All You Need to Know About Apple’s New Programming Language – Swift

During WWDC 2014, Apple introduced a new programming language called Swift. Swift is intended to be a modern and easy to use language that allows for quicker app development and avoids complexities in XCode.

Apple has simplified programming with its developer tools and extensive documentation over the past few years, but Objective-C and XCode still require a steep learning curve. This can really be uninviting to those who have other options for app development. Even if you’re a professional developer, with seasoned data manipulation skills in higher-level programming languages, you might find yourself annoyed by some of XCode’s nuisances, especially if all you want to do is give your logic a practical shape, without having to manage the difficult and tiresome syntax involved.

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Apple’s intent with Swift is to do away with the worrisome syntax, and instead get down to the logic of programming. The language, according to Apple, is built to be safe and manage memory automatically. It also fully supports unicode, so you can store values in standard English variable names, Chinese characters and emoticons if you like.

For all of you who already know Objective C: You’re in luck. Swift is built to work with the already existing Objective-C programming language, so it should integrate well with all your current Objective-C projects. Swift brings up code of OS X and iOS to a slightly higher level, allowing people with coding experience to develop programs much, much easier.

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Apple says that it created the code after extensive research regarding what developers like and don’t like about current programming language.

Swift is the modern programming language for the modern developer – Apple

Swift’s main new feature that has many developers buzzing is “Playgrounds,” which provides users with live feedback as they code. Resultantly, this makes it possible to test exactly what is going to happen inside an application, without having to compile the whole application. Playgrounds also give complete control of time inside a program so users can see what their code is doing moment by moment. This can arguably save valuable minutes for developers and will surely be a feature that most developers would like to have and use.

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Apple states that Swift is primarily designed for safety and for improving memory corruption bugs. Many developers who have experimented with the new language have stated that it’s much easier to read because of the fact that parameters are expressed in a cleaner syntax; that makes projects in Swift easier to maintain and read. For example, here’s a simple “Hello, World” program in both Objective C and Swift:

In Objective C:

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In Swift:

println("Hello, world")

It’s that simple.

Swift will additionally help to catch coding errors before they can make it into the final product. This should really help increase developer productivity and help make more stable apps. Developers will be able to submit OS X and iOS apps made with Swift to the App Store when the new operating systems release this fall.

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Apple has released an iBooks guidebook for developers using Swift, which is available for free. The book will really help new developers learn Swift, so if you’re an aspiring developer, do check it out.

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On June 1st, nobody outside of Apple had heard of Swift. Twenty-fours hours later, it’s a completely different story. Tens of thousands of developers were thinking and planning what they planned to do with it.

It’s true that change comes quickly, rather swiftly these days.