Apple’s Craig Federighi Talks Swift, Explains Why It Went Open Source


As promised earlier this June, Apple made its Swift programming language open source yesterday, alongside releasing some guidance for the upcoming Swift 3.0. Ars Technica had the chance to speak with Apple Software Engineering SVP Craig Federighi, who talked about the future evolution of the language and more.

As explained by Federighi, Swift has been released under an Apache 2.0 licence, but Apple also included a more permissive runtime exception “so that if you build code in Swift and parts of the Swift library are generated in your own code, you don’t have to provide attribution in that case.”

“The Swift team will be developing completely in the open on GitHub,” Federighi told Ars. “As they’re working day-to-day and making modifications to the language, including their work on Swift 3.0, all of that is going to be happening out in the open on GitHub.”

When asked about why Apple has open-sourced Swift, Federighi highlighted two main reasons/goals: The first is to make Swift code more portable and versatile (allowing developers to use the code to create apps for other platforms as well).

“A number of developers, including enterprise developers like IBM, very early on as they began developing their mobile applications in Swift, really wanted to be able to take the talents that their developers were developing and even some of the code and be able to deploy it in the cloud, for instance,” Federighi continued. “We thought the best way [to enable that], ultimately, was open source.”

The second goal, Federighi says, it is educational.

“We’re working with educators, and many professors are very interested in teaching Swift because it’s such an expressive language that’s such a great way to introduce all sorts of programming concepts,” Federighi said. “And enabling it as open source makes it possible for them to incorporate Swift really as part of the core curriculum.”

Swift’s openness doesn’t seem to have changed anything in Objective-C’s position in Apple’s ecosystem. However, Apple seems to be more focused on this new emerging programming language, and the company would like to see the developers using Swift if possible.

“We’ll be supporting Objective-C and continuing to evolve it as necessary to fit into this evolving world. We do think that Swift is the language that we recommend for new developers to our platform who are investing for the future and building new apps. We think Swift is absolutely the right place to start. But we’ll continue to maintain, advance, and support Objective-C for as far as we can see.”

The whole interview is well worth your time. You can read it on Ars Technica, by following this link.