I am happy to announce that Qt 5.4 has been released today and is available for download from qt.io. Together with Qt 5.4, we have also released Qt Creator 3.3 and an update to Qt for device creation on embedded Linux and embedded Android.
But let’s start with Qt 5.4. One of the main focus areas of this Qt release has been around Web technologies and we have a lot of cool new things to offer there.
Renewed Web Story
HTML5 and Web technologies have become more and more important over the last years, and we have spent the last year developing a completely renewed Web offering for Qt. The Qt WebEngine module is the result of a long-term R&D project where we adopted the Chromium Web engine for use within Qt. With Qt 5.4, it is fully supported on the most used desktop and embedded platforms. Qt WebEngine provides you with an easy-to-use API to embed Web content in both Qt Widgets and Qt Quick based applications.
As a third component, Qt 5.4 introduces a Technology Preview of a new module called Qt WebView. The Qt WebView module offers a more limited API to embed the web browser that is native to the underlying operating system for use cases where the full Qt WebEngine isn’t needed, or where it can’t be used because of restrictions coming from the underlying OS. In Qt 5.4, the Qt WebView module supports iOS and Android.
Together with the Qt WebSockets module introduced in Qt 5.3, Qt now has great support for many of the latest Web technologies and makes interacting with Web content very easy. Qt WebEngine and Qt WebView make it very easy to embed HTML5, Qt WebChannel creates the communication channel between Qt and HTML5 that is required for hybrid applications, and Qt WebSockets allows for an easy communication between Qt and many Web services.
Qt 5.4 also still contains the older Qt WebKit module. Qt WebKit is still supported, but as of Qt 5.4 we consider it done, so no new functionality will be added to it. We are also planning to deprecate Qt WebKit in future releases, as the new Qt WebEngine provides what is needed. In most use cases, migrating from Qt WebKit to Qt WebEngine is rather straightforward. If you are starting a new project that requires web capabilities, we advise that you already start using Qt WebEngine.
Qt for WinRT | Completing our Cross-Platform Offering
The second big new feature of Qt 5.4 is the completion of our cross-platform story with the full support for Qt on Windows Runtime. Qt for Windows Runtime was already added as a supported Beta to Qt 5.3, and has now reached the state where it is a fully supported part of Qt. With Qt for Windows Runtime, you can create applications for the Windows Store, targeting both Windows Phone 8.1 and above as well as Windows 8.1 and newer.
This port completes our cross-platform story and we feel that Qt now supports all currently relevant desktop, embedded and mobile operating systems.
Qt 5.4 brings also a lot of other new features and improvements. One focus are has been around graphics. With Qt 5.4, we now introduce better support for high-resolution displays for our desktop platforms. The support is still considered experimental in Qt 5.4, if you are interested, check out the overview documentation.
OpenGL support on Windows has been problematic in a few cases, since there aren’t always good drivers available. To help with this problem, Qt now has the capability to dynamically select the OpenGL implementation that is being used at application start-up time. Qt will now choose between using the native OpenGL driver, the ANGLE’s OpenGL ES 2.0 implementation that translates to DirectX or a pure Software rasterizer.
Qt Data Visualization has been updated to version 1.2 including additional features such as volume rendering and texture support for surface graphs and performance improvements. Qt Charts has now been updated to version 2.0 including better Qt 5 modularization, binary packages and minor improvements.
Other improvements on the graphics side is the new QOpenGLWidget class that replaces the old QGLWidget class from Qt 4 and allows us to deprecate the old Qt OpenGL module as all relevant functionality can now be found in Qt Gui. QOpenGLContext can now wrap existing native contexts. You can use the new QQuickRenderControl to render Qt Quick scenes into an offscreen buffer. For more details check out this blog post.
We have so many new things in Qt 5.4 that we have to list them all. Before you keep moving down the blog, check out our Qt 5.4 highlights video.
Other new features
A large amount of other new features have also found their way into Qt 5.4. I’ll just mention a few of them in this blog post.
Qt now supports Bluetooth Low Energy on Linux using BlueZ. Support for other platforms will come in later versions of Qt. Bluetooth LE makes it possible to communicate with many modern Bluetooth devices such as e.g. wearables.
On Android we now have native looking Qt Quick Controls, as well as smaller deployment packages and faster application startup times. For iOS and Mac OS X, we have now support for the latest operating system versions, XCode 6 and the new code signing style required to push applications into the App Store. We especially worked hard to fix all issues related to the new style on Mac OS X 10.10.
Qt Qml comes now with support for Qt State Machines through the new QtQml.StateMachine import, and Qt Core has gained a new QStorageInfo class giving you information about mounted devices and volumes.
Qt for device creation
Today, we also release a new version of our development package for device creation. Here are some of the new features that are included in this release:
We added a new B2Qt Utils module that gives easy access to device-specific settings such as the display backlight, hostname or power state from both C++ and QML. The B2Qt Wi-Fi module is now officially supported and makes it easy to configure your Wi-Fi network.
Apart from these new features we have added a large amount of improvements:
- eAndroid Qt Multimedia plugin update.
- The implementation of Qt Multimedia for embedded Android has been refactored, resulting in a cleanly separated and easier maintained plugin for that platform.
- SD Card Flashing Wizard for easier b2qt image deployment
- Simple wizard for writing system image to SD card
- Integrated into Qt Creator
- BYOS (Build Your Own Stack) Improvements
- Improved scripts for initializing and managing the Yocto build environment: Using repo tool for managing the numerous meta repositories needed for different devices.
- eLinux: Camera support for i.MX6 devices
- All necessary GStreamer plugins for using camera in Qt Quick applications are now integrated into reference device images
- MIPI camera support added
With this version, we have also added new hardware reference platforms, including a low-end profile for the GPU-less Freescale Vybrid. The complete list of reference hardware supported by Qt for device creation can be found in the documentation.
Qt Quick without OpenGL
Another great new feature for our embedded customers is the new Qt Quick 2D Renderer module. This new commercial add-on allows using Qt Quick on embedded devices that have no OpenGL hardware acceleration. The new Qt Quick2DRenderer module can render most of Qt Quick using pure software rasterization or 2D hardware acceleration through e.g. DirectFB or Direct2D. The module support all of Qt Quick with the exception of OpenGL shaders and particles.
This enables the creation of Qt Quick based user interfaces with a modern look and feel on lower end devices than before. In addition, the ability to use the Qt Quick API across a device portfolio spanning devices both with and without OpenGL significantly reduces the amount of UI code you need to write and maintain. To showcase the Qt Quick 2D Renderer’s capabilities, we have added the Toradex Colibri VF50 and VF61 devices as new reference hardware to the Boot to Qt software stack, demonstrating our ability to run on the Freescale Vybrid SoCs.
Introduction of LGPL v3
As announced earlier, the open-source version for Qt 5.4 is also made available under the LGPLv3 license. The new licensing option allows us at The Qt Company to introduce more value-add components for the whole Qt ecosystem without making compromises on the business side. It also helps to protect 3rd party developers’ freedom from consumer device lock-down and prevents Tivoization as well as other misuse.
In Qt 5.4, a few modules are exclusively available under GPL/LGPLv3 or commercial license terms. These modules are the new Qt WebEngine and the Technology Previews ofQt WebView and Qt Canvas 3D. The Android style is only available under a commercial license or the LGPLv3. You can find more details here.
Thanks to the Qt Community
Qt 5.4 adds a lot of new functionality and improvements. Some of them would not have been possible without the help of the great community of companies and people that contribute to Qt and are not employees of The Qt Company.
While I can’t mention everybody here, I would like to still name a few. I’d like to thank our Qt Service Partner KDAB for continuously being the second biggest contributor to Qt, and in this release especially Milian Wolf for his work on Qt WebChannel. I’d also like to thank Orgad Shaneh from Audiocodes for his continuous help on and involvement with Qt Creator and Thiago Macieira from Intel for his long-term involvement. I’d also like to mention Brett Stottlemyer from Ford for contributing the new QML State Machine Framework and Ivan Komissarov for the new QStorageInfo class.
Make sure to try Qt 5.4, www.qt.io/download. Enjoy!