Swift Consulting

In the Worldwide Developers Conference 2014 along with the announcement of iOS 8 and Yosemite, Apple took everybody by surprise by launching a new language – Swift for programming and development on Apple’s platforms. After roughly 30 years of Objective-C, Swift was launched to improve upon the difficulties faced with the former. As a one-stop language for various purposes, Swift can be used for iOS app development, iPad app development, building applications for Apple computers, watches and televisions.

Apple called it the first programming language similar to a scripting language. The language promises speed as is indicated by its name, which is derived from one of the fastest flying birds in nature. It came as a much needed improvement over Objective-C, which was getting obsolete. It soon caught popularity and made it to the Top 5 Programming Languages and became a favourite amongst Apple developers.

Swift is an open-source object-oriented language that was touted by Apple to be fast, modern, safe and interactive at the WWDC keynote address in 2014. It offers a host of libraries and features over Objective-C and even has an easy to learn, readable and intuitive syntax.

Swift is easy to learn, but a background or familiarity in Objective-C would make it even easier to write code in it. To get started, you will need XCode – an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) used to build applications for iPhones, iPads, Mac machines, Apple Watches and Apple TVs. Being the only supported way to develop these, it offers a text editor, a compiler and a debugger. XCode has many features that standout – a source code checker, and even submitting your app to the AppStore directly. It also supports many other languages – C, C++, Java, AppleScript, Objective-C, Objective-C++ and more. With advances in frameworks, Apple is also churning out relevant updates in XCode to completely support the new technology and work towards creating rich experiences for all.

But why should you or your project or organisation, migrate to or develop using Swift? Let us look at the features offered by and benefits of Swift.

Features and Benefits of Swift:

  • Familiarity and Ease: As a result of extensive research by Apple, Swift borrows and moulds concepts from various languages – Ruby, C#, Python, Haskell, Rust and the list goes on. Hence, developers from these languages especially Objective-C, don’t find Swift as an entirely new language to learn. In many ways, it is a “modern” language with intuitive syntax, doing away with clunky and unnecessary symbols present in Objective-C, making it much simpler and closer to English.
  • Maintainability: In Objective-C, we would have to save the code as two files – one with .h header file and another one with .m implementation file. Swift, uses only one .swift file so the developer does not need to keep syncing them. This helps programmers to focus on the logic layer of the project. With lesser code to work on, the app becomes less cluttered and more testable also reducing the likelihood of the app crashing.
  • Safety: By nature of its design, Swift is a safe language. Apps built by Apple would crash if a value assigned to or associated with a variable became null at any point. Swift introduces Optional type, which handles null case – i.e. absence of a value. Swift is also type-safe as it prevents invalid data type to be assigned to variables. Swift generates compiler errors as you write bad code (unhandled null values, passing wrong data type etc).
  • Speed and Memory: Besides safety and maintainability, Swift has proven to be a much faster alternative to Python, Objective-C and recently even C++ with a small margin. In terms of memory, instead of manually allocating and releasing memory, it supports automatic reference counting and manages memory.
  • Dynamic Libraries: Swift extends support for dynamic libraries (i.e. you can link to newer versions of the language using chunks of code). Again, keeping optimized memory management in mind, they are directly uploaded to it, rather than bogging down app performance by increasing its size.
  • Playgrounds: Playgrounds is a feature that enables programmers to test pieces of the code they wrote, without having to compile the entire app. This feature of inline code execution can help programmers understand the output from a particular algorithm, thus helping the iterative and experimentative process of coding.

Swift UI

At the Worldwide Developers Conference 2019, Apple announced a new UI framework for applications in the Apple ecosystem, called SwiftUI. It has a graphical design tool that allows developers to create a UI without having to write any code for it. It has been designed with the aim to let developers build rich and smooth UI applications making it easier for them to debug by eliminating entire category of errors.

For example: developers can now work individually with the Apple Watch allowing them to specify it as the sole target for notifications. Originally, such flexibility wasn’t present. Now, we can customise behaviour for fitness, mental health apps, alarms etc. for say, the Apple Watch platform.

Sometimes ever-evolving new features and frameworks can be overwhelming. You might want help, guidance, a learning path or need to consult someone; that’s where we come in.

How can Cazton help you with Swift Consulting?

At Cazton, we support the direction of technological development being adopted by Apple. We support progressive practices in programming. We can help you design, develop and deploy your latest application to Apple platforms, seamlessly. You can trust us with migrating your existing Objective-C applications and code to Swift. Most of the time, it takes experts to fully utilise the features offered by a framework or a language. Our expert Swift Developers, Consultants and Architects can help you use advanced features of XCode such as the REPL(Read-Eval-Print-Loop) debugging option which interacts with the running app directly, maximize benefits off the brilliant Apple hardware, and efficiently use the Playgrounds feature provided by Swift.

Swift has seen a stark increase in its use, especially since it was open-sourced by Apple and when a compiler was launched for Linux. With the rapid rise in popularity and high adoption rate, many iOS apps have been built using Swift (ex: LinkedIn, Lyft, Yahoo Weather, etc). Swift was designed to work along with Apple’s Cocoa and Cocoa Touch Frameworks and integrate well with previously written code for Apple platforms. Released with an Apache 2.0 license, it is suitable to be used across commercial projects too. Our team of experts in the language can help you develop maintainable, testable, scalable and efficient Swift applications as per your business requirements.

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