Hello World

posted 6 years ago by Ben Cordero

It's dawned on me that I can also use this place to express some of my feelings about the current state of technology. So, here's a small ditty about why I'm very much a fan of the Qt framework.

Qt (pronounced 'cute') first came to my attention when I started to use KDE, one of the main desktop environments in Linux. Qt is the toolkit that makes the buttons, graphics, text and layouts. KDE is responsible for using Qt to make full applications and, in general, the complete experience of using a computer to do day-to-day tasks.

The other main desktop environment is called gnome, based on Gtk+. There are others, such as the long- awaited enlightenment project which is build upon its own libraries. When learning to program, I started as most others did by writing little programs that don't do very much. Most of them we're just things to make the computer do what I could do by hand, but faster. Quadratic equations, matrix solvers, time keepers, calculators and all those fun things that don't require architecture specific dependencies.

However, there are at least two drawbacks of using the C language.

  1. Graphics
  2. Networking
  3. Unicode

The primary reason that these are drawbacks, is because the C language pre- dates such technologies and therefore does not handle them in the language itself. In order to make use of them, wrapper libraries have been written to bring graphics and networking (and a lot of nice things) to C.

Qt and Gtk+ are examples of these libraries. Actually, Qt is a set of libraries for C++ but also comes with the meta-object system which extends C++ even further by adding some extra keywords (e.g. foreach) and signals/slots connections.

As I got used to writing small programs that would be forever destined never to leave the command line, I reached out to third-party libraries to see what they could offer.

Next: Why I chose Qt.

C++ isn't the most wieldy of languages, some would call it bloated. Maybe in another post I'll show you why some of the Qt extensions might make it a nicer (maybe even beautiful) language if one limits oneself to a subset of C++ features. The tag line for Qt has for a long time been 'Code Less, Create More, Deploy Everywhere'.

My example to you is the Hello World GUI application.

Qt Hello World

#include <QApplication>  
#include  <QPushButton>
int main(int argc, char *argv[])  
    QApplication app(argc, argv);  
    QPushButton hello("Hello world!");  
    hello.resize(100, 30);hello.show();  
    return app.exec();  

To build it, send these commands.

$ qmake -project  
$ qmake  
$ make

Gtk Hello World

#include <gtk/gtk.h> 
hello (void)  
    g_print ("Hello World\n");  
destroy (void)  
    gtk_main_quit ();  
main (int argc, char *argv[])  
    GtkWidget *window;  
    GtkWidget *button;
    gtk_init (&argc, &argv);
    window = gtk_window_new (GTK_WINDOW_TOPLEVEL);  
    gtk_signal_connect (GTK_OBJECT (window), "destroy",  
                                GTK_SIGNAL_FUNC (destroy), NULL);  
    gtk_container_border_width (GTK_CONTAINER (window), 10);
    button = gtk_button_new_with_label ("Hello World");
    gtk_signal_connect (GTK_OBJECT (button), "clicked",  
                                GTK_SIGNAL_FUNC (hello), NULL);  
    gtk_signal_connect_object (GTK_OBJECT (button), "clicked",  
                                          GTK_SIGNAL_FUNC (gtk_widget_destroy),  
                                          GTK_OBJECT (window));  
    gtk_container_add (GTK_CONTAINER (window), button);  
    gtk_widget_show (button);
    gtk_widget_show (window);
    gtk_main ();
    return 0;  

And build it with this makefile.

GTK_INCLUDE = -I/usr/local/include  
GTK_LIB = -L/usr/local/lib  
X11_LIB = -L/usr/X11R6/lib  
CC = gcc -g -Wall  
LDFLAGS = $(GTK_LIB) $(X11_LIB) -lgtk -lgdk -lglib -lX11 -lXext -lm
OBJS = helloworld.o
helloworld: $(OBJS)  
#   $(CC) $(GTK_LIB) $(X11_LIB) $(OBJS) -o helloworld $(LDFLAGS)
rm -f *.o *~ helloworld

The win32 version is so horrendously long, that I'll just refer you to google: win32-helloworld.

The same Qt code (just compiled differently) will work on Windows, Linux and Mac (and some other UNIX flavours). I feel obliged to also tell you that Nokia, who now own Qt, have added support for both symbian and meego phones and devices. There's an android-lighthouse project which hopes to bring Qt to the Android platform.

Now can you see why I like Qt so much?

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