How to Learn Qt
Required programming skills
Qt is an application development framework based on C++. Traditionally, C++ is the major programming language used to develop with Qt.
A solid understanding of the basics of C++ is essential for those planning on using Qt for C++. You do not need to be a C++ expert to begin. Qt simplifies many aspects of C++ development, making it a lot of fun. The overall development effort is minimal since Qt API are easy to understand and application functionality can be implemented with a smaller amount of code. C++ experts will find a lot of powerful APIs and tools in Qt which will make complicated things simple and new features easy to get done.
Various bindings have been developed by the Qt community for other programming languages. See the this wiki page on Qt Developer Network for more information about using other programming languages with Qt.
Tools to install
Qt provides a range of tools for all steps in application development for desktops and devices. Tools are integrated into packages that are easily installed on several platforms. You have following options:
- Qt SDK - one package with all the tools you need for the creation of applications for Symbian and Maemo in addition to desktop platforms such as Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
- Qt Creator - a cross-platform integrated development environment (IDE). Note, that the Qt Creator package does not contain the Qt framework itself. You can either configure it to use with a version of Qt already installed on your machine or download a new version of Qt separately.
- Qt binary package - a ready-to-go installer for Mac, Linux and Windows containing a precompiled tool chain, libraries, include files, documentation, demos and examples.
- Qt source code packages - Qt and Qt creator are available in source code as zip or tar archives as well as on the Public Qt Repository.
All packages above are available for download on the Downloads page. We recommend starting with Qt SDK since it contains all you need in one package. Later on you can consider installing other packages separately. They can all coexist on your machine and be configured to work with each other.
Examples in action
One of the most popular ways of discovering new technologies is to walk through examples.
Qt provides a large selection of examples and demos which are available in source code (check demos and examples directories in your installation).The main difference between examples and demos is that examples are smaller and more focused on one functionality whereas demos are complete, more complex applications using many Qt features.
Most of the examples and demos are precompiled and integrated into the Examples and Demos Launcher.
Run it and see Qt's features in action. You can also start all examples and demos from it as separate applications or browse to the source code. Qt Creator allows loading of examples as projects with a wizard on the "Welcome" page.
Additionally, Qt Widget Gallery provides overviews of selected Qt desktop widgets in each of the styles used on various supported platforms.
If you are new to Qt, you should first take a look on the following examples:
Qt technology guides
At some point you should take some time to walk through the Qt technology guides and overviews provided in Qt documentation. Qt is simple to use, but you should have a basic understanding of the key concepts behind Qt to reveal its full power. There is a large selection of documents that are sorted into the following sections:
- Programming with Qt - about key components and technologies used in Qt development
- Cross-platform and Platform-specific Development and Platform-Specific Documentation - using Qt on different platforms
- Qt Quick - a home page of Qt Quick in Qt documentation
- UI Design with Qt - specifics of desktop UI development
- Qt and Key Technologies - how Qt addresses industry standards and also how they are used in Qt
- Best Practice Guides - a collection of various tips and hints
The following guides are essential for those new to Qt:
- Object Model
- Object Trees & Ownership
- Signals & Slots
- The Event System
- Implicit Sharing
- Container Classes
- Internationalization with Qt
- Coordinate System
- Paint System
- Network Programming
- The Qt Resource System
The Develop with Qt guide provides a good overview of all topics in Qt development and includes links to the section mentioned above as well as many more advanced aspects.
Compared to examples, tutorials walk you through the development steps of an application and show how to use Qt to implement required functionality. Some Qt tutorials also explain specific details of selected Qt features.
The Getting Started Programming with Qt tutorial is a good start for all who are new to Qt. In this tutorial you will develop a simple text editor and go through the major steps of developing of a Qt application.
Many Qt developers use Qt Designer to compose desktop UIs in a visual editor. Take a look the Qt Designer manual to learn more about this.
The Tutorials page contains a list of all tutorials provided in Qt documentation.
Getting most of Qt documentation
Qt comes with extensive documentation, with hypertext cross-references throughout so you can easily click your way to whatever interests you. The part of the documentation that you'll probably use the most is the API Reference. Each link provides a different way of navigating the API Reference. Try them all to see which work best for you.
The All Overviews and HOWTOs page lists all Qt technology overviews and HOWTOs in one please. This includes the overviews mentioned above, but also lists several addtional references (e.g. starting pages of all Qt modules, most of which contain a short introduction to a given module).
You can find Qt documentation either directly integrated into Qt tools as well as here. The advantage of Qt documentation provided in tools is that it is stored on your machine and is available offline. The Qt documentation web site provides access to documentation from different Qt versions as well as the latest snapshot. Qt tools provide search functionality over the index of content as well as free text search. Advanced searches can also be conducted in Qt documentation through the use of search engines. Just limit the search to doc.qt.nokia.com and review help topics provided by the search engine you're using to know how to write more advanced search queries.
The most of the content in Qt documentation is in the documentation of Qt APIs. This includes a lot of code snippets showing how to implement a functionality with Qt APIs. A good example of this is the documentation on the QString class.
Make sure to take a look at the following reference documentation since they contain a lot of important details:
- Qt Namespace - contains a log of frequently used static variables
- Global Qt Declarations - to get an overview of available standard types, macros, and static functions
Get advice and support from the Qt Community
Qt has an active and helpful user community who communicate using the various means:
- qt-interest Mailing list
- Qt Centre Website
- Forums on Qt Developer Network
- Wiki on Qt Developer Network written by the Qt community and hosted on the Qt Developer Network
- The #qt and #qt-creator IRC channels on irc.freenode.org
In addition, many Qt developers are active members of the KDE community.
In many cases people prefer attending professional training courses to boost their learning progress. A training course has two unique benefits: Its scope can be adapted to your needs and you will get helped on the spot by Qt trainers who are also experienced Qt developers. Qt Training Partners offer a wide range of courses. Most courses are based on materials developed by the Qt team.
There are two types of courses: open enrollment and on-site. Open enrollment courses are public courses open to anybody. They are a good choice for an individual developers or small groups. If you have a large Qt project, on-site training is a better choice and can be more cost efficient. You can request your own agenda for on-site training whereas open enrollment courses have a predefined agenda and scope valid for all attendees.
Listen to Qt experts on videos
A wide range of videos is available on the Qt Video Portal on the Qt Developer Network. Most of the videos are recordings of talks given by Qt experts at Qt Developer Days. You can use categories and tags to find videos which cover the scope of your needs.
Another part of the videos are recordings of training sessions recorded at Qt Developer Days:
- Qt Essentials, by ICS: (part 1 and 2) and KDAB: (part 1 and 2)
- QGraphicsView, session by ICS and session by KDAB
- Multithreading, session by ICS and session by KDAB
- UI Development with Qt, session by ICS and session by KDAB
- Embedded Development, session by basysKom and session by ICS
- Model/View Programming, session by basysKom and session by KDAB
- QWebKit, by KDAB
- Qt Quick, by KDAB: part 1, 2, 3, 4
- Qt Mobile Development for Nokia Devices, by Digia: part 1, 2, 3
Additionally, there are recordings of the Qt Essentials training modules:
- Fundamentals of Qt, part 1 and 2
- Application Creation, part 1, 2, 3
- Widgets, part 1, 2, 3
- Graphics View, part 1, 2, 3
- Model/View I, part 1, 2, 3, 4
- Model/View II, , part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Prove your knowledge
Qt Certification publishes the scope of each exam in Qt Curriculum as "Qt Curriculum Blocks," which are available under this link. The Qt Essentials Curriculum Block describes the scope of knowledge which covers all of the fundamental concepts and basic features in Qt. Review this list to find out which areas of Qt you should become familiar with in order to reach a basic level of Qt expertise. If you also have at least 6 months of Qt development experience, consider taking the Qt Essentials exam and becoming a Nokia Certified Qt Developer.
Further Readings and Materials
A selection of training materials is available to download under this link which includes slides (PDF) and source code from the following three courses:
- Qt Essentials - Widget Edition
- Qt Essentials - Qt Quick Edition
- Qt Quick for Designers
Qt in Education Course Material is available to download as well. It is more tailored to the needs of educational institutions that use Qt for teaching purposes, but nonetheless provides helpful slides in various formats as well as labs and example code.
Another valuable source of example code and valuable information about Qt features is the archive of articles from Qt Quarterly, a quarterly newsletter for users of Qt.
Good luck and have fun!