Swift announcement

Apple announces Swift 2.0 and declares it open source

Natali Vlatko
Apple image via Shutterstock

Fans of Apple technology descended on the west coast to attend their Worldwide Developers Conference, which other than talking about OS X El Captain, announced that Swift 2.0 was going open source. Cue applause.

Update: Apple SVP Craig Federighi has just unveiled Swift 2.0 along with Swift.org, releasing a swathe of code to the public. Swift’s compiler, LLDB debugger, REPL command-line environment and standard and core libraries will all be available on GitHub.

Having secured an Apache 2.0 License, the team of developers working on Swift will be doing so completely in the open, while the community will be encouraged to congregate at Swift.org. That means access to bug-reporting, mailing lists, documentation and design guidelines.

The release is supported by Mac and Linux operating systems, with Apple banking on community input to get Windows support off the ground. Speaking with Ars Technica, Federighi stated that while OS X and Linux where great foundations for Swift, Apple are “very open to ports to other platforms being contributed to the core project, and certainly given that LLVM, Clang, and LLDB, which are foundational technologies to Swift, are already available, already ported to Windows”.

Swift.org describes Swift as safe, fast and expressive, with tools playing a critical part of the Swift ecosystem. Chatter has already begun about Swift 3.0, which will see the team providing a set of API design guidelines for writing Swift code.


At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, some big news broke that thrilled the open source community: Apple’s programming language Swift, dubbed by senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi as the “next big programming language”, will be released as open source when Swift 2.0 comes out later this year.

Detailed in Apple’s announcement, Swift 2.0 will feature a new error handling API and first-class support for availability checking, on top of boasting better performance. Apple SDKs have also been enhanced to ensure platform APIs in Swift feel “more natural”.

New language features and refinements that make the cut in the Swift 2.0 shipment include familiar trythrow, and catch keywords to accompany the error handling upgrades. Protocol extensions have been added, with the use of global functions now adding methods to common types so that functions chain naturally.

Of course, all the new stuff for Swift is exciting, but why have Apple chosen to go down the open source path?

Getting the world into Swift

Federighi and co. want to get everyone using their programming language, so that means appealing to the masses outside of the “Apple is amazing” bubble. By open sourcing Swift 2.0, Apple hope to encourage greater community use and contribution, which the tech giant is openly encouraging.

For the moment, Apple says the Swift source code to become available will include the Swift compiler and standard library. They also intend to contribute ports of OS X, iOS and Linux, and seem to legitimately want the language to be adopted elsewhere too.

SEE ALSO: Could the Swift language lure more JVM devs to the iOS side?

To round out the announcement, Apple couldn’t help but contain their excitement about it all:

We are excited about the opportunities an open source Swift creates for our industry. Baked-in safety features combined with excellent speed mean it has the chance to dramatically improve software versus using C-based languages. Swift is packed with modern features, it’s fun to write, and we believe it will get used in a lot of places. Together, we have an exciting road ahead.

License-wise, Swift will be governed under an OSI-approved permissive license, much akin to the likes of Apache, BSD and Mozilla. Once details have been finalised, more updates are sure to come.

Author
Natali Vlatko
An Australian who calls Berlin home, via a two year love affair with Singapore. Natali was an Editorial Assistant for JAXenter.com (S&S Media Group).

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