Learning to code with Swift Playgrounds as an adult

“Apple thinks it is critically important that everyone learn how to code. It may not help you in your job directly, but it teaches useful skills and creates a basic knowledge of the fundamental workings of the products and tools we all use every day,” Jason Cross writes for Macworld. “It’s not just something kids should do at school, but an important part of an ongoing education for adults.”

“So, the company created an initiative called Everyone Can Code that aims to make it easy for anyone, from kids to adults, to learn the basics of writing code,” Cross writes. “And it all starts with Swift Playgrounds, a cute iPad app that teaches the fundamentals of coding in a way so simple even young kids can grasp it.”

“I am not a young kid,” Cross writes. “I’m 43, and I have been glued to computers since my first Apple II. I decided to run through the Swift Playgrounds activities to see if it can teach an old dog new tricks.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Swift Playgrounds is great for teaching the concepts of coding to all ages. After that, it’s Xcode for real coding.

The Xcode cliff: Is Apple teaching kids to code, or just teaching them about code? – March 29, 2018
70 colleges and universities in Europe adopt Apple’s Everyone Can Code initiative – January 19, 2018
Apple opens ‘Everyone Can Code’ initiative to students around the world – November 9, 2017


  1. The actual point of this article is:

    If Apple wants to really inspire people—both kids and adults—to write code instead of just learning what code is, it needs to bridge the gap between the colorful puzzle-solving of Swift Playgrounds and Xcode’s developer-centric environment.

    There are reasonable beginner books around which can help smooth the Xcode transition. My rabid futurist brain says that with time there will be more humane, coder-friendly ways to learn and write code. But for now, we’re still stuck in The Dark Age of Computing where everything is clunky, annoying, imperfect and time consuming. There have been plenty of efforts to reach the abstract goal of Lego style programming. But code reuse, object-oriented programming, has introduced its own nightmares. We have the wheel. Now we have to make it out of better materials (code languages & methods), improve its reliability and make wheelwrighting safe and successful for those with lesser geek skills and talent. It’s right up Apple’s historical alley. Swift is a good start. Thank you Chris Lattner & Co.

        1. iOS isn’t remotely ‘geekable’. That’s one reason geeks turn to Android. iOS is designed and only enables the computing beginner. It rarely goes beyond that level except within specific professional tools, such as sound editing, designing, etc. Coding software is well beyond the purview of iOS. iOS is NOT a professional coder’s OS. Apple’s current approach and philosophy regarding iOS means the OS is going to remain only useful to beginner level coders. I’d be surprised if XCode, as it is now, would ever move to iOS.

      1. I’m very distant from the state of Computing 101 in schools. I could describe my own path, such as it is. But I don’t believe I’d be sharing anything useful or relevant to the current era.

        However, I’d suggest grabbing up all the free iBooks on Swift and starting there. Open up the iBooks app, go to the iBooks Store, Search by typing ‘the swift programming language’ and download the free books there.

        From that point, evaluate what background training you likely need and follow up with searches for books at that level. There are also plenty of specialized programming topic books for the higher end coder.

        I hope that helps.

    1. I strictly make art because code to me looks like design marks, but perhaps I could get into Swift Playground but probably not into XCode or C++ nor into JavaScript because, I read, that a top notch coder – which I would want to become to create something meaningful for society – needs to know high level math. I am not that’s kind of thinker.

      1. I entirely understand. The complexity of JavaScript coding alone has exploded over the past decade. HTML5 has equally exploded beyond old HTML v1.

        There are a lot of really nice tools that hide the code while bringing graphical applications to fore. One I own is ‘Hype’. Give it a look:


        There are plenty of others, from simple text editors to photo and vector graphics editors. I’m enjoying the Affinity Photo and Designer apps.

      2. High level math does help, but for the average developer I find Algebra to be more than sufficient due to many languages supporting use of code libraries (collection of functions, APIs, frameworks and such). Imagine the difference between putting together a custom clock from scratch and having a clockwork module (only attaching ‘hands’ required) to insert in your custom build clock.

        Or to make the analogy more relevant to painters, the difference between putting together your own canvas from scratch (build frame, weave and stretch canvas, apply gesso) then painting on it and putting it up for sale vs. buying a canvas, painting and then selling. The former you have more control but will require more knowledge and skill, the latter makes the process more accessible to a larger group of painters.

  2. IMO gameified learning is a great starting point for learning to organize your thoughts and the basics of the majority of programming languages. (Input, Output, loops and branching)

  3. Apple’s learn to code series is a joke. It reminds me of Logo Turtle Graphics back in the 1970s. Yes, the graphics are a lot better but what they’re teaching you is just as stupid. It’s probably a great tool for getting Junior High students interested in learning about programming, it is not a practical tool for learning programming (or coding); not by any stretch of the imagination.

    Playgrounds, itself, has a very fundamental problem that limits its usefulness as a teaching tool — readLine doesn’t work. After searching for hours on the Internet, I finally convinced myself that, no, there is no way to easily read a string of text from the keyboard under playgrounds (no matter what the device, Mac or iOS). Seriously, how do you teach people beginning program without something as fundamental as keyboard input?

    If this is how Apple is going to win the educational market, they are doomed.

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