Apple's Swift Programming Language: 10 Fascinating Facts - InformationWeek
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9/7/2015
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Apple's Swift Programming Language: 10 Fascinating Facts

Swift 2.0 is Apple's main language used for programming OS X and iOS systems. Here are 10 things you should know about Swift before you dive in.
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(Image: Swift logo courtesy of Apple)

(Image: Swift logo courtesy of Apple)

With new Apple products around the corner, enterprise developers and commercial programmers alike are looking at how to move new applications onto Apple's Mac OS X and iOS platforms.

There are a bunch of options, but if you want to do it the Official Apple Way you're going to use Swift.

Swift was introduced at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2014 as a replacement for Objective C, Apple's long-time programming language. At WWDC 2015, Swift 2.0 was announced with a number of improvements and changes, including Apple's commitment to make Swift an open source language. It's too soon to know precisely how an open source future will effect Swift 2.0, but the ability to use Swift for Linux (as promised by Apple) and, perhaps, Windows systems can't hurt the language's popularity.

[What to learn more about mobile programming languages? Here's InformationWeek's list of the best ones.]

How much should you care about Swift? Well, that depends on how much your plans involve applications for Apple platforms. If they are part of your plan, then you'll want to know some facts about the language, and we're here to help.

How does Swift stack up against other platform-specialized languages, like C#? Much of the answer depends on your needs and your taste in programming tools. Take a look at these Swift facts and let us know what you think: Could Swift become one of the major languages used around the computer industry, or will it forever be tied to Apple? And if you're currently using Swift we'd love to hear from you. What interesting facts did we miss? We'll look forward to the discussion in the comments section below.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

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cyclepro
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cyclepro,
User Rank: Moderator
9/17/2015 | 4:12:32 PM
Re: Swift 2.0
they have done that many times in the past. Windows, Dos ect... Where you were able to easily hack in and get some of the code. Granted that since Vista you could not do it so easily due to better compilers and source code.

This is why Windows had so many security issues and viruses to boot.

 
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
9/17/2015 | 3:29:33 PM
Re: Swift 2.0
@cyclepro - I am not sure where you got that Microsoft is open source.  They JUST made .Net open source this year and the OS is anything BUT open source.

I think that the general attitude used to be that open source was more subject to hackers, but the years and experience has proven otherwise. Do you really think Microsoft would make the core of its entire platform open to the public if it created a security vulnerability?
MarcoB850
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MarcoB850,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/16/2015 | 5:25:18 AM
11th fact: Swift is expensive and only for Apple
Hi, with the breadth of programming tools and languages available under Windows and Linux platforms, why someone not involved in specific iOS development should engage with Swift? If Xcode will not be developed for Windows and Linux, how will we be able to experiment and test with Swift? Have I to buy a Mac box, a developer's license and so on? No thanks, Swift is not so appealing, there are so many languages and tool out that we can live without Swift. If someone will show me that with Switft I will be able to code game and applications for Windows, Linux, Android, not only Apple, well I'll be glad to give it a try.
cyclepro
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cyclepro,
User Rank: Moderator
9/14/2015 | 3:24:56 PM
Re: Swift 2.0
I guess I keep thinking about Microsoft and Google's Android and how vulnerable they always are to cyber attacks.  They are open souirce.

 
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
9/14/2015 | 2:55:03 PM
Re: Swift 2.0
@cyclepro, I'm not sure that making the language open source makes it more vulnerable to hackers. As long as the language features don't introduce new vulnerabilities, I'm not sure that the language's development method (open source versus proprietary) makes much of a difference.

I would love for someone to tell me why I'm off base on this, however. I'm all ears...
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
9/14/2015 | 2:45:28 PM
Re: Swift is compiled, not interpretive? Or maybe pre-compiled?
Charlie, the folks over at objc.io took a deep dive on playgrounds a while ago. Here's how they explained it:

Swift playgrounds are interactive documents where Swift code is compiled and run live as you type. Results of operations are presented in a step-by-step timeline as they execute, and variables can be logged and inspected at any point. Playgrounds can be created within an existing Xcode project or as standalone bundles that run by themselves. While a lot of attention has been focused on Swift playgrounds for their utility in learning this new language, you only need to look at similar projects like IPython notebooks to see the broader range of potential applications for interactive coding environments.

So the code is still compiled, it's just compiled while you type. I'd love to pick the IDE apart to see how they do that. As we've read in a comment here, they're still using Objective C as an intermediate step, so I suspect that all the linking and packaging happens in Objective C rather than Swift. I also suspect that's one of the early steps that will be heaved overboard when Swift hits its open source stride.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
9/14/2015 | 2:27:34 PM
Re: Caveats
@Rosin Smoked, the "open source" piece of Swift is definitely a "work in progress." It's going to be interesting to see what happens if the community starts taking it in directions that don't make Apple happy. I strongly suspect we'll ultimately see forked dev streams with one getting much more support from Cupertino than is given to the other.
cyclepro
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cyclepro,
User Rank: Moderator
9/11/2015 | 3:49:00 PM
Swift 2.0
Forgive my ignorance but if they make this open source dosen't this mean that it would be more vulnerable to hackers.

 

if that is the case then I do not see that making it open is a good thing. Apple has a reputation as being the most secure.

 

 
hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Ninja
9/9/2015 | 3:19:46 PM
Re: Swift is compiled, not interpretive? Or maybe pre-compiled?
Objective-C is built in the OS.

Swift is compiled into Bit-Codes (objective-C).

The OSes can execute bit-codes. Since everything runs inside the OS, it's suppose to be fast. (bit-codes are not machine languages but since the Oses handle all low level hardware interaction, it's "machine language")

Sorry! It's confused.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
9/9/2015 | 2:12:39 PM
Swift is compiled, not interpretive? Or maybe pre-compiled?
Very interesting, the "Playgournds"  capability. That sounds like an interpretive  language feature, yet Swift is a compiled language. Anyone want to explain how they do that? Is Swift, like Java, pre-compiled to an intermediate byte code?
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