Six tips for using Swift programming language in enterprise apps

By Jonathan Crowl

Though the Swift programming language is less than two years old, it has already made a huge impression on developers and prominent enterprises. As its base of supporters grows, Swift is also expanding its offerings, installing new features and degrees of access to make the programming language more accessible and valuable to developers.

Despite its rapid success and lofty assurances, it’s natural for developers to be hesitant to adopt a new language. After all, learning a new language takes time, and there’s always a risk that it will prove to be less comfortable or effective than the current standards. Adoption rates can also be a concern; a programming language is only valuable when it’s being used by a large body of the development community.

Swift adoption has reached a point where it can’t be ignored, as its value is becoming more and more apparent. The programming language’s popularity and growing functionality is sure to be a hot topic of discussion at next week’s Mobile World Congress 2016. Here are six tips to help developers starting out with Swift:

1. Don’t use Objective-C, even when it’s easy

Developers starting out with Swift for the first time will find that it’s easy to plug in Objective-C code that bridges to Swift, instead of learning the new language and phrases themselves. As Code Fellows points out, this can be particularly tempting when speed is an issue. But it’s important for developers to remember that this process worsens the end product and limits the ability to build additional features off of that code. Furthermore, bridging to Swift also prevents developers from learning simpler techniques that will save time in the long run. Though Objective-C code may work as a replacement in a pinch, it can set you up for long-term disappointment.

2. Use functions as parameters

In Swift, functions can take a wide range of parameters into account. As Codementor notes, developers can save themselves the hassle of providing a separate closure by using a function as a parameter, instead of establishing parameters for functions. The end result is a simpler, more practical coding process for developers. Once teams get more familiar with functions and their parameter possibilities in Swift, they can incorporate even more complex and powerful coding options. This may include the use of multiple parameters, naming parameters or even variadic parameters, which don’t specify a specific number of variables.

3. Use method swizzling

According to Savvy Apps, developers should take advantage of method swizzling, a process through which they can swap out method implementations. Though this particular type of swizzling isn’t a default function in Swift, developers who are comfortable with the language can enable it in one of several ways. The easiest solution in a fully Swift codebase is to use the dynamic keyword, which will disable restrictions on method swizzling. If other codebases, such as Objective-C code, are involved, more complicated modifications may be needed. Before you decide how and where to enable method swizzling, it’s important to know which codebases are in use.

4. Simplify code with built-in developer tools

When it comes to manipulating data, Swift offers a simple alternative to Objective-C coding. In Objective-C, every data manipulation requires a for-each loop. But Swift can simplify this process while linking multiple tasks together, which allows development to grow more straightforward, even as it becomes more complex in terms of its tasks. As Programmable Web notes, this is done by using Reduce, Map and Filter developer tools, all of which are built into Swift and make data manipulation much easier to execute.

5. Don’t use NSNumber

NSNumber is a common coding tool in Objective-C that is used to box and unbox primitives. But it’s not the most efficient mechanism as far as code goes, and Swift has improved this feature. The programming language has introduced a number of types into its dictionary that trim long phrases into much shorter bits of code, sometimes just a few characters in length. All of these have been added to the Swift dictionaries.

6. Embrace singletons

As Savvy Apps notes, singletons are hotly debated among developers. But there’s a little more incentive to use these design patterns with Swift. In Objective-C, singletons require several steps to properly implement. Swift, on the other hand, cuts the space for singleton implementation by more than half. Singletons also utilize a dispatch token to make the code less readable. Needless to say, advanced developers should at least test out this pattern to see how it might improve their processes.

Enterprise developers may still be getting acquainted with the Swift programming language. As it becomes a more versatile and proven code, brands will have a hard time denying its benefits.