why kdelibs?

Cornelius Schumacher schumacher at kde.org
Sat Oct 30 09:32:13 BST 2010

On Thursday 28 October 2010 John Layt wrote:
> Big questions.  Anyone with big answers? :-)

Here is a big answer:

Let's merge Qt and the KDE development platform. Let's put all KDE libraries, 
support libraries, platform modules into Qt, remove the redundancies in Qt, 
and polish it into one nice consistent set of APIs, providing both, the 
wonderful KDE integration, consistency and convenience, as well as the 
simplicity and portability of the Qt platform.

I know what you think ("madness", "no", "KDE 5", "impossible", "governance", 
"binary compatibility", "Nokia", "impossible", ...), but if you put that aside 
for a while and think big, wouldn't that be a wonderful answer to all the 
struggles we have with kdelibs?

We all love Qt, without it KDE wouldn't exist. We also love the KDE 
development platform, it provides all that what Qt doesn't have or didn't have 
at some point in time. But is there still a real reason to keep them separate? 
Wouldn't it be much more elegant, if you wouldn't have to decide, if to use 
some KDE classes or write a "qt-only" application, if you would get all the 
wonders of KDE from Qt in one consistent way?

Sure, this would be a massive effort, and require huge changes, it would 
probably mean Qt 5 and KDE 5, it would take quite some time, it would need 
further changes to the Qt governance model, it would mean investments from Qt 
Development Frameworks, it would mean a long transition phase for applications 
to adapt. But wouldn't it be worth this effort? What's the future of the KDE 
development platform long-term, independent of Qt?

There are probably a hundred times as many Qt developers out there than KDE 
developers, and if Nokia is only half-way successful with their plans for Qt, 
this ratio will continue to change rapidly in favor of Qt. By merging the 
platforms we could turn all these Qt developers into KDE developers. We could 
benefit from and contribute to the success of Qt without restrictions. We 
would reach way more users. We could much more easily acquire contributors.

Over the last couple of years, KDE development has constantly shifted from 
library development to application development. Our struggles with even just 
doing the basic maintenance of the libraries show that. But we have a lot of 
shiny apps, people are excited about being part of our subcommunities centered 
around applications. There are still brave souls taking care of kdelibs, but 
it's really hard to keep up there.

On the other hand Qt has broadened a lot, and recently with the ambition to 
provide a full API for MeeGo this has accelerated. That's a bit similar to 
what KDE did quite some time ago. There is more and more redundancy and 
overlap between Qt and KDE libraires, and we still don't really have a good 
answer to that. A merge would be an answer, a big answer.

As said, there are tons of obstacles to overcome to make this happen, but 
let's just assume for a moment that we would be able to remove these 
obstacles, wouldn't it be a great thing for KDE for the long term?

Am I crazy? Or could this be exciting? What do you think?

Cornelius Schumacher <schumacher at kde.org>

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