How to Learn Swift
Have you ever wondered how applications on iPhones work? The answer lies in the Swift programming language. This language was created by Apple to provide a smooth developer experience for people creating apps for their products. Apps like Lyft, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Uber all use Swift.
In this guide, we will discuss what you need to know about learning this programming language, from essential concepts for beginners to the job prospects for Swift developers.
What Is Swift?
Swift is a programming language built by Apple. It is used to develop apps for Apple products such as iPhones, iPods, Mac computers, and Apple Watches. The name accurately describes the language, which is multiple times faster than Objective-C and Python 2.7, according to Apple. Swift is a multi-paradigm language, incorporating principles from paradigms like functional and object-oriented programming.
Apple built Swift to make building software for Apple products easier and faster. In fact, Swift was designed so that it would be suitable for people of all backgrounds, from people who have never written a line of code before all the way to experienced programmers. Today, Swift has become an essential tool in the arsenal of developers building software for Apple products.
Jobs that Require Swift Skills
Almost every job that involves developing applications for Apple devices, such as the iPhone or Apple Watch, requires Swift skills, at least to some extent. Here are a few jobs in which Swift skills are useful or required:
- iOS Developer
- Mac Developer
- Mobile App Developer (for iOS)
- Software Developer (for Apple devices)
Swift is not used widely outside of development for non-Apple devices. So, if you are looking for a job that requires Swift as a skill you should keep your eye on companies with apps that run on Apple devices.
What Companies Use Swift?
Swift powers applications in a range of industries, from fitness companies to social media firms. Below is a list of some of the many companies that use Swift:
When Swift was introduced, Apple had already been supporting Objective-C for developing apps for years. As a result, Swift is still being adopted by companies. Although it has become the de facto industry standard for developing applications on Apple devices, you may still see a number of companies use legacy codebases. You should expect more and more companies to adopt this technology in the future.
Salary for Swift Developers
Most companies advertise positions that require Swift under the type of development the company is doing (e.g. iOS development or software development). The average iOS developer, who develops apps for iOS-powered devices like the iPhone and iPod, earns $96,016 per year, according to Glassdoor. For reference, the average software developer earns $76,526 per year. Not all software developers use Swift, but many do.
What Skills Do I Need to Master Swift
To learn Swift, you do not need any understanding of programming or the architecture of building mobile applications. This is a feature of its design: Apple wanted Swift to be a good first language for anyone.
That being said, previous knowledge of programming and mobile applications is useful. Knowing Objective-C, often used in iOS and Apple app development, is helpful. It is nice to have this skill, but it is not essential for learning the Swift programming language.
Where to Learn Swift
So you know what you need to learn. The next step is finding a place to learn it. To help you out, we have compiled a list of some top Swift courses and learning resources suitable for beginners who are setting out to learn Swift.
- Author: Swift Team
- Price: Free
- Type of Resource: eBook
The Swift Programming Language, the Swift Team’s official guide, is aimed at Swift developers and those still learning to use Swift. This text gives developers clear guidance on how to use Swift and lays out the concepts beginners should learn.
This guide is easy to read. It features code snippets you can run in your Swift terminal to easily try out the features you are learning about. After going through this book and practicing the essential concepts, you will be able to confidently build basic applications using Swift.
- Author: Stanford University
- Price: Free
- Type of Resource: Course
CS193p, taught at Stanford, is a long-running course on developing apps with iOS. It has been kept up-to-date and features detailed lectures and slides on various programming concepts. To display theory in action, the lectures walk students through various topics as well as coding examples.
- Author: University of Toronto (on Coursera)
- Price: Free
- Type of Resource: Course
This course is designed to help students build an iOS application “from scratch.” It starts with an introduction to the course and the basics of Swift. You will then go on to learn more advanced Swift concepts like classes and enums. Later in the course, you will learn about image processing.
At the end of the course, you will participate in a final peer assignment which will be graded by one of your classmates. This course runs for a total of five weeks, with an optional module at the end.
- Author: Udacity
- Price: $399/month
- Type of Resource: Course
This course, which requires no programming experience, will teach you how to build your own iOS applications, starting with the fundamentals. You will progress on to learning about various Swift frameworks like UIKit, which is used to build interfaces for your application.
At the end of the course, you will be asked to participate in a final project where you will design and code your own iOS application.
- Author: freeCodeCamp
- Price: Free
- Type of Resource: Video
This tutorial covers the basics of Swift and UIKit, the framework used to build user interfaces with Swift. You do not need any background knowledge to participate in this course; all that is required is a desire to learn Swift.
Throughout the course, you will explore topics like conditionals, switch statements, loops, and classes. All of these topics are explained step by step and in-depth. If you get stuck, you can always pause and rewind the video to hear the explanation again.
- Author: Ray Wenderlich
- Price: Free
- Type of Resource: Course series
Ray Wenderlich has produced six video courses on using Swift and SwiftUI. Two of the courses focus on programming in Swift, the fundamentals, and functions and types. The others walk you through how to build apps using Swift and SwiftUI.
By the end of the six courses, you will have created two Swift applications and will have acquired a good understanding of the basics of the programming language.
Courses are not for everyone. For some people, it is easier to follow a tutorial or a series of tutorials that address exactly what you are interested in. We have compiled a list of tutorials on Swift:
When you feel ready to learn about building user interfaces with Swift, you should take a look at the official Apple SwiftUI tutorials. Because these tutorials were designed by Apple, you know the content is accurate and comprehensive.
Each tutorial features code you can download and use to build new features. This means you do not need to worry about setting up a new project each time you start a tutorial; you just need to download the template for a new tutorial and start coding.
The codewithchris website features tutorials on various Swift and SwiftUI topics. For instance, codewithchris has a course devoted to helping beginners learn Swift. There is also a course on how to use Xcode, the tool most people use to build iOS apps. In addition to Chris’s longer courses, there are short tutorials on topics like loops and SwiftUI buttons. These are useful if you already know a bit of Swift and want to learn about a specific topic.
A Guide to Learning Swift Basics
Getting started with Swift is easy when you know where to begin. But where do you begin? This is a serious question any beginner needs to research before they start coding. To help you figure out what you should focus on at the start of your learning journey, we have put together a mini-guide featuring some essential Swift concepts you should read about.
- Writing a Program: How do you open Swift? How do you create a new program? How do you start coding in this language? You should find the answers to all of these questions before you start researching more advanced Swift concepts.
- Data Types: How does Swift represent numbers? How are characters and phrases stored? You need to know the main data types supported by Swift and how you can use them to store data.
- Arrays: Arrays are lists of information. You will need to know how to store data in arrays using the Swift language. You should also learn how to retrieve data from a list.
- Loops: You should learn how to use loops to iterate over a list of data.
- Functions and Conditionals: You will need to know how to use functions to group lines of code. You will also need to know how to use conditionals to run particular lines of code when certain conditions are met.
- Classes: Swift supports object-oriented programming. You should learn the fundamentals of object-oriented coding and how principles from this method of coding are incorporated into the language.
Use the list above as a guide to figure out how you want to start learning Swift. Of course, there is much more to learn; we have not even touched on the topic of building user interfaces with Swift, a common use of the language. There is time to learn all of that but going into the weeds too soon can lead to a lot of confusion. Start simple and work your way to more advanced concepts when you feel ready.
You cannot build apps without knowing a bit about Swift frameworks like UIKit and CloudKit. Once you have learned the basics of this language, you should look into the main Swift frameworks and decide which one you think is worth learning at the next stage in your journey. There are quite a lot of official frameworks to learn; the only way to master them is through rigorous study and building projects.
How Long Does it Take to Learn Swift?
You can expect to learn the fundamentals of the Swift programming language in about a month of study. Swift gets more complicated when you start introducing frameworks like SwiftUI, which are essential for building your own apps. You can expect to spend at least three months learning the basics of Swift and relevant frameworks so you can build your own applications.
Becoming proficient in Swift to the level required by companies is a different story. To acquire the knowledge you need to become a professional Swift developer, you will probably need to study for at least six months.
Should I Learn Swift?
Swift is an essential skill to have if you want to develop applications for an Apple device like the iPhone or iPad. The Swift programming language was designed by Apple to be fast and easy to use. Apple claims the language is a good first programming language due to its intuitive syntax.
Learning Swift will take about a month. However, you should not expect to be building full-fledged apps as soon as you know the basics. First, you will have to learn Swift frameworks, which will take some time to master.
Many companies build applications for Apple devices, so there is no shortage of firms looking for talented Swift developers. First, decide if you want to learn Swift. Make sure to do some more research if you feel you need to. Learning any programming language is valuable to your career but you have to make sure you learn the right one based on your goals.