Swift becomes Open Source

Apple Campus

It was not so long time ago that Microsoft announced the Open Source switch of .NET, just a few days ago Apple announced that its programming language, Swift, will become Open Source. After Microsoft, Apple, are we on the verge of a new revolution?

What is Swift?

Chances are that even if you are a programmer you might not know what Swift is or used for. Except of course if you are an Apple-oriented programmer. Swift was born about one year ago with simplification in mind. It has been thought to replace Objective-C the historical pillar of the iOS/OSX programming, however the presentation of Apple says Swift can coexist with Objective-C. This might be confusing but it is probably due to a soft-switch driven policy. Now the most striking features of swift are a cleaner syntax, speed (it can be faster than Python), and further abstraction: by default Swift won’t expose lower-levels components like pointers. Swift also claims to speed up production and offer a safer environment for both developers and users. However Swift was just born a while ago and it isn’t still mature enough to replace Objective-C.

Swift 2.0 will be Open Source

One might not think of the differences between a closed source and a Open Source language because we usually associate those words to software. But have you ever thought that all the languages you usually use are plainly Open Source, without you to notice? Now what does this mean? It means you can contribute to the code that surrounds your language: the compiler or the interpreter, but… Swift won’t be the same. As a matter of fact you won’t be able to produce software for Linux/Windows on Linux/Windows. Even though the language itself will be Open Source, framework and developer tools won’t. They will still run only on OS X, hence the impossibility to produce without a Mac, and also the impossibility to produce for anything else other than OS X or iOS.


I don’t feel like anything big happened, however this might be the start of something. Microsoft opened .NET and now Apple opened Swift. What has changed? Nothing on the surface, but what you can observe from it is that something deep inside has moved.

Image thanks to Bastian Stein.

Image courtesy of mark | marksei

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