Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Seven Stages of Swift

For all except the newest members of our Apple development community, the arrival of Swift is something that has to be reconciled against our previous and ongoing relationship with Objective-C. This handy reference will help to guide you through this journey. Where do fall in the spectrum? How you will advance to the final stage?

Shock and Disbelief

Apple announced a new programming language? They didn’t. They couldn’t. This is not WWDC. That’s not Tim Cook. The world is upside down! Why is John Siracusa smiling?

Denial

Swift is not even a real programming language. I mean, it’s not replacing Objective-C. I mean, It’s not meant for real Cocoa programmers. I mean, it’s just Apple trying to satisfy those … weird programmers who like buzzwords! Objective-C is here to stay.

Anger

Oh crap, Swift is replacing Objective-C! Arrrrrrrggghhh! Why, Apple!? WTF? Where’s Objective-C 3.0? You’re killing Objective-C?! I love Objective-C. Die in a garbage collected fire!!!

Bargaining

I suppose Swift might be useful someday. Support for dynamic message dispatch is a start. If Apple gives me just one more Objective-C feature, I’ll give it a shot.

Guilt

Ugh. I should really start learning about Swift one of these days! What is wrong with me?

Depression

Who cares? I could learn Swift, but what’s the point? My Objective-C skills are useless. Dot notation won. I feel this inexplicable weight in my arms. Static types are hanging from my arms. I can’t move my arms. Our apps are all going to die someday.

Acceptance and Hope

Holy crap, Swift made this so easy! Maybe I like Swift? I mean, I still love Objective-C, but I don’t love love it. Maybe we needed a new language. Maybe we were aching for a new language. Maybe we needed more buzzwords.

I like buzzwords.

(Why is John Siracusa smiling?)

A Eulogy For Objective-C

I missed Aaron Hillegass’s talk at AltConf earlier this year, but was nudged to take a look at the transcript by Caro’s tweet today linking to the talk’s video page on Realm.

Although I’m 100% sure, based on experience, that Aaron’s talk is a pure delight to watch, I also appreciate that I could jump right in and read a transcript of the talk until I get a chance to watch it. Aaron gives a thought-provoking “eulogy” for Objective-C, in which he celebrates its parentage and its life thus far.

When a guy like Aaron Hillegass gives a history of Objective-C, and speaks to its strengths and weaknesses, you should hang on every word. He covers many of the features that distinguish the language, provides a context for when they were added, and gives examples of key technologies that are enabled by them. He is also aware of the tradeoffs some of these features demand:

Loose typing made a lot of things that were difficult in other languages much easier, or possible. It also made bugs that didn’t exist in other languages possible as well. And you embrace that as an Objective-C programmer. You’re like, “This is a language for smart, pedantic, uptight people, I’m going to be very careful and do the right thing when I’m typing in names.

I love his hypothetical quote, and think it condenses the feeling a lot of us long-time Objective-C programmers have about the language. We welcome Swift in many respects, but it’s hard to let go of a language whose idiosyncrasies we’ve grown to love, hate, and ultimately make peace with.