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10 Reasons To Learn Swift Programming Language

Swift programming language is very powerful and intuitive. It incorporates the best of C and Objective-C for iOS, OS X, tvOS, and watchOS. It proves to be effective as it can eliminate the constraints of C compatibility.

Swift has the potential to become the de-facto programming language for creating immersive, responsive, consumer-facing applications for years to come. Comments can include Markdown syntax to add rich text and embedded images that display in Xcode’s Quick Help. A new assistant shows your Swift API in a “header-like” view. And new syntax features combined with improvements to the Cocoa frameworks and Objective-C will make your code more expressive, and even safer.

Swift programming language has not only received widespread acceptance but has also become one of the software developers’ favorite tools. So, here we’ll discuss 10 reasons to learn swift programming language.

  1. Swift is easier to read.
  2. It is also easy to maintain because programmers need not put effort into bookkeeping..
  3. The Swift run-time crash will stop on the line of code where a nil optional variable has been used, preventing errors in codes. Thus, swift is a safe programming language.
  4. The huge memory leaks that a programmer can have in Objective-C are impossible in Swift. We can say — it unifies with efficient memory management.
  5. It has a concise code structure.
  6. Swift is an extremely fast programming language.
  7. With Swift, namespaces are based on the target that a code file belongs to. This means programmers can differentiate classes or values using the namespace identifier. 
  8. It supports dynamic libraries.
  9. With playgrounds, it encourages interactive codings.
  10. Swift provides the development community a direct way to influence a language to create intuitive apps.

Let’s look at the benefits of learning swift in detail.

1. Swift is Easier to Read

Objective-C suffers all warts you’d expect from a language built on C. To differentiate keywords and types from C types, Objective-C introduced new keywords using the @ symbol. Because Swift isn’t built on C, it can unify all the keywords and remove the numerous @ symbols in front of every Objective-C type or object-related keyword. Swift drops legacy conventions. Thus, you no longer need semicolons to end lines or parenthesis to surround conditional expressions inside if/else statements. Another large change is that method calls do not nest inside each other resulting in bracket hell — bye-bye, [[[ ]]]

You’ll be amazed to know that currently there are nearly 2.1 million swift developers, surpassing the number of Objective-C developers (1.6 million). Also, according to the Stack OverFlow survey 2019, swift is also one of the programming languages associated with highest salaries worldwide. Perhaps, this gives many developers a reason to learn swift! ;)

Method and function call in Swift use the industry-standard comma-separated list of parameters within parentheses. The result is a cleaner, more expressive language with a simplified syntax and grammar. Swift code more closely resembles natural English, in addition to other modern popular programming languages. This readability makes it easier for existing programmers from JavaScript, Java, Python, C#, and C++ to adopt Swift into their toolchain — unlike the ugly duckling that was Objective-C. Thus, to learn swift isn’t like getting into a completely new programming language at all.

2. It is Easier To Maintain

Swift drops the two-file requirement. Xcode and the LLVM compiler can figure out dependencies and perform incremental builds automatically in Swift 1.2. As a result, the repetitive task of separating the table of contents (header file) from the body (implementation file) is a thing of the past. Swift combines the Objective-C header (.h) and implementation files (.m) into a single code file (.swift).Xcode and the LLVM compiler can do work behind the scenes to reduce the workload on the programmer. With Swift, programmers do less bookkeeping and can spend more time creating app logic. Swift cuts out boilerplate work and improves the quality of code, comments, and features that are supported.

Benefits of Swift Programming Language

3. Swift Programming Language is Safe

Optional types make the possibility of a nil optional value very clear in Swift code, which means it can generate a compiler error as you write bad code. This creates a short feedback loop and allows programmers to code with intention. Problems can be fixed as code is written, which greatly reduces the amount of time and money that you will spend on fixing bugs related to pointer logic from Objective-C. Unlike in Objective-C, in Swift, the optional types and value types make it explicitly clear in the method definition if the value exists or if it has the potential to be optional (that is, the value may exist or it may be nil).

To provide predictable behavior Swift triggers a run-time crash if a nil optional variable is used. This crash provides consistent behavior, which eases the bug-fixing process because it forces the programmer to fix the issue right away. The Swift run-time crash will stop on the line of code whenever it finds a nil optional variable. This prevents the bugs in the swift code.

4. It is Unified with Memory Management

Swift unifies the language in a way that Objective-C never has. The support for Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) is complete across the procedural and object-oriented code paths. The huge memory leaks that a programmer can have in Objective-C are impossible in Swift. A programmer should not have to think about memory for every digital object he or she creates. Because ARC handles all memory management at compile-time, the brainpower that would have gone towards memory management can instead be focused on core app logic and new features. Because ARC in Swift works across both procedural and object-oriented code, it requires no more mental context switches for programmers, even as they write code that touches lower-level APIs — a problem with the current version of Objective-C.

Automatic and high-performance memory management is a problem that has been solved by Swift and it has proven it can increase productivity. The other side effect is that both Objective-C and Swift do not suffer from a Garbage Collector running cleaning up for unused memory, like Java, Go, or C#. This is an important factor for any programming language that will be used for responsive graphics and user input, especially on a tactile device like the iPhone, Apple Watch, or iPad (where lag is frustrating and makes users perceive an app is broken).

5. Concise Code Structure

Swift reduces writing the amount of code for repetitive statements and string manipulation. Swift adopts modern programming language features like adding two strings together with a “+” operator, which is missing in Objective-C. Support for combining characters and strings like this is fundamental for any programming language that displays text to a user on a screen. The type system in Swift reduces the complexity of code statements — as the compiler can figure out types. 

Swift supports string interpolation, which eliminates the need to memorize tokens and allows programmers to insert variables directly inline to a user-facing string, such as a label or button title. The type inferencing system and string interpolation mitigate a common source of crashes that are common in Objective-C. Swift relieves you from bookkeeping work, translating into less code to write (code that is now less error-prone) because of its inline support for manipulating text strings and data.

6. Swift is Really Fast

Swift code performance continues to point to Apple’s dedication to improving the speed at which Swift can run app logic. The enhancements also enabled Swift to outperform C++ for the Mandelbrot algorithm by a factor of a mere 1.03.

With an optimized compiler for performance and the language for development, it generates faster code across the board, both for release and debug builds. The Swift compiler is also faster, even while adding new Fix-it suggestions such as where you can use let instead of var.

7. There’s Fewer Name Collision With Open Source Projects

One issue that has plagued Objective-C code is its lack of formal support for namespaces, which was C++’s solution to code file-name collisions. Swift provides implicit namespaces that allow the same code file to exist across multiple projects without causing a build failure and requiring names like NSString (Next Step — Steve Jobs’ company after being fired from Apple) or CGPoint (Core Graphics). Ultimately, this feature in Swift keeps programmers more productive. They don’t have to involve in bookkeeping that exists in Objective-C. 

You can see Swift’s influence with simple names like Array, Dictionary, and String instead of NSArray, NSDictionary, and NSString, which were born out of the lack of namespaces in Objective-C. With Swift, namespaces are based on the target that a code file belongs to. This means programmers can differentiate classes or values using the namespace identifier. This change in Swift is huge. It greatly facilitates incorporating open source projects, frameworks, and libraries into your code. The namespaces enable different software companies to create the same code filenames without worrying about collisions when integrating open source projects. Now both Facebook and Apple can use an object code file called FlyingCar.swift without any errors or build failures.

8. Swift Supports Dynamic Libraries

The biggest change in Swift is the switch from static libraries, which are updated at major point releases (iOS 8, iOS 7, and so on), to dynamic libraries. Dynamic libraries are executable chunks of code that can be linked to an app. This feature allows current Swift apps to link against newer versions of the Swift language as it evolves. 

The developer submits the app along with the libraries, both of which are digitally signed with the development certificate to ensure integrity (hello, NSA). This means Swift can evolve faster than iOS, which is a requirement for a modern programming language. Changes to the libraries are included with the latest update of an app on the App Store, and everything simply works. It reduces the initial size of an app by linking the external codes on use-basis.

Dynamic libraries in Swift make it possible for programming language changes and improvements to propagate faster than ever before. Users no longer need to wait for iOS point releases to benefit from any performance or reliability improvements Apple introduces into Swift.

9. Swift Playgrounds Encourages Interactive Coding

Swift’s newly introduced Playgrounds are a boon to experienced developers. Playgrounds enable programmers to test out a new algorithm or graphics routine, say 5 to 20 lines of code, without having to create an entire iPhone app. 

Apple has added inline code execution to Playgrounds. It helps programmers create a chunk of code or write an algorithm while getting feedback along the way. This feedback loop improves the speed of writing codes by replacing the traditional programming with data visualizations in Playgrounds. Programming is an iterative process. Any effort to reduce strain and complement the creative process can make programmers more productive. It can also free their time to solve bigger problems rather than focusing on boring details that traditional compilers impose on programmers.

10. Swift Is A Future You Can Influence

Objective-C isn’t going anywhere, but it won’t see as many major changes, thanks to the introduction of Swift. Some Swift features will likely migrate over to Objective-C, but Objective-C’s legacy in C means it can absorb only so much. Swift provides the development community a direct way to influence a language to create apps, embedded systems (if Apple ever licenses an embedded framework and chip for third parties), and devices like the Apple Watch.

Wrapping up with the best of Swift Programming Language

Writing Swift code is interactive and fun, the syntax is concise yet expressive, and apps run lightning-fast. Swift possesses safer patterns for programming and it adds modern features to make programming easier, more flexible, and more fun.

Apple is focused on providing the best consumer experience and is building only those features deemed worthy of attention. The team supporting the development and evolution of Swift is keen on improving the language to better support the development community that builds apps and systems using Swift. If you’re thinking of learning Swift, this is the right time to get started.

If you’ve queries around different programming languages, we’ve covered some. Take a look.

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MantraTalks Podcast with Parag Sharma: Delivering Digital-first Health Experiences for Patient Care in the New Normal

6 minutes read

The healthcare industry took the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic from the very beginning. It was, and still is, a humongous task for hospitals to deal with the rising number of COVID patients as well as handling the regular consults. 

To delve deeper into the state of healthcare in the COVID times, we interviewed Parag Sharma, CEO, Mantra Labs Pvt Ltd. Parag shares his insights on how technology can help in delivering digital-first health experiences for patient care in the New Normal.

Parag is a product enthusiast and tinkerer at heart and has been at the forefront of developing innovative products especially in the field of AI. He also holds over ten years of experience working in the services line and has been instrumental in launching several startups in the Internet & Mobile space. His rich domain expertise and innovative leadership have helped Mantra climb to the top 100 innovative InsurTechs in the World – selected by FinTech Global. 

Catch the interview:  

Connect with Parag- LinkedIn

COVID-19 and Its impact on Healthcare Organizations

Considering the COVID situation, according to you how has COVID-19 impacted the IT & service operations among healthcare organizations?

Parag:  Since the onset of COVID-19, the healthcare sector has been deeply impacted. Institutions are facing a serious crunch in manpower. IT support systems which were usually manned and managed by a large team of IT professionals are not available in the same strength. Resource allocation’ is one of the biggest concerns due to physical and mental exhaustion of the healthcare workforce. 

Hospitals are facing issues such as operational disruption due to staff quarantine, supply-chain delays and sudden decline in patient footfalls, difficulty in sustaining fixed costs, etc. People are not comfortable getting out of the safety confinements of their homes due to the rising risk of getting infected with the virus. Hospitals will have to reassess their future strategy and budgets in light of the uncertain economic situation.

Preparing for the Future

What can hospitals do to ensure the continuity of their customer-facing operations in the wake of a second Pandemic wave?

Parag: There are many things that hospitals can do to manage themselves in this hour of crisis. Being more digital than what they are would be one step forward for all of them. They can bring their IT systems to the cloud so that the person can access data and manage their work remotely. They can enable their patients to book appointments and enquire about services through apps and chatbots which won’t require them to call the reception or come to the hospital. These are some of the services which hospitals can provide to their customers with minimum physical contact. 

Related: Manipal Hospital’s move to a self-service healthcare mobile application

Hospitals can extend Telehealth services to their patients. Recently, telehealth has proved to be useful especially when there is asymmetry between the number of patients and healthcare providers. I think it will be very useful for healthcare institutions to deploy telehealth solutions to provide medical facilities to people who have so far been outside the benefits of healthcare.

New Expectations in Health Experiences

Is consumer behavior defined by the ‘new normal’ going to change the way we access healthcare from this point on?

Parag: Yes, people will expect a completely different way to access healthcare services from now on. Hospitals should gear-up and rise to this occasion. The pandemic has also provided a new opportunity to adopt a completely different approach in the way healthcare is delivered. They always felt that medical care cannot be provided remotely but now this is happening and people are appreciating remote healthcare services. Hospitals and healthcare institutions are convinced that telehealth and remote care will be more successful soon.

Technology in Healthcare can Bridge Operational Gaps

What are the operational challenges, as far as digital capabilities go, that hospitals are facing currently? And, what steps must they take to bridge these gaps?

Parag: Operational challenges are not just digital challenges. But a lot of these challenges can be addressed with technology. For example, Electronic Health Records which hospitals manage within the premises can be moved to the cloud so that the person can access these records on the cloud itself and need not come to the hospital. 

Related: Medical Image Management: DICOM Images Sharing Process

Secondly, if you deploy telehealth and telemedicine solutions, irrespective of where your patients are or doctors are, hospitals can deliver the required care to its patients. You can even extend your diagnostics services to your patients by giving them an application through which they can seamlessly book appointments for consults, diagnostics, or pathological services and resolve their queries, etc. Simply by giving a seamless interface either through bots or applications can go a long way in providing better health experiences to the customers.

Role of Chatbots in Superior Customer Experiences

According to you, what role does chatbots powered by Artificial Intelligence have in the Healthcare CX landscape?

Parag: Chatbots are the simplest example of the implementation of AI-based technology in healthcare. There are a lot of things which bots can do simplistically. For example, if a patient wants to book an appointment with the doctors, instead of going through a complex web applications and interfaces, what if I can simply write “I want to book an appointment with the doctor Dr. XYZ at 4 pm” and the bot can figure out in case the time slot is available with that particular doctor, it will confirm the appointment followed by a payment process if the payment has to be made upfront. 

Apart from this, you can extend your bots to provide e-consultations where doctors can do remote consultations via audio and video features of a chatbot. So there is a huge scope for bots beyond answering routine queries by customers or booking appointments. It does not stop just there. You can extend chatbot functionalities to support functions such as admin, HR, finance, and business process efficiency so that they can provide better services to their customers.

Related: Healthcare Chatbots: Innovative, Efficient, and Low-cost Care

Chatbot Use Cases in Healthcare

Could you tell us some possible bot use cases for delivering better customer experiences to digital health users?

Parag: Apart from booking appointments and resolving customer queries, these bots can conduct remote consultations, internal processes, health symptom checker, out-patient video consultation, second opinion consultation, ordering medicines, psychological counseling & mental wellness, scenario-based risk advice, Heroism Recognition for employees, etc. Also, it can be further extended to help patients enquire about health insurance related queries, and all the interactions between insurance companies and hospitals can be provided to the patient. 

Related: Healthcare & Hospitals Use Cases | Digital Health

The Road Ahead

COVID-19 has forced hospitals to revise patient support strategy with limited operational staff that is bringing every day a new challenge. A way out is to heavily rely on digital innovation.

In India we have a disparity between the no. of healthcare providers and care seekers. Without technology, I don’t think there is any way healthcare institutions will be able to scale to a level where they can provide meaningful services to such a large number of people. Hospitals can invest in setting up an information exchange; making the process as seamless as possible; and removing all possible inefficiencies from the supply chain through technology.

Future growth for hospitals will come from digital technology because patients will opt more for digital platforms. And it is up to hospitals to catch up with the pace at which modern technology is developing. We, at Mantra Labs, have achieved several use cases including hospitals/diagnostic centers that are able to deliver superior health experiences.

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