Qt Creator 2.3 : IDE for Qt Toolkit

Nokia's Qtteam have defied expectation over the past six months, and delivered one update after another to the all-powerful Qt toolkit, despite its relegation from the first division of Nokia's smartphone strategy after it announced a move to Windows Phone.

Qt Creator, Qt’s own graphical development environment is at the head of that progress, and version 2.3 is a major update. After installation, it's easy to see where all this renewed effort is being made- it's in the JavaScript like application generation platform the Qt team calls Quick.

Quick projects are the first to appear in the application wizard, and since version 2.2, the UI creation element in the I DE has been overhauled to include support for Quick applications, but this isn't the same old Qt Designer application that was bolted into the old Creator. This is a new GUI designer built specifically for Quick projects, complete with a WYSIWYG graphical editing panel, and it feels much better integrated as a result.

Get what you see

Create an image element, assign a picture and press Play. A few moments later you'll see your new application, and what you see in the main window is exactly what you see in the designer. You can edit the QML code in-place in the same way, and any changes you make to the background code are immediately reflected in the UI designer.

The figure above shows some of the components of Qt Creator in Edit mode. 
(Click to enlarge

Alter the 'x' and 'y' coordinates in the edit view, for instance, and when you switch back to the designer, the widget will already have moved. This makes the designer feel like a first-class part of the development environment, and gives developers a very good reason to create prototypes in Quick rather than work with the now-clunky C++ interface. Version 2.3 might even make rewriting a prototype unnecessary, as there's added support for views, models and delegates. The idea of adding mockup data to populate your applications while building them is another winner.

Drag and drop to create a simple web browser.
(Click to enlarge)
But if you haven't yet jumped on the Quick bandwagon, you haven't been neglected either. There are plenty of refinements to both the project management and the editing windows to make the upgrade worthwhile. For pedantic coders, indentation styles can be defined per-project and globally for classes. Methods, blocks and namespaces, as well as indent braces. This should help you generate code that looks identical to code from your Emacs-loving friends. 

Qt Linguist's interface makes translation possible for non-technical translators.
(Click to enlarge)

Profiling has moved from a main window panel to having its own icon in the quick launch bar on the left, adding support for QML profiler for Quick applications at the same time, and you can now incorporate your own remote Linux device into the tool chain with the addition of an SFTP-based transport function. These are all refinements that give you fewer reasons to leave the main application.

Qt Eclipse Integration
(Click to enlarge)

Our only real criticism IS that while we do like the design of the application window, it's very difficult to create a minimal layout that works on a netbook or within a small resolution. But we wouldn't want to sacrifice the clear layout if it meant Creator becoming more like Eclipse. Because it's this ease, integration and design that makes Creator such a joy to use.

Qt Visual Studio Add-in
(Click to enlarge)


Qt Creator 2.3

Developer: Qt Development Frameworks
Web: http://qt.nokia.com
License: LGPL

Features - 9/10
Performance - 8/10
Ease of use - 7/10
Documentation - 10/10

Still the best integrated development environment for Qt apps, because it's the only one that feels 'integrated'.

Final Rating - 9/10

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