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How Becoming Open Source Fuels Swift’s Ascendancy

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Designed as Apple’s replacement to Objective-C, Swift’s adoption has grown rapidly since its introduction in June 2014.  Apple’s Swift programming language began as an exclusive to Apple platforms but was open sourced in December 2015, bringing with it support for Linux-based environments.  This opening of the language has accelerated its rise and attracted new contributors to the language’s development.

O’Reilly’s Paris Buttfield-Addison has provided a useful overview of the project’s current state.  As the language was originally closed-source, several components were not available.  To fill in the gaps, the project has three main subprojects:

  • Swift Package Manager
  • Foundation Project
  • Swift Evolution Project

The Package Manager component is the Apple endorsed manager that joins the existing CocoaPods and Carthage systems.  As Butterfiled-Addison notes, “… it remains to be seen It remains to be seen whether the Swift Package Manager will be a better choice than the more established projects… but chances are high that the 'official' solution will become the defacto standard.”

The Foundation Project provides “core utilities, internationalization, and OS independence”.  This is important because non-Apple systems do not otherwise have access to a suitable Objective-C runtime.  One of the primary goals Foundation sets for itself is to provide parity with the Apple-specific implementation and be a full part of the Swift 3.0 release (estimated release in late 2016).

The Swift Programming Language Evolution is a GitHub-hosted environment for the future development of Swift, so that the outside world can witness and contribute to Swift’s future.

Developers who use Objective-C and/or target the Apple platform have the strongest incentive to learn about Swift as it is ultimately intended to replace Objective-C’s usage in Apple software development.  Those outside the Apple platform can read Buttfield-Addison’s previous essay as to why they may find Swift important for their next project.

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