Tuesday, November 2. 2010
This year I've attended Qt DevDays again. And I've found a much bigger venue than previous years. The event is still growing. Roughly 1000 attendees this year. According to the organizers figures double every two years. DevDays moved outside of Munich half way to the airport which is not too bad because you don't have to spent an hour traveling into the city centre anymore. So I was on time to listen to the keynotes and had a chance to grab a coffee before.
Two main topics dominated the event: Qt Quick (Qt User Interface Creation Kit) and the planned Open Governance model for Qt. The first technical topic was demonstrated by Lars Knoll in his keynote and presented in several sessions both days. Basically it's NOKIAs technology to address the app development for all its mobile platforms. The web page reads:
Qt Quick (Qt User Interface Creation Kit) is a high-level UI technology that allows developers and UI designers to work together to create animated, touch-enabled UIs and lightweight applications.
This is an interesting strategical change towards lightweight applications a.k.a. apps to address mobile (NOKIA) devices. Because C++ is to heavy for that, they've added QML "an easy to use, declarative language" deeply integrated with the Qt Creator IDE of course. Obviously, the Qt technology stack will be driven by trends in the mobile world. Feature development for niche *nix platforms will phase out.
The Open Governance model was discussed in the keynote by NOKIA CTO Rich Green and in the Qt Labs. It's good to see a company like NOKIA embracing open source and their community. It's not only discussion that will move into the public, also the QA process will be opened. In the Labs, I got the impression that many details need to be fleshed out. It's not implementation ready but you can clearly identify the trend. And I don't believe it will be easy because this means true change.
Speaking of QA reminds me on something: On day three I've listened to Rohan McGovern in his talk about the "The Qt Continuous Integration System". It was a really impressive and very interesting presentation. Thumbs up, Rohan! It confirmed my experience with QA and CI: choose your tools wisely, dedicate time to it and prepare for a lot of work!
Monday, March 15. 2010
This series of posts is dedicated to the Altium NanoBoard 3000. I had the opportunity to play with it and like to share my experience with you.
The NanoBoard was released in September 2009 by Altium Ltd. It's a rapid prototyping platform for digital electronic designs consisting of an evaluation board, design software and royality free IP for use in the onboard FPGA. In short, all the tools you need to start implementing your ideas. You can stop reading now, buy it from e.g. Newark for $395 and get started. The 3000 is part of Altium's NanoBoard family a complementary product line besides the well know EDA tools. Maybe you're already working with Designer.
When I received the delivery and removed the outer packing I was impressed. Note, I had not opened the box yet. It reminded me of some consumer lifestyle product. It could have been a mobile phone or high-end notebook. Apple is well know for such a kind of great packaging. Not bad for an evaluation board!
Opening the box reveals the board + software. The black PCB with gold contacts has an undeniable elegance. Underneath is a separate box containing accessories, desktop stand, speaker board, IR remote (yes, a remote control) and the power supply.
The Quickstart Guide provides instructions for mounting the desktop stand and connecting the speaker board. After 10 minutes I had the final setup sitting on my desk. The software is shipped on a DVD. Installation on Windows completed successfully after a couple of minutes. No license is required. The eval board is your license/dongle.
Without having worked with it, this is clearly a highlight among the evaluation kits on my shelf. It's obvious that this product was designed by a team of professionals with a precise and common vision in mind. Every detail has been fine-tuned, from the packaging to the PCB. A good example for holistic product design. Thumbs up.
And now, you know why it is worth to consider the in the box experience. More details in the next post...
Sunday, March 8. 2009
You can guess it from the title. I've attended embedded world this year (again). This is my personal review from Europes biggest exhibition about embedded technologies held in Nuremberg (Germany) from March 3rd to 5th.
I like the narrow focus on embedded hardware, software and services. The whole event fits in only four pavilions but has plenty to offer. Unlike some big events (e.g. electronica, Cebit) it's still growing: a 25% increase in exhibitors compared to last year. (I've found no official statistics about the visitor numbers, yet.)
As last year I took the train and arrived around 11am in Nuremberg. Passing by the first busy booths gave me a good feeling. It seemed like recession was dispelled from these pavilions. Maybe I'm wrong, but the general mood of the visitors didn't show a sign of crisis. Of course, everybody is aware of the exceptional situation and I expect more people getting laid off in the electronics industry but despite of all bad news the booths showed high load.
I've noticed an interesting trend going on in the computer on modules (COM) business. Multiple vendors are jumping on the bandwagon of increased system-integration. In order to reduce the number of components, save PCB space and power they start to offer modules with on-board FPGAs. The FPGA is connected through a 1x PCIe lane to the chipset and provides external (serial) connectivity for I2C, CAN, Ethernet etc. This sounds contradictory to reducing power? Wait. The best news is that you have access to the unused FPGA fabric and can insert your logic there. Even better, get rid of the CAN core and friends and occupy it all!
In the software pavilion I've went to the Trolls (aka Qt Software) and talked about the latest Qt release. Starting with version 4.5 the Qt framework is also offered as LGPLed package. That means you can link your closed source applications to the library without paying any license fees. That's good news for independent developers and micro ISVs. I was wondering how Qt Software is making money now. I got a lengthy explanation which can be summarized to: More developers, more mobile applications, higher Nokia phone sales. Nokia pays the bills. Additionally, the Qt Extended stand-alone product is discontinued. The last release will be 4.4.3. All Qt Extended features will be moved later into the Qt framework.
So far. In case things should get worse next year we can still ask Gov. Schwarzenegger for a keynote...erm click here.
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