IBM’s Ambitious Mission to Forge Apple Swift Into a Cloud-Native Language

While Apple originally created Swift to help developers more easily write software for Apple’s mobile devices, IBM now wants to extend the programming language, open sourced in December, to run on server-side environments as well.

IBM put Swift front and center at IBM’s InterConnect Conference 2016, held this week in Las Vegas.

There, the company previewed a number of new tools to broaden Swift’s potential appeal, including Kitura, an open source Swift framework for running server-side  Swift in OSX and Linux. IBM has set up what it hopes will be the canonical repository for Swift packages, called the Swift Package Catalog. The company’s engineers are also working on ways of helping Swift execute concurrent programming, work that will make the language more palatable for multicore programming.

IBM even made Swift the language of choice for its new OpenWhisk event-driven programming service.  Swift is already offered on the IBM Bluemix set of platform services, which is the home of the Swift Sandbox, a popular online IDE that can be used to quickly test Swift code.

All these efforts are “really about taking Swift to the cloud to use as a native cloud programming language,” said IBM’s vice president Michael Gilfix, who is leading the IBM effort to put Swift in front of more developers. “We certainly see this as a possibility to help the Swift community to simplify the creation of end-to-send applications, but Swift could also be used to build business logic, REST APIs and many other use cases.”

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