Swift goes open source

Unveiling the Swift.org website Apple has fulfilled the promise they made at the WWDC 2015 to take the Swift programming language open source in 2015. 

"We want everyone to learn Swift as their primary language, and we want — when developers invest in Swift — to be able to use it everywhere from scripting to apps for mobile down to writing code in the cloud,” Apple’s senior Software VP Craig Federighi told The Next Web. "We think the best way to enable all of that is to open source it.”

Swift was first announced at the WWDC in 2014 and made available to Apple developers initially focussing on iOS development in version 1.0. Over the next year the language was improved and many of the initial shortcomings removed so when version 2.0 was introduced in 2015 it had developed to a system level language also with proper support of OS X, where the goal is also to address the enterprise world bringing Swift to the servers.  IBM has reportedly been "a major source" of feedback, and eager to use Swift to port mobile apps to cloud services.

Swift is likely to replace Objective-C in the medium to long term in all Apple programming, but Federighi claimed that it will still have a place. – "Objective C is forever," he said. "I don't think anyone should fear for the future of Objective C. We're going to continue to support Objective C for ourselves and the developer community. "[Apple] has an investment in many many millions of lines of Objective C, and that's not going to change," he continued.

What do you get?

Swift is being released under an Apache 2.0 license, which is incidentally the same license Microsoft used when it open-sourced a big chunk of its .NET framework last year. The project is hosted on GitHub and includes the compiler, the LLDB debugger, the REPL command-line environment, the standard and core libraries, and code from supporting projects. New to Swift (and also open source) is the Swift Package Manager, described as an “early-stage project” that will serve as a repository for Swift modules and will evolve with input from the community.

Binary packaging is currently in Xcode 7.x for OS X, or for Ubuntu 15.1o and 14.04 from the download section of Swift.org

For non OS X users, Cocoa and most of the iOS and OS X toolbox libraries are not available, and applications submitted to the Apple App stores must still be compiled and finalized with Xcode. 

Get started with IBM Swift Sandbox in your web-browser

Only hours after Apple made its Swift programming language open source, IBM has introduced a new, simple, and free browser-based way for developers to get started writing code. 

If you don’t own a Mac with Xcode, cannot be bothered to download the binaries and install on Linux, but still are curious to what the Swift language has to offer, IBM’s Sandbox tool will let you write in code and get the result immediately displayed directly in your web-browser. 

The sandbox runs on IBM Cloud in a Docker container, and allows testers to use both the latest versions of Swift and its standard library. John Petitto said that the Swift Sandbox tool "barely scratches the surface of what's possible”, teasing that this is just the beginning from IBM, which has openly embraced Apple's programming language for iOS and OS X.  

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