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Qt vs SDL: What are the differences?

Key Differences between Qt and SDL

  1. GUI Development: Qt is a powerful framework for building graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and provides a comprehensive set of tools and widgets to create rich and interactive applications. On the other hand, SDL is primarily designed for game development and focuses on providing low-level access to audio, keyboard, mouse, and graphics hardware.

  2. Cross-Platform Support: Qt is renowned for its excellent cross-platform capabilities, allowing developers to write code once and deploy it on multiple operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, and even on embedded systems. In contrast, SDL also supports multiple platforms, but it is predominantly used for game development and focuses on providing consistent performance across different gaming platforms.

  3. License: Qt is available under both commercial and open-source licenses, providing flexibility to developers based on their requirements. SDL, on the other hand, is distributed under the zlib license, which allows for free use, modification, and distribution of the library.

  4. Community and Ecosystem: Qt has a large and active community of developers, contributing to its rich ecosystem of libraries, tools, and documentation. This vibrant community ensures continuous improvement and provides extensive support for developers. SDL also has an active community, although it may not be as large as Qt, but it has a dedicated community of game developers building a wide range of games using SDL.

  5. Features and Functionality: Qt offers a wide range of features and functionality, including advanced GUI controls, multimedia support, networking, and internationalization, making it suitable for developing complex applications beyond just games. SDL, on the other hand, provides basic functionality for game development, such as 2D graphics, audio, and input handling, without the extensive features provided by Qt.

  6. Development Language: Qt primarily uses C++ as its programming language, which provides a powerful and efficient way to develop applications. SDL, on the other hand, supports multiple programming languages, including C, C++, and even bindings for languages like Python, allowing developers to choose the language they are most comfortable with.

In Summary, Qt is a versatile framework that excels in building GUI applications with advanced features, while SDL is focused on game development and provides low-level access to hardware. Both frameworks have their strengths and are suitable for different purposes based on the specific requirements of the project.

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Pros of Qt
Pros of SDL
  • 17
    High Performance
  • 13
    Declarative, easy and flexible UI
  • 12
    Cross platform
  • 12
  • 9
    Fast prototyping
  • 8
    Easiest integration with C++
  • 8
    Up to date framework
  • 7
  • 6
    Multiple license including Open Source and Commercial
  • 6
    Safe 2D Renderer
  • 5
    Great Community Support
  • 4
    HW Accelerated UI
  • 4
    Game Engine like UI system
  • 3
    No history of broken compatibility with a major version
  • 3
    JIT and QML Compiler
  • 3
    True cross-platform framework with native code compile
  • 3
    Reliable for industrial use
  • 3
    Pure C++
  • 3
    Been using it since the 90s - runs anywhere does it all
  • 2
    Open source
  • 2
    Easy Integrating to DX and OpenGL and Vulkan
  • 2
    From high to low level coding
  • 1
    Learning Curve
  • 1
    Great mobile support with Felgo add-on
  • 1
    Native looking GUI
  • 2
    Actively being worked on
  • 1
  • 1

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Cons of Qt
Cons of SDL
  • 5
  • 4
    C++ is not so productive
  • 2
    Lack of community support
  • 1
    Lack of libraries
  • 1
    Not detailed documentation
  • 1
    No GUI support

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What is Qt?

Qt, a leading cross-platform application and UI framework. With Qt, you can develop applications once and deploy to leading desktop, embedded & mobile targets.

What is SDL?

It is a cross-platform development library designed to provide low level access to audio, keyboard, mouse, joystick, and graphics hardware via OpenGL and Direct3D.

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What companies use Qt?
What companies use SDL?
See which teams inside your own company are using Qt or SDL.
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What tools integrate with SDL?

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What are some alternatives to Qt and SDL?
It is a C++ library that lets developers create applications for Windows, macOS, Linux and other platforms with a single code base. It has popular language bindings for Python, Perl, Ruby and many other languages, and unlike other cross-platform toolkits, it gives applications a truly native look and feel because it uses the platform's native API rather than emulating the GUI. It's also extensive, free, open-source and mature.
It is a feature-full, plugin extensible IDE for C/C++ and many other programming languages. It offers a seamless development environment to programmers that work on projects of any size. It helps you get the job done while staying out of your way.
With Electron, creating a desktop application for your company or idea is easy. Initially developed for GitHub's Atom editor, Electron has since been used to create applications by companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Slack, and Docker. The Electron framework lets you write cross-platform desktop applications using JavaScript, HTML and CSS. It is based on io.js and Chromium and is used in the Atom editor.
JavaScript is most known as the scripting language for Web pages, but used in many non-browser environments as well such as node.js or Apache CouchDB. It is a prototype-based, multi-paradigm scripting language that is dynamic,and supports object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles.
Git is a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency.
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