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How I became a Qt advocate - Quim Gil

By
Ash
 - 
Nov 17, 2011

qt-logo-Mobility-300x300-MeeGoExperts

This is an Article Published by Quim Gil:

How I became a Qt advocate

Some personal news: I’m joining the Qt team to help making the Qt Project rock. A small change of floor at the Nokia offices in Sunnyvale (California) and barely a change to be noticed by my relatives and non-geek friends. Still, for me it is a big change, the end of a phase and the beginning of something fresh.

With a stable SDK released and a new product in the shops, this is the time when I would start shifting internally to the next product iteration. In fact this is what I’m doing now as well, but this time swimming upstream. In practice this means that I´m less conditioned by Nokia products (although they still pay my salary) and closer to the work of a wide community of organizations and individuals putting their bets in Qt.

My work keeps combining the big topics of community, openness, sustainability and fun – also understood by some as marketing & communication applied to OSS development. This is how I started contributing to the free software community around 2003, this is why Nokia recruited me for the Open Source Software Operations in 2007 and this is what I have done best since then.

At the beginning there was GNOME

Once a full time GNOME community contributor (founded by the Catalan government to assure a great GUADEC 2006 in Vilanova), my approximation to Qt has been directly related to the steps taken by Nokia in that direction. One day Ari Jaaksi (then the boss of my boss, Valtteri Halla) started to suggest the possibility to shift our basically GNOME Mobile compliant Maemo to Qt. A big debate followed and I contributed my dose of voice and brain. My strong arguments were that GNOME had a distributed setup combined with a more suitable license, plus Nokia was lacking the skills in house. Our team moved to Qt but I was never proven wrong. One morning we read in the news that Nokia was acquiring Trolltech, getting a big load of Qt skills in house. “Fair enough”, I told surprised to myself. Then theLGPL license came (a change I had been lobbying for since the Nokia-Trolltech deal was announced). And finally the Qt Project is here, willing to reach a diversified open governance setup like the Linux kernel, WebKit or GNOME itself.

My closer approach to Qt matters started after the Nokia N900 was released. As said, that was the time when I would start shifting to the next big iteration (Harmattan, a name that I had the honor to propose). The Qt 4.6 libraries were available for Maemo 5 and I felt it was the time to test the cross-platform compatibility promise. I proposed theMiniature project with only three hard requirements: chess, mobile & Qt. At the time C++ & QGraphicsView was the way, and good that Michael Hasselman was around, otherwise I wouldn’t have progressed at all. Things were not that easy yet.

Calling the Harmattan wind

By that time Peter Schneider was my manager and I was learning from him the usefulness of keeping activities and messages simple and focused (in this case in Qt). One day I started getting some tasks related to a project that one day would beintroduced to the World as MeeGo. The fundamentals of that project were for me a dream come true: standard Linux & freedesktop.org stack plus Qt toolkit and development environment, developed openly by multiple parties, targeting multiple form factor devices.

Qt Quick started to emerge between the two equivalent frameworks that Maemo and Symbian were building. I became an internal advocate almost instantly, not because of any technical analysis (I’m not the guy for these things) but because of the basic principle of following and supporting the way proposed upstream, as opposed to attempting to create shortcuts on your own. It took a while, but one day a CEO calledStephen Elop made the call that no top manager had made before: focus on Qt Quick, other alternatives to be deprecated. In the meantime other old discussions had settled with similar trends: Qt Mobility, Qt Creator and the WebKit alignment.

Next Billion, no less

Between #feb11 and the Nokia N9 launch on #jun28 a lot happened and a lot was said, inside and outside Nokia. Everybody updated their CVs and so did I. Working in the USA as a foreigner with family and a visa tied to your company can be distressing in times of company changes. One morning I got a call from Daniel Kihlberg, who tomorrow will become my new manager. In short, he described a space where different dimensions needed to be combined successfully: Nokia’s Next Billion strategy, a truly open Qt Project and a rich Qt global ecosystem across different industries. Like all real-life equations, there are more factors, more dimensions and a lot of entropy. All in all the proposal fits my views and the type of game where I feel motivated and useful.

And here I am, ready for the next step. I’m permanently thankful to Carlos Guerreiro(and Zara) who actually pulled us to Helsinki. It has been a pleasure to be involved in ideas/projects like the Nokia open devices, the Hacker Editions, the Maemo Downloads (more than 100M!) and the Summits. It has been an extreme pleasure to work together with great people inside Nokia and out in the community, including brilliant unsung heroes like Soumya Bijjal or Niels Breet.

Let me say Big Thank You for these great years – even if I’m just moving downstairs.

 

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