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Cross-platform app, UI dev't platform adds novel features

15 Dec 2014

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The Qt Co. has released the latest version of its cross-platform application and UI development framework, The Qt 5.4 is available for download and allows the creation of connected devices and beautiful applications with native C++ performance, enabling companies to execute a future-proof multi-screen and Internet of Things strategy reaching all major desktop, embedded and mobile operating systems.

Qt 5.4 builds on the advances contained in recent versions (previous Qt 5.3 release received well over 1M downloads), adding functionality and enhancing performance in ways that will assist developers targeting a variety of applications. Highlights include the addition of a Chromium-based browser engine, Qt WebEngine, to support HTML5 hybrid development future-proofing the integration of web technologies, licensed under a commercial license and the LGPLv3; full support for Windows Store Apps, including WinRT and Windows Phone 8.1; availability of native Android look and feel for Qt Quick Controls only licensed under a commercial license and LGPLv3; improvements to device creation development with several updates and new features most notably Qt Quick Compiler 2.0 and the Qt Quick 2D Renderer.

Reflecting the growth in development of wearable devices and the Internet of Things, a technology preview of Bluetooth Low Energy support is included. Qt 5.4 also includes an update to its Qt Creator IDE to version 3.3, which introduces the Qt Quick Designer and other productivity enhancing features.

Qt combines simplicity of development and efficient performance, even on platforms with constrained processing capabilities, with beautiful, fluid modern UIs, stated the company. The framework delivers these benefits not only on the initial target platform or device but on all other supported platforms too. Developers can work secure in the knowledge that their investment will be repaid when they wish to support other operating systems or deploy on additional device hardware.

With the importance of HTML5 growing, Qt 5.4 supports hybrid application development well into the future with the Chromium-based browser engine, Qt WebEngine, fully supported on desktop and embedded platforms. Besides providing convenient cross-platform APIs to Chromium, Qt WebEngine fully integrates with the Qt graphics stack allowing web content to be overlaid and mixed with Qt UIs or OpenGL graphical effects. Qt 5.4 is the last release that will include WebKit support, which has not received any new features from the Qt side in over a year. In the subsequent release, it will be deprecated and therefore, it is advised already now, that all new projects that need web capabilities are developed with Qt WebEngine. For mobile platforms, Qt WebView has been introduced under a commercial license and the LGPLv3 to enable integration of web content using the native OS browser engine.

Qt 5.4 offers improved compliance with the latest desktop OS versions, improving the experience on OS X 10.10 Yosemite, supporting HD displays, as well as improvement for Windows 8.1, enabling dynamic GL switching between OpenGL and ANGLE on Windows. With the graphics API provided by Qt 5.4, it is now possible to mix and match Qt Quick, Qt Widgets and raw OpenGL as required.

For mobile app development, Qt 5.4 introduces full support for Windows Store Apps and offers improved support for Android and iOS platforms. Native Android look-and-feel has been added to Qt Quick Controls, the collection of UI controls. Android 5 has been supported since the Qt 5.3 release. Compliance has also been improved for iOS8 and XCode 6. In addition, with Qt 5.4 the Indie Mobile package, designed for individual mobile developers or mobile app development houses, now includes the Qt Purchasing API.

Qt 5.4 further enhances Qt's ability to bring beauty, functionality and power to the creation of connected devices, added the company. Qt's existing support for creating applications for devices includes powerful C++ libraries, a full embedded tool chain and a pre-built software stack for instant prototyping. Qt 5.4 introduces a professionally designed 'Flat Light' style for Qt Quick Controls that covers traditional and industrial enterprise controls and provides a more polished look-and-feel for application and device UIs. It also introduces a Qt Quick 2D Renderer plugin, which enables Qt Quick graphics to run without OpenGL allowing Qt Quick to run on low-end devices without a GPU, as well as includes Qt Quick Compiler 2.0 reducing device boot-up time and securing against reverse engineering.

The latest release also introduces the LGPLv3 to Qt's licensing options to protect users' freedom as it was intended by the Free Software Foundation.

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