Qt and BB10

I am quite excited about Blackberry 10. RIM’s development tools are looking pretty good. As a C++ programmer, I am pleased with my initial experience with the toolchain. Blackberry 10 comes with a full Qt 4.8 implementation in the firmware. As a Qt programmer, you have 3 options to write apps for BB10:

  1. Use Cascades. Cascades is a proprietary (but quite cool) UI framework built by RIM. It uses QML as it’s markup but does not use the QML painting engine at all. Instead, it uses its own painting engine and it is incompatible with QWidget and Qt Quick frameworks. You can either use Cascades to show the UI, or you can use Qt’s painting engine (QtGui or Qt Quick), but not both. However, you can still use QtCore and QtNetwork etc in your app.  I experimented a little bit with Cascades and it is pretty nice. For Cascades, I recommend that you simply use QNX Momentics IDE provided by RIM as part of the standard NDK download. However, I have decided not to pursue this route as I wanted my code to be platform independent. Currently I am a single developer working on Qt projects for fun, and I am preferring to maintain a single code base across platforms as much as possible.
  2. Use QWidget. QtGui module (the basis of QWidget) is fully supported but if you use QWidget, you cannot use Cascades.
  3. Use Qt Quick (perhaps with some QWidgets thrown in). This is also supported but will again exclude the use of Cascades.

If you are interested in options 2 or 3 (QWidget or Qt Quick), then I recommend that you use Qt Creator. I tested with Qt Creator 2.6.1 on Ubuntu 12.04 64-bit and things are working fine. I have not managed to get QWidget and Qt Quick working under QNX Momentics, there are always some compilation or build errors for non-Cascades project.

There are some good instructions to configure Qt Creator in NDK documentation as well as on the Qt Project Wiki. I do not have a BB10 device but I was able to compile a QWidget based app in Qt Creator and run in the BB10 simulator.

One piece of advise: ignore the “simulator-debug” configuration section mentioned on the Qt Project Wiki. It appears to be required only for Cascades projects. Trying to make that section work in a QWidget based app wasted a lot of my time. In the end, I omitted it and things started working.  I simply defined the BB10 kit in Qt Creator as described, modified the bar-description.xml example given in the NDK official documentation about porting Qt apps, then added a “blackberry-x86-qcc”  spec to QMake as recommended by the Qt Project wiki, and everything worked brilliantly.

I have not yet tried compiling a Qt Quick based application for BB10, but I think process of compiling a Qt Quick app should be similar to the QWidget app above.

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