Menu
As open source code, Apple's Swift language could take flight

As open source code, Apple's Swift language could take flight

Open sourcing Swift might bring Apple a larger group of developers writing in the programming language

Apple announced plans to open source the Swift programming language at its Worldwide Developer Conference

Apple announced plans to open source the Swift programming language at its Worldwide Developer Conference

Apple will release the source code underlying its Swift programming language, a move that could broaden the user base for the new language.

When Swift becomes open source later this year, programmers will be able to compile Swift programs to run on Linux as well as on OS X and iOS, said Craig Federighi, Apple's head of software engineering, during the opening keynote of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference Monday in San Francisco.

The source code will include the Swift compiler and standard library, and community contributions will be "accepted -- and encouraged," Apple said.

Introduced at last year's WWDC, Swift was developed by Apple as a potential replacement for the Objective C language that most developers have used to write applications for the Mac and iOS devices. Based on the C programming language, Objective C can be cumbersome and lacks many of the features of more modern programming languages.

Unlike a lot of tech companies, including Facebook and Google, Apple hasn't released much of its own software as open source in the past.

"The thinking at Apple is beginning to change," said IDC analyst Al Hilwa. The company realizes that "open source, and a strategy that will send Swift to other platforms, is a path to better adoption."

"Open source has a lot of benefits for vendors," he said via email.

It can provide greater visibility for a product and generate good will in the development community. Microsoft, for one, has benefitted by open sourcing several pieces of infrastructure, including key parts of its .Net framework.

Apple wants Swift to find a home beyond Apple. Being open source could potentially allow the language to be ported to other platforms, such as Windows.

Another potential benefactor might be Google's Android OS, given that it's based on Linux -- though Android's supporting libraries are different than those in the standard Linux kernel supported by Swift.

Even confined to Apple products, Swift appears to have done well in the year since its release. It's now in the top 20 of the world's most widely used languages, according to the Tiobe Index, a monthly survey comparing the popularity of programming languages.

Apple also announced that it is preparing to release version 2 of Swift, which will feature improved error handling, additional protocol extensions and modular optimization

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Applesoftwareapplication developmentDevelopment tools

Events

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

This exclusive Reseller News Exchange event in Auckland explored the challenges facing the partner community on the cloud security frontier, as well as market trends, customer priorities and how the channel can capitalise on the opportunities available. In association with Arrow, Bitdefender, Exclusive Networks, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security
Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2019 inductees - Leanne Buer, Ross Jenkins and Terry Dunn - to the fourth running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing face of the IT channel ecosystem in New Zealand and what it means to be a Reseller News Hall of Fame inductee. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments