• Apple’s Swift – Makes Building Apps Easy or Creates a Nightmare?

    Apple dropped a bombshell for all developers during the WWDC this year held a few days back. The announcement that they will be shifting from the Objective-C programming language to a new coding language, which they have called Swift, came as a complete surprise to many developers.

    Apple Swift

    For its part, Apple stated that they have essentially simplified and built on the Objective-C platform making it simpler, more user-friendly and faster. Apple claims that Swift can be 75% faster than Objective-C and that it is much easier to learn as well. This will especially help newer developers to pick up the coding language faster and they will be able to develop new apps for iOS 8.

    However, what does it mean for those who already have learnt the Objective-C language by heart? Well, a tweet by developer Paul Haddad sums it all up: “Well, there goes the last 20+ years of my life”.

    Yes, the Objective-C programming language has been in use for the last 20 years or so. Some others mocked Apple by putting up fake ads like “@tapbot_paul looking for swift developers – must have 5+ years experience — (it’ll happen)”.

    Why Do Developers Hate It?
    There have been mixed reactions to the introduction of Swift, and justified so. Some of the more experienced developers have complained about the pain of learning a new language altogether to code on the iOS platform.

    Many other developers feel that the move by Apple is restrictive as mobile market penetration is on a mammoth increase and that an iOS only developing language like Swift is restrictive and will narrow the scope of the market. While this seems to be in continuation with Apple’s tradition of making developers exclusively commit to the iOS system, developers were expecting a freer language and one that was not against the open source ideal.

    From Apple’s perspective though, Swift will certainly help Apple keep a tight control on the apps in its app store.

    Why Do Some Love It?
    On the other end of the pavilion, the introduction of this simplified iOS programming language has been a breath of fresh air to a lot of developers as Objective-C has been in usage for around two decades and there was a pressing need for Apple to introduce a simpler, faster and more user friendly programming language. Swift has swiftly risen up to the challenge. For instance, the language comes with ‘Playgrounds’, an interactive sandbox which provides a graphical preview of how the code will work without the need to compile an entire application first. It is a shortcut to the old ‘build, test and debug’ cycle of developing an application.

    What Does It All Mean For iOS Users?
    The introduction of Swift will mean more apps on the iOS platform. This will translate into a better development cycle and better games. iOS users have a reason to rejoice as they will get a plethora of games. In fact, Apple chose to use a game to showcase the smooth responsiveness of Swift for their program demo.

    You can also expect more stable apps on the iOS store soon and is sure to increase developer productivity as well. It is a big win for Apple and iOS users as Swift makes developers commit to the iOS platform more. Developers need to understand that this new language will be a powerful tool for developing for iOS and significantly help increase the productivity of all iOS devices.

    What do you think about Swift? Will you make time to learn the new language as a developer? We will love to hear from you.

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    • Phil Cowcill

      Over all I’m in favour of Swift vs Objective-C. It actually has more of a Java, Javascript (and dare I say ActionScript) look to it. While there are differences I think learning this new language will be easier than learning Objective-C.

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