Swift has hit its stride, ThoughtWorks says

Swift in Technology Radar's 'adopt' segment

Although it's only a year since the language's public release and despite some issues around tool support, there's no good reason for avoiding Swift, according to ThoughtWorks' latest Technology Radar.

The Technology Radar is the company's regular assessment of emerging technology trends, and the latest edition puts Swift squarely in the 'adopt' segment for businesses.

Apple in June last year unveiled Swift at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Swift has the power of Objective-C but without the "baggage" of C, CEO Tim Cook said at the time.

"The main thing is, it's a much nicer development environment than Objective-C," said Scott Shaw, ThoughtWorks' Australian director of technology.

"It's a language that's much easier to work with. It's more in line with modern practices and approaches, and it seems to be stable enough."

"Our teams have found it to be stable enough and there's also a good ecosystem of tools growing up around it," he added.

"With the recent release of Swift 2, the language approaches a level of maturity that provides the stability and performance required for most projects," the Technology Radar states.

"Swift still has issues, especially around tool support, refactoring and testing. However, we feel that these are not substantial enough to warrant avoiding Swift. At the same time, porting large, existing Objective-C codebases is unlikely to pay off."

Apple has announced it will open source Swift this year.

"The announcement that Swift will become open source software is a further positive sign," the Technology Radar states.

"We are hopeful that this will not just be another dumping of internally developed code into a public repository, because Apple has clearly stated that community contributions are encouraged and will be accepted."

"It seems that it's a big path forward for Apple so all of their new examples and sample code [are in Swift] and the community is most vibrant around Swift," said Evan Bottcher, technical principal at ThoughtWorks.

"We wouldn't be starting a new project on supported platforms in Objective-C at the moment."

Containers

A major theme in this edition of the Technology Radar is the growth of Docker and containerization.

"Docker has taken the tech world by storm in a way that I've never seen an open source project do before," Shaw said.

Read more: How 'low code' can drive innovation

"If you compare it to things like, in the operations world, Puppet and Chef, Docker has far surpassed any interest that we saw in those," he said.

"It's completely changing the way people think about deploying software."

"What we're seeing is the adoption of containers, particularly of Docker and the explosion of tools around it, happening everywhere," Bottcher said.

"It's not just small shops and web shops or digital businesses; we're seeing it at the big end of town as well," he said.

"Previously we saw that middleware or operating system choices, dependencies and application servers were the domain of centralised IT. What containerization is doing is putting more and more control and choices, particularly control of the environment, back in the hands of development teams or delivery teams.

"That takes away a really significant constraint in big organisations, so that's one of the massive upsides we're seeing right now."

"One of the biggest challenges for companies that want to adopt this approach is aligning their organisation in a different way," Shaw said.

"There are a lot of companies whose organisations are set up with the idea of a separate infrastructure group and a separate middleware group and a separate applications group; that doesn't really make sense in the containerized world any more."

"It's certainly bringing about an organisational realignment in a lot of places," Shaw said.

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