My Dearest Apple

If you’re a developer in the Apple ecosystem you’ve no doubt heard of Swift, and could be developing with it every day.

I work for a little shop focused on Agronomics Software and Services. Our service is like many gigantor services in thee market; a website with a backing REST based service. It’s a magical cloud! 

We also develop a mobile client for iOS. Our products are Objective-C based but recently we’ve been writing new features in Swift. 

Swift is a really nice language. It takes some getting used to and the syntax is super sugary. As an old C/C++ developer a lot of it feels right at home. We get to trade a dynamic language for strong typing, which doesn’t bother me in the slightest but might bug died in the wool old-time Objective-C developers. Anywho, suffice it to say I’m enjoying it, and I hope to develop in this language for many years to come.

You’re probably saying “What’s your point, man?”

What I’m trying to say is I hope Apple goes whole hog and gives us a new framework for application development. That’s right, leave Cocoa as it is, put it in maintenance mode and do everything from this day forward with a new set of frameworks built entirely in, and for, Swift.

I also hope Apple can bring more of the concepts learned from UIKit back to the Mac. We have a wonderful set or portable API’s with Cocoa, but the Mac feels a bit neglected. If a new set of frameworks were developed Apple could start fresh, leave out the cruft, and give us new frameworks built to take advantage of Swift’s language features.

Get your tools!I would imagine this idea makes app developers cringe. What about all those years invested in Cocoa? For years to come I would imagine Cocoa apps would receive plenty of support and still be first class citizens. Remember what Adobe went through to bring Photoshop to the Mac when Carbon was dropped? Yes, it can be painful, but knowing ahead of time Apple will eventually pull the plug on Cocoa would be helpful, if they ever feel like taking on such an ambitious project.

In 2000 (I think that’s the correct year) Microsoft brought us .Net with the C# programming language at a time when the Windows API (Win32 API) and C/C++ were the primary way to create great native Windows apps. This is what we used at Visio. Lots and lots of C/C++ with the Windows API, later on we introduced MFC into the mix, and finally after bein acquired by Microsoft we integrated Office shared components (MSOx.dll’s.) Microsoft to this day still writes in C++ for its Office apps but most development outside is now done in .Net in C# — I’m sure Microsoft is doing plenty of work in C# and .Net. It’s a very powerful framework and programming language and is getting the lions share of the attention. It was a big risk, but it has paid huge dividends for the Windows ecosystem.

This can be done, is my point. Apple did it with Carbon to Cocoa and Microsoft had done it with the Windows API to .Net Framework. It feels like we are primed for a new Apple Framework that embraces Swift.

Please note, I’m not suggesting that Apple should completely abandon Cocoa. If this type of change happens maybe they can keep parity between the two for a while to give developers time to switch. Remember, Carbon was released in 2000 and finally fully deprecated in 2012, it became way less useful in 2007 when it was not updated for 64-bit applications. Depending how you look at it, Apple supported Carbon for seven, or 12 years. If they allowed for a five year overlap of feature support before fully deprecating Cocoa they could allow developers to move into the new, completely Swift, framework.

Recently we have seen Dropbox fully embrace Swift. With the Dropbox V2 API the Dropbox team has dropped support for Objective-C. That speaks volumes. It’s obvious they feel strongly about the future of Swift.

Is a movement to an all Swift Apple Framework in our future? Your guess is as good as mine, but it is obvious Apple is embracing Swift as its language of choice for future software development.