Qt Oyj: Build your apps faster with Qt

Build your apps faster with Qt

Tuesday, January 25, 2022 by Peter Schneider | comments

If you could build your app in 5 months instead of 6, would that matter? If you could build the first prototype in 4 hours instead of a week, would that matter?

As product managers, we’ve always had three dimensions to play with when driving a software development project: scope, time, and quality. The number of developers is mostly fixed for multiple reasons. The number of quality issues that customers are willing to tolerate is limited. This generally leaves us with two dimensions to manage management and customer expectations: scope and time. But the isanother way to increase R&D speed without reducing the Minimum Viable Product to the strict minimum.

You might be wondering if you already have everything extracted from your product creation workflow. I might have a suggestion for you if you’re looking beyond agile methodologies, automated unit testing, and continuous deployment to optimize R&D efficiency:
Move to an integrated software development platform that breaks down organizational silos. Switch your UI framework to a cross-platform framework that unites designers, tech artists, software developers, and testers into one team. Bringing these people together into a single team working on a single code base eliminates waste at each development iteration and, therefore, improves your time to market. Let me give you an example:

In my previous job, I was a product manager for a B2B cloud solution. Every time we added a major feature, the UI designers – after interpreting my horrible hand-drawn sketch of what the clients wanted – first came up with a wireframe and then in another iteration with the visual design. After a handful of strategic clients provided input on the first visual design, the UI designer iterated on the design and then gave their work product to the software developer. The UI designer’s work product was either a PDF file or a PNG image. The front-end developer had to start from scratch to implement a functional user interface.

Once the front-end developer built the first working UI, it somehow resembled the UI designer’s visual design, but it was still pretty rough because “CSS styling can be done towards the end” I have been told more than once. With the UI working, we then went back to the customers and asked for their feedback, which led to another iteration of UI design and UI implementation, both without synergies.

Illustration: Traditional product creation workflow

A lot of waste was produced because the front-end developer always had to start from scratch to create the new version of the UI. With each iteration, the UI designer created “impressions” of the visual design, but nothing tangible, at least from the front-end or UI developer perspective. Designers and developers were working in their own silos and I, as the product manager, was trying to “glue” things together. Not to mention that the UI Designer was a freelancer and with each iteration she created more billable hours, but that’s another story…

I wish there was a better way to work. I now know there are, at least when building the application with C++ or Python (I was working with Angular on the front-end and Java on the back-end).

An integrated software development platform like Qt removes barriers between visual designers and front-end or UI developers. While UI designers can stick with their favorite UI design tool such as Figma or Adobe XD, integrated software development platforms allow front-end developers to import UI designs user and automatically create working code. Tools like Qt Design Studio allow front-end developers to import UI assets and compose a functional UI. Instead of starting from zero code, Qt Design Studio creates assets that can be used on import and even readable software code.

Functional UI code can then be immediately edited in Qt Design Studio itself, again with a visual editor and a live preview of what the UI will look like. And breaking down silos doesn’t stop there. Back-end developers can push code created from Qt Design Studio directly into Qt Creator, an integrated development environment (IDE), and create application logic. Everyone works on the same code. Each iteration – after receiving customer feedback – is done faster. Improve time to market but also customer orientation.

Illustration: Qt product creation workflow

Product creation productivity is not only positively impacted by collaboration between UI designers and UI developers as well as UI developers and back-end developers. Readily available software components for the user interface and application logic accelerate the creation of the first prototype. Reference build images ready for different operating systems speed up the build process. Automating functional UI testing removes delays with every development iteration. But describing all these benefits in detail is beyond the scope of this blog post.

Using an integrated tool chain speeds up your product creation. But don’t take my word for it. Working for Qt, I’m biased. Consider instead the words of our customers. For example, Vlochea – using Qt to create a real-time voice-MIDI controller application – says “If I were to create a complex user interface in C++ and OpenGL it would take me a week, I can produce the same thing in a few hours with little or no performance loss.” You can read more about Vlochea’s super-fast app here.

If you would like to learn more about Qt and how it can speed up your application development, please contact us.

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