Two days ago Trolltech announced together with KDE that they will collaborate on development the Phonon backends for Gstreamer, Windows and Mac OS X. Working code has been handed over to the KDE repository where further development will take place.
Trolltech and KDE work together for years now: the Trolltech developers are open to KDE’s suggestions and needs, and KDE itself is a big testing framework for Trolltech’s Qt. Now this cooperation went a step further: Trolltech and KDE 4 announced that both will work together on KDE 4’s Phonon in the future.
Phonon itself is the new Multimedia framework of KDE 4 and will enable developers to easily add Multimedia playback in their applications: with Phonon developers don’t have to care about backends like Xine or MPlayer or anything else. At the same time it will be usable with different backends so that KDE users can use Xine, GStreamer or whatever they want to actually play the content. This also drastically simplifies porting of multimedia KDE applications to other platforms like Windows or Mac OS X: as soon as Phonon has platform/backend support for DirectShow or Quicktime, every KDE 4 multimedia application which uses Phonon works on there.
Now Trolltech was looking for something similar for Qt: developers should be able to easily embed multimedia content into Qt applications without the need to care for backend/platform stuff. And since Phonon does exactly that they decided to help with the Phonon development, and integrate it with Qt. Qt version 4.4 will ship with the libraries, first developer information about these new Qt features are already available.
And Trolltech also provided important code: while Phonon abstracts the different backends away from 3rd party developers the actual integration of each backend has to be written for Phonon. And until not long ago only the Xine backend was reliable working, support for other Linux backends like GStreamer was not ready, and platform support for Windows and Mac OS was missing totally. But Trolltech developed the necessary backends – GStreamer, Directshow and Quicktime – and they are now part of the KDE 4 libraries.
Also interesting is the fact that the sources are entirely developed inside of the KDE repository:
By developing Phonon components within the globally accessible public KDE source repository, Phonon developers are able to watch and participate in the development of Trolltech’s Phonon back-end code and library code contributions.
Trolltech is a company, and using a community repository to manage and develop parts of their code is a huge sign of trust!
Also, this shows how Open Source projects and compaines can work together – in this case KDE works for Trolltech and Trolltech works for KDE. And both sides win quite a lot. Maybe this is a model for other projects.
Besides the political and technical impact of this new development I also hope that this will bring us a usable Amarok running on Windows pretty soon: sometimes I need something like Amarok for Windows for friends and Amarok itself would be just prefect.