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April 29, 1999

Dissolving Boundaries with Qt

SEBASTOPOL, CA -- Qt is an easy-to-use, multi-platform C++ GUI toolkit. With Qt, a developer can write an application once and run it on UNIX, Windows 95/98, and Windows NT platforms. Qt has a similar look and feel to the standard Motif toolkit for UNIX systems, but it is easier to use. And it emulates the look-and-feel of Windows, so you can provide all of your users with native-looking interfaces. Qt also manages to straddle both the proprietary and open source community -- corporations are comfortable paying for Qt and the accompanying support agreements they expect from a commercial sale. Linux developers can acquire Qt for free (unless they wish to develop closed-source commercial applications in which case they must purchase a license). Now O'Reilly and Associates has published a book on Qt -- Programming with Qt by Matthias Kalle Dalheimer.

"I do contract programming specializing in cross-platform software development. My customers contract me because I can deliver on both UNIX and Windows-something which not many people do nowadays, but has become a quite comfortable market niche for me," explained Dalheimer. "It would simply not be feasible to write an application twice -- the cost would be so high that my rates would not be competitive at all. Qt allows me to write my application once and then compile it on various UNIX systems and Windows. Thus I only have the development time once instead of twice. This is about what Java promises, but without the slowness of the application and the horrible development tools that still hamper Java application development."

Platform independence is not the only benefit of Qt. Qt uses an ingenious signal/slot mechanism for connecting user interaction with program functionality, providing an excellent framework for component-based programming. Graphical rendering in Qt is highly optimized due to its use of effective caching mechanisms-rendering in Qt is often faster than with the similar native API. In addition to user interface classes, Qt features portable support for file system access, working with date and time values, and network programming. With Qt, you'll find that you need to write very little, if any, platform-dependent code because Qt already has what you need.

Qt's benefits are impressive, but the learning curve can be steep. Qt comes with excellent reference documentation, but beginners often find the included tutorial is not enough to really get started with Qt.

"We felt there was a need for a book that guides you through the steps of writing a Qt application and presents all of the GUI elements in Qt, along with advice about when and how to use them, so that you can make full use of the toolkit." said Elke Hansel, Managing Director of O'Reilly Germany. "There's also lots of information for seasoned Qt programmers, including material on advanced 2D transformations, drag-and-drop, and writing custom image file filters."

An interesting side note on the book: Programming Qt is the first book in English published by O'Reilly to have originated in the German office. "Traditionally, Europeans have always had a strong affinity for Linux and free software in general, both as users and as programmers" explained Hansel. "So when we started the Qt book, we had a strong interest here in Europe, but we weren't sure how strong the interest would be in the US. So we decided to publish it in English for the European market only. By the time the book was published by the German company, the Open Source movement had advanced so that Qt was widely recognized as a cutting-edge topic. This was the first time we published an English language O'Reilly book outside the US -- but we will do so again whenever it makes sense."

For a Profile of Matthias Kalle Dalheimer by Thomas Scoville see: http://opensource.oreilly.com/news/dalheimer_0499.html

For more information on the book, see: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/prowqt/

Programming with Qt -- Writing Portable GUI applications on UNIX and Win32
By Matthias Kalle Dalheimer
1st Edition April 1999 (US)
1-56592-588-2, 384 pages, $32.95 (US)

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