Why Apple’s Swift language will instantly remake computer programming

“Chris Lattner spent a year and a half creating a new programming language — a new way of designing, building, and running computer software — and he didn’t mention it to anyone, not even his closest friends and colleagues,” Cade Metz reports for Wired.

“He started in the summer of 2010, working at night and on weekends, and by the end of the following year, he’d mapped out the basics of the new language. That’s when he revealed his secret to the top executives at his company, and they were impressed enough to put a few other seasoned engineers on the project,” Metz reports. “Then, after another eighteen months, it became a ‘major focus’ for the company, with a huge team of developers working alongside Lattner, and that meant the new language would soon change the world of computing. Lattner, you see, works for Apple.”

“Typically, when a new language appears like this — out of nowhere — it needs years to reach a mass audience. This is true even if it’s backed by a tech giant the size of Apple. Google unveiled a language called Go in 2009, and though it was designed by some of the biggest names in the history of software design — Ken Thompson and Rob Pike — it’s still struggling to gain a major following among the world’s coders,” Metz reports. “But Swift is a different animal. When it’s officially released this fall, it could achieve mass adoption with unprecedented speed, surpassing even the uptake of Sun Microsystems’ Java programming language and Microsoft’s C# in the late 1990s and early 2000s… Such is the leverage of all those iPhones, iPads, and Macs.”

Read more in the full article here.

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15 Comments

  1. I don’t mean to grouse, but I read this article like a hawk and I find it hard to swallow! I’m sure some of you loons and sapsuckers out there will screech like a jay about this.

  2. It might change the world of iOS app development, I doubt it will change the “world of computing”. Even on the Mac, I suspect adoption won’t be radical right out of the starting gate (as there are other many other options). If they do as well as C# did (which was pretty amazing for a new language), Apple will be doing pretty good.

    1. Swift programming for OS X is going to be vigorous. That was evident at WWDC. But clearly, the priority these days is getting your apps up on iOS.

      As for ‘will instantly remake computer programming’: No, seeing as Swift is an Apple gear only programming language. It has NO compiler for any other gear. So sorry Google grunge programmers.

  3. I’m going to go off now and read the source article. But from the summary above I have to point out:

    1) Chris Lattner’s previous LLVM work directly leads into Swift. It’s not THAT big a surprise. Here’s Wikipedia’s biography of this ingenious fellow:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Lattner

    2) The goals of Swift have YET to be proven out in the real world. The biggest, hugest, most ambitious goal is to END forever the security compromising buffer overruns that current plague the entire software industry. Software development is simply too complex these days for full human comprehension. Bless Swift if it really reaches that goal!

    3) Swift is ENTIRELY for coding Apple gear software and NOTHING else. That is entirely left out of the summary. So NO, Swift is NOT going to ‘remake computer programming.’ That’s a foolish statement. But, it promises to remake APPLE computer programming!!! So all the Andrhroid, Windows, ad nauseam programmers will be left out-in-the-cold. Boohoo. 😥

  4. Dollars to doughnuts, Wired pays a headline monkey separately from the writers. The monkey gets an extra banana for attracting a crowd. The writers get peanuts.

    1. Eek, didn’t notice it was Wired.

      Was hoping Swift would get adoption beyond Mac and iOS app development because it seems brilliantly designed as a general purpose programming language. But now that there’s a Wired article predicting it, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to really happen. Wired, in all its sensationalist drivel, always manages to be wrong in every single technology prediction it makes.

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