Part of the fun of being a developer is that we always have new things to learn, and Apple gave us a lot to celebrate today with its announcement of a new programming language, Swift, at WWDC. We're excited about the new opportunities it will offer developers.
Our instructors have already started reading the developer guide, and no doubt Max Howell, who is at WWDC, will be learning a lot about it this week!
Just two hours after the announcement, Max wrote: "I've read a few chapters and Swift will be easier to learn IMO. But naturally, Objective-C will be around for years, maybe forever yet. What will a junior dev need to know? I'd guess Swift will become more valuable as they will produce working, more maintainable code faster, but the demand from clients will dictate its adoption."
Don Bora is chief instructor and co-founder of Mobile Makers, and the principal in technology and partner/owner at Eight Bit Studios, a mobile development shop. He wrote, "It looks like a great language! The real question is how many shops will be requiring Swift or moving toward it? For my money, Eight Bit will wait until someone gets proficient enough to test out one client project. My guess is that we will use it sparsely to test the waters and will not jump in until months after its official release, not the beta."
Both instructors agree that Xcode and Objective-C, the current SDK and language, will remain vital to mobile app development for a long time, as there are millions of apps built in that environment that won't be instantly abandoned. Indeed, we still see many enterprise apps working in iOS 6. So knowledge of Objective-C is going to continue to be in demand for the next couple of years, we expect, and of course Swift is based in Xcode.
Brandon Passley, CEO of Mobile Makers, agrees. "Any CTO of a large company knows not to jump quickly into the new language until you know you can hire and sustain enough talent," he said. "Meanwhile, the foundations of mobile app development are the same, and so the value of knowing any language only enhances a developer's skills and marketability."
Apple says that Swift will work side-by-side with Objective-C, so it won't immediately replace the current language. The adoption of Swift for new apps will take some time to roll out when it's released with iOS 8 in the fall of 2014.
At Mobile Makers, we're not waiting to dig into the new code so we can be ready to introduce developers to it this fall!