Apple’s open-sourced Swift programming language could change everything

“Apple has told us it intends making Swift 2.0 open source ‘later this year,’ a move some developers are calling ‘monumental,’ a ‘huge milestone in the evolution of the programming industry,'” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld.

“Swift is Apple’s modern programming language that lets developers build OS X and iOS apps,” Evans writes. “It seems likely it will eventually replace Objective C and already creates more stable code in shorter development cycles than the language it is destined to replace – Swift offers numerous advantages.”

“Apple’s plan to make the software open source means the company will offer ports for OS X, iOS and Linux, and the code will also include the Swift compiler and standard library. ‘We think it would be amazing for Swift to be on all your favorite platforms,’ said Apple, announcing its plans,” Evans writes. “Joining the dots and the scale of Apple’s ambition remains staggering. Apple is defining expectations and the environment of this new chapter in the digital era.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: When it comes to adoption and proliferation, Apple’s Swift is very aptly named.

Apple’s Swift programming language could soon infiltrate data centers – November 24, 2015
Developers band together to create Mandarin Chinese translation of Apple’s Swift programming language – August 6, 2015
Apple’s Swift breaks into top 20 in dev language survey; bad news for Microsoft’s Visual Basic – July 2, 2015
Apple’s Swift: The future of enterprise app development – June 10, 2015
Apple previews iOS 9 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch – June 8, 2015
Apple prepares for major enterprise push by making Macs, iPhones, iPads easier for IT to support – June 2, 2015
Apple+IBM: Enterprise apps go wearable on Apple Watch – May 24, 2015
Apple’s iOS continues to dominate the enterprise with 72 percent of all device activations – May 11, 2015


  1. I’m hoping that Apple will rewrite WebKit completely in Swift, and switch to an Apache open-source license.

    Get rid of C++, Objective-C, Python, Perl, and the rest of the crazy build process they’re using now.

    1. It wouldn’t surprise me if that is what their intentions are here… to completely rewrite WebKit (and any other open-source projects) in Swift. Getting Swift onto other platforms makes this much easier for Apple to realize.

    2. Swift brings back some wonderfully simple syntax features that were created in the 1960’s and 70’s, that for some reason were totally lost on the C family of languages. After you get spoiled on a language with simple syntax, you can easily become contemptuous of many of these GUI orientated languages.

  2. Open Source is the way to go with development tools.
    Its good business and allows programming languages to grow far beyond what their creators originally envisioned.

    Its also nice as a developer to know that a language you learn is not limited to one platform or a dead end should the company decide to go in a different direction.

    Awesome that they are releasing it as such.

  3. Just a question and a concern.
    Allowing Swift to be open-source means what by definition?

    Inaddition, would open-source not allow for sneaking in malware and nasty viruses to the Apps created for either OS?

    And if open-source means other companies and individuals can alter Swift, its engines and add other functionality – Apple must be extremely confident they can Arm its customers with the Security it has been doing.

    IMO this is opening up a huge can of worms. And for the company who pride itself on proprietary software and hardware, having development to the masses doesn’t need to happen – as it is already taking over the windows world as it stands.

    1. Really. Must say, if you develop for the Mac – it stands today you need a Mac. And I have to agree, that is fine. Specially as Apple Macs are dominating in sales and more and more people are in fact moving over to Apples platform. So, using a homemade, home built Linux Desktop (BTW the number of people doing this is rather low) or a Custom built gaming power house Windows machine — that these situations seem greatly out numbered by those who actually develop for Mac. Yeah – swift going open-source and available on other platforms makes no sense.

      1. Windows is closed-source. They’re open-sourcing the language. Which is what it SHOULD be. NO can of worms. Going open source will allow developers to use a common code base for multiple systems.

        Anyone who does this for a living knows that open-source projects have a history of success. OS X is built on an open-source kernel, after all.

    2. It simply means that others can build compilers, IDEs and development tools with swift.
      They can port the language to other environments and platforms.

      It’s a good move, it will help Swift become an industry standard instead of a language that’s only good for one platform.

      It’s played out well for other languages. Take c# for example and MS’s open sourcing of various chunks of the .net framework. You can use c# to develop for a multitude of platforms now, including iPad and OS-X. One of the most widely used game development engines out there uses c# (Unity).

      It’s a good move by Apple in terms of being developer friendly.

    3. Open-source just means that the source code is made open to the public to use within the terms of whatever license it is distributed under. It does not mean that developers can go in and make changes to Apple’s developer tools, “sneaking” in malicious code. The code base Apple uses is kept private and when ready folded back out to the public distribution that anyone can grab and use.

      The point of doing this is to allow others to take the code and build Swift compilers for other platforms, to help spread the use of the language. It’s also a great way for the larger developer community to help find possible security holes much, much quicker than Apple could alone.

    4. I should add that it does not pose a big risk to Apple.

      They are probably going to open source the core language only, the APIs in OS-X and iOS will still be fully owned and controlled by Apple and your app will still need to conform to Apple’s standards regardless of what language you write it in.

    5. I would expect it to be similar to open-source Darwin; let developers contribute to the project and incorporate the best ideas into the official release after the contributed code has been vetted by Apple.

      Smart developers would still get their everyday use version from an official Apple distribution, then add any recently contributed code they trust to their copy.

    6. When I hear ‘open sourcing a programming language’, I understand it to mean the language specification and not necessarily the actual source code of the compiler, though that may be one option.

          1. The first version will be ugly but if the language is good and a community forms around it someone will step up and take it from there.

            Probably a qt UI layer or GTK will end up highly supported.

            Look how far c# and the Mono framework have come on multiple platforms. It’s pretty wicked.

            It will take time but it could evolve into something pretty awesome.

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