Yesterday marked the beginning of Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference,
or WWDC for short. Along with new versions of their iOS and OS X operating
systems, they announced that they would be open sourcing their Swift
programming language, including
support for Linux. This drew by far the largest cheers of the day from the 5,000
or so developers who had assembled in Moscone West for the kickoff keynote.
While Apple doesn’t have a perfect track
when it comes to following through on open source promises, it has been better
lately. And there are a few good
reasons that developers are so excited about the proposition of Swift being open
On today’s web, server applications are typically written in an interpreted
language like C# or Java. Swift
is different than these languages — it is a compiled language, which gives it
significant speed and scaling advantages compared to the languages listed above.
And it gains these advantages while still offering all of the high-level
conveniences we expect in our programming languages today.
One of the core design philosophies of Swift is safety. Inferred types allow for
less error prone code. Memory is managed automatically. Variables are always
initialized before use, arrays and integers are checked for overflow. Errors are
bounded and can’t throw exceptions, preventing crashes. All of these safety
features add up to one thing — increased reliability. And when you are hosting a
web service, increased reliability pays dividends in the most important currency
on the web — uptime.
With the backing of the world’s largest and most influential technology company,
it’s not hard to imagine a strong and vibrant ecosystem springing up around
Swift as a server-side programming language once it has been open sourced. It
has already seen tremendous
the iOS and OS X community, despite it’s rough edges, and is continuing to grow
in popularity. And with the Swift team’s relentless optimizations, it’s
getting faster with every release.
Imagine lightning-fast, scalable deployments of RESTFUL web services, or a
Rails-like front-end framework written in Swift — native, fast, and safe.
Quicker responses, and lower server costs, without an increase in complexity.
The future of Swift seems to be very bright indeed.