Swift: One language to rule them all ?
Two years ago at the WWDC, Apple introduced to the world a new programming language: Swift. Bringing to life a new programming language is always a challenge because even if it is the most beautiful syntactically, the lack of use cases may make it only a nice-to-have in some developers mind.
Apple announced to be the future of iOS and OS X apps, which is quite bold since not all developers may learn especially with the expansion of the cross-platform app development using the likes of Xamarin or Titanium.
However, bringing an open-source language allows the community to port it to multiple platforms allowing the benefits of Java without the need of a JVM to run it. I even found out that you can now do scripting using Swift which opens a lots of doors even in terms of DevOps.
However what drew my attention to Swift at first is that summit that occurred a few months ago between Google, Facebook and Uber in London were discussing the language with the possibility of it getting a grown interest in each party. Add another powerhouse like IBM massively supporting and you get what smells like an IETF meeting for a new norm.
Facebook and Uber are both companies trying to use cutting-edge technologies to get the best services possible for their users and are known to use variety of platforms/languages. About Google I can not really say as I do not have a direct input about it, however based on what I read in “How Google test software” it seems they are in a similar position.
Then comes the big IF, what if Google was to drop Java for Android development in favour of Swift ? It might seem unlikely considering the massive following and use of Android in the developers community along with the fact that Java not only is one of the most used languages in the world but also learn in pretty much any computer science related-school.
However Google may have £8.8 billion reasons to make the big jump, those sum up in one word: Oracle. Oracles, always bringers of bad news in Antic Greece but here it is not about them. It is about the Oracle that acquired Sun Microsystems in January 2010, the same Oracle which is now suing Google only to cash in on their investment. Some even speculate that Oracle purchased Sun only so they can sue Google on the conditions of use of Java, even thought I have not made myself an opinion on the matter it is quite intriguing that the beginning of “Oracle VS Google” case was only 7 months after the acquisition.
With this lawsuit hanging over Google’s Android SDK, Swift is more than a valuable option. Along with the fact it is clearly Open-source, it can draw the iOS developers community to port their apps to Android without the heavy refactoring nor the code converters that are not always on point and may not follow the latest updates of this new language that is now on the verge of publishing its third version in two years.
If Google was to make Swift slowly replace Java as the “First class” language for Android development that would not be before a couple of years. But at least if you read it here first and that it turns out to be true, you can still say that you saw it here first and talk about that oracle guy able to predict the future tech trends.
Now imagine a world where you can build Android, iOS and OS X apps with only one language. Add the fact that this language can be compiled on UNIX systems and now even on Microsoft systems thanks to initiatives like Silver for Windows development using the .NET and Windows Phone APIs or Perfect allowing to build easily RESTful server applications. The possibilities are limitless, desktop clients, servers, scripts. You can do so much, so if you were looking to learn a new language, you know what to pick next: Swift.
Thank you for reading, here is a Taylor Swift video