Wednesday, 13 August 2014

sailing in search of fresh waters

I've had a long, quiet time on this blog over the past few years while I've been frantically helping Jolla to launch their self-named product: the Jolla. I've enjoyed (almost) every day I've been there: they really are a great bunch of people and the work has been plentiful and challenging.

But as the saying goes, "this too shall pass". Nothing lasts forever, and it's time for a change: after this week, I will be taking a break from Jolla to get some fresh perspective.

On the bright side, maybe I'll have some more time for writing now :)

If anyone is interested in getting a hold of a C++/Qt/QML/Linux expert with a focus on performance, expertise on mobile, and a wide range of knowledge across other areas who loves open source, please let me know.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Every time you use CONFIG+=ordered, a kitten dies.

QMake users: public service announcement. If you use CONFIG+=ordered, please stop right now. If you don't, I'll hunt you down. I promise to god I will.

There is simply no reason to use this, ever. There's two reasons this might be in your project file:
  1. you have no idea what you are doing, and you copied it from somewhere else
  2. you have a target that needs to be built after another target, and you don't know any better
If you fit into category 1, then I hope you're turning red right now, because by using CONFIG+=ordered, you're effectively screwing over multicore builds of your code. See a very nice case of this here.

If you fit into category 2, then you're doing it wrong. You should specify dependencies between your targets properly like this:

TEMPLATE = subdirs
SUBDIRS = src plugins tests docs
plugins.depends = src
tests.depends = src plugins

And then you'll have docs built whenever the build tool feels like it, and the rest built when their dependencies are built.

If you have subdirectories involved in this, then you need an extra level of indirection in your project, but it's still not rocket science:

TEMPLATE = subdirs
src_lib.subdir = src/lib = sub-src-lib

src_plugins.subdir = src/plugins = sub-plugins
src_plugins.depends = sub-src-lib

SUBDIRS = src_lib src_plugins

For those of you wondering why I sound frustrated about this, I've fixed so many instances of this by now that it's just getting old and tired, frankly. And I still keep running into more. That's countless minutes of wasted build time, all because of laziness boiling down to a single line. Please fix it.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Qt 5 and Android

Astute observers of the Qt 5 repositories may have noticed that for quite a while, patches have been trickling in from me allowing Qt 5 to compile on Android.

The goal in mind was to allow use of Qt on Android primarily in order to work at the system level (not using the regular Android display stack, but using Wayland on Android) - tying in with Collabora's other work on Android, but this work also doesn't preclude someone from e.g. implementing a platform plugin to allow Android applications to run natively on unhacked devices, similar to Necessitas on Qt 4 - and I'd very much like to see that happen upstream.

In terms of compilation, there is one approach currently upstreamed that involves using the NDK, see this wiki page for more information. You'll note it's quite easy to do a build yourself, something that was quite intentional, since I figure that the only way it's going to improve easily is if it is easy to hack on it. I'm sure the build & installation instructions can be more optimal still (like installing to /system/lib, etc) but it's a start. Contributions welcome. I should also take a moment to thank the Necessitas guys, their mkspecs provided a nice starting point.

I had started an alternative route of integrating Qt with Android image builds (so, check out the Android tree, repo sync, drop Qt in place, run 'make' and have it built & deployed for you), but unfortunately, my sponsored time to work on this ran out, and so I wasn't able to finish it. It's still an interesting area of work, and so, I do plan to try continue it in my spare time.

In terms of actually using it, one area which is a bit of pain still, is that there's a bug in the way bionic's linker handles R_ARM_COPY relocations - instead of looking up the symbol to copy in the shared libraries the binary depends on, it finds the binary's symbol instead, meaning it doesn't really do any actual relocation.

The symptom of this is that your binary will crash on start due to things being zero'd out that really shouldn't be (like QObject::staticMetaObject in my case), depending on how it's been built. Thanks to Thiago for helping me nut that very difficult problem out. There is a patch pending on Android's gerrit instance, but I need to find the time to go rebase the patch and retest it to make sure it still works, although the code changes in the area look quite trivial.

For those of you who are visually oriented: I'm sorry, but there's not much to show here, because - as of yet - I don't have anything graphical running. Though in theory, it might be already possible to easily shoehorn Wayland libraries into the NDK using Pekka's work, and build QtWayland that way. But if anyone wants to talk Qt on Android, or better still, contribute, I'm all ears.

Massive kudos to Collabora for sponsoring my work on this!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

writing a layout in QML

Sometimes, for whatever reason, the layouts provided "out of the box" in QML just don't cut it. lately, I've been doing a few rather different things for experimentation and learning purposes that have meant I've run into quite a lot of these cases.

when this happens, the first instinct is to fall into despair - but there's really no need for that. writing your own layout really isn't that hard. Here's a small, fairly self contained example doing just that.

import QtQuick 2.0

Item {
    id: layout

    property bool ready: false

    onChildrenChanged: performLayout()
    onWidthChanged: performLayout()
    onHeightChanged: performLayout()

    /* the meat of the layout */
    function performLayout() {
        /* nothing to layout? don't bother then */
        if (layout.children.length == 0)

        var currentX = 0

        console.log("DOING LAYOUT FOR " + layout.children.length + " ITEMS")

        /* first real step of doing anything: go over all the children */
        for (var i = 0; i < layout.children.length; ++i) {
            var obj = layout.children[i]

            /* in the real world, we'd probably do something a lot more complex,
             * but let's just position our children along a row.
            console.log("Positioning at " + currentX + " to " + (currentX + obj.width))
            obj.x = currentX
            currentX += obj.width

        console.log("LAYOUT DONE")

import QtQuick 2.0

Rectangle {
    width: 100
    height: 50
    color: "black"

    Rectangle {
       width: 90
       height: 40
       anchors.centerIn: parent

       color: "red"

import QtQuick 2.0

Rectangle {
    width: 1000
    height: 100

    MyLayout {
        MyItem { }
        MyItem { }
        MyItem { }
        MyItem { }
        MyItem { }
        MyItem { }
        MyItem { }

This is obviously very simplified for demonstration purposes, to name a few things that it doesn't do:
  • it omits things like margins, wrapping
  • it will break if MyItem is ever anchored
  • it doesn't use anchoring (which might make for a more optimal implementation in this particular case - at the least, it wouldn't have to relayout if the width/height of the layout changed)
  • it doesn't relayout if the geometry of the children change
  • it relayouts whenever properties changes, which isn't optimal if e.g. the layout is animating a change, instead, it should delay a relayout using a Timer

All of these are left to the reader, but hopefully it's of some help in getting started.

san francisco, may 2012

I recently attended the Tizen Conference. I thought it might be good to write up a little about that visit (belated though it is, because I wrote half of this up, and then forgot).

I arrived on Saturday 5th, a little early, which gave me some time to recover from the flight (and the massive, massive queue through SFO immigration control - I think Carsten and I were waiting there some 1.5-2 hours). Once through, though, we met up with Thiago, and it was a swift, and generally pleasant trip on the BART to the Hyatt Regency, where the ghosts of MeeGo past were certainly felt by me at least. The rest of the day wasn't all that memorable for me, as I was quite tired.

Sunday was also mostly non-eventful, thanks to being really really tired, although we had a very nice (and amusing) breakfast in the Hyatt with Ash and others. Then spent a while wandering around with Ash and Carsten while waiting for an old friend from IRC to turn up, and picked up a new laptop for Kamilla.

I spent most of Monday touring around San Francisco and tinkering with cable cars with David and Denise. I even managed to stumble across the San Francisco Sj√łmannskirken by accident, which was a nice touch. We had a nice lunch in Chinatown, after wandering around looking for places offering decent food for a while. We stumbled back to the Hyatt later that afternoon, got ourselves registered for the conference, and started talking to folks, which continued on for quite some time. I even stumbled across Rob from Collabora, even though neither of us knew the other was coming, which was a pleasant surprise.

The evening concluded with a keynote from Jim Zemlin. I've spoken with Jim in person a bit before, and had the pleasure of appearing on stage with him at last year's MeeGo Conference keynote, but I have to admit that I wasn't a huge fan of the content of his speech, which didn't really seem to offer too much real content relevant to Tizen, but I heard later on that he had to parachute in at the last minute due to scheduling conflicts with some of the other planned content for the keynote, which would certainly explain that.

The following morning, I stumbled down, chatted to various people, and wandered in for the keynotes, which thankfully were of a much better quality. I especially enjoyed the presentation by Imad and JD, from Intel OTC and Samsung respectively. They quite clearly care a lot about their work, and managed to fit a few demos in too, which was great to avoid that "vaporware" taint that (at least for me) MeeGo had, until Nokia actually shipped a product after killing the ecosystem off.

Some discussion about Tizen governance also happened through some more introduction about the Tizen Association. I'm still not sure precisely how they fit in with Tizen as an open source project, something which I expect will become clearer over time, along with whether or not Tizen will be meritocratically governed or not.

I'll wrap up, for now, as I'm getting quite long - but suffice to say, after the keynotes, I went to loads of great sessions, met & talked with lots of interesting folks - some old friends, made some new ones - and in general had a great time. I'm keeping one eye on Tizen to see what develops. Especially as it already runs Qt.