Jun 05, 2014

How useful is Apple's Swift programming language?

At WWDC, Apple announced a new programming language called Swift. I missed the live stream. What does Swift do that existing languages don't already offer?

Ars Technica has a three page article on Swift that you might also want to take a look at.
Why Coders Are Going Nuts Over Apple’s New Programming Language

"WWDC is a gathering of people who build software applications for Apple hardware devices—from the iPhone and the iPad to the Mac—and with its new language, dubbed Swift, Apple is apparently providing a much faster and more effective means of doing so, significantly improving on its current language of choice, Objective-C. With something that Apple calls an “interactive playground,” Swift is even exploring a highly visual kind of programming that may go beyond other mainstream languages. All those developers went nuts not only because they love Apple, but because the new language could make their lives that much easier.

If it lives up to Apple’s billing, Swift may also allow a whole new type of coder to build applications for devices running the iOS and Mac OS X operating systems. “It could lower the barrier to entry for Apple developers,” says Caylan Larson, an iOS and Mac OS developer based Winona, Minnesota who watched the WWDC keynote online and is already poring over the new guide that details the Swift language. “It could open a lot of new doors for a lot of people.”"

A lot of the discussion about Swift is speculation, since the beta was just released and the full version won’t be out until Fall 2014. According to Apple, “Swift is like Objective C without the bulk of C.” It was designed to make it much easier for less experienced programmers to develop applications for iOS platforms and get them published. There are already some naysayers who are speculating that this could have the unintended consequences of unleashing a flood of poorly designed and tested apps. I personally think the positives of giving more people access to the tools required to develop iOS apps is a good thing, and the possibilities that could come from very creative people who lack some of the programming skills that have been required up to now outweigh any concern about a lot of junk apps.

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