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Rapid Dialog Design with the Qt C++ GUI Toolkit

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If your fingers are exhausted typing or cutting-and-pasting code to create the zillions of dialog boxes needed for your application's user interface, save yourself a trip to the orthopedic surgeon: Try the Qt GUI toolkit! In just a few steps, you can build great-looking dialogs that are automatically resizable, breezily skip from one language to another, and even switch with ease from reading left-to-right to reading right-to-left.
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Designing dialog boxes—or simply "dialogs"—is often the most time-consuming part of implementing an application's user interface. Typical applications contain a single main window, but dozens, scores, or even hundreds of dialogs. In this article, we'll see how easy it is to develop great-looking, resizable, platform-independent dialogs by using the Qt GUI toolkit. We'll start by writing dialogs purely in code, then explore using the Qt Designer tool to speed up the process by designing visually.

Getting Qt

Qt is a C++ class library and a set of tools for developing multiplatform GUI applications using a "write once, compile anywhere" approach. Qt lets C++ programmers use a single source tree for applications that will run on Windows from 95 to XP, Mac OS X, UNIX/Linux, and embedded Linux. Qt is also widely used for single-platform development because of its intuitive and powerful object-oriented API. It's the basis of the K Desktop Environment (KDE) on UNIX/Linux, and is used in mass-market commercial applications such as Adobe Photoshop Album.

Qt is developed by Trolltech and is available under various licenses. If you want to build commercial applications, you must buy a commercial license from Trolltech; if you want to build open source programs for UNIX/Linux or Mac OS X, you can download the Qt Free Edition from Trolltech's web site. Time-limited evaluations versions are available for Windows, UNIX/Linux, and Mac OS X.

Reference documentation is available online for the free edition at http://doc.trolltech.com/3.3/.

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