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Why Swift developers should know Objective-C [SPONSORED]

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Objective-C is a programming language that was developed in the early 80’s. It sought to add Smalltalk messaging to the long existing C language. It became the main language for NeXT and the NeXTSTEP operating systems on which the macOS and iOS are built.

Swift however is much newer. Developed by Apple Inc. it was designed to do everything that Objective-C was doing but in a far safer manner. Using Swift, programmers are able to catch bugs far easier as well as writing code in a manner that is far simpler to understand. It is also much quicker to write in. It was introduced in 2014 and has quickly become more popular than Objective-C.

The Pros And Cons of Working With Objective-C

Before you hire Objective C developer to work on your app you may want to think about why you want to use this specific language. You need to carefully consider the strengths and weaknesses of the language before you compare it to your other option in Swift.

The following are some of the pros and cons of working with Objective-C:

Objective-C Strengths:

  • Objective-C has been around for a very long time: not only does this mean that there are many developers that fully understand the language, it also means that there are many available libraries and frameworks out there that you can make use of.
  • You gain all of the power of using C and C++ languages: many developers prefer the ease of writing in these languages which reflects in their use of Objective-C as well as its compatibility.
  • It is well established and stable: you are unlikely to encounter any issues with frequent updates to the language that you may encounter with Swift.

Weaknesses:

  • Objective-C is not so easy to read: built around C it may be easy to learn for many but the resulting code is not always so simple to read and understand.
  • Can take longer to program in: using a two file system requires the developer to undertake far more work than they would otherwise have to.
  • Frequent file-name collisions: there is a lack of namespaces which means that developers have to add their own prefixes to avoid any issues.

The Pros And Cons of Working With Swift

Many programmers use objective C for iOS development purely because they have done so for so many years. Many established developers may have many years of experience with this language and as such it is something that they are simply comfortable with. However nothing stands still and that is certainly the case when it comes to programing languages. So it is important for any Objective C apple developer to consider the strengths and weaknesses of Swift:

Strengths of Working With Swift:

  • Swift is considered faster: in tests it has been found that Swift is able to outperform both Objective-C and C++ for various algorithms. The reason for this is that Swift is able to use technology that simply was not available when the other languages were developed.
  • Swift is safer: data and website security are huge issues today and the design of the language helps you to avoid bugs and program crashes making a more robust piece of code.
  • It is simpler to read: there are various symbols that have been omitted from the language as well as simplifying it. This makes it much easier to review and more similar to languages such as Python, Java and JavaScript. It resembles everyday English in many ways making it much easier to follow.
  • You use less code: many have found up to a 70% reduction in the amount of code required when compared to Objective-C.
  • You are less likely to make an error: the construction of the language and built-in safety ensures that you will have fewer crashes and other issues.

Weaknesses:

  • Swift cannot be used on many legacy projects: it will not work with apps used on anything before iOS7.
  • There are issues with stability: with it being a relatively young programing language updates can have unintended effects on the apps developed. However, this issue is rapidly reducing.

What Language Should You Use in 2020?

So the real question is, should you hire an Objective C team to write your app or go for someone working in Swift? As with most questions in life the answer will be “it depends!”

If you are going to be working on an existing app that has already been written using Objective-C then you will almost certainly want to continue using the same language rather than trying to rewrite everything from scratch. The same is true if you are planning to make use of the many libraries that are available in Objective C. However for a new app you are going to want to consider using the newer and more powerful language Swift.

Swift very much has the support of Apple who is promoting it for use on their platforms. Due to this Swift is now seen very much as a more important language than Objective-C as this survey through Stackoverflow clearly demonstrates:

More and more programmers are turning to use Swift rather than Objective C for many different reasons.

Swift is simply much easier to use than the older more cumbersome Objective-C. There are far less punctuation and other opportunities for mistyping something. Meaning that a programmer can spend more time focused on writing good code rather than looking for problems.

Programming in Objective-C will often be more expensive. According to Payscale an Objective C developer salary is actually higher than that of a Swift developer. With more developers turning to Swift this is likely to become even more pronounced as there will be fewer well-practiced developers with the right skills.

The further we move into the future the more we are going to see apps written within Swift. While we are unlikely to see Objective-C disappear completely we can confidently predict that its use will become less and less in the following years. This also means that hiring developers that are able to perform well will become even harder.

It also means that no matter how well you can program in Swift you will still need to have at least a passing understanding of Objective C to be able to work with all of the existing code that is out there

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