‘Swift’ Programming Language Been in Development for Four Years, “Major Focus” Since 2013

SwiftThe Swift programming language was as close to a “One More Thing” as there was at the WWDC Keynote this week, debuting to significant cheers from the developers in the audience. Immediate reaction after the keynote suggested Swift was “huge news” and the future of development on Apple products.

Apple says Swift code is “concise yet expressive”, interactive and fun. For coders, the introduction to Swift is available on the iBooks Store but Chris Lattner, head of Apple’s Developer Tools department, shared additional information on Swift on his personal webpage (via TechCrunch).

Now that Swift is public, Lattner revealed that he began working on Swift in mid-2010, with a team of coders “contributing in earnest” late in 2011. Last July, Swift finally became the major focus of Lattner’s Developer Tools Group.

The Swift language is the product of tireless effort from a team of language experts, documentation gurus, compiler optimization ninjas, and an incredibly important internal dogfooding group who provided feedback to help refine and battle-test ideas. Of course, it also greatly benefited from the experiences hard-won by many other languages in the field, drawing ideas from Objective-C, Rust, Haskell, Ruby, Python, C#, CLU, and far too many others to list.

The Xcode Playgrounds feature and REPL were a personal passion of mine, to make programming more interactive and approachable. The Xcode and LLDB teams have done a phenomenal job turning crazy ideas into something truly great. Playgrounds were heavily influenced by Bret Victor’s ideas, by Light Table and by many other interactive systems.

Lattner says that he hopes to make programming “more approachable and fun” with Swift, getting rid of extraneous materials to make programming easier to learn.

“We’ll appeal to the next generation of programmers and to help redefine how Computer Science is taught,” Lattner writes.



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