Brain Innovation, the folks behind BrainVoyager, and Trolltech, creators of the Qt cross platform C++ GUI framework, seem keen on Mac OS X.
BrainVoyager analyzes and displays functional MRI information for cognitive neuroscientists and medical professionals. About two years ago, Brain Innovation customers started asking for versions of BrainVoyager that ran not only on Windows (where it was originally developed using MFC), but also on the Mac OS, Unix and Linux. After evaluating (and rejecting) several “API emulation” approaches, they went with Qt, Trolltech’s cross-platform GUI framework, which allowed them to have BrainVoyager run natively on multiple platforms with a simple recompile.
In a Trolltech interview, Rainer Goebel, general manager & chief software developer for Brain Innovation, extols the virtues of Qt (not to be confused with QT for QuickTime) and Mac OS X. He said Qt was chosen due to “the increasing popularity of Linux and Mac OS X” and Brain Innovation’s decision to “port our program to these platforms a year ago.”
“After having tested the same source code base on Windows and Linux before, the port to the Mac platform was possible within a single day,” Goebel said. “It took me a few hours to install and compile Qt/Mac, and to recompile our source code. Since the PowerPC uses a ‘big endian’ system, we had to cope with a few problems in our sources that used standard ‘endian-aware’ file access. Instead of coding the necessary byte-swapping routines ourselves, we switched to the Qt I/O classes that allowed us to set the endian type with a single flag. After these little adaptations, the program ran successfully on Mac OS X on the end of the same day I got my hands on Qt/Mac for the first time.”
The port of the MFC-based BrainVoyager software to Linux/Unix and Mac OS X is almost complete.
“I am always fascinated when I see our software running natively on Mac OS X: It just looks and feels so cool!” he said. “It is incredible that it really just takes a recompilation to have a native Mac OS X version of our software with all the nice GUI elements.”
BrainVoyager is an optimized and user-friendly software package for the analysis and visualization of functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging data sets. The Unix (Linux, Sun Solaris) and Mac OS X version will be available “soon.”