The new Java? Why Swift is the best programming language to learn right now

By Patrick Fan

Looking back on my former IBM career, I have spent almost 10 years in roles such as Java architect and developer for various enterprise projects. Java is one of the most well-known standards and is the best programming language in the IT industry. Millions of professionals are working hard to catch up and master Java. IBM is known as the standard-setter for programming languages, and Java was a classic case of that. In the early ’90s, IBM recognized the internet’s potential and the needs of open architecture and invested many of its efforts into contributing and pushing innovation in Java. Many of these products and tools have become accepted as mainstream parts of the market.


With the growth of mobile and the cloud, we can see a similar trend happening to Swift. On top of the fast-growing Swift community, IBM is pushing Swift as the best programming language and a standard for the new generation.

In late 2015, Swift was announced as open-source, and IBM responded quickly by joining the fast-growing community, launching its Swift@IBM developer center and releasing its IBM Swift Sandbox. With the IBM Swift Sandbox, developers can get their hands on a running version of Swift on Linux instead of the traditional Apple devices or emulators, snapshot the code and share to the communities. This makes Swift a great language for collaborating and sharing ideas through the web. This is one of the earliest times we saw Swift running on a non-mobile-specific environment. Since 2015, IBM has also adopted Swift as one of its primary languages and produced hundreds of iOS enterprise apps as part of the Apple and IBM partnership.

Another interesting and exciting push from Swift is the ability to run Swift on the cloud, not only on Apple devices. IBM launched an open-source project called Kitura, which is a web framework written in Swift similar to Express in Node.js. It allows developers to build web services with complex routes in a quick and easy way while leveraging mobile developers’ existing Swift capabilities in building server-side applications. Server-side Swift has been pushed further with the recent availability of IBM OpenWhisk, which features Swift in serverless computing on IBM Bluemix. Swift developers can now write applications that are deployed on the cloud without provisioning any infrastructure resources to run them.

Swift can now be used from mobile, desktop and traditional servers as well as the modern cloud. Developers will soon be able to “learn once, write everywhere.” Swift is still relatively new compared to other traditional languages such as Java, but with the efforts from the fast-growing communities and companies such as IBM, we can see Swift becoming the new Java as the best programming language.

Photo by: iStock

Written By

Patrick Fan

CEO / Founder of beNovelty

Patrick is currently co-founding a technology startup in Hong Kong in 2015. Patrick was a Certified IT and UX professional by IBM and HFI with exceptionally strong proven track records in banking, transportation and public sector projects - received over 10 recognition awards including…

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