There’s no way around it. If you want to develop apps for iOS or Mac OS, learning Swift is essential. Known for being more modern and intuitive than some other languages out there, if you have other programming skills learning Swift in addition will take your skill-set up a notch or two.
So, how Difficult is Swift?
Not very. Swift was heavily influenced by languages like Python and Ruby on Rails, so it’s perfect for beginners and very easy to get to grips with. In fact due to Apple’s clever design and the language’s similarity to English, it’s almost impossible to mess up.
If you’re just starting out in programming, Swift is a good choice for a first language. But be aware that you’re limiting yourself to one operating system. While it’s true that native apps out-perform cross platform hybrid ones, you should view it as a stepping stone to other languages and a key skill in an arsenal rather than the ‘be all and end all’. Unless you’re 100% sure that you’ll only ever want to be an Apple developer, of course.
If you already have a few programming skills under your belt and want to turn your attention to Apple’s unique way of doing things, then it won’t take long before you’re a fully fledged expert. Since it’s a relatively new, modern language there’s still plenty of potential for creativity and new areas of development.
What about Community Support?
All programming languages have a developer community that has grown up around them as the language has gained popularity, so there’s always plenty of ways to give and receive advice. The larger a community, the more exciting and interesting ways you’ll see the language being used and developed, so it’s a vital component.
As we just mentioned, Swift is still a very young language. That means that at present, resources can sometimes be a little lacking or quickly go out of date as the language evolves and the community grows. But in a way that’s all part of the fun, and it will definitely improve with time (and not much time either).
StackOverflow is a very useful programming Q&A site that you’re probably already familiar with. Swift has a not too shabby 15,000 followers on the platform, with 69,000 questioned asked and answered to date.
There are over 110 Swift Meetup groups with 40,000 collective members worldwide. iOS development is a hugely popular topic on the network – the second largest development community and the fastest growing one, to be precise!
Swift has featured in somewhere around 250 GitHub projects and as the language grows in popularity this is only set to increase.
How will it Benefit my Career?
Job opportunities for iOS developers aren’t as plentiful as general web developers, but that’s not necessarily bad news. iOS apps are more profitable than Android apps and are the first priority for most companies for that very reason. You know what that means; iOS developers are in high demand, which in turn means that the salary is very enticing (and average of $92k).
Where is Swift Headed?
There is no chance of Swift falling off anyone’s radar anytime soon. It’s new, it’s so far proving to be popular, and it’s intrinsically linked to Apple who will no doubt be focussed on improving it over the coming years. According to the TIOBE popularity index, Swift has now jumped Objective-C in popularity ratings, which is very telling.
That said, there’s really no concrete predictions of what can happen with Swift purely because it’s such a new language. Who knows what rivals will pop up and what effect that will have? Simply put, it’s future largely depends on Apple, but Apple aren’t exactly going anywhere either!