A Recommendation for the Khronos Group

>> Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dear Khronos Group,

I'm a devoted fan of your technologies, from COLLADA to OpenGL to OpenCL. I applaud your commitment to open-source software and the free support you provide through your forums. Like academics and enthusiasts throughout the world, I admire all you've accomplished.

But professionals (excluding micro-entrepreneurs like myself) don't admire you. They appreciate Microsoft and the Visual Studio framework for software development. With Visual Studio, developers can not only access all of Microsoft's technologies but also incorporate them into professional applications. Microsoft's range of technologies can't compete with yours, but they always win in the end -- not because of their technology focus, but because of their developer focus.

Here's a case in point. I downloaded a set of example OpenGL applications from your khronos.org site. I'm impressed with how far OpenGL has come since the disastrous 3.0 release, but there's a problem: every example requires the OpenGL Framework (GLF), which requires GLUT. This is a disgrace.

GLUT was created as a teaching tool for OpenGL, and it serves this purpose well. But its features haven't progressed to a level anyone would consider professional. I've spent a lot of time evaluating different frameworks that support OpenGL rendering, but I'm not 100% satisfied with any of them. To access your technology, I need to make trade-offs in performance and capability that no Windows developer would ever worry about.

So here's my recommendation: fork Qt. Qt is a full-featured cross-platform software framework whose developer base stretches across the world. Enthusiasts appreciate its open-source licensing and extensibility; professionals appreciate its stability and support.

And you're in luck. Nokia, Qt's primary guardian, has joined forces with Microsoft in developing their mobile platforms. This means that from now on, Nokia's smartphones will be based on Windows, not Qt. Nokia's leadership has stated that Qt support is still a priority, but I'll bet Qt's lead developers would rather work with you than with their former sponsor.

Qt has been around for decades and it has an established developer base, so you wouldn't have to put any effort into marketing or bug fixing. All you'd have to do is integrate your technologies so developers can easily code full-featured applications with them. This wouldn't be hard. Qt already provides access to OpenGL rendering and there's even a preliminary Qt library that calls OpenCL functions. But neither of these features are perfectly accessible because no one is making integration a serious priority. If you took the reins, however, that would change.

You may think these concerns are beneath your notice, Khronos Group, but if you don't pay attention to your developers' needs, developers will stop paying attention to you.

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