Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Qt switch to LGPL

Qt switch to LGPL has triggered a thread with subject "Bad thing for wxWidgets Qt will be in LGPL" on wx-users mailing list which clearly implies that this is indeed a bad thing. But is it one really?

First, let's not be egoistic: even if this were bad for wx, it's surely excellent news for just about everybody [else]. I do applaud Nokia for doing the right thing and I'm personally very glad that even people in big multinational companies such as Nokia understand the benefits of open source.

Second, this certainly will bring more users to Qt. But I'm not sure it's going to happen at the expense of wxWidgets users. I rather think more people thinking to use Java or C# or C (with GTK) could reconsider their choice and use C++ with Qt. The reason for this cautious optimism is that the cost of Qt has never been the only reason for choosing wxWidgets over it. Of course, this hasn't ever been important for GPL applications anyhow. And, surprisingly, it often wasn't very important for commercial applications neither as companies often choose to pay for wxWidgets support anyhow even if the library itself is free. So I think that relatively few of people who had chosen wxWidgets in the past would change their mind now, as the other two main reasons for this choice -- the use of native widgets by wxWidgets and the absence of any preprocessor -- remain as valid as ever.

Finally, if more people use C++ for developing cross-platform applications this is good for wxWidgets even if they use Qt because the whole idea of writing portable programs is unfortunately still not as entrenched in mass conscience as it should be in our opinion. So this could yet turn out to be positive for wxWidgets, although more likely it's not going to change much for us one way or the other.

But this remains great news for the open source community (of which we are part) so I just can't bring myself to regret it. I can dream about wxTNG which would combine the best features of wx and Qt but this still remains a dream for now...
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