Advancing Swift on the cloud: How IBM is helping developers radically simplify enterprise app development

By Phil Buckellew

| Retail

Today as Apple kicks off WWDC, the open-source community celebrates the first anniversary of Apple’s decision to open source Swift, making it one of the fastest growing and most-loved programming languages by developers. I remember the sense of excitement we all shared, especially at the possibilities of expanding Swift to the server side.

Swift, no doubt, is a game changer for enterprises, and as we gear up to hear more about Swift 3.0 this week, I want to share with you some of the terrific momentum IBM has experienced as the first cloud provider to enable the development of applications in native Swift. In just six months, the Swift.org community has made great strides in maturing Swift for server-side use.

Momentum in maturing Swift for server-side

IBM has experienced the benefits of Swift on the cloud first-hand, and we are one of the largest digital agencies using Swift today with more than 100 enterprise apps developed in the language. Our development teams experience the inherent productivity benefits of Swift with each app. But productivity doesn’t only come from within the code ­— a better app with less code — it also comes from development teams enjoying what they do. It is clear developers love Swift.

Swift@IBM engineers are building the tools they need to work with Swift on the cloud and are sharing these with the community to encourage innovation. There has been significant adoption of these tools and since February this year:

  • The Swift Sandbox has handled more than 1.5 million code runs by the global developer community, growth of 200 percent.
  • The IBM Swift Package Catalog now has more than 1,500 client- and server-side packages, growth of 400 percent.

The feedback we’ve received from the community has inspired our updates to the Swift Sandbox, Swift Package Catalog, Kitura and the Swift Runtime for Bluemix, and they work together better than ever before. New features such as a mobile interface for the Swift Sandbox, adding search to the Swift Package Catalog and an improved Kitura core API just scratch the surface of what’s possible with Swift@IBM.

Realizing the benefits of Swift on the cloud: City Furniture’s story

Early adopters of Swift end-to-end are already seeing the value it brings to their business. Take City Furniture, for example.

The Florida-based furniture retailer needed a way to optimize sales and distribution workflows for clearance furniture, free up valuable showroom floor space and turn around a struggling product segment. By leveraging Swift for both client-side and server-side development, City Furniture created a mobile solution in just six weeks that enabled the company to transform clearance merchandise from a cost-recovery to a profitable product segment. City Furniture’s new iPad app enables better pricing of merchandise, improves employee efficiency and productivity and is expected to have a potential impact of more than $1.5 million.

City Furniture recreated 90 percent of the functionality of their previous API with IBM’s Swift server-side development packages using Kitura in a fraction of the time. The code is simpler, and using Swift end-to-end provided a seamless development experience. In the words of Chad Bean, Lead developer, City Furniture, “I can see Swift becoming an obvious choice for cloud-based development in the future. It’s fast, efficient, native, and easy to write. … Swift feels like you ‘get it all.'”

Swift on the cloud is radically simplifying the developer experience, and companies of all sizes can benefit from this accelerated path to productivity.

Try Swift Today

Advancing Swift with new tools

Recognizing the diversity of the developers who want to leverage the benefits of Swift, today we’re sharing two new capabilities:

IBM Cloud Tools for Swift

For some Swift developers, the key to productivity is working in the Xcode environment on a Mac. Today, we introduced the beta version of IBM Cloud Tools for Swift to simplify the management and deployment of server-side assets in an environment complementary to Xcode. IBM Cloud Tools for Swift is a free app that provides a single visual interface for developers to assemble, manage, deploy and monitor apps. The developer experience is important to us, and we think developing Swift apps on the cloud should be simple and fast. Learn more about the free beta of IBM Cloud Tools for Swift here, and let us know what you think.

Swift in the cloud

Swift on LinuxONE

Developers are now able to use Swift on LinuxONE™, the most powerful Linux platform for data-serving and systems of record. The safety, speed and expressiveness of Swift are now available with a level of performance and scale unmatched by any previous platform. Having Swift on LinuxONE™ allows developers to do fit-for-purpose placement of workloads that need access to data in a high-performing, secure, reliable and scalable environment. IBM Swift Sandbox is now enabled with a beta driver of Swift on LinuxONE™, and developers are welcome to try it out. IBM will continue to improve and update the Swift on LinuxONE in the Sandbox.

Swift is well on its way to becoming a first-class language for enterprise use, and we’re excited for more companies to start realizing the benefits like City Furniture did. There is a massive ecosystem growing around Swift, and by putting the right tools in the hands of developers, Swift will enable enterprises to accelerate their path to productivity and competitiveness. Swift moving to the cloud extends its value globally, and developers around the world are experimenting with Swift on the server for just this reason. I hope you’ll continue to join us on the journey to full enterprise adoption of Swift.

Written By

Phil Buckellew

VP of Enterprise Mobile for the IBM Software Group

As VP of Enterprise Mobile at IBM, Phil Buckellew is responsible for setting the strategy and coordinating requirements for mobile solutions across the IBM software portfolio. These solutions span the lifecycle of enterprise needs around mobility including: building and connecting,…

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