The big news of this past week was the announcement that the QT toolkit has been successfuly ported to Haiku, thanks to developer Evgeny Abdraimov. A development release, with a collection of sample apps, is already available for anyone interested in giving it a try – it can be downloaded from BeOSFrance (or from this mirror).
The biggest immediate implication is that the QT & webkit-based browser Arora (one of the included sample apps) can now run on Haiku – a very nice bonus, given that BeZilla development has largely stalled and a Haiku-native webkit-based browser will (evidently) not be ready for some time. Arora works quite well in Haiku, based on some quick testing – it’s also very fast, I’d go so far as to say it’s the closest we’ve seen to a functional, modern NetPositive equivalent (a screenshot is included in the “Read more” section of this post).
BeOSFrance was (so far as I know) the first to break the news, followed by IsComputerOn and OSNews. And particularly in the OSNews comments, the announcement has sparked a lively debate over whether or not the presence the QT port is beneficial to Haiku.
Read on for some quick impressions and screenshots of the various sample apps (and a note on installing the dev release).
The development release includes 20 sample applications in the in “QtDemos” folder. Before you try to run them, open up the “common” folder (inside the folder where you decompressed the “Qt4HaikuDemoPack_a1.zip” file); you should see two sub-folders called “lib” and “plugins.” First, move the entire “plugins” folder to “/boot/common/” (double-click the “Haiku” icon on your desktop, then open the “common” folder). Next, copy all of the files from the QT “common/lib/” folder into into “/boot/common/lib/”.
There isn’t much to say about this one – it’s a decent little Asteroids clone (if you’ve played the original or other clones like Maelstrom, then you know what to expect).
A small application for translating text between different languages. It does its job – non-Latin alphabets show blank ASCII squares, but translating between English and French works and appears to be fairly accurate (based on my limited knowledge of French, at least).
This is the Arora browser, mentioned earlier. I did experience a few quirks (E.g. menus that stay active even after you’ve clicked away from them), but most of the basic functionality works without a problem – the screenshot shows Arora rendering BeOSNews.com.
Apparently short for “Beesoft Commander,” BSC is a two-pane Norton Commander-style filemanager. I couldn’t get much of the functionality to work (buttons for basic file management operations don’t work, but the F-key shortcuts do) – once the glitches are ironed out, it should be a nice option for people who prefer that style of filemanager.
Not much to say about this one either, it’s a basic calculator application. I could not operate it via the keyboard (numeric keypad or otherwise), but using the mouse works.
The name is fairly self-explanatory: it’s a widget that displays a calendar grid view, with some nice configuration options. It doesn’t do much on it’s own, but I assume it’s intended to work as part of a scheduling/PIM application.
Apparently a chess game, judging by the name – but I was unable to make it do anything after loading it (couldn’t start or load a game, etc). The UI looks decent, though.
I’m not entirely sure what this app is for, but it appears to be a demo of animation with collision detection (the ears of the mice light up when they collide).
This appears to be a viewer application for .CHM help files (typically found in Windows). I tested it briefly with the help file for a text editor I use in Windows (EditPlus), all of the standard functionality works – and unlike the Windows help viewer, it allows you have two separate articles/tabs open at once.
A simple, but addictive, checkers game – and relatively challenging, too (the computer soundly beats me, even at the lowest difficulty settings).
As the name suggests, it’s a video player application. I couldn’t get it to open any files files (tried AVI, MP4, MOV files – with a variety of codecs) other than the “animation.mng” file that’s located in the same folder as the application.
Not much I can say about “openpref” either, mainly because I couldn’t get it to do anything. It launches, but there’s just an empty window – there are several menus, but nothing happens when I click any of the menu items. As far as I can tell, it’s some sort of game.
This one is really barebones, it appears to be a viewer for printable order forms.
A simple graphics demo, it presents a pixelated image and allows you increase or decrease the size of the pixels.
A basic spreadsheet application, and probably the most interesting QT demo app other than Arora. While it certainly isn’t a replacement for Excel, it is still nice to see some actively-maintained productivity software running in Haiku.
This app is a simple, multi-protocol IM client. While it does appear to support the Jabber and ICQ networks, I wasn’t able to sign on with my gmail/gtalk account (and I don’t have an ICQ account to test with) – it does look like a fairly nice piece of software, though.
It appears to be a game of some sort, but not one that I’m familiar with. It does appear to work, however.
The obligatory tetris clone – possibly the only game that has more clones that Asteroids.
While the name suggests a text editor, it’s acutually a basic word processor/rich-text editor along the lines of WordPad. The default format for saving files is .odt (same format as the OpenOffice word processor) – it’s functional enough that I was able to create an .odt file, open it with OpenOffice and make some changes, then re-open the modified file in textedit.
Last is “undo,” an aptly-named demo of a undo stack, similiar to the “History” pallette in PhotoShop and other Adobe applications. It allows you to create and make basic changes to vector shapes – then the lefthand pane can be used to undo or redo the changes.
Overall, I was quite impressed with the demo apps. While most of them probably won’t be used much on their own (with the exceptions of Arora and the games), it’s still encouraging to see them running at all. Having QT available paves the way for more sophisticated QT apps to be ported – or to be created by extending the demo apps. It also potentially makes Haiku more appealing to developers who currently use QT on other platforms.
If the demo apps are any indication, QT on Haiku is already fairly stable and fast. Despite being only a development release (running on an Alpha OS), I didn’t encounter many problems or crashes – the most common issue was that some of the applications crashed on exit. And for the most part, the demo apps have the look and feel of native apps so (unlike most ported applications) they don’t look (or feel) out of place.
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