Wednesday, May 22, 2019

exec on Qt WebAssembly

When porting applications to Qt for WebAssembly, there are a few issues to keep in mind.

One big issue is that you do not have a full operating system underneath for you to utilize.
What you get is the same sandbox in which javascript lives. In some aspects, it is somewhat similar to a single-threaded microcontroller where there is just one thread in which to operate, limited filesystem access and limited resources.

One of the unusual and tricky bits about using Qt for WebAssembly, is that the exec loop is not typical. The Emscripten main loop is co-operative, after each event has a turn to run, control is then returned to the browser. Any blocking of the event loop will mean the web page in which your application runs will become unresponsive.

This is all fine and dandy for simple applications that use one main loop, but gets complicated when you try to exec a secondary loop. To stop the execution of an event loop, emscripten throws an exception, which leads to all kinds of fun. It also means it never returns to the same place that you expect it. So any modal dialog that uses exec() will not return values. Less than ideal.

Take for instance QColorDialog. Typical use is as such:

    QColorDialog dlg(parent);
    QColor color = dlg.selectedColor();

Which is basically what QColorDialog::getColor does.

... and does not work with Qt WebAssembly, because exec() does not return to the same place as you expect! The call to selectedColor will never get called.

What you can do is use a non-modal dialog with the show() or in the case of QColorDialog open() function and use Qt's signal/slot API to retrieve the selected QColor.

 QColorDialog *dlg = new QColorDialog(this);

        dlg, &QColorDialog::colorSelected,
        [=](const QColor &selectedColor) {
        qDebug() << Q_FUNC_INFO << selectedColor;

You can read more about the Emscripten execution environment at

You can also learn more about Qt for WebAssembly and other things in the book I wrote:
Hands on Mobile and Embedded Development with Qt 5

Friday, May 3, 2019

Mobile and Embedded Development with Qt

At times it was a bit painful juggling writing a book, doing my day job and running around doing the things that life throws. It's done and dusted now, you too can buy my book titled Hands-On Mobile and Embedded Development with Qt 5! It has a nice image of glacier ice on the cover, which I thought was appropriate for a technology founded in Norway and then continued in Finland.

A big thanks to the co-founder of Trolltech, Eirik Chambe-Eng, who was gracious enough to write the forward at the last second. Tons of thanks to all the editors who also worked on this book.

One of the things I learned writing this book is that Qt is big. I already knew that, but now it's plainly apparent just how big it has grown. Not only are there major companies developing products with Qt, but it has a lot of different functionality and is not just about desktop widgets. There are a huge number of classes to cover.

You can check out the table of contents if you want to see what is covered and included. One area that I did not include is OpenGL ES. This is a huge topic and easily a book on it's own. It's something I would like to know more about, which is why I did not feel qualified to cover it. You need to know OpenGL Shader Language (GLSL), and I did not have the time to discover that to any real depth.

I hope that I covered topics that are relevant for mobile, embedded and IoT developers. From QtWidgets, QtQuick, QtSensors (of course) to In-app purchasing and building an embedded system with Qt Company's Boot To Qt and Yocto. I also explore Qt's newest platform - Qt for WebAssembly, which allows you to serve Qt applications from a web server to run in a web browser.