2016 is a New Code Year: The tech world is abuzz with aftershocks from Apple’s quiet release of Swift 2. This year we’ll see more mobile apps written in the language, more established companies adopting it, and more developers finding jobs by learning it.
Swift is a prime example of the trend we call New Code. New Code is code that has been written in the last two years, compared to Old Code that may have been around for decades. Companies spent $300B on Old Code last year, but all the momentum is around New Code.
Companies like Apple, Facebook and Google are rewriting their software from scratch every two years, and small startups are building entire businesses on new technology stacks. To stay ahead of this wave, you need to be learning new languages, frameworks and tools at a pace you may never have experienced before.
If you haven’t gotten started yet or are feeling overwhelmed by the pace of change, here are some practical suggestions on how to keep up:
New Code Year: The tech world is abuzz with aftershocks from Apple’s quiet release of Swift 2.0. Let’s take a look at what this means for the future of programming.
The new Swift is better than we had any right to expect. It’s faster, more powerful, and more flexible than it was just six months ago; it has a world-class package manager and a very real chance of becoming the next dominant language of the web; its syntax is now officially incredible; and its development community is a well-oiled machine that can iterate on ideas at breakneck speed. We have no idea where it will be six months from now.
But I’m not writing today to talk about how great Swift 2.0 is. I want to talk about something else: how much potential it has yet to unleash—starting with the biggest question remaining in mobile development: what does Swift mean for Android?
This is a New Code Year. Yesterday, Apple announced the release of Swift 2–an upgrade to the programming language that it first released in 2014. The news was quietly slipped out as part of Apple’s announcement that it was also releasing Xcode 7, a new version of its coding platform.
The tech world is abuzz with aftershocks from Apple’s quiet release of Swift 2. Though the company has been releasing beta versions since June, this is the first official release of the language since Swift 1.2 came out last spring.
Among other things, Swift 2 now fully supports error handling and guard statements, which will make code more secure and reliable; it also supports availability checking, which means that apps can be built to run on various versions of iOS without causing crashes.
The software development community is particularly excited about the open source nature of Swift 2: This means that developers using other platforms besides Apple (like Linux) can use Swift 2 for custom coding jobs.
The tech world is abuzz with aftershocks from Apple’s quiet release of Swift 2.0 last week.
Swift, released just two years ago, is already the third most popular language on GitHub. It is also the fastest-growing language in history—and it’s not even close:
Swift’s growth is unprecedentedly fast. This isn’t a new language that slowly ekes out market share over the course of several years. Last year’s release of Swift 1.2 sparked a huge growth in demand for iOS developers and many have speculated that this September’s release of iOS 9 will accelerate that trend further.
Two years ago, Apple released the first version of Swift, a new programming language intended to replace Objective-C for iOS development. This year, the tech world is abuzz with aftershocks from Apple’s quiet release of Swift 2. The new language is a major upgrade on the old one, but it’s also more than that: It’s part of a larger effort to change the way we think about coding altogether.
Swift 2 is a “cleaner” language than its predecessor, with some code removed and other code altered or streamlined. This makes it easier to read and write. Apple has also updated Xcode, its integrated development environment (IDE), which programmers use to write their code; while it still looks much like its older incarnation, there are now far fewer buttons and drop-down menus.
Apple hopes that by making these changes it will attract more developers to its ecosystem—and perhaps finally make iOS an attractive platform for serious game developers who have long shunned it for Android and PCs due to the difficulty of developing for it. But the company also has some loftier ambitions here. While many programmers are happy with the status quo—with languages like Java and C
I am writing this in Swift 2.0, and it feels like a very different language. I would have thought that the existing code base, including all the frameworks and libraries, would have to be entirely rewritten before I could start using Swift 2.0 in earnest; but no. Swift 2.0 can use code written in Swift 1.2, and Apple is providing updated frameworks for all of its products in iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan.
So we are now officially in a New Code Year: 2016 is the year we learn a new programming language, or rather relearn an old one with a new name. Swift 2.0 is what Objective C might have been if it had been designed for an iOS/OSX world rather than a NeXTSTEP/Mach world by people who knew then what they know now about building large-scale software systems.
I am not going to try to summarize the new stuff here; there’s already enough material out there on this topic (see e.g., here). Instead, I want to talk about why it matters and what will happen now that we have moved permanently into the New Code World.
I’d like to introduce you to a new Open Source programming language Apple just released that can be used for iOS, OS X, and WatchOS apps. In the coming months you will see a lot of developers using this language to create apps with some amazing functionality. Swift 2.0 is really going to shake up the mobile app development industry.
Languages are not typically thought of as being “Open Source” but developers have been pushing Apple to open source Swift since its announcement at WWDC 2014. The Swift team finally answered those requests and gave developers what they wanted.
I think 2016 is going to be the year we hear about more iOS apps built with Swift than Objective-C. I also think this is going to be one of the biggest stories in tech this year that may get swept under the rug. The problem is that most people look at it as a minor change and don’t understand how big of a deal it really is.