An Introduction to Swift: What You Need to Know

Posted by Pedram Mohammadi on September 15, 2017

Swift, Apple’s newest programming language, was first introduced during the company’s 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference. Dubbed “the Objective-C without the garbage of C,” the Swift programming language aims to eliminate the flaws of Objective-C, and offer something that’s fast, modern, safe, and interactive.

As a general-purpose programming language, Swift assists developers in creating high-level applications, ranging from mobile apps to desktop apps, and scaling upwards to cloud-based services. Since Apple unveiled the new programming language, it has swiftly become one of the fastest growing languages in recent history, even threatening to overtake the aging Objective C, which is over two decades old.

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Here are some key Swift features you need to know.

1.  Easier to Learn 

One of the most exciting aspects of the coding language is that it’s easy to learn and comes with features that make programming more productive, more flexible, and more fun.

Apple designed the open-sourced Swift to remove complexity and the unnecessary clutter prevalent in the older programming languages. Its syntax was designed with simplicity and efficiency in mind, which provides you with the ability to learn quickly and build powerful applications fast.

For example, unlike other programming languages like Objective-C that compels you to end every statement with a semicolon, without which an error will occur, Swift doesn’t require you to include a veritable flood of semicolons.

Here is an example: 

An Introduction to Swift: What You Need to Know | http://blog.zang.io

 

Furthermore, the Swift language offers Objective-C interoperability. As such, since it’s compatible with existing Objective-C libraries, you can comfortably create an application containing lines of code written in either language. This way, Swift is much faster to learn and use, especially if you have some familiarity with Objective-C.

 

2.  Focus on Security

Apple has made Swift more secure in a variety of innovative ways. With Swift, you cannot use variables without first initializing them. Arrays and integers are examined for overflow, preventing the common cause of program crashes.

Another security feature is that by including brace brackets in Swift code when opening and closing, “If” statements eliminate bugs such as Apple’s “goto fail” SSL bug. Additionally, developers must include a default statement in switch statements, guaranteeing that a program will run at the close of the statement, regardless of whether the possibilities in the statement will be realized or not.

Here is an illustration on how Swift’s security features compares with the other programming languages:

An Introduction to Swift: What You Need to Know | http://blog.zang.io

 

 3.  Focus on Speed

Every app developer likes speed, particularly when a programming language enables building fast, powerful applications—which is exactly what Swift offers.

Apple used a modern approach to programming to generate a swift coding language that focuses on speed and efficiency. Furthermore, with the continuous enhancements on the language, Apple is improving Swift’s performance to evengreater heights. Here is an illustration of how Swift’s speed compares with the other programming languages (when it comes to complex sorting of large data set):

An Introduction to Swift: What You Need to Know | http://blog.zang.io

 

4.  Inclusion of Interactive Playground

Another of Swift’s “no pressure” captivating features is the integration of a playground to Xcode, which is Apple’s main development environment for the language. With the playground, you can comfortably test your Swift code and instantly see the result, without the hassle of developing a complete application.

Rather than requiring you to take the time-consuming route of running code through a compiler before executing, the playground gives you the platform for compiling and running code on a live, interactive manner. This way, you can play around with Swift code, and correct mistakes immediately so that you can build an efficient application.

 

5.  Reduces Amount of Code

When building a mobile app, Swift requires less lines of code, especially for repetitive statements and string manipulation. In other programming languages, text strings are very verbose, and combining statements requires several steps.

For example, since Swift embraces a modern approach to programming, two strings can be concatenated easily using a “+” operator, something absent in the other traditional programming languages. Furthermore, strings can easily be compared using "==" operator, rather than the more complicated "isEqualToString:".

Most programmers love the ability to combine and compare characters and strings using such simple methodology.

Here is an example.

Swift automatically concatenates the two messages, resulting in the following output.

An Introduction to Swift: What You Need to Know | http://blog.zang.io

 

6.  Better Memory Management

If memory leaks take place in object-oriented programming, they can reduce the amount of memory available for an app to run sufficiently. Since Swift’s Cocoa Touch APIs support Automatic Reference Counting (ARC), which is a streamlined technique of managing memory, the big memory leaks that a developer can experience in other languages isn’t possible in Swift.

When an application is utilizing huge data buffers, video, or graphics, it results in excessive memory usage and memory leaks, and subsequent failure of the application. To address this issue, Swift supports ARC across multiple APIs, resulting in increased stability, and granting a developer more time to focus on other tasks, instead of being bogged down by memory management.

 

7.  Other Features

  • Swift language offers type interfaces, which reduces the time spent in annotating variables with type information, and results in fewer type-related bugs in code.
  • It supports generics, which are functions that can be reused in different situations with different variable types, without causing any errors.
  • Its unified files give developers the ability to easily maintain and update Swift code.
  • It offers implicit namespaces, resulting in reduced code filename collisions, particularly with open source projects.
  • It supports tuples (aggregating multiple elements into one compound variable) and multiple return values.

 

Choose Swift

The Swift language is loaded with several interesting features intended to make app development easy, efficient, and fun. The programming language’s clean slate, backed by Apple’s mature and resourceful development frameworks, is an opportunity you can use to take mobile app development efforts a notch higher.

So, instead of suffering from the painful and crowded syntaxes of other programming languages, make Swift your language of choice, especially if you want to master developing powerful “Apple-only” applications.

You can build an iOS chat app using Swift on Zang Cloud. Get started for free today:

Start building on Zang

Topics: cPaaS, Swift, programming languages

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