At Akademy 2008 in Belgium, Qt developers Simon Hausmann and Andreas Aardal Hanssen announced dramatic improvements in the web browser engine in Qt and the canvas that is used by, for example, the Plasma desktop shell. Video support, animations and transitions, optimisations to speed up painting and animations, and new graphical effects open up nearly endless new possibilities for developers to present their user interfaces with. Read on for more details.
Reflecting a video in QtWebKit
Hausmann demonstrated a WebKit based Konqueror web browser displaying video content through the HTML 5 video tag. With only one line of HTML code, video content in Ogg format can be embedded in webpages. Style elements can then display reflections of this video widget. Naturally, the underlying multimedia engine used in QtWebKit for showing video content is KDE's Phonon multimedia layer. Animations will also be possible. By adding simple CSS properties to your webpage elements, you can animate, rotate and fade those elements. Writing rich and animated webpages and of course embedded web content in applications becomes a breeze with QtWebkit.
After Simon's demo of QtWebkit, Andreas Aardal Hanssen entered the stage to show some of the improvements that will be in Qt 4.5 which will be released later this year or in early 2009. After Qt 4.4 brought the goodness of widgets-on-canvas and lots of optimisations that especially speed up Plasma, more breakthroughs in the development of Qt's graphics canvas are coming up. Speed-ups of up to 40 times faster in some cases go along with a set of really nice additions that are unparalleled in today's toolkits and can only be dreamt of in competing offerings. Improvements that will be available in Qt 4.5 include:
- Transition animations in user interfaces
- Optimisations in painting operations
- They are also looking into extensive support for animations through a new animation API, due for an unspecified future Qt version. Graphical effects like blur, bloom, shadow and opacity for items on the GraphicsView are being looked into as well.
Hausmann's and Hanssen's future plans for those components in Qt have been met enthusiastically by the KDE developers. Soon, these new features and optimisations will be available to KDE users around the Free world.