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Server-side developers take a shine to Swift

Paul Krill | June 29, 2016
Proponents including IBM see great potential in Apple's up-and-coming language for building web apps and services

PerfectlySoft's business plan involves offering tools to enable developers to get onto cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Heroku, with the company getting a cut of revenues from the cloud providers. "Swift on the server is going to happen," said Stephens.

Perfect is intended to fill certain gaps in Swift. While Swift now can compile to Linux, Stephens noted that it still lacks capabilities to send out data and does not have core functions for such web services as managing cookies, files, and URLs. "The language is the language. It doesn't have any of those constructs. So we've created those constructs," he said. Stephens also sees Swift's eventual placement on Windows platforms as well.

IBM has taken a shine to Swift for its code safety, clarity, and brevity. "We found that we dramatically cut the lines of code in our typical applications when we did a comparison with Objective-C, and even when looking at some of the Java-based code that we have in Android," said John Ponzo, CTO for IBM's Mobile First initiative. The company has been working on enabling Swift on servers since the language made its way to Linux in December.

Big Blue's Kitura web framework, written in Swift, presents a modular platform for deploying applications on IBM's Bluemix cloud on either OS X or Linux. Developers can build web services with "complex" routes, according to IBM, and server-side web interfaces. Concurrency is offered through Apple's Grand Central Dispatch software, which IBM is porting to Linux. IBM Cloud Tools for Swift, meanwhile, works with Apple's Xcode development environment to link client-side code and applications to Swift-based back-end server code.

Zewo, which provides open source libraries for "modern server software," also is attempting to link Swift to servers. It features ZeroMQ, which provides a distributed messaging binding for Swift 3, while Zewo OpenSSL provides Swift OpenSSL for OS X and Linux. Zewo offers extensible modules to simplify developing end-to-end web applications in Swift.

"We are building a large developer community around server-side Swift, much like the Node.js community built around server-side JavaScript," Zewo community member Dan Appel said. "We want to make it easy for developers to create back-end applications with a portable, modular architecture. We already have over 50 modules to date and over 400 members in our Slack group."

Zewo proponents see Swift becoming a main server-side language for years to come, Appel said. "The advantages of using Swift on the server go beyond just having the ability to share code with iOS. Swift is an incredibly safe, expressive, fast, and powerful language."

Source: Infoworld


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