Swift Open source programming language


What is Swift?
Swift (adjective: meaning quickly or in a fast way) is a general purpose, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language introduced by Apple in its 2014 WWDC [World WideDeveloper Conference]. As of writing this article it stood at #13 in TIOBE programming language index. Current versions of iOS (primarily iOS 8+) are progressively being re-written entirely in swift. It is designed to work with Apple’s Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks and the large body of extant Objective-C (ObjC) code written for Apple products. Swift is intended to be more resilient to erroneous code (“safer”) than Objective-C, and more concise.

2010: CHRIS LATTNER begins work on Swift.
2014: Apple introduces Swift in WWDC
2015: Apple releases v2.2 under Apache License 2.0 on Dec 3

Open source and it’s impact

To understand why apple made the language open source, one first understand why swift was conceived in the first place by apple. Apple’s traditional arsenal for development comprised primarily C/C++/Objective C. Before Swift arrived, Objective C was the de-facto for application development for iOS devices.(not considering hybrid stack, since it relies entirely on underlying objective C code). Some of the areas where developers would get frustrated while working with objective C were:

1. Extremely long syntax which was hard to remember

2.Conventional .h/.m set of files for each and every class

3.Pointer notation

Swift borrows lot of ideas from ObjectiveC, Rust, Haskell,Ruby, C#, Python etc. Hence its deemed supporting multiparadigm programming models. Another key factor which results from getting the best from several languages, is learning curve involved while working with swift. Apple targeted it in such a way, that anyone who understands java/javascript/ruby/c# would not find learning swift difficult. One can easily draw parallels between their prior knowledge of these languages and swift. As a result, apple in a very smart way attracted a large developer audience to iOS application eco-system. Once it made it open source, giants such as IBM, Google decided to adopt at a massive scale. Google is already considering swift as a potential replacement for java due to ongoing friction with Oracle. IBM entered into a enterprise mobility partnership with Apple where it provided all the necessary tools for application development using Swift for developers & organisations.

Tiny Bites!!

• Github’s programming language page ranks Swift with highest number of stars at 34312.

• When it was open source in Dec 2015, by March 2016 it rippled freelance jobs at 600 percent increase, beating HTML etc.

• It remains in top 20 Active languages on Github.

•Swift won first place for Most Loved Programming Language in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2015 and second place in 2016.

Road Ahead

A language introduced barely 2 years ago, apple is working rigorously to make the language evolve as one of the most loved language amongst developer community. By making it open source, apple has directly involved large developer community to provide inputs to make it faster, robust, resilient programming language.

To keep track of current features of swift, please do visit (www.swift.org)