[Development] Changes to Qt offering

Matthew Woehlke mwoehlke.floss at gmail.com
Wed Jan 29 17:36:20 CET 2020

On 28/01/2020 11.37, Volker Hilsheimer wrote:
> The Qt Company is a public company

...well, that may not be helping. How many of the shareholders both care
about the community and are sufficiently involved to make those feelings

> Given how significant the Qt Company contribution to Qt is, making it
> a sustainable business should be in the interest of anyone that wants
> to see Qt continue to be a successful and evolving technology.

I agree that having *a* successful company as the major backer of Qt is
desirable. However, recent actions have caused some to wonder if TQtC,
at least as it is currently being managed, is the best company for that
role, or how long it will be able to continue in that role.

Hostile forks can and do happen, and sometimes end up killing the parent.

> Making backporting of fixes to old branches a commercial-only
> service is an attempt to encourage more companies that are basing
> their business on Qt-based software to contribute with funding.

I won't comment (at length) on this. I think there *may* be some merit
to this position, but having it "kick in" right at the Qt5 → Qt6
transition... complicates things. If this had taken effect instead with
the first Qt6 LTS, I suspect the reaction would have been much less

As others have already noted, there *must* and *will be* an open source
LTS of some nature, just like there *already is* for Qt4. What remains
to be seen is how much the open source version will share with the
commercial version.

> Should we turn the Qt Company into a business for which Qt becomes a 
> secondary priority, and where we develop Qt only as a means to an
> end (which would be the kitware business model)? I really don’t think
> that would serve Qt very well.

Are you arguing that it *hasn't* worked well for CMake (or VTK, or ...)?
Are you arguing that Kitware doesn't care about their community?

If you look at Kitware's mission statement¹:

  Advance the frontiers of understanding by developing innovative open
  source software platforms and integrating them into research,
  processes, and products.

..."developing [...] software platforms" is *right there*, and it's not
just any software, either, but "*open source* software" (emphasis
added). I'm unclear why you think that adopting "the Kitware business
model" results in "Qt becom[ing] a secondary priority".

Conversely, there seems to be some question about TQtC's *current*

(¹ kitware.com/about/)

> What kind of change do you think would give companies a really good
> reason to buy a license, without at the same time hurting the
> community?
Some other folk have also commented, so I'll spare any laymen's WAGs
here... aside from one thing. Your phrasing alone implies two problems;
first, that licensing is the only possible revenue model, and second
that licensing it at odds with the needs of the community.

As a counterpoint, I'd like to point you to the sales page where you can
purchase CMake licenses:

  <this space intentionally left blank>

There are none! Kitware (TTBOMK) *doesn't sell licenses*; indeed, most
(all?) of Kitware's open source software is available under BSD or
similar terms (MIT, APL, etc.).

Once upon a time, Qt was just about the only game in town, at least if
you wanted something that C++ and wasn't garbage (*cough*GTK*cough*).
These days, it's competing with a half dozen or more tool kits, all of
which are *free* (as in beer). Over and over I hear people talking about
how that startup cost drives them *away* from Qt. (Note also Richard's

Of course, TANSTAAFL, and *that* is where Kitware makes money... by
standing there waiting to realize that "free" means either a) build it
yourself (and hopefully give your changes back to the community), b)
file feature requests and hope, or c) pay someone else to do it... and
who would you rather pay? The junior developer you just hired that
barely knows what he's doing? Some overpriced fly-by-night consulting
company that will leave you high and dry at the first opportunity? How
about the folks that wrote the software stack in the first place and
part of a healthy open source community?

Kitware sells *services*, not licenses. Support service, feature
development service, even application development service... and it
seems to be working. As much as possible, all of that work is open
source and directly benefits to the community. Even people that use
CMake / VTK / etc. without giving back are benefiting the community
simply by increasing adoption, which is a battle Qt seems to be losing
right now.

I will, however, make one more specific suggestion. There's a bunch of
ways to up-sell support contracts or even other engineering services,
but one I would focus on (with the customers' permission, of course) is
*publicity*. When someone buys a support contract, spend some effort
talking about the great work they are doing by helping to support the Qt
ecosystem. Ensure that, even if they never end up *needing* support,
they're getting some return for their money in the form of positive

(Opinions expressed in this message are my own, and do not reflect those
of my employer.)

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