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The Swift programming language - features, advantages, disadvantages

In our new article, you will know what Swift is, what it is used for, what applications it is used in, and what associated technologies it has. We will also tell you about the history, features, advantages and disadvantages of the language, how hard it is to learn and how best to do it. If you want to study Swift , you can start from Swift online courses here.

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What is Swift? History of its creation and development

Swift is an open source compiled programming language for developing programs and applications for iOS/MacOS and other platforms. It can be used to create software for different types of devices and hardware, including smartphones and tablets, desktops and more.

Swift is the primary development language in Apple's ecosystem, and is the replacement for Objective-C, the language Apple used previously (and still uses today). The process of creating the new language began in 2010, and in June 2014 it was presented to the public at the WWDC conference, along with a 500-page guide.

In June 2015, the Swift language was updated to version 2.0, improving its performance, syntax, adding a new bug-fixing API and the ability to check the compatibility of language functions with target platforms. In December of the same year, Apple released a beta version of Swift 3.0, which supported iOS, OS X and Linux operating systems and was also licensed under the Apache Oversource License. It was also incompatible with earlier versions of the language.

Swift features and capabilities

  • Swift has been influenced by a number of language variants, including Objective-C, Python, Ruby, C#, Haskell, Rust, and many others.
  • An important difference between Swift and Objective-C is that it is not defined by pointers, but by variable types handled by the compiler.
  • Swift provides operator overloading functions, generalizations, definable names, and other options previously only available in Java and C++.
  • Also worth noting are patterns such as pre-initializing variables, checking array indexes for out-of-bounds errors, automatic memory management, checking integers for overflow, supervised error recovery, etc.
  • Swift supports the Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks. These are official Apple frameworks, the former is used in software development for MacOS and the latter in creating applications for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
  • Swift code is divided into several open source repositories, including the compiler and standard library, kernel libraries, package manager and cloned repositories.

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Advantages and disadvantages of Swift

Apple claims that the Swift programming language is based on three principles: security, performance and simplicity. It has a number of important advantages that have made it so popular and dynamic. These include:

  1. High performance. Swift exhibits very decent code and program execution speed. Apple claims it is 8 times faster than Python or Javascript and 2.5 times faster than Objective-C.

  2. Simple syntax. Swift is a very minimalist, logical and structured language that doesn't require you to write a large amount of code. Also its code has good readability and is
    understandable not only to experienced but also to beginners. Swift's syntax has been significantly simplified compared to Objective-C, and the amount of code has also been reduced.

  3. Security. The language provides important security features, such as protection against unauthorized data access and memory leaks, control of critical scripts and automatic fixing of routine errors (you do not have to specify them manually, unlike C++).

  4. Free license. Swift is an open-source programming language, completely free and open source. This was an additional factor in its popularity and rapid development, contributing to the creation of a large community of developers to share experiences and joint refinements.

  5. User-friendly workspace. Apple provides an integrated Xcode development environment for iOS and macOS software development. This includes a suite of LLVM compilers, Interface Builder GUI development functionality, and Apple-supported developer documentation.

  6. Backwards compatible with Objective-C. Because of this, developers can easily rewrite their projects from Objective-C to Swift, as well as use O-C functionality inside Swift projects.

  7. Dynamic libraries. Dynamic libraries, rather than static ones, are used here. This allows for quicker changes and improvements to Swift code (without waiting for a new version of iOS to be released), and allows programmers to develop separate libraries for their applications.

Is it difficult to learn Swift? How promising is the language?

Learning Swift will be relatively easy for experienced developers and beginners alike. Complete beginners in coding are recommended to start with a simpler language (e.g. Python), and then move on to Swift.

At the same time, this language is fairly friendly to novice programmers, because it avoids a number of common mistakes, due to the use of the latest programming patterns. And the sandboxing will help you avoid wasting time writing large amounts of code, and have the flexibility to experiment with small "chunks" and immediately test the result without the need to compile and execute the code.

On the other hand, Swift is strictly typified, which makes it somewhat difficult to learn. It is also a language that requires time to learn Objective-C before mastering it, so it is unlikely to be taken off the shelf.

Swift is a very promising language, it is rapidly developing and steadily gaining popularity. There are over 60,000 opensource projects written in Swift on the renowned developer resource GitHub, and StackOverFlow users have asked each other over 150,000 questions about it. Swift developers are becoming more and more in-demand and well-paid specialists every year, needed by many employers, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.

To summarise

The Swift programming language was introduced by Apple in 2014 and is used for software development for iOS and MacOS platforms. Today, it is the primary language of Apple's ecosystem, replacing Objective-C, which it had previously used. The advantages of Swift include high performance, simple and logical syntax, decent security scores, an open license, and the availability of a sandbox and other useful features.

Swift is among the youngest, fastest-growing and most promising programming languages. At the same time, it is relatively easy to learn, making it a very good option for beginners and experienced developers alike.

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