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!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Development toolsapplication developmentApplesoftware

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP honoured leading partners across the channel at the Partner Awards 2017 in New Zealand, recognising excellence across the entire print and personal systems portfolio.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30

Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30

Leading figures within the technology industry across New Zealand came together to celebrate 30 years of success for Lexel Systems, at a milestone birthday occasion at St Matthews in the City.​

Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30
HP re-imagines education through Auckland event launch

HP re-imagines education through Auckland event launch

HP New Zealand held an inaugural Evolve Education event at Aotea Centre in Auckland, welcoming over 70 principals, teachers and education experts to explore ways of shaping and enhancing learning using technology.

HP re-imagines education through Auckland event launch
Show Comments