operating system and will continue developing win32 apps on their favorite OS, using their favorite integrated development environment; a second group is looking for new toys in Vista, such as new user interface elements, Maunder said.

“Developers are either downloading the betas, learning about the new frameworks, writing and posting articles on — generally doing what developers do when they find new toys — or they are continuing on using the tools and operating systems they are adept at,” he added.

Simplification Signs

Trolltech claims that with Qt, Windows developers can easily leverage their existing C++ software-writing skills to create cross-platform, high performance, object-oriented graphical user interface programs.

However, Microsoft’s successive operating systems, including Vista, are enabling simpler and more secure cross-platform development, Maunder pointed out.

“Each version of Windows is more secure than the previous and forces developers to be more aware and more careful in their development,” he said. “Working against a different API in these cases is always a challenge, but with Microsoft moving developers more towards a managed abstraction layer — .Net — for all operating systems, including Windows Mobile, there’s definitely a far larger common set of APIs to target.”

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