Earlier this week Apple announced that Swift 2.0 was coming, much to the delight of app developers around the world. Swift is Apple’s own programming language for iOS and Mac OSX apps, with a simpler interface and logic designed to help the budding developer blossom. But the truly exciting news wasn’t just that Swift would be improving on it’s features, the really exciting news was that Swift 2.0 will be going open source.
In terms of development, this is a revolution, not only because it will inspire a new generation of coders, but because with this addition to Apple’s already extensive open source library we’re looking at a boom for independent developers on the iOS and OSX platforms.
With the Swift programming being open source, it simply means it’s free, it’s open to all developers regardless of experience or license and it allows you to modify it any way you want. To put it in comparison, Totara is an open source platform in a similar way; allowing users to download the source code and modify it in any way you want, for free. Totara has developed into one of the worlds most popular LMS’s, with a lot of this progression down to their decision to embrace open source programming, allowing people to essentially build the platform they want.
With this new tool in a developer’s arsenal, the quality (and perhaps overwhelming, quantity) of new apps for OSX and iOS is likely to soar. It’s a smart move from Apple’s perspective, with the code now open source the community will plug the gaps, fixing any bugs and developing entirely new ways to use Swift’s language. Once a program goes open source the community becomes the lead developers, so the directions it take become user-led. If a smart developers wants to add a feature, they can and then share it with like minded users. This is the kind of advantage open source software has over proprietary – the software adapts as quickly as the community demands it, not as quickly as the code holder can respond.
Jim Zemlin of the Linux foundation said it best, explaining “With open source, you never know who will use your technology, and that is a good thing. Open sourcing a programming language means easier adoption, but also more collaboration, as coders can share more easily, identify bugs, and use the language on their platform of choice.”
With Swift 2.0 on the horizon of open source’s future, the landscape for developers is looking great, joining other open source, community spearheaded by programs like Totara. If Apples open source project, is going to have the same kind of success, then they can expect a huge surge in developer support.