You no longer need a Mac computer to build apps using Apple's newest code platform: Apple made its Swift programming language open source on Thursday, just as Google has done for Dart.
The company introduced Swift as a surprise during its 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference. Until then Apple's Xcode IDE and Objective-C was used create all Apple apps. A year later, Apple surprised again by promising to open source the Swift platform this year.
By opening up the platform beyond the confines of Cupertino, Apple expects others to contribute to the Swift language as it matures.
Along with the open source launch, Apple has already published a Swift port for Linux computers.
To use the Linux port, you'll need an x84, 64-bit computer and use either the source code to build Swift yourself or download pre-built binaries for Ubuntu. Apple says the port is a work in progress but useful to experiment with Swift on a Linux machine.
Aside from the core Swift language going open source, Apple included the Swift compiler, a low-level virtual machine, or LLVM, a low-level debugger and REPL, or read-eval-print-loop shell for coding interaction, similar to Python and other languages. The Swift Package Manager is also available to build code while package repositories are available on GitHub.
One of the key advantages in Swift to make programming easier in faster is the concept of Playgrounds: You can modify code on the fly without recompiling to see the effects.
When Apple first acknowledged it would open source the programming language, some wondered exactly how "open" it would be, given Apple's desire to control both hardware and software in its ecosystem.
With today's news, however, it should put to rest any concerns: The company made good on its promise and is encouraging any and all contributors to make Swift better for all. My question now is: When will Apple allow Swift to work on iOS and the large iPad Pro?