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7 June 2014

Apple's Swift Language - The Wrong Direction

So, Apple has a brand new coding language to supplant it's ageing Objective-C.

Swift certainly is a much needed replacement and it solves numerous flexibility and performance roadblocks faced by Objective-C developers.

Yet it's a move in the wrong direction. Times have changed.

These days developers wish to make their own decisions about languages and tools. They favour standard-based technology that's platform-independent. And they like to get involved by suggesting new features or even writing their own enhancements.

Swift is another proprietary language attempting to lock developers into a platform. One that is unlikely to attract the open source coding community. And one that's more likely to alienate some current members of the Objective-C tribe.

A much better solution would be take a popular language and add it the Xcode toolbox. Maybe something similar to Microsoft's TypeScript language for instance.

Nevertheless, there was a encouraging note in the WWDC keynote announcements. The new Interactive Playground in Xcode 6 shows plenty of promise. Great tools do turn developer's heads - often much more easily than a new language.

Interactive Playground's features still might not make a huge difference in attracting new iOS and OS X developers. But I'd expect similar features to appear in Microsoft, Google and many open source community offerings soon.

For example, there may be refinements to the similar, and already well received, IPython Notebook initiative.

Read more analysis posts about Apple.

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