There has been quite a bit of buzz recently over a report by RedMonk showing the rapid developer adoption of Apple Swift. The new programming language was introduced in June of 2014 and is Apple’s successor to Objective-C. The report draws correlation between discussions on Stack Overflow along with code usage statistics from Github. The authors caution to take the numerical rankings with a grain of salt. Many comments correctly point out that it simply reflects how interested developers are, but not necessarily any demand from employers seeking those skills. Objective-C is a powerful language but suffers from many of the low-level technical syntaxes that challenge C and C++ developers. Swift is intended to be a replacement to Objective-C while maintaining high compatibility and integration. Swift cleverly combines object-oriented & functional programming with dynamic language features along with runtime managed code support like Microsoft .Net.
I used to always say, “Happiness is managed code.” The interactive coding and debugging in Swift Playgrounds integrated with Apple’s Xcode IDE adds a bit of RAD (rapid application development) to the developer experience. Most mobile application firms are doing early prototypes and training for Swift with their iOS developers and the language will continue to mature. Since mobile app projects have relatively shorter development cycles than enterprise applications, the adoption should continue at an accelerated pace. Many Ruby developers will also find that Swift is easer to use and understand than Objective-C. Existing Apple shops with a good inventory of Objective-C libraries can use those assets with Swift since the new language is cross-compatible. Within three years, I expect it to replace not only native iOS apps but also applications for Mac OS too.