Apple’s Swift is the latest programming language which has been developed for iOS and OS X apps without the constraints of C compatibility. Swift is a programmer friendly language as it has been made much easier compared to the traditional languages. It is optimized for development and its compiler is optimized for performance.
Let’s quickly have a look at the top 10 reasons why Apple’s Swift will rule the future over other languages especially over Objective C.
1. Swift is Easy – Swift code resembles English language. The syntax is easy and simple. It does not make use of semicolons to end the line or parenthesis to for conditional expressions. Swift introduces many new features and combines the procedural and object-oriented parts of the language
Objective-C is a bit verbose, it is a superset of C and provides object-oriented capabilities and a dynamic runtime, and it has lots of brackets too. Objective C introduced @ symbol to differentiate keywords and types. Objective-C inherits the syntax, primitive types, and flow control statements of C and adds syntax for defining classes and methods.
2. Avoids File Maintenance – With Swift you do not need to maintain separate files. Xcode and the LLVM compiler automatically detect dependencies and perform incremental builds. Hence the repetitive task of creating two separate files (Header and implementation files) is avoided. Instead you have a single code file (.swift = .h + .m) combining the two. Swift eliminates boilerplate work thus improving the quality of code, comments, and features that are supported.
Objective C maintains two different files to improve the build time and efficiency of the executable app creation which means additional work for the programmers. You have to manually synchronize method names and comments between files, using a standard convention that is agreed upon by all the developers provided they have code reviews in place.
3. Optionals make Swift safe –Swift introduces optional types, to handle the absence of a value. Optionals are a bit similar to using nil with pointers in Objective-C, but they work for any type, not just classes. Swifts Optionals are safer and more expressive compared with Objective C and are at the core of many of Swift’s most powerful features.
The concept of Optionals does not exist in Objective C. Optional types make the possibility of a nil optional value very clear which means it can generate a compiler error if you write wrong code. Errors can be fixed as code is written, which greatly reduces the time and money spent on fixing bugs related to pointer logic from Objective-C.
4. Simplified Memory Management – 4. Apple has simplified memory management by using Automatic Reference Counting (ARC). The compiler takes care of ARC by examining the source code, in order to manage your applications memory. Apple has solved Automatic and high-performance memory management problem and has proven the increase in productivity.
Whereas in Objective-C, it is the responsibility of the programmers send the relevant messages to objects in order to mark objects for de-allocation or to prevent de-allocation. The huge memory leaks that are likely to occur in Objective-C are impossible using Swift.
5. Lesser Code – With Swift the amount of code required for repetitive statements and string manipulation is drastically reduced. In Swift the addition of two strings can be done using the “+” operator. Whereas the “+” operator is missing in Objective C. In Objective-C working with text strings is lengthy and requires numerous steps to combine two strings.
6. High Performance improvements – Primate Labs discovered that the Xcode 6.3 Beta improved Swift’s performance of the GEMM algorithm which is a memory-bound algorithm with sequential access of large arrays. The initial implementation of a memory-bound algorithm with random access of large arrays had a considerable performance improvement. Further improvements were observed in Swift by applying best practices. The enhancements enabled Swift to outperform C++ for the Mandelbrot algorithm.
7. Lesser name collisions with open source projects – Namespacing is implicit in swift, all classes are implicitly scoped by the module they are in no class prefixes are needed. Implicit namespaces allow the same code file to exist across multiple projects without causing a build failure and requiring names like NSString or CGPoint (Core Graphics).
Namespaces enable software companies to create the same code filenames without worrying about collisions when integrating open source projects. Objective-C code lacks the formal support for namespaces.
8. Dynamic Library Support – 8. One big change in Swift is the switch from static to dynamic libraries. Till now Dynamic libraries have never been supported on iOS until the launch of Swift and iOS 8. Dynamic libraries are executable chunks of code that can be linked to apps. Swift offers dynamic library support and this feature allows current Swift apps to link against newer versions of the Swift language as it evolves over time.
Objective-C does not define linker symbols the way C and C++ do, due to its dynamic nature. A symbol is not created for each method, just each class. When trying to create a static library containing categories on existing classes, the problem arises. When compiling against this static library, the code for the categories is not linked into the final executable. The result is a runtime exception. In Objective-C, all methods are resolved dynamically at runtime. The runtime system uses the selector for the method run to identify the appropriate method.
9. Playground – Highly Interactive Coding – 9. Playgrounds help programmers create a chunk of code or write an algorithm while getting feedback. You can view code and the outcome on the same screen. It is good for experienced or advanced programmers. It saves the time of the developer and improves the speed. Playgrounds depend on definite initialization which Objective-C does not have.
10. Swift – A Future you can power – Objective-C will not fade away, but it won’t witness any major changes. If you learn and know Objective-C, it will be easy to pick up Swift. Swift is still immature and unstable but its popularity and use will surely grow over the future years. Swift is a more approachable full-featured programming language that allows developers to build apps and target embedded systems like the new lower-power Apple Watch. Swift can be described simply as “Objective-C without C”.
Swift is a language developed by combining the good features of languages like Python and avoiding many flaws in Objective C like bad manual memory management. Swift introduces true named parameters and retains main Objective-C concepts, like protocols, closures and categories. It is an easier language due to its similarity with the English language.
Objective C is definitely a safer choice for building apps. But I think Swift has a great future and the potential to develop innovative, amazing and immersive apps for the audience worldwide.