Thursday, July 12, 2007

Trolltech Qt Integration with Eclipse IDE

I just read the announcement on the Trolltech Labs blog about how you will soon be able to develop Qt C++ applications using Eclipse development environment. To me, this is quite welcome news, since in the past I was somewhat dependent upon using Microsoft's Visual Studio environment to play around with Qt/C++ under Microsoft Windows - and, this approach seemed plagued with incompatibilities arising from Visual Studio (I was using Visual Studio 2005 with Service Pack 1 - which didn't work at all with Qt unless you applied a special MS "hotfix" to cure a bug MS introduced with SP1). The bottom line is, I hated having to rely on a non-free MS application/IDE to build C++/Qt apps under Windows. Well, that time is now (or soon) over.

Trolltech has released (or, pre-released) the Qt Eclipse Integration Download already. Some of the features already included (quoted from Trolltech's site) are:
  • Wizards for creating new Qt projects, and importing existing Qt projects
  • Graphical editor for the project files (.pro) used by the Qt cross-platform makefile generator qmake
  • Integrated Qt Designer GUI layout and forms editor
  • Integrated Qt resource editor
  • Integrated Qt reference documentation
Seems to me like the start of a really great combination of free software. Trolltech licenses Qt under a dual-license strategy (see their site for details) where you can use their technology for free if developing open-source/non-commercial applications, and you can purchase their technology if you want to create commercial applications.

The Qt cross-platform widget set and development framework (now at version 4.3) is quite powerful. I recently downloaded their free / open-source version, and compiled and evaluated some of their demonstration applications, and they were nothing short of amazing. The whole cross-platform thing (Linux, Apple OS-X, Windows) really has me interested. I've traditionally built software that runs only on Windows, but I am more and more considering making the shift to supporting Linux and OS-X when I develop applications. Sure, there will be a learning curve, but I think it will be worth it. And, with this new Eclipse IDE integration, I am more psyched than ever about giving this a go!

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