InfoWorld first look: Apple’s Swift is simple, but mastering this new language will take some time

“Apple’s software stack has been stuck with Objective-C since NeXT invaded the company, and many neophytes find it a pain to untangle the pointers, the files (both .m and .h), and the punctuation-rich syntax,” Peter Wayner writes for InfoWorld. “Apple tried to update the language with a “modern syntax” in 1997, but the masses refused to budge from the so-called classic syntax. Other projects — like adding Java bindings for the Cocoa libraries — never really stuck. Today, learning Objective-C is one of the biggest hurdles to getting people to code for the Apple platforms.”

“The good news: Swift will be a great gift for anyone longing to avoid the hackerish brambles of Objective-C,” Wayner writes. “Programmers who learned Java for AP Computer Science, JavaScript to build Web pages, and Ruby to build websites will find plenty that’s familiar to them. Many of the rough spots such as the multiple files and inheritance are smoothed over, and the punctuation symbols are less dominant. There are also plenty of automated features, including inferred typing and automatic reference counting that help the compiler snag many of the programmer’s potential bugs.”

“Apple has made a huge investment in the Cocoa layer, and Swift is the best way to preserve it while offering modern conveniences,” Wayner writes. “The simplicity of the Swift language is deceptive. While it’s easy to write a “hello world” app in one line and build a quick app with a few lines of code, numerous details and nuances will take plenty of study to master. The adept programmers will love the power and the ability to use the clever tricks in their software, but many neophytes will find it hard to read their code. This will not be an easy language to master, no matter how easy it might be to pick up.”

“The most important thing to recognize about Swift is the scope. While some of new languages have a toylike feel because they’re relatively small projects, Swift is a major commitment,” Wayner writes. “The first book on Swift alone is excellent, in part because it’s more than 850 pages long. The Xcode download now pushes 2.5GB. The language isn’t a little playpen for easy coding, but a full software package designed to offer all of the support a team of programmers needs to take on major projects.”

Much more in the full article here.

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