What makes Apple’s Swift Programming language so great?
Apple’s Swift programming language is its newest entry into the programming arena. If you are developing an iPhone or iPad application for your company, you want it done in the native Swift and/or Objective C languages so you have the best, most stable product possible.“ Let’s look at some features and benefits this language offers and how it will give you an open doorway to the hottest area of programming today; the iPad and iPhone App Development market.
After you are done with this article, you’ll see why you’ll want to invest the time and resources in utilizing the Swift Programming language that was under deployment at Apple for 4 years and nary a leak or warning until it was unveiled with iOS 8 OS X at WWDC 2014.
Let’s start with some features borrowed/stolen from other languages that you may already be familiar with and probably what you’re already using for App and web development right now:
Inferred Data Types – This seems to have been lifted from language like Opa, ML and Haskell. It’s nice to let the Compiler do the work and infer type from the Data, instead of you having to do it manually.
C# and JAVA Data Structures – Taken from two of the most popular programming languages. You can tell the system what to expect and the form data will take.
Templating of String Data – Templating is one of the most powerful features of Cold Fusion and other web app languages, to help you process your String Data. This lets you add variable data to your templates in a streamlined shortened number of keystrokes from other languages you’ve used in the past.
Semicolons are optional – The pet peeve of programmers is missing or having to end every statement with a “;”, if you are as most developers, you were overjoyed when Python let us dispense with the semicolon line ending. So if you just use the EOL you can save wear and tear on your right pinkie finger. Of course, if you want to combine multiple functions together, you’ll still have to use the”;” to separate them.
Interfaces err…. Protocols – Yep, same thing you’re used to using in C# and Java, another name change for a way to blueprint, that your classes need to fit the definitions you have specified.
Ability to handle multiple value returns – In the old days, methods and functions expected single value returns. Nowadays languages like Python can process pre-specified number of Return values. The SWIFT Programming language will allow you to do this as well.
Garbage Collection i.e. SWIFT’s Automatic Reference – A feature that was neglected in earlier languages, now in languages C#, Java and even Object-C, the holes that appear in memory during processing are cleaned up and memory is optimized for reuse.
Both Signed and Unsigned Integers – Not only that but in 1,2,4,8 byte formats as well. This lets you go to the byte level should your App require it.
Finally, safety from programming errors is a NEW major feature – Code has always had hidden bugs in it. A simple syntax error, a misplaced brace or bracket that doesn’t show up during a normal compile. It may now show up until months or even years later. Then the right conditions occur and that’s it.
Apple has experienced this once too often, it has cost thousands of man-hours to correct, and loss of revenue in ticked off customers. Swift now has safety technology embedded in the system itself. The syntax of the language makes it difficult for a developer to write the kind of statements that would result in these types of errors. Now the syntax of the language forces fall through to error handling. The compiler itself is designed with a much more robust and heuristic decision giving the ability to locate report questionable coding.
Faster development of Apps – Swift gives the developer a unique feature, which Apple calls Playground. It used to be called the Sandbox or virtual environment. Where you see what your code will do immediately. This is a great benefit to Rapid Prototyping and other methodologies to get your project up and out the door to market quicker.
Why Swift and Why Now?
Before Swift, there was only the Objective-C development platform that Apple used. This was based on 1980’s technology and the C language. Many developers complained of the antiquated methodology and cumbersome ways things were done, as compared to Python and other newer languages now available.
The iOS ecosystem is over 6 years old and Apple created Swift to make it as painless as possible to develop native applications. Apple’s philosophy has always been to evolve or revolutionize its available code-set for developers for the best possible long-term experience. There will be bumps in the road with Swift and development projects, but it will eventually save everyone time and money in the long run.
What about the learning curve?
Apple wants the time it takes to get you the developer up and coding in Swift as quickly as possible. To that end a massive push of information to the web has occurred. Apple is serious about getting you to jump onto the iOS 8 and OSX bandwagon and by doing so insure their market share and a pool of competent developers grows in preparation for future product releases as apple battles to get more of the lucrative Tablet and Smartphone world market.
We have unearthed the secret behind why Apple needs you on their team to help them grow a bigger market, lure you with the many benefits, and ease of use that Swift offer you in developing and porting your Apps to the iOS 8 and OSX operating systems.
The battle for Tablet and Smartphones is getting more and more competitive and Apple wants to garner the lion’s share of talented developers and apps to their banner. You now can either switch to Swift or use it in conjugation with your current development environment and style of App creation. Its ease of use makes it easy to do either way. Swift can make your App development faster, with fewer errors and lower support costs because of it. That in itself is one of biggest reasons to use Swift. You and Apple both have a win-win with Swift.