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What is iOS Swift framework and how to learn it to build iPhone and iPad Apps

By Editorial Team
On: 2017-11-25

Summary:
Swift is a very popular platform for designing iOS Apps for devices such as iPad, Apple Watch, and iPhone. It is official iOS coding platform created and supported by Apple Company It has lots of nice functionalities for building interactive, advance mobile Apps and games. This article discusses few of its top functionalities and features.



Despite the growing popularity for single page web applications, the demand for native applications is still high. Native applications allow developers to more easily create code that interfaces with the hardware of a user’s mobile phone. This allows them to access the camera, location and even accelerometer of a user’s device without the use of a third party app such as a web browser. However, in order to create Apps, one must know the programming languages necessary to develop them. In the case of developing iPhone and iPad apps, that language is Swift.

                Before Swift, iOS development was focused around Objective-C, a version of C like C++ that allowed for Object-Oriented Programming. Objective-C was created for NeXT, a company Apple bought in the 1990s which used it in the development of their operating systems. When Apple purchased NeXT, their future operating systems, including MacOS and iOS were developed in Objective-C. While Objective-C was very performant due to it being compiled, it slowly became outdated like its predecessor language C. In 2014, Apple introduced the Swift programming language, describing it as “Objective-C without the C”.


Swift came with various features that enabled easier development of iOS Apps. It followed a more simple syntax, resembling Python or Ruby code, and it was even typesafe, ensuring the developer wouldn’t have null pointers in their code through the use of Optionals. Optionals allow Swift code to be much safer and lower the likelihood of a software crash. Swift also mitigated the need for semicolons, much like more modern languages seen today, and uses type inference and treats functions as first class objects much like a functional programming language. The compiler for Swift is also greatly optimized, reducing the amount of memory an application uses. This, in turn, helps users when installing Apps, as their sizes will be greatly decreased have they been written in Swift. These features allowed Swift to be more modern than Objective-C and allow developers to create more performant Apps.

Swift uses many of the same variable types and control expressions as Objective-C. This allows developers to use old Objective-C libraries in their Swift code easily. Additionally Swift runs on the same compiler as Objective-C, LLVM, allowing projects to be written in both Objective-C and Swift simultaneously. The LLVM allows Swift to be much more performant than Objective-C, boasting speedups of at least 2.6x, with a much more friendly and modern syntax.


In order to start developing in Swift, one would need to get Xcode, Apple’s proprietary IDE for developing iOS Apps. Xcode enables Swift functionality out of the box and even allows developers to create a playground to test snippets of code. Xcode comes with an easy to use GUI to easily drag and drop UI elements onto a mockup of an App and connect them to functions in a Swift program. From there, developers can use Swift to manipulate the UI, similar to using JavaScript for web applications. Just like with JavaScript, Swift also has the capability for full stack development, as after it becoming open source in 2015, has been used for server-side API development. While Swift is still a new language, its talent pool is much smaller and demand for developers is continuously growing.


 

Programming Languages and Resources for App Developers
Here are a brief summary of coding languages and resources for developing web Apps or native Apps without using Swift. In general, you need to know common web programming languages such as  HTML, CSS (or HTML5 & CSS3) JavaScript (or JS frameworks like jQuery, Angular, React Web, Node, React Native, Ionic, jQuery Mobile or Express) and  a database  like MongoDB. Knowlege of a back-end coding in language such as PHP, MySQL, Apache or Ruby on Rails is useful but not required. For those interested in learning more about web design and development, here are a list of step-by-step training guide articles: i- Become CMS specialist, ii- Become front-end specialist, iii- Become expert SQL developer, iv- Become expert PHP developer. Lastly, you can use Java programming to design Java Android Apps.  

Swift coding is well suited for those interested in pursuing a career in mobile App design and development; however, other options are, system admin, web design and development and software engineering. It is advisable to consult with an IT career counselor to understand what career options best fits your skills. For instance, if you want to be a software engineer, learning HTML and CSS might not fit the bill. Here is an excellent article for learning more on coding and technology career roadmap. Once you know what career path you wish to pursue, you can make a plan on what, when, and how to learn. There are lots of online resources for learning coding and technology in general. For teenagers and high school students, High School Technology Services offers variety of hands-on training. For adults and professionals, Coding Bootcamps and DC Web Makers Companies offer basic to advance project-based programming and technology clas

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