Apple’s Swift programming language heads to the data centre
Tue 24 Nov 2015
Apple’s newly released programming language, Swift, designed to help develop apps for the iPhone, is now taking steps beyond devices into the world of computer servers and data centres.
The language has already been adopted at scale by coders at big name companies such as Yahoo, LinkedIn and Vine. It is now one of the internet’s 15 most popular languages, according to recent Tiobe Index findings.
Start-up PerfectlySoft has now released a version of Swift that not only runs on the iPhone and other handheld devices, but on the servers that deliver the data and services too. The release, named Perfect, aims to ease the development process by enabling coders to use Swift for both the mobile app and the server code that it runs on. “For anyone building an app, it’s in their best interests to use one language—and the same code—on the front end and the back end,” Stephens told Wired.
For now, Perfect only works across the Mac OS X operating system which is rarely used on servers. However, Apple has announced plans to open source Swift by the end of 2015, meaning that the language’s blueprint will soon be freely available for developers to integrate with other operating systems, such as Linux which dominates data centres.
Currently, Objective C powers most iPhone apps, but it is not open source and remains exclusively tied to Apple devices. An open source Swift could spur greater competition with other languages across a range of devices and eventually, global data centres.
Increasingly developers are looking to use languages which allow them to programme both app and server code. Adam Jacob, CTO at data centre and IT automation company Chef, explained that this trend, and the demand for multi-tasking and speed, makes a server-focused Swift a worthwhile project.
“This is super-interesting, from a language point of view,” said Jacob. He added that the language gives developers “a pretty expressive foundation that compiles to pretty low-level code.”