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IBM Offers Sandbox for Newly Open Sourced Swift Language

IBM offered up a free Swift sandbox for developers to play around with the rising programming language immediately after it was officially open sourced yesterday by its creator, Apple.

Apple's open sourcing of Swift has been in the works for months, but just yesterday became official, with the launch of a new Swift.org Web site, public source code repositories on GitHub, a new package manager, higher-level core libraries and more development goodies.

Interested developers can now play around with those goodies in IBM's developerWorks beta sandbox, where they can write Swift code and execute it in a Linux server environment. The sandbox provides two panes, with source code in the left pane generating results in the right pane's Output window.

"Each sandbox runs on IBM Cloud in a Docker container," IBM's John Petitto said in a blog post. "In addition, both the latest versions of Swift and its standard library are available for you to use."

The sandbox comes with sample programs, some of which hook into the GNU C Library. "Since the sandbox runs on top of Linux, we can write Swift code that interacts directly with the system," Petitto said.

The IBM Swift Sandbox
[Click on image for larger view.] The IBM Swift Sandbox (source: IBM)

Petitto works at IBM's Mobile Innovation Lab in Austin, Texas, where he said developers love Swift and thus opened up their internal sandbox for others to use upon the open sourcing of the language.

"With the movement of Swift to open source, we're opening the doors on what we are working on at IBM with Swift," Petitto said. "The IBM Swift Sandbox barely scratches the surface of what's possible. To stay up to date with the open source efforts around Swift, head on over to Swift @ IBM."

While that site provides Swift resources and information, interested developers should also check out Swift.org, with a Getting Started guide, a Swift blog, documentation, source code downloads, a community page and more. Some of the projects hosted on the site include the aforementioned package manager, a compiler and standard library and core libraries.

It also includes Apple's own interactive tooling, a Read Eval Print Loop (REPL) combined with a debugger.

The site also explains Apple's goal in producing Swift, "to create the best available language for uses ranging from systems programming, to mobile and desktop apps, scaling up to cloud services. Most importantly, Swift is designed to make writing and maintaining correct programs easier for the developer."

Swift has seen a meteoric increase in use since being introduced, rising in programming language popularity indices and even being named "Programming Language of the Year" by one ranking tool.

With the official open sourcing of the language, that popularity will probably increase.

"We are excited by this new chapter in the story of Swift," Apple says on its new Swift.org site. "After Apple unveiled the Swift programming language, it quickly became one of the fastest growing languages in history. Swift makes it easy to write software that is incredibly fast and safe by design. Now that Swift is open source, you can help make the best general purpose programming language available everywhere."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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