December 7, 2015
Apple just made its programming language Swift open source, housing it on the new website swift.org to offer a range of tools to help developers turn raw code into applications. Apple designed Swift as an easier programming language for developing software for Apple devices, but the apps can now be formatted to run on other operating systems. The move is part of Apple’s strategy, in light of sagging consumer sales, to target enterprise users; among the companies now using Swift are IBM, Twitter, Yahoo and LinkedIn.
The Wall Street Journal quotes Apple executive Craig Federighi as saying that, by making Swift open source, the “entire developer community can contribute to the programming language and help bring it to even more platforms.” In addition to the new Swift website, the code will also be available on GitHub, an online community of software developers.
IBM has made liberal use of Swift, company executive Phil Buckellew told CIO Journal. “We have thousands of developers working on applications with Swift and our experience has been really positive,” he said. “Our developers have found it’s incredibly fast to build and run apps.” Among those apps is one to enable retail floor staff to use iPads to better monitor prices, inventory and other sales data. IBM is also working on allowing developers to create enterprise software in the cloud.
Market research firm RedMonk reports that Swift is “growing faster than any other programming language it has tracked.” Gartner research director Raj Bala notes the trend of large technology companies to open source its tool, adding that, “Apple was getting a lot of criticism for not doing so.”
Recently, Microsoft open-sourced its programming language .NET for building websites and online apps, and Alphabet’s Google open-sourced Kubernetes for managing clusters of standardized blocks of code that can be moved online and across devices.