Swift has been around for about six years and it is widely used for creating computer programs and mobile applications for iOS, macOS X, and Linux.
As one of the fastest growing languages, Swift is developed in the open where Apple acts as a project lead. The company oversees the advancement of the language while Core Team members approve evolution proposals and everyone from the community is welcome to contribute.
According to the latest TIOBE index (May 2020), Swift is on the 11th place when it comes to popularity of programming languages. However, because it is only available for iOS, many developers who are writing code for both platforms opt for frameworks that enable them to reuse the code and kill two birds with one stone.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look into Swift and its pros and cons. But let’s start by explaining why Swift is so popular.
As it is stated on Apple’s website, Swift ensures great app performance and enables developers to create amazing user experiences. In addition, Swift has been praised for its readability and type inference which allow developers to write clean, reliable, and consistent code without unnecessary clutter.
All in all, it’s a language that’s well documented and continuously improved. Today, Swift is a lot cleaner and simpler than in 2014, when it first emerged.
You know what they say: learning from your own mistakes is valuable, but learning from other people’s mistakes is even better. Plus, almost immediate support from the community of Swift developers means so much in terms of saving time and money that would otherwise be wasted on addressing code issues or figuring out why the end result isn’t as great as expected.
Ever since December 2015, Swift has been open-source and available to everyone. Developers of all skill levels can easily access knowledge bases created by the community, contribute to bug fixes, share their solutions, etc. For more information on how this works, check out Swift’s official community guidelines.
Swift truly lives up to its name. Apple claims that Swift enables up to 2.6x faster development than Objective-C and up to 8.4x faster development than Python 2.7. These are some pretty impressive numbers. Thanks to the LLVM tool, the assembly code complies to the machine code. When it runs native machine code instructions, the development process accelerates. In addition, Swift lets developers use value types almost everywhere, and more.
Simpler syntax is what makes code written in Swift programming language easy to read and understand. When you compare it to Objective-C, it takes fewer lines of code to write a functional app, which makes the coding process less tense. Swift got rid of some of the legacy conventions (e.g. semicolons, method calls which sit in each other, etc.) and introduced a far more human-friendly syntax.
When it comes to maintenance, Swift comes with a great perk. Opposed to Objective-C which forces developers to take care of two code files, Swift stores all the header (.h) and implementation (.m) files in a single file (.swift).
Believe it or not, but Apple’s Swift programming language is just six years old. Compared with Objective-C that emerged in the 1980s, it’s practically an infant language. This means it might suffer from common growing pains. Developers could benefit from more specifically targeted resources, tools, and native libraries in order to resolve certain issues faster.
Plus, the community is still not as big and strong as most of us wanted it to be. Even though it’s growing fast, the numbers can’t be compared with any other open source community. There are still not that many strong Swift devs out there that are selflessly sharing their knowledge with everyone online and most people don’t really know where to turn for guidance on specific real-life scenarios.
Swift suffers from backward compatibility issues. The language is radically evolving and that makes it somewhat unstable. It’s important to know that each new version of Swift doesn’t support the earlier versions, which means that the projects that are done in 1.0 and 2.0 Swift can’t be further altered and maintained in Swift 3.0.
Bummer, right? However, the company is aware of these issues and with the Swift 5.0 they’re making the right changes. This latest version has a strong backward compatibility and you can now view and access all the changes that we’re done in the previous versions of Swift.
Three years ago, the creator of Swift Chris Lattner said how his goal with Swift is to achieve world domination. While this might sound quite immodest, Apple has invested a lot into growing its community. With each new release, the changes were pretty huge, which helped the language advance at an incredible pace. This is the main reason why Swift is becoming so popular.
Like any other thing in the world, Swift does have its pros and cons. However, as you can see from everything written above, pros outweigh the cons by far. In addition, some of the cons are not directly related to the language itself, but to the state on the market and availability of proficient Swift developers.
Whether or not Swift is the best choice depends on the type of project and many other variables you need to consider. If you’re looking for a reliable partner to help you make great apps come to life, you’re at the right place.
At Share IT, we have talented software developers that will help you formulate a business case and use their expertise to recommend the best programming language and frameworks for your specific application. Send us your query today to get an estimate. Let’s make something amazing together.