Apple’s open source release receives ‘Swift’ support from developers, IBM

Developers eager for Apple Inc. to open source the Swift development language got an early Christmas gift as the company made it official late last week, following up on its summer promise.

Apple’s announcement includes the launch of a dedicated website to Swift with detailed information about Swift open source, including technical documentation, community resources and links to download the Swift source code. Apple said Swift is licenced under the popular Apache 2.0 open source licence with a runtime library exception, enabling users to easily incorporate Swift into their own software and port the language to new platforms.

The source code is available via GitHub and includes support for all of Apple software platforms, including iOS, OS X, watchOS and tvOS. as well as Linux. Components available include the Swift compiler, debugger, standard library, foundation libraries, package manager and REPL.

One Toronto area company has been anticipating Apple’s announcement for some time. Newmarket, Ont.-based PerfectlySoft Inc. has already put a great deal of time and effort into its Perfect Framework for server-side Swift, which it sees as nearly halving development time and streamlining resources as it would allow applications to be built on both the front and the back end in the same language.

But PerfectlySoft is not the only company that was gearing up in preparation for the open sourcing of Swift. The same day as Apple’s official announcement, IBM Corp. announced it would be making its IBM Swift Sandbox available to developers on developerWorks through an interactive website that lets developers write Swift code and execute it in a server environment on top of Linux. The web app supports standard library functions alongside the core Swift language; processing is done over the cloud. Developers can write formula-based math problems in the console and get instant results as the output.

iOS and Apple devices continue to be first choice for developers when building mobile apps. Even though it wasn’t open source until now, Swift attracted a lot of interest from developers in the Apple community. The proliferation of smartphones and tablets running Google’s Android means there are 24,000 different kinds of devices with varying hardware specifications running different flavours of the OS, while iOS 9 is on two thirds of iPhones, iPads and iPods.

PerfectlySoft CEO Sean Stephens said his company will be focused on bringing the Perfect Framework to Linux, and anticipates that someone will bring a Swift compiler for Android to market very soon. Meanwhile, BlackBerry released the Priv last month, the company’s first smartphone to run the Android operating system.

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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