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

One of the Maemo/Nokia guy : Guillem Jover

I was introduced to the Nokia 770 in GUADEC 2005 by no less than the great Guillem Jover. In 2004 I wanted to recruit him but he had just moved to Helsinki to work for... Nokia! Two years later I would follow the same path.

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 the LGPL 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 the Miniature 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 be introduced to the World as MeeGo. The fundamentals of that project were for me a dream come true: standard Linux & 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 called Stephen 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.

38 Responses to “How I became a Qt advocate”

  1. Quim,
    I’ve watched your contributions to the Maemo/MeeGo community since I got my Nokia N800, long before I began working at Nokia. I have always been impressed by your commitment and efforts. I can’t think of a better addition to the Qt team! Best of luck to you and the team, and keep up the good work!

  2. Congratulations, Quim. I’m looking forward to seeing great things!

  3. Good luck dude!

  4. A big thanks for what you’ve achieved. And seeing your commitment, a big thanks for what you will achieve in the future!

    Make the Qt Project big! 😉 I know you will…

    Thanks for the great talk @Munich. And sorry for the small beer 😉


  5. 5 Reggie

    Congrats and good luck Quim! Always looking forward to your endeavors.

  6. congratulations quim and thanks for an interesting update!

  7. Quim, the NITs have been the hallmarks of an interesting season of fun and hacking, and you deserve a lot of merit about it. So, thanks for all your past work… and thanks in anticipation for what is going to come from your new job! I’m sure it will be great and fruitful, and you’ll enjoy the pleasure to see it dopted by many, many people throughout the planet…

  8. Great news! Thanks for the great time, good luck for the future and see you around!

  9. Good luck on this new adventure, Quim!

  10. 10 Jed

    Once again, vague as all hell…

    There’s way more questions raised than answers in this post.
    Just like your last weird “4 pillars” post approx. 4mths ago.

    Sigh… anyway I wish you luck!

  11. Congratulations on the new job, it’s comforting to see the Next Billion and the open governance side of Qt in good hands 🙂 Thanks (a lot!) for supporting the community and enabling so many projects and events. Keep up the good work!

  12. Thank you for all the comments!

    Jed, what do you want to ask that I can answer? 🙂

  13. Good luck Quim! It has been so easy and fun to work with you. Thank you for everything.

  14. Hey Quim, I am sad to hear you’ve gone away from promoting Gtk+ /Gnome and over to the “dark side” ;), but I am happy for you and I hope that means that the open source stack lives on inside Nokia. Congrats!

    PS. I don’t really mean it with the “dark side”: what matters is the QT licensing and openness 🙂

  15. Good luck with the new-old workplace. I hope coming back to Europe will bring some Qt developer events around (Barcelona in particular ;-).

  16. Oups, I misread the last paragraph as if you were moving to Helsinki. Good luck again, now in Sunnyvale. But I hope this doesn’t discard organizing/attending dev events in Barcelona.

  17. Good luck Quim!

  18. Thanks Quim for this post of your journey to Qt, it brought to me good memories from past years!

    Qt5 + Next Billion is going to be H-U-G-E… 😉

  19. Good luck with it! Let me know how I can help 🙂


  20. Today is a sad day for GNOME/GTK+ but an immense joy for Qt Project, keep up with the excellent work you are doing wherever it is 😉

  21. 21 Jed


    Can you go into lots of detail about the Meltemi rumors.

    Are they mostly hot air….
    Or is there ‘genuine’ interest from senior management to drive a Linux+Qt-based smartphone stack going forward?

    Ideally not purely for dumb/feature-phones…
    There needs to be some overlap into smartphone territory.

    Answering that, would really help! 😉

  22. Nokia has a genuine interest in Qt, reiterated by the top management in many occasions. It is a key technology for the Next Billion strategy. About the smartphone / dumbphone division, how smart is to keep it? Everybody seeing the Nokia Asha line at Nokia World agreed that “the division is blurring” – and Qt hasn’t even started there.

    I can tell you that I have always been involved in projects where I would be the first happy user – and the phase I’m starting now it’s not an exception.

    Danilo, Gil and other GNOMErs in this thread: Hi! As I see it, GTK+ corresponds to QWidget and both are letting new technologies take the drive. GNOME corresponds to KDE, and if you noticed I didn’t pick on that old (and uninteresting) football discussion. 🙂 Ubuntu, MeeGo or SuSe are examples of mixed approaches where the football discussion becomes more complex and interesting. In any case I’m not a C or C++ developer and my bets are put on whatever helps bringing free software to the mainstream.

    The “funny” joke is that I was once a supporter not only of GNOME but also of Debian and Mozilla. And here I am now, swimming in Qt, RPM and WebKit. The motivations are the same and my respect for these amazing projects is kept intact. This diversity is what makes the free software community so great!

    PS: I even thought I was fully retired from Planet GNOME but apparently my posts with the GNOME tag are still aggregated. 🙂 The previous one was posted more than two years ago, and that was really my hard personal GNOME day:

  23. Congratulations! Openly governed Qt project is a great development, and I hope open mobile projects like Nemo/Mer which benefit from it, will really gain momentum, since putting one’s trust in corporations doesn’t worth it.

  24. Seeing your post on PGO, I first thought it had one of its usual hick-ups again. I think it’s great that you tried out Qt/QML for your own pet project – not many managers would go down to that level.


  25. Your way to work and communicate are always an inspiration for me.

    All the best in your new project Quim! I’m sure your work also will be a big benefit for the Qt developer community.

  26. Hello Quim,
    Congratulations on your new job! I’ll rest assured that the future of mobile Linux and Qt within Nokia is in good hands! 🙂

  27. 27 Jed

    “Nokia has a genuine interest in Qt, reiterated by the top management in many occasions. It is a key technology for the Next Billion strategy. About the smartphone / dumbphone division, how smart is to keep it? Everybody seeing the Nokia Asha line at Nokia World agreed that “the division is blurring” – and Qt hasn’t even started there.”


    That fails to address ‘everything’ I asked.
    As I predicted… 😦

  28. Jed, if you are waiting for Nokia announcements then my blog (or the Qt Project) are not really the right place for that. Sorry for disappointing you but there is some sense in what I’m saying.

  29. 29 Jed


    Nope, was just hoping for something clearer in response to what I asked.
    But perhaps that was always asking for too much…


  30. Ok, let me try with this:

    – No, I can’t comment on rumors.
    – Yes, Nokia has a genuine interest in Qt.
    – Yes, I believe Nokia’s Next Billion strategy has “some overlap into smartphone territory”. Already seen in the Asha line of products.
    – No, I won’t announce anything new from Nokia in the comments of a personal blog post.

  31. 31 Roberto Colistete Jr.

    Good luck with your work, Quim.
    About Linux/Qt/WebKit/Swipe/ (or Meltemi) :
    please keep Python as a option to developers and users.
    Symbian/S60 has PyS60 which is very good (better than Python on Android SL4A), only Maemo/MeeGo has better Python support (more packages, better GUI framework).

  32. 32 Jed


    Again with the emphasis on Qt & zilch mention of Linux/FOSS user-land.
    You either still fail in comprehending my original questions…
    Or you’re deliberately not answering that component for some reason.
    Sorry QGil, but still horridly vague… 😦


    What makes you so sure Linux/user-space is even in the picture?
    QGil’s not mentioned it even once in his latest postings!

  33. Congratulations! And good to see support for community governance of Qt.

  34. Roberto, with the Qt Project in place the decision of supporting Python relies on the Python bindings maintainers. No need to ask please, just join the PySide project (or whather Python – Qt related project you want to join) and contribute there.

    Jed, at this point you should understand that no Qt Project dude will make announcements on Nokia businesses or device products. And this is a good thing since the Qt Project really needs to be independent and separate from Nokia secret/commercial agendas even if there is plenty of people employed by Nokia and working for its success.

  35. 35 Jed


    I’ll unsubscribe from your BLOG as it serves no purpose but to frustrate me.

    All the best,

  1. 1 How I became a Qt advocate « flors | Maemo Meego
  2. 2 How I became a Qt advocate – Quim Gil | MeeGoExperts
  3. 3 How I Became a Qt Advocate

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