360|iDev 2015 Redux

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 360|iDev iOS developers conference in Denver, Colorado. I attended for the first time this year- taking advantage of its location to visit family in the area. I’m glad I did, as the city is clean and beautiful and the conference was top notch. There were lots of great talks and plenty of takeaways, but there was one theme kept coming up in the sessions I attended and the conversations I had with other attendees.

The Cocoa developer community is very much wrestling with the introduction of Swift. It’s still up in the air how the new language will change our community and how we will have an impact on its maturation.

Swift’s introduction has lead to a flurry of experimentation within a community that is traditionally more conservative and set in its ways. This is a good thing. There is much to learn from other language communities, and Swift enables us to embrace new patterns and architectures that were impossible or clumsy in Objective-C.

Several talks demonstrated this at 360|iDev, but none more-so than Benjamin Encz’s talk “Safer Swift Code with Value Types.” In it, Benjamin laid out an alternative architecture for app development inspired by Flux- a pattern introduced alongside Facebook’s open source React javascript framework. I highly recommend checking out Benjamin’s talk and the sample code he provided along with it.

Whether or not functional and reactive architectures end up being widely embraced by the Cocoa community, the point is that these patterns are being explored and discussed by everyday iOS developers. This is exciting and healthy for our community.

There is no doubt that in the next few years, “idiomatic Swift” will stabilize. No factor will be greater in determining what that looks like than the first Swift-only frameworks Apple releases. Hopefully the engineers at Apple are taking note of the community’s willingness to explore and learn new ways to think about building great apps.