Putting a new idea, or a preview of a new project, into the open is always risky. You know it’s not ready, you know it has flaws. You see the potential, but you don’t know if others will also see it. You know you must quickly respond to feedback, but if things go very well you might not have the capacity of doing that.
Presenting Qt Creator so far has been overwhelming. The video has been seen over 17.000 times, and the download figures are in line with this. The amount of good feedback on the mailing list is more than we can handle – and all that without any real marketing activities. To sum it up: There’s definitely interest out there in a Qt-based IDE that dares the balancing act between the ease of a real man’s text-editor and the power of a modern integrated development environment. Most reviewers also understand that this is a preview and does not show the final feature set.
There is one important thing to know about Creator: in many ways it is really just connecting the dots, a combination of pieces we already had: an editor (QPlaintextEdit), a C++ parser (jambi, qt3to4), a pro-file reader (from linguist), a visual designer (Qt Designer), and the qhelp doc integration that is part of Qt. And don’t forget Qt itself. So when people ask us: why did you develop a new cross-platform IDE from scratch we can honestly answer: we didn’t.
During my DevDays presentation in Munich I joked: Please like Qt Creator, otherwise we will be doomed to develop Eclipse plugins in eternity. As with most jokes, there’s some truth to it. First of all, we will of course continue to develop Eclipse plugins, but secondly, we need a good reception. Only when it becomes obvious that Qt Creator is going to make a difference in developing software with Qt, we can turn this engineering-driven creative Friday project into an official and well-supported free software project. To me this means project plans and tasks on openly accessible wikis, an open repository as well as external contributors.
Things so far look very good.
The negative reception in the free software community was as expected. Never look a gift horse in the mouth does not apply here. It happens each time a new project is announced, and it did happen each time I founded or co-founded anything:
- I don’t need it, you should rather work on something that I need.
- You suffer from NotInventedHere-syndrome, you should have contributed to [some project] instead.
- You will not succeed because [lame arguments go here].
- You suck.
Actually I did announce stuff where I only got feedback #4, my KDE port of the gimp was one of those, so compared to that, Creator got a fair and friendly reception.
Funny enough the worst feedback came from the KDE community. “Funny” because they say exactly the same things that were said against creating KDE in the first place. And before that the same things were said against creating Qt. The company the original version of Qt was written for even rejected it in favor of Motif, back then the Eclipse among the Unix toolkits. Needless to say that many years later they bought Qt licenses.
Do you want to know what I think why Gnome currently has the lead despite inferior technology? License? Crap. They succeeded because they quickly learned that a) the focus must be on the users, and b) they welcomed corporate contributions with open arms. Both are obviously related, if your focus is “what is best for the users” you welcome new contributors easier than if your focus is “what’s in it for me, how do I get most users for my code”.
Anyway, as long as we have more than 100 users for every guy bitching against it, we have all the reason in the world to be happy. And we are.