Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Feb 2009 14:07 UTC
Editorial Late last week we ran a story on how the Google Chrome team had decided to use Gtk+ as the graphical toolkit for the Linux version of the Chrome web browser. It was a story that caused some serious debate on a variety of aspects, but in this short editorial, I want to focus on one aspect that came forward: the longing for consistency. Several people in the thread stated they were happy with Google's choice for purely selfish reasons: they use only Gtk+ applications on their GNOME desktops. Several people chimed in to say that Qt integrates nicely in a Gtk+ environment. While that may be true from a graphical point of view, that really isn't my problem with mixing toolkits. The issue goes a lot deeper than that.
Thread beginning with comment 349266
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
We're Stuck With It
by segedunum on Mon 16th Feb 2009 15:25 UTC
segedunum
Member since:
2005-07-06

I've never understood this 'use one toolkit and we will have brilliant consistency' argument, and it is one that seems to be deeply rooted in the psyche of people who advocate GTK+ as the one 'standard' toolkit as if it's somehow a given that merits no explanation. A cursory glance through Gnome's 'control panel' shows applets that use instant apply and a close button and some that use a two button OK/Cancel method. There are GTK+ applications like this littered all over the place that simply don't have a consistent, inherited core infrastructure to them. If you show that to a Windows developer he's just going to laugh at you in disbelief. Consistency. What a laugh.

I've never been able to fathom what on Earth these arguments are based on, other than a hope that the limitations of GTK+ can be painted over and everything else will sort of, 'go away'. It's been going on for years and shows no signs of ending, despite the fact that Windows and Mac developers are not flocking to write applications for the platform and Windows and Mac users see nothing of consequence to make them move over, despite the hype.

The simple fact of the matter is that if you have lots applications written for your platform, which is actually what you want, then you get divergence in look, feel and developer technology that use 'native' look and feel to varying degrees. Even Mac OS has had this problem. The notion that we're somehow going to be able to wave a magic wand and solve it in the open source platform world by mandating a 'by fiat' standard toolkit that can't even help application developers out is a contagious, mental disease that seems to pervade an awful lot of people.

This attitude of some people trying to have some 'pure' one toolkit system will only leave you with fewer and fewer quality applications with the functionality that Windows and Mac users demand, now and in the future. Developers, developers, developers developers, applications, applications, applications, applications. That's what you need if you want a desktop that actually does anything. It's your funeral.

Religious attachment to one toolkit == no applications and no functionality. Take your pick.

"However, that's not a valid argument, and it's totally irrelevant to this discussion. I find this problem just as annoying on Windows as I do on Linux, but at least Linux gives me the ability to stick to one toolkit and have a consistent desktop - whether that be Qt or Gtk+. Windows being a mess in this regard does not negate my problem."

Hmmmmm. Which platform there has all the applications people tend to want to use Thom? :-) How many Windows users do you think really care?

Reply Score: 6

RE: We're Stuck With It
by Darkmage on Mon 16th Feb 2009 15:28 in reply to "We're Stuck With It"
Darkmage Member since:
2006-10-20

you'll probably find the big boohaha over gtk+ being the one toolkit was it was the only lgpl licensed toolkit for ages and companies were too stingy to pay up to trolltech for the right to use QT. That probably has had more to do with gtk adoption than any other factor. KDE was first on the scene as far as I am aware, although the gnustep people have been claiming that gnome did look into gnustep as a possible api for gnome before they finally settled on gtk. btw to be fully disclosed, I am currently writing a 3d modelling app in gtk+ 2.0 ported from gtk+1.2. (it's not easy to write apps in any language I've tried so far. (except vb but I didn't like how vb worked anyway.))

Edited 2009-02-16 15:30 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: We're Stuck With It
by segedunum on Mon 16th Feb 2009 15:46 in reply to "RE: We're Stuck With It"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

...you'll probably find the big boohaha over gtk+ being the one toolkit was it was the only lgpl licensed toolkit for ages and companies were too stingy to pay up to trolltech for the right to use QT.

It's one of the reasons given, but I've seen no Windows or Mac development companies getting interested in GTK+ because of the license. It was a really rather sad argument to make. It certainly lowers the barriers to entry, as it will with Qt, but picking up development tools out of interest and sticking with it are two different things. Maybe the Qt and KDE people aren't quite so self-conscious, I don't know.

Going back to the article, I just don't see how you will attract applications, and henceforth users, to your desktop and platform by advocating the 'one toolkit' route. It just limits the functionality you have available on a platform that is absolutely crying out for applications and users.

...although the gnustep people have been claiming that gnome did look into gnustep as a possible api for gnome before they finally settled on gtk.

If that's true then they need their heads examined. With the right investment of people and time GNUStep could have been so much more.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: We're Stuck With It
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 16th Feb 2009 15:39 in reply to "We're Stuck With It"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Religious attachment to one toolkit == no applications and no functionality. Take your pick.


...?

What exactly am I missing on my KDE desktop if I stick to Qt only? What am I missing on my GNOME desktop if I stick to Gtk+ only?

Edited 2009-02-16 15:40 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: We're Stuck With It
by dagw on Mon 16th Feb 2009 15:54 in reply to "RE: We're Stuck With It"
dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

You're artificially limiting yourself.

I could list a bunch of apps, but for each app I'll list you'll no doubt name a different app which is similar as some sort of counter argument. And then we'd be stuck arguing over what you're missing by choosing one over the other and start listing features the other app is missing and nobody would have any fun...But what the hell here goes

I like Eclipse for those times when I do Java development. Could I develop Java using a pure Qt or pure Gnome app, sure, but I'd miss Eclipse. There is one small example of what at least I would be missing by being a toolkit purist.

At the end of the day it's a question of priorities. I have no problem running a Qt, gtk and even a motif app all at the same time if it means I have access to what I consider the most effective tools for the job at hand. What I lose in consistency I make up in efficiency.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: We're Stuck With It
by segedunum on Mon 16th Feb 2009 16:07 in reply to "RE: We're Stuck With It"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

What exactly am I missing on my KDE desktop if I stick to Qt only? What am I missing on my GNOME desktop if I stick to Gtk+ only?

On a KDE desktop you miss out on mainstay applications like Eclipse and Firefox because you refuse to touch anything that uses the 'other toolkit' in any way. Maybe we'll have a great KDE WebKit browser, but we don't. It means you miss out on applications like the Orca screen reader just because it doesn't have a Qt/KDE front-end. If it means I get access to this functionality then I'm willing to put up with some 'impure' applications, and the majority are. I'd love them all to have Qt/KDE interfaces, and maybe they will, but it won't stop me using them and me advocating a standard toolkit won't change that. Maybe they could have made better development choices, but that's up to them.

On a Gnome destktop you miss out on Amarok, the full suite of excellent edutainment applications with no parallel that Ubuntu amongst others have pitifully tried to rewrite for GTK at various points, DigiKam, TaskJuggler project management, KDissert mind mapping, BasKet, Rosegarden, KOffice (stuff like Kexi and Krita in particular), KMyMoney....... I've picked a few there that either have no parallel, or where their functionality has gone beyond that of pretty much anything else available.

If an application doesn't work as well as you thought it did, why restrict yourself by not using something even if it is better? Users want to do stuff with their computers, that means functionality and that means applications. It trumps beautiful purity every time.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: We're Stuck With It
by porcel on Tue 17th Feb 2009 16:07 in reply to "RE: We're Stuck With It"
porcel Member since:
2006-01-28

There is no kile application in Gnome world. Gnome's education suite pails in comparison to KDE's. There is no k3b (and no brasero isn't even close).

Exaille, Rhythmbox are not even close to Amarok. Konqueror and krusader kick ass as file managers. Nothing close on the gnome side.

On the Gnome side of the fence, kde doesn't have anything close to G.R.A.M.P.S.

I could go on for hours, but if you are asking for interface purity, you will be missing on fundamental applications.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: We're Stuck With It
by acobar on Mon 16th Feb 2009 16:06 in reply to "We're Stuck With It"
acobar Member since:
2005-11-15

Very well said. All this talk about this subjective consistence on this or that platform is so out of reality, it would be made true if all you do is browse the internet, mess with your files on a file manager, watch your videos or listen your musics (right now not even on that), but just start to use some more serious applications and what? Kapout, so goes your dream of that holly consistence. I´m not saying that a minimum level can not be reached, but expect that all applications you use abide to your desire is just a kind of infantile dream that would impact severely the usefulness of non-trivial software.

Reply Parent Score: 3