The FOSS cross-platform camp and the other people

Very recently I discovered a friend at my university who was a lot more into coding than I thought. The night before while drinking we had actually had an interesting conversation on C++ vs D, so I imagined it could be fun to hang more with this guy. I knew he was a windows user, but lately just about everything I do has been cross-platform, and I assumed that we had come to a stage where most people cooperate irregardless of their OS preference.

So the next day I show him two of my current projects, both involving qt and linux. Seeing qt, his response was “Oh, qt? how can you cope with that stuff, it sucks. It’s so bloated and slow” Naturally, I had to ask why he thought this, and his response was that he had tried once before and was put off at how big the exe files ended up as, so he just left qt then and instead went for the more ambitious win32 coding instead. Immediately my expectations about this guy sunk to a whole different level.

I remember a time when I was like this too – I knew only visual basic, and was happy with being able to double click small compiled exe files that would make the screen flash in various colors. The only crowd I made stuff was of course other windows using friends, there was no concept of cross-platform stuff.

Sometimes I wonder why we even strive for cross-platform at all. I don’t really want to think of windows users as “those other people”, but often I do.

Disclaimer: I only wanted to tell this story, don’t draw any too big conclusions from this post :)

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11 Responses to “The FOSS cross-platform camp and the other people”

  1. Michael Pyne Says:

    Well more power to him is what I say. My first GUI programming was using the Win32 C API (which makes me laugh when people complain about MFC! :)

    Qt is miles and miles beyond that. Mind you, having smaller executables than what we get now would be nice.

  2. TGM Says:

    I really don’t think we should be worried about executable sizes so much anymore – bloat does concern me but I’d rather have a stable app at 8MB exe than an unstable one at 512KB…

  3. Mike Arthur Says:

    Agreed about executable sizes not mattering really any more.

    My thoughts on why we should be going cross-platform is that those people are most of the market. If we make KDE a solid cross-platform suite of applications then we will attract more developers and more users and ultimately it will make KDE better.

  4. Matthew Smith Says:

    Surely the reason that “executable” sizes are small in the case of VB and other non-compiled languages is that the hard work is done in another real executable? Native-compiled executables for any modern OS are huge on both i386 and AMD64, even for fairly trivial GUI applications. I’m sure your friend had forgotten that there was a VB and a .Net runtime and that they are far bigger than his Qt program executables were.

  5. Michael "Hard work" Howell Says:

    @Matthew Smith: “Surely the reason that “executable” sizes are small in the case of VB and other non-compiled languages is that the hard work is done in another real executable?”
    I’m pretty sure you’re right.

  6. nico Says:

    Is this a windows thing? I don’t see any difference between qt and non-qt executables on my system.

  7. Anon Says:

    The size has to be related to the executable being statically linked. It seems to me that under Windows most Qt applications are statically linked (Qt libraries compiled into the executable itself) instead dynamically linked. The fact that there’s still no standardized way to spread the Qt “runtime” (i.e. standardized location for all Qt libraries/versions which could then be independently redistributed a la VC/VB/.NET runtimes) of course doesn’t help the matter.

  8. Just Some Guy Says:

    I’ve been doing the cross-platform thing for some time and the only time I see it’s worth is when I’m stuck on a win32 platform. :-P Add to that the annoyance factor of developing things to actually run on stuff like Vista (thanks MS for making cross-platform development super difficult again!) and the ungratefulness/unrealistic expectations of the userbase on that platform makes me think of them as “those people” too.

    I’ve done the MFC (shudder!), the assembly code on win32 (talk about trimming executable size! ;), wxWidgets (MFC!! AGAIN!!!1!), and only recently gave Qt a try and I have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the scope and generaly sanity of the API as well as the ease of making things work. :)

  9. Just Some Guy Says:

    fuck fuck fuck

  10. Phil Urich Says:

    The reason to be cross-platform is so that people, especially the more average users, don’t have to suffer as much of a climate shock when they inevitably make the jump to the right platform ;)

    Actually I kindof mean that seriously; I have a friend who’s a Windows user but quite addicted to the games in KDE and starting to use DigiKam. If users can get used to KDE and other cross-platform apps, then to them there won’t be much of a barrier to switching to Linux (except maybe the weirdness that comes with more speed and stability, heh).

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