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There are about 1,600 GTK and GTK+ questions and about 9,400 Qt and Qt4 questions on StackOverflow at the moment. I find this odd.

I was under the impression that GTK was more widely deployed because

  • it's C, not C++, and
  • it had a popular jump-start because Qt was originally perceived to be less free.

I was also under the impression that Qt has much clearer, more complete and concise documentation.

I would have thought this would lead to a relatively large volume of questions from GTK newbies. The parsimonious explanation is that GTK is massively less popular among newbies. Or is some hidden factor skewing the numbers?

If there's truth to this conjecture then perhaps GTK will be generally legacy code a generation from now? (Assuming Qt survives Nokia's decline.)

Stack Overflow is becoming the go-to place for technical Q&A. Is it becoming an indicator of future technology trends?

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closed as off topic by Sathya, Time Traveling Bobby, Cody Gray, Ian Ringrose, Jon Seigel Jul 19 '11 at 17:07

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1 Answer 1

StackOverflow is becoming the go-to place for technical Q&A. Is it becoming an indicator of future technology trends?

No, of course not.

The only thing this proves is that more people who use Qt ask/answer questions on Stack Overflow than do people who use GTK. It doesn't prove that no one uses GTK anymore or that Qt is more popular.

This is as silly as the people who ask "Why are there so many questions about C# on Stack Overflow?", and then go on to attribute it to either a Microsoft-led conspiracy or the fact that since people have so many questions about C# that it must be harder to use than any other language. It should really go without saying that both are quite obviously wrong.

If there's truth to this conjecture then perhaps GTK will be generally legacy code a generation from now?

This is basically nonsense to my ears, too. First off, we don't really know what "a generation" is when it comes to technology, much less programming languages. Second, as you mention, GTK will still have important applications, like for applications programmed in C (rather than C++, as required by Qt). Third, the designator of "legacy code" is basically worthless. Who decides when something is "legacy"? Is it the people who are still working on those projects and wish they weren't? Is it the people who are pushing the latest and greatest technology that replaces it? Is it someone on the Internet with a popular blog?

There's no brightline for when to ascribe "legacy" status to a particular technology, and doing so doesn't make much sense, either. If GTK still works for you, keep using it. If it doesn't, it might be time to investigate alternative solutions. Drawing conclusions like this "a generation" in the future isn't particularly worthwhile anyway, as there's no reason to suspect that another company won't release the next greatest GUI framework for C++ that overtakes Qt and renders it "obsolete" or "legacy" or whatever.

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Attributing an abundance of C# questions to a Microsoft conspiracy is dumb, and attributing it to difficulty is naive. Granted. Point is, there is some cause. Aren't you curious? Also, irrespective of cause, you might still be able to make some claim about C# trends based on it, no? –  spraff Jul 19 '11 at 12:13
    
@spraff: Not at all. You seem to have missed the point of my answer. The cause is that there are more people who use C# that ask questions on Stack Overflow. It's not an indicator of anything more broad or more insidious than that. So there's nothing to be "curious" of. And I certainly don't think that it says anything about C# trends, other than there are as many people using it as have asked questions about it on SO. That tells you something about C#, but it doesn't tell you anything useful about the alternatives. –  Cody Gray Jul 19 '11 at 12:15
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A hospital ward fills up with head injuries, do you say "it's because more people with head injuries go to hospitals", or you you get curious about what caused the spate of head injuries in the first place? Rain implies clouds. This is a legitimate line of inquiry. Why so hostile? –  spraff Jul 19 '11 at 12:19
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@spraff: It may be a legitimate inquiry (although I disagree with that as well--I don't think it's very productive), but your data is misleading. As I mentioned before, you can probably accurately conclude that there are more Qt programmers that ask questions on Stack Overflow than there are GTK programmers. But that doesn't say anything about the programming community at large, and reasoning that it does is fallacious. If this question is legitimate, what do you think about all the others I've linked about C#, etc.? I fail to see how it's any different. –  Cody Gray Jul 19 '11 at 12:27
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@spraff, it may just be that "that hospital gets more people with head injuries then other hospital, therefore the people with head injuries get answers quicker there, therefore more poeple with head injuries choose the given hospital". –  Ian Ringrose Jul 19 '11 at 14:15
    
It might very well say something about the programming community at large. Of course it might not but it's not an unreasonable possibility that StackOverflow is a representative sample of what programmers use! You are excluding a world of possibilities. It's like Atheism. –  spraff Jul 19 '11 at 14:18
    
@Ian Yeah that could explain it, which is the question "why more head injuries" needs to control for hospital selection before comparing for leg injuries. You can dismiss my original conjecture if another comparably-popular general-purpose Q&A site in which the numbers for GTK and Qt are reversed. –  spraff Jul 19 '11 at 14:24
    
@Spraff The answer to your question is that there is no readily available answer. The difficulty in anyone here answering your question, is that there could be as many answers as there are members of Meta. It's also hard to gauge anything by the raw numbers, though. Using your hospital analogy, if an entire town got food poisoning and filled up its 3 hospitals, epidemiologists from the world over aren't going to flock there to predict that food poisoning will be overtaking us all. –  jonsca Jul 19 '11 at 14:50
    
@Spraff, or there may just be a good mailing list or news group (or even printed book) that GTK programer learned to use a long time before StackOverflow come along. –  Ian Ringrose Jul 19 '11 at 15:41
    
Or the GTK questions might be split up amongst numerous other tags for each of the various GTK bindings, or the questions might not have GTK-related tags at all because the person just tagged them with the applicable language and forgot/didn't think to include tags for their GUI system. Or GTK users might not know about Stack Overflow yet because it isn't popular in their circles and there aren't any well-known GTK bloggers linking to it. Or GTK users might all be so smart that they don't have to ask any questions. Or dozens of other possibilities. –  Cody Gray Jul 19 '11 at 15:46

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