IBM announced a number of new tools and services at the recent InterConnect cloud and mobile conference in Las Vegas. Of interest to developers is the expansion of IBM’s work with Apple to support the Swift programming language on Bluemix, allowing server-side applications to be built with Swift on the IBM Cloud. On the mobile front, IBM has added a tool called Mobile App Builder to its MobileFirst platform to help rapidly create mobile apps. The tool will be available at the end of March. The Swift announcement will bring the language to a wider audience and is a significant boost to the language.
Open source Swift is now available on IBM Bluemix
In December 2015 Apple announced the open sourcing of the Swift programming language, its first-choice language for developing iOS apps. At InterConnect 2016 was the announcement that Swift will now be supported on Bluemix for server-side app development and deployment, which opens up the environments for Swift-based apps, hitherto only possible on iOS computers. The Swift programming language can now be used to create apps end-to-end, client-side and server-side.
With the open sourcing of the language it is only a question of time before Swift will be ported to Android. The competition is Java, where client-side JavaFX can run on Android and iOS, the latter using open source Gluon JavaFXPorts, and the open source Go programming language created by Google that also runs on Android and iOS.
With JavaFX part of the Java SDK standard since 2014 it is noticeable how Java’s popularity, as measured on the TIOBE Index, has trended upward since then. Java still has plenty to offer developers despite the attractions of new generation languages such as Swift (16th on the TIOBE Index as given for February 2016) and Go (38th on the TIOBE Index).
With IT vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle being agnostic to the choice of front-end development tools and languages used with their mobile app development platforms, and seeing Apple open out Swift, this is a beneficial trend for the developer community, and also for businesses as they grapple with the cost of ownership in developing and maintaining apps. Cross-platform mobile app and mobile back-end solutions just got a boost.
IBM Mobile App Builder offers rapid mobile app development for professionals and end-user developers
IBM Mobile App Builder, a new tool to be launched soon on the MobileFirst platform, will address two types of developers: professional developers who want to rapidly get up to speed in constructing mobile apps, using a visual drag and drop UI environment; and also citizen developers, or end-user domain experts with some programming skills. The tool is a welcome addition to the IBM mobile tool portfolio, and recognizes the need to facilitate the line-of-business domain experts who have a backlog of mobile apps to build but lack the skills required in using professional development environments.
Michael Azoff, Principal Analyst, Ovum Infrastructure Solutions Group