Sunday, June 4, 2017

Swift’s Evolution

Justin Williams (Hacker News):

The biggest travesty was the “Great Renaming” which touched every line of Swift code I had and burned a week of my life on tedium. In my decade of professional development, I have never had a worse experience. The migration tool caused more issues than it automatically resolved, leaving a manual migration as the only sane path forward. How that migration tool ever made it through QA is beyond me, but I’d have felt better if Apple just said “good luck” instead of offering a half-baked utility.

I like where we ended up after the renaming, but the migration tool was indeed a disaster. I wish I had never tried to use it and just migrated manually.

I realize that the tools team and the Swift team are separate, but its hard to separate the two when Swift’s primary method of development is Xcode. Xcode’s quality as a Swift development language has never been great with its constant indexing, opaque compile errors, not great typing auto-completion, and lack of refactoring support still.

The continuing poor reliability of the tooling has been the biggest surprise to me with Swift. These kind of bugs should be fixable. It seems like the team is either understaffed or more interested in “showy” stuff, as Williams says, than in addressing developer pain points.

Right now it feels like I’d have been better served by continuing on with Objective-C, which is still being improved in meaningful ways, rather than going all-in on Swift.

I think I’ve been well served writing most of my new code in Swift. Though there are still some important things missing, in most cases I find it both more efficient and more fun than writing Objective-C.

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