How to Develop a qx.Desktop Application

General Cycle of Activities

The general cycle of development activities while creating a desktop application is roughly:

  1. Create a source version of your app.
  2. Load it in a browser.
  3. Test, experiment, debug.
  4. Make changes to the source code.
  5. Cycle to 2.

This will be the main cycle of your activities.

Mind that you start with a Generator run creating your application. This is necessary to produce a runnable application that will work in a browser. You might have to re-run this step, depending on the variant of source version you created. (In such a case, you will cycle to 1. instead of 2.). The currently available source jobs include source, source-all and source-hybrid. You can also use our watch job which will mirror all your changes and start the generation job automatically. See their individual job descriptions for details.

Build Version

The basic programming model of qooxdoo suggests that you develop your application in its source version, and once you're satisfied create the build version of it, which is then deployed on a web server. qooxdoo's build versions of an application are self-contained, they encompass all script files, resources like images and style sheets, and any helper files that are necessary for the application. You can safely copy the build directory to the document forest of a web server, or zip it up in an archive and send it by mail; the recipient should be able to unpack it and run the application without flaws.

For a bit of background, here are more details of the build version.

Class Code

  • Class code is compressed and optimized, and put in only a few script files, which are later loaded by the loader script.
  • The number of script files is highly configurable, depending mainly on the us of parts. In general, the Generator tries to minimize the number of script files.


  • Images like icons or decorators that are required by the classes which go into the application are copied from the various libraries they belong to. A resource directory tree is created in the build folder that reflects the various name spaces of the included images.
  • The same applies to other static resources like style sheets, HTML files, or media files.
  • The index.html file is copied from the source directory.

Translations and Localisation Data

  • Translated strings and localisation data like calendar items are compiled into the JS script files, together with the class code.

Running the Source Version through a Web Server

Basically, the source version of an application can be run off of the file system (i.e. opening it with the file:// protocol in your browser). But there are reasons why you would want to run it over a web server. You might need to integrate with backend services during development time, so frontend and backend service points need to be on the same web server. Same-origin-policy for other resources you want to use in your app might force you into the same direction. And, browsers have increasingly become constraint, e.g. when XHR requests go to the local disk from the file:// protocol. This impedes applications that just want to load some JSON data.

The issue with the the source version is that the generated loader script just references source code and resources with relative paths, wherever they happen to be on your file system. This poses some challenges when run from a web server. Even if you include your application in a server-accessible path (somewhere down from its document root or one of the defined aliases), chances are that the source script references files which are outside the document scope of the web server.

Web Server Jobs

We have therefore provided two Generator jobs that address this situation, and which you can run in your application main directory. Both build on the fact that you can usually find a common root of all involved paths on the file system, and to use that common root as an entry point for a web server.

The source-server job starts a simple built-in web server that exports the common root as its document root. The source-httpd-config job, on the other hand, generates a web server configuration file, suitable for the most popular web servers, so you can include it with your existing web server setup. Both jobs will print on the console the URL with which you can load your source application.

Rolling your own

We recommend using one of the above jobs. But if you find yourself in the situation where you cannot utilize those, but need to work your own way through the issue, here are some hints to guide you:

  • Make the source directory of your application accessible to the web server, so that it is reachable through a valid URL like http://your.web.server/path/to/yourapp/source/index.html.

  • Make sure all components that are used by your application, as there are the qooxdoo SDK itself and any additional qooxdoo library or contribution that you use, are equally accessible by the web server.

  • Make sure the relative paths on the web server match those on your file system, e.g. if your app lives on the file system at


    and your qooxdoo installation is at


    and the server path to your app is


    then make sure the server path to qooxdoo is


    so that relative references like


    will work under the web server.


All of the above really boils down to the following: Running the source version from a web server requires having the web server root be higher in the file system hierarchy than ALL the application source root and the qooxdoo SDK root and any qooxdoo contribs you might be using, so that all libraries are accessible from the application via relative paths at the server. (It corresponds to file:// usage if the web server root is in fact the file system root.)