Apple announced a new programming language called Swift earlier this week at WWDC 2014. The focus during the keynote was ease of use, and indeed the language is incredibly exciting as a learning tool. But this is not a simplistic language. It is extremely powerful, extremely well crafted, and designed to replace Objective-C for professional software development. In many ways it feels like the next evolution in the line of C, C++, Obj-C, C#… but they ran out of “C” modifiers and instead called it Swift.

Swift can be easily adopted by software companies because it is interoperable with most existing code written in C, C++, and Objective-C. You don’t have to rewrite your app from scratch just to get started.

The developer tools team is also shipping a live coding environment inspired by Bret Victor. This is truly exciting to see, and I suspect they are only just getting started. This environment is not only useful for beginners, it will also change the way professional programming is done: instead of building and debugging entire apps, developers can prototype, explore, and debug individual modules interactively in the “playground”. The documentation also lives in this environment, so you can play with example code and see the results in real time.

I have a lot more to learn about Swift, but my initial impressions are that it has achieved the high praise of “obvious only in retrospect.” I suspect it will significantly influence the software community.

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