Swift has come a long way since Apple’s 2014 WWDC. This month, it even made it into TIOBE’s top 10 programming languages. In particular, Swift is getting a lot of attention from enterprise developers; including American Airlines, Getty Images, IBM, LinkedIn, and Lyft.
Apple’s transition to open source for Swift, along with the release of Swift 3.0, made native end-to-end app development possible for enterprises. That, along with Swift’s security, ease of use, and flexibility place it squarely in the radar for enterprises, prompting some to call it the future of enterprise app development.
Exploring the Benefits of Swift
There’s a lot about Swift that meets the needs of many development scenarios. Some of those benefits include:
- It’s easy to use and read. Swift is easier to read than Objective-C, and it applies to everything from enterprise-level apps to Apple Watch apps. It features cleaner syntax and resolves many of the woes of Objective-C and legacy languages; for example, you’ll see fewer cluttering @ symbols and obnoxious nested brackets.
- It’s lean and interactive. When you write a chunk of Swift code, you can test it then and there. Developers don’t have to compile massive pieces of code or write a whole app, which provides an excellent “fix as you go” process (just check out the Swift Sandbox to play around with server-based code). In other words, developers can produce high-quality code faster than before.
- It’s fast and efficient. This language uses dynamic libraries directly uploaded into the memory, which boosts speed and efficiency and slims down app sizes (great for both enterprises and their users), all without compromising on performance. Static libraries, on the other hand, receive updates relatively infrequently (i.e. at the time of large OS releases).
- It’s less work. Tired of managing header files and implementation files in Objective-C? Swift combines them. No more manual synchronization and repetitive, boring tedium associated with these two code files. Improved syntax and testing capabilities also mean that it’s easy (and fun) to learn, and the sandbox mentioned above is a great resource for both beginning and advanced developers alike.
- It’s open source. Apple’s decision to make Swift open source was a big deal for enterprises. This move obliterated the boundaries of what you can do with this language. Enterprises can develop apps for the latest iOS version, and like any open source material, Swift is also cost-effective, flexible, and accountable as a result.
- Safe and secure. This is one of the biggest benefits. Memory errors in pure C, C++, and Objective-C are much more common, whereas Swift prevents things like buffer overruns which can lead to hard to find/fix bugs in code as well as security vulnerabilities.
Many of these benefits center on one common advantage: letting developers spend their mental energy on app logic and the “big picture” instead of tedium. Swift was built to automate and cover a lot of the boring, meticulous processes developers know well from languages like Objective-C. These features also support the potential for Swift to evolve over time, which also places the language center-stage moving forward into the future of enterprise development.
Swift vs. the Competition
Swift may have its benefits, but how does it stack up against the competition? First, Swift can be much easier to learn than Objective-C, and offers open sourced core libraries.
Further, Swift has beaten the “gold standard” in speed, winning out over C++ in certain computation algorithms, and meeting it on many others. Similarly, Swift also triumphs over Objective-C due to the competitor’s sluggish C-API legacy infrastructure.
A major poster child for the advantages of Swift is Lyft. Lyft did not always use Swift; in fact, Lyft re-wrote their entire app in Swift (originally written in Objective-C), and reduced their code from 75,000 to 25,000 lines. Their new app was lighter and faster, and lost none of its productivity or functionality.
Swift is a more modern language that has learned from the mistakes of predecessors, which has resulted in a more productive and easier to use development experience. It has been growing in terms of uptake compared to other languages – there are both more users and code bases now using Swift. Additionally, with more top level developers using it and/or wanting to use it, Swift can help attract top development talent.
That said, Apple itself is moving away from Objective-C and toward Swift so there will be more example code to use and more support in terms of libraries (especially for iOS based mobile development).
Swift is also starting to be used for non-iOS and server-based applications (in part due to its open source status). Having the ability to use the same language and environment in multiple places can enable development teams to transfer their existing skills into new areas, write once, and run everywhere for common shared library code.
Making a Business Case for Swift
Another reason Swift is in such a powerful position right now is because it’s as easy to sell to C-suite executives as it is to developers themselves. Swift lends itself to clean, lean development, resulting in:
- Reduced overhead for business operations
- Increased safety and less time spent on bug fixes
- Easier to maintain leading to reduced costs with updates
In addition to cost-effectiveness and scalability, Swift also offers an attractive level of simplicity to enterprise development projects. Companies can build server-side and client-side code in the same language. This affects not only the project’s real-time performance and ease-of-use, but also the potential for a company to maintain, update, and improve apps on the back end in the future. All of this can quickly add up to significant increases in ROI.
Swift is in a great position from an enterprise perspective, both thanks to its technical features and benefits, and its implications for organization’s bottom lines. From the developer’s perspective, Swift is productive and fun which enables developers to do more with less code.
At 6kites, we’re passionate about bringing enterprise projects to life. Contact us to learn more about our collaborative process to help you generate exceptional software today!