Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Objective-C gets a swift kick

Yesterday Apple announced a new programming language called Swift. It seems to be a replacement for Objective-C. For OS X and iOS programmers this is momentous.

Every time I’ve tried to do some Objective-C programming, I’ve given up before too long, asking myself, “why am I using this type of language today?” Objective-C is powerful but it is an amalgam of C, C++, and SmallTalk. It uses antiquated notions and is generally painful to work with compared to other modern programming languages. It is a language oriented towards system programming, but is mostly used for application programming.

Swift fixes this. Overnight, I read Apple’s e-book “The Swift Programming Language” and I like what I see. It is a modern language, comprehensive, designed to make it easier to produce solid software. I’m amazed at Apple’s ability to keep this language secret for so long. It’s not a language that, like JavaScript, was created in ten days. It must have been in development for a long time, and the people creating it seem to thoroughly know programming language design. It has clearly been used to create some sample applications.

The feeling I get from looking into this language is the same I felt when first looking into Java in the mid 90’s: “Here’s a language that will make programming easier.” I’m looking forward to writing a sample application in Swift in the days ahead.

Best of all: no pointers!

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