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Objective C vs Swift

  • Mobile App Development

29 March 2018

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In the IOS mobile development there exist just two native programming languages that allow us to write apps for the Apple user community. From a developer’s perspective, it is important to know the main differences between them before deciding as to which you will build a mobile solution.

Let’s start introducing both. Objective C was the first programming language created for IOS mobile app development. This is why it is the main programming language used by the existent applications published in the Apple Store, since Swift, being the second programming language, appeared in 2014 to simplify and improve Objective C.

The remarkable differences between Objective C and Swift

Syntax and Grammar

Objective C is precompiled in the C programming language. This is the reason why there are similarities between them. Swift is a more readable code which reduces considerably the number of code lines, type and function definitions that are more intuitive like Java as an example.

Maintainability

To write a class in Objective C, it is required to implement a .h (interface) and a .m (extended) files. Swift avoids the use of .h and .m files extensions and introduced the use of just one file for building a class: the .swift. This also reduced the code lines required to write a mobile app development in Swift.

Memory Use

Swift incorporates the use of Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) improvements, reducing the time the developer could spend to avoid memory leaks during the app performance. For Objective C memory management can become a big deal.

Support

Coding an application in Objective C results find it hard to find the cause of a bug since the compiler avoid the app crash because of a ‘nil’ value, so a developer can receive a false-positive result. To improve this, Swift forces developers to add variables and any object type validations to avoid app crashes. If the developer forgot to add a required validation, it will be more easy to detect a failure when the app runs, since an unexpected ‘nil’ or ‘null’ could cause a failure which can be easier read in the stack trace exception printed in the XCode IDE console.

Frameworks usability

Most of the Cocoa APIs and Pods are written in Objective C. Since Swift supports the life of Objective C files in the same project simultaneously, we can build our mobile app development in Swift and use a Cocoa Pod library wrote in Objective C, BUT that Cocoa Pod had been modified previously to run in Swift. So, if our favorite library is not adapted yet, we need to recreate a solution differently. This will change as frameworks are adapted progressively.

Having mentioned those differences, it is noted that Swift is a better option to start coding a new IOS mobile app development, however additional variables will determine the decision like developer knowledge, time expectations for coding the app, and client requirements. It is important to take the time with the team to deliberate ideas and options to define the goal before starting a plan.

Good Luck!

  • Mobile App Development
  • Objective C

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