Why Valve Should Buy Qt

>> Sunday, March 15, 2015

Recently, I came up with an idea for a commercial desktop application. It's cross-platform, so I planned to use Qt as the framework. Qt is released under two licenses: a commercial license and the LGPL. The LGPL states that Qt can be freely distributed in an application so long as the libraries are kept separate. But I don't mind paying for quality, so I called the Qt Company to ask about the commercial license.

The least expensive commercial license costs over $300 a month. No technical support. That's pocket change for a large company, but it's beyond my reach and that of many small businesses. In contrast, Microsoft sells its toolset for a one-time cost of $500, making Windows development significantly more cost-effective.

Now I'm considering wxWidgets and GTK+, but I'd rather use Qt. It's polished and well-documented, and I've never encountered any errors or issues with performance. The developer base is vast, with coders across the world fixing bugs and adding their own extensions.

Valve is deeply interested in promoting Linux, so I think they should buy Qt and release it under a license like the MIT License or BSD License. This would give coders, corporations, and entrepreneurs a good reason to choose cross-platform development over Windows-only development. It would also give Valve and the Khronos Group a framework with which to showcase their new toolsets.

At present, Valve is focused on developing and distributing games. But there's no reason that Steam can't be used to distribute general applications. I'd be happy to pay Valve to distribute my product if they made sure it couldn't be pirated.

One last thing. Vulkan can render graphics inside of an application's window, but it can't provide the window. Basic frameworks like GLUT are fine for newcomers, but professional developers need more. Qt meets these needs, and if Qt supported Vulkan before anyone else, it would be a major step forward for open-source development.


Benjamin Schleimer March 29, 2015 at 12:46 AM  

Hi Matt,
Why don't you develop your app using the Community edition of Qt but DO NOT release it?
Then when you are ready to monetize it, start demo'ing it to interested investors. If the idea and implementation are solid, the demo should sell itself. Once you can get investment, you can carry on with promoting, selling, marketing, hiring etc. IMHO $300/month for a software license for a critical piece of an app is small change compared to the costs of all the other business related activities required to make a successful business. The hardware and hosting costs alone will be WAY more then that...

By the way, I currently have a print copy of your book open on my desk. It's quite good except for some small spelling problems. My only desire for the next edition would be a section about opencl-opengl interop in python. OpenCL in python is surprisingly easy...
And I guess I'd love to see coverage of whatever SPIR-based APIs are coming out


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