Write The Code: Swift and the Xcode Playgrounds & WWDC


This week Apple surprised everyone by introducing Swift - a brand new programming language for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch - along with a tool called Playgrounds, which lets you to explore your code through realtime feedback, without having to build and run the app. These were the most unexpected WWDC reveals I've seen in 4 years of attendance and many more years of observation.

Months ago I was watching a video by Bret Victor, formerly of Apple, promoting paradigm changing ideas on programming with visual and realtime feedback.

When Apple introduced the Xcode Playgrounds feature, I thought I saw Brett Victor's signature all over it. Chris Lattner, who started working on the Swift language in 2010, put the puzzle pieces in place for me - his homepage states that the Xcode Playgrounds feature was heavily influenced by Brett Victor's ideas (among others). Lattner also explains that a personal passion of his is to make programming more interactive and approachable.

Swift is available right now in Xcode 6. It's an exciting time, for one, because Apple is totally invested in Swift, and in making things better for developers at a time when our developer community, in many ways, thought they already had it pretty good.

*As is often true with Apple, in hindsight things seem obvious. Before the WWDC Keynote, nobody expected a new language. The time leading up to WWDC always feeds speculation around what secret message lies hidden in the conference's branding imagery and tag line. With Swift's announcement, "Write the code" obviously becomes all the more clever.
Todd Hopkinson