Way back when the personal computer was new, there was a language named BASIC. BASIC was easy to learn and, more importantly, it was easy to experiment with. Early versions of BASIC were interpretive, meaning you typed and ran, edited and ran again. You didn’t have to wait for your code to compile and link. Make a change to the program, run it immediately. BASIC was so easy to learn and work with, pretty much anyone could learn how to program.
I can relate to this, since I learned to program using BASIC when I was in grade 3 on an old CoCo 3 computer (old now, new then).
Apple’s new Swift programming language has been designed, over time, to replace Objective-C. Swift is much easier to grasp, though not nearly as easy as BASIC, since Swift is designed to support much more complex tasks. But Swift is much, much easier to grasp than Objective-C.
Like BASIC, Swift is a lot of fun to play around with. Swift is perfect for rapid prototyping. Using Xcode’s Playground environment, you can make changes in your code and immediately see the results. You can build a little freestanding animation, then run that animation in a scrubbable timeline, tweaking the code as you go.
I can see a lot of new iOS developers jumping into Swift, and several veteran developers moving to Swift for some of their newer projects, while keeping their original codebase for older code.
This article on ZDnet started this whole comparing Swift to BASIC, it is thoughtfully written and goes into a lot more detail on Swift. If you are about to take the plunge, or are considering getting into iOS development for the first time, this is well worth reading.
When I first started developing iPhone apps (I wound up building 40 silly little pinpoint apps), Apple would not allow any books to be written on the topic, and put everyone programming for iOS under NDA, so there were no educational resources allowed at all.
But that’s changed tremendously in the years since the iPhone first came out. And, now, with Swift, the doors for iOS development may well have been blown open to a new generation of programmers who may be able to recapture that exploring spirit of wonder that the first Apple II BASIC programmers had when they got their first personal computers.
If you’re a registered Apple developer, you can download the Xcode 6 beta. Even if you’re not a registered Apple developer, you can download the Swift programming guide from iBooks for free.