IBM Extends Support for Swift Programming Language

The IBM Swift runtime preview and Swift Package Catalog will help bring Swift to the cloud to simplify app development.

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LAS VEGAS—IBM today announced the next phase of its roadmap to bring the Swift programming language to the cloud with a preview of a Swift runtime and a Swift Package Catalog to help enable developers to create apps for the enterprise.

IBM boasts of being the first cloud provider to enable the development of applications in native Swift—unlocking its full potential in radically simplifying the development of end-to-end apps on the IBM Cloud. IBM made its Swift announcement at its IBM InterConnect 2016 conference here.

IBM announced it was getting behind Swift in a major way at the end of last year when Apple open-sourced the technology. At that time, Phil Buckellew, vice president of enterprise mobile for the IBM Software Group, called the move a game changer. At the time, IBM also launched its Swift Sandbox, which is a Website where developers can upload their code and see Swift running in action on the server.

Today's announcement is a key next step in IBM and Apple's shared journey to help enterprises advance their mobile strategy with innovative app design, analytics, process transformation and integration required for a mobile-first experience. As one of the largest users of Swift for mobile app development, IBM has a deep understanding of the advantages of Swift and the knowledge to assist enterprises in maximizing the true potential that server-side Swift will provide.

Introduced in 2014, Swift is one of the fastest growing and most widely used programming languages. In just over two months since Apple open-sourced the Swift language and IBM released its Swift Sandbox for early exploration of server-side programming in Swift, more than 100,000 developers from around the world have used the IBM Swift Sandbox and more than half a million code runs have been executed in the Sandbox to date.

IBM is committed to maturing the use of Swift as a server-side language for enterprise development. Traditionally, different technologies are used to develop the application on the client and the business logic on the server. By bringing Swift beyond the client to the server, IBM is breaking down barriers between front-end and back-end development, which can provide enterprises with a single language to build rich experiences and back-end business logic. Enterprises can benefit from increased speed and efficiency while simultaneously taking advantage of growing availability of Swift skills. Using Swift on the server also introduces a simpler, more secure tool chain for end-to-end application development.

"Modern digital apps require a modern programming language. Swift is easy-to-learn, reliable, fast and interactive, the key traits that CIOs look for when building the next generation of enterprise mobile apps," said Michael Gilfix, vice president of IBM MobileFirst Offering Management, in a statement. "Swift on the Cloud is an opportunity for enterprises to radically simplify the development of end-to-end applications and therefore reach new levels of productivity."

IBM Swift engineers are also working with the growing developer community and are most notably focused on contributing to concurrency on multicore hardware, which is critical for enterprise-scale workloads. IBM is excited to announce the release of a number of resources that will further enable the community to explore, build and share Swift assets.

IBM said developers can start exploring the benefits of Swift on the IBM Cloud in three ways: experimenting in the Swift Sandbox; starting to build applications on Bluemix and quickly deploying them with Kitura, a new open-source Web server released by IBM, on both OS X and Linux; and sharing Swift resources and using code across projects by creating packages and submitting them to the Swift Package Catalog on Bluemix to encourage sharing of new Swift resources with the global developer community.

"The IBM Swift Sandbox is an interactive Website that lets you write Swift code and execute it in a server environment—on top of Linux," said John Petitto, an IBM software engineer and one of IBM's Swift developers located at IBM's Mobile Innovation Lab in Austin, Texas. "Each sandbox runs on IBM Cloud in a Docker container. In addition, both the latest versions of Swift and its standard library are available for you to use."