At its most recent Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) event in June, Apple took the lid off something it had been silently cooking for years: Swift, a new programming language in the C family designed to combine the robustness of the Objective-C that iOS and OS X developers were used to with the speed of scripting languages like Python.
With last week's official launch of OS X Yosemite, developers can now submit apps written in Swift to the App Store. But it's been hard to find a solid metric for the new language's popularity, especially given that Apple CEO Tim Cook would rather focus on devices sold and new iPads rather than the number of developers taking a chance on a new programming language.
(The beta version of Swift unveiled at WWDC officially became Swift 1.0 on Sept. 2.)
Today, Appirio -- which owns and operates the popular topcoder (capital letters optional) platform for outsourced enterprise development talent -- offers something of a benchmark: It's registered more than 3,700 Swift developers who are now working on 2,000 projects in 110 countries.
"Swift removes many of the development complexities inherent with Objective-C (previous way of building native iOS apps)," said Appirio Co-Founder and Topcoder President Narinder Singh. "This is particularly important for enterprise development, where developers must move quickly between diverse, simpler app needs to satisfy the broad consumerization of the enterprise."
Indeed, CITEworld's Simon Bisson lauded Swift as a big achievement for Apple, "[giving] its developers the tooling they want, [reducing] the risk of App Store apps being developed outside Xcode (and being delivered to other platforms), and [simplifying] the App Store approvals process."
To accelerate the potential of Swift for Apple developers, Appirio in August launched GetSwifter, a certification program that helps developers, designers and data scientists get up to speed -- with $500,000 worth of cash and prizes on the line for those who complete code challenges.
Today, HP also joins in with sponsored challenges, offering developers prizes for integrating their Swift apps with its HP IDOL OnDemand APIs. Those APIs (theoretically) offer a better way for apps to process so-called "human information," as in the unstructured data generated by people on smart devices. who refuse to, like, conform to your database-driven machine reading model, man.
Topcoder boasts a community of 700,000 developers overall, making those 3,700 Swift developers sort of a drop in the bucket, though Appirio does claim it's the largest gathering of Swift experts in one virtual community out there.