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Swift vs Xcode: What are the differences?

What is Swift? An innovative new programming language for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch. Writing code is interactive and fun, the syntax is concise yet expressive, and apps run lightning-fast. Swift is ready for your next iOS and OS X project — or for addition into your current app — because Swift code works side-by-side with Objective-C.

What is Xcode? The complete toolset for building great apps. The Xcode IDE is at the center of the Apple development experience. Tightly integrated with the Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks, Xcode is an incredibly productive environment for building amazing apps for Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

Swift can be classified as a tool in the "Languages" category, while Xcode is grouped under "Integrated Development Environment".

"Ios" is the primary reason why developers consider Swift over the competitors, whereas "IOS Development" was stated as the key factor in picking Xcode.

Swift is an open source tool with 48.4K GitHub stars and 7.76K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Swift's open source repository on GitHub.

According to the StackShare community, Xcode has a broader approval, being mentioned in 1052 company stacks & 604 developers stacks; compared to Swift, which is listed in 994 company stacks and 541 developer stacks.

- No public GitHub repository available -

What is Swift?

Writing code is interactive and fun, the syntax is concise yet expressive, and apps run lightning-fast. Swift is ready for your next iOS and OS X project — or for addition into your current app — because Swift code works side-by-side with Objective-C.

What is Xcode?

The Xcode IDE is at the center of the Apple development experience. Tightly integrated with the Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks, Xcode is an incredibly productive environment for building amazing apps for Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
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What are some alternatives to Swift and Xcode?
Objective-C
Objective-C is a superset of the C programming language and provides object-oriented capabilities and a dynamic runtime. Objective-C inherits the syntax, primitive types, and flow control statements of C and adds syntax for defining classes and methods. It also adds language-level support for object graph management and object literals while providing dynamic typing and binding, deferring many responsibilities until runtime.
React Native
React Native enables you to build world-class application experiences on native platforms using a consistent developer experience based on JavaScript and React. The focus of React Native is on developer efficiency across all the platforms you care about - learn once, write anywhere. Facebook uses React Native in multiple production apps and will continue investing in React Native.
Kotlin
Kotlin is a statically typed programming language for the JVM, Android and the browser, 100% interoperable with Java
Go
Go is expressive, concise, clean, and efficient. Its concurrency mechanisms make it easy to write programs that get the most out of multicore and networked machines, while its novel type system enables flexible and modular program construction. Go compiles quickly to machine code yet has the convenience of garbage collection and the power of run-time reflection. It's a fast, statically typed, compiled language that feels like a dynamically typed, interpreted language.
Java
Java is a programming language and computing platform first released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. There are lots of applications and websites that will not work unless you have Java installed, and more are created every day. Java is fast, secure, and reliable. From laptops to datacenters, game consoles to scientific supercomputers, cell phones to the Internet, Java is everywhere!
See all alternatives
Decisions about Swift and Xcode
StackShare Editors
StackShare Editors
Rails
Rails
Node.js
Node.js
Python
Python
React
React
Java
Java
Ruby
Ruby
Go
Go
Swift
Swift
Objective-C
Objective-C
jQuery
jQuery
Angular
Angular

By mid-2015, around the time of the Series E, the Digital department at WeWork had grown to more than 40 people to support the company’s growing product needs.

By then, they’d migrated the main website off of WordPress to Ruby on Rails, and a combination React, Angular, and jQuery, though there were efforts to move entirely to React for the front-end.

The backend was structured around a microservices architecture built partially in Node.js, along with a combination of Ruby, Python, Bash, and Go. Swift/Objective-C and Java powered the mobile apps.

These technologies power the listings on the website, as well as various internal tools, like community manager dashboards as well as RFID hardware for access management.

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StackShare Editors
StackShare Editors
Java
Java
Swift
Swift
Gradle
Gradle
Objective-C
Objective-C

At the heart of Uber’s mobile app development are four primary apps: Android rider, Android driver, iOS rider, and iOS driver. Android developers build in Java, iOS in Objective C and Swift. Engineers across both platforms land code into a monolithic code base that ships each week.

They use some third-party libraries, but often build their own, since “Many open source libraries available are general-purpose, which can create binary bloat. For mobile engineering, every kilobyte matters.”

On Android, the build system is Gradle. For the UI, Butter Knife binds views and callbacks to fields and methods via annotation processing, and Picasso provides image loading.

As for iOS, all of the code lives in a monorepo built with Buck. For crash detection, KSCrash reports crashes to the internal reporting framework.

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Sezgi Uluçam
Sezgi Uluçam
Sr. Software Engineer at StackShare · | 7 upvotes · 90.6K views
Expo
Expo
Xcode
Xcode
React Native
React Native
Android Studio
Android Studio
Android SDK
Android SDK

I've recently switched to using Expo for initializing and developing my React Native apps. Compared to React Native CLI, it's so much easier to get set up and going. Setting up and maintaining Android Studio, Android SDK, and virtual devices used to be such a headache. Thanks to Expo, I can now test my apps directly on my Android phone, just by installing the Expo app. I still use Xcode Simulator for iOS testing, since I don't have an iPhone, but that's easy anyway. The big win for me with Expo is ease of Android testing.

The Expo SDK also provides convenient features like Facebook login, MapView, push notifications, and many others. https://docs.expo.io/versions/v31.0.0/sdk/

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Conor Myhrvold
Conor Myhrvold
Tech Brand Mgr, Office of CTO at Uber · | 9 upvotes · 483K views
atUber TechnologiesUber Technologies
RIBs
RIBs
Objective-C
Objective-C
Swift
Swift

Excerpts from how we developed (and subsequently open sourced) Uber's cross-platform mobile architecture framework, RIBs , going from Objective-C to Swift in the process for iOS: https://github.com/uber/RIBs

Uber’s new application architecture (RIBs) extensively uses protocols to keep its various components decoupled and testable. We used this architecture for the first time in our new rider application and moved our primary language from Objective-C to Swift. Since Swift is a very static language, unit testing became problematic. Dynamic languages have good frameworks to build test mocks, stubs, or stand-ins by dynamically creating or modifying existing concrete classes.

Needless to say, we were not very excited about the additional complexity of manually writing and maintaining mock implementations for each of our thousands of protocols.

The information required to generate mock classes already exists in the Swift protocol. For Uber’s use case, we set out to create tooling that would let engineers automatically generate test mocks for any protocol they wanted by simply annotating them.

The iOS codebase for our rider application alone incorporates around 1,500 of these generated mocks. Without our code generation tool, all of these would have to be written and maintained by hand, which would have made testing much more time-intensive. Auto-generated mocks have contributed a lot to the unit test coverage that we have today.

We built these code generation tools ourselves for a number of reasons, including that there weren’t many open source tools available at the time we started our effort. Today, there are some great open source tools to generate resource accessors, like SwiftGen. And Sourcery can help you with generic code generation needs:

https://eng.uber.com/code-generation/ https://eng.uber.com/driver-app-ribs-architecture/

(GitHub : https://github.com/uber/RIBs )

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StackShare Editors
StackShare Editors
Prometheus
Prometheus
Chef
Chef
Consul
Consul
Memcached
Memcached
Hack
Hack
Swift
Swift
Hadoop
Hadoop
Terraform
Terraform
Airflow
Airflow
Apache Spark
Apache Spark
Kubernetes
Kubernetes
gRPC
gRPC
HHVM (HipHop Virtual Machine)
HHVM (HipHop Virtual Machine)
Presto
Presto
Kotlin
Kotlin
Apache Thrift
Apache Thrift

Since the beginning, Cal Henderson has been the CTO of Slack. Earlier this year, he commented on a Quora question summarizing their current stack.

Apps
  • Web: a mix of JavaScript/ES6 and React.
  • Desktop: And Electron to ship it as a desktop application.
  • Android: a mix of Java and Kotlin.
  • iOS: written in a mix of Objective C and Swift.
Backend
  • The core application and the API written in PHP/Hack that runs on HHVM.
  • The data is stored in MySQL using Vitess.
  • Caching is done using Memcached and MCRouter.
  • The search service takes help from SolrCloud, with various Java services.
  • The messaging system uses WebSockets with many services in Java and Go.
  • Load balancing is done using HAproxy with Consul for configuration.
  • Most services talk to each other over gRPC,
  • Some Thrift and JSON-over-HTTP
  • Voice and video calling service was built in Elixir.
Data warehouse
  • Built using open source tools including Presto, Spark, Airflow, Hadoop and Kafka.
Etc
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Julien DeFrance
Julien DeFrance
Principal Software Engineer at Tophatter · | 8 upvotes · 61.4K views
atSmartZipSmartZip
Xcode
Xcode
Objective-C
Objective-C
Android Studio
Android Studio
React Native
React Native
#MobileDev

As a Engineering Manager & Director at SmartZip, I had a mix of front-end, back-end, #mobile engineers reporting to me.

Sprints after sprints, I noticed some inefficiencies on the MobileDev side. People working multiple sprints in a row on their Xcode / Objective-C codebase while some others were working on Android Studio. After which, QA & Product ensured both applications were in sync, on a UI/UX standpoint, creating addional work, which also happened to be extremely costly.

Our resources being so limited, my role was to stop this bleeding and keep my team productive and their time, valuable.

After some analysis, discussions, proof of concepts... etc. We decided to move to a single codebase using React Native so our velocity would increase.

After some initial investment, our initial assumptions were confirmed and we indeed started to ship features a lot faster than ever before. Also, our engineers found a way to perform this upgrade incrementally, so the initial platform-specific codebase wouldn't have to entirely be rewritten at once but only gradually and at will.

Feedback around React Native was very positive. And I doubt - for the kind of application we had - no one would want to go back to two or more code bases. Our application was still as Native as it gets. And no feature or device capability was compromised.

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Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code
GitHub
GitHub
Linux
Linux
JavaScript
JavaScript
Swift
Swift
Java
Java
PHP
PHP
Python
Python
XML
XML
JSON
JSON
Git
Git
SVN (Subversion)
SVN (Subversion)

I use Visual Studio Code because at this time is a mature software and I can do practically everything using it.

  • It's free and open source: The project is hosted on GitHub and it’s free to download, fork, modify and contribute to the project.

  • Multi-platform: You can download binaries for different platforms, included Windows (x64), MacOS and Linux (.rpm and .deb packages)

  • LightWeight: It runs smoothly in different devices. It has an average memory and CPU usage. Starts almost immediately and it’s very stable.

  • Extended language support: Supports by default the majority of the most used languages and syntax like JavaScript, HTML, C#, Swift, Java, PHP, Python and others. Also, VS Code supports different file types associated to projects like .ini, .properties, XML and JSON files.

  • Integrated tools: Includes an integrated terminal, debugger, problem list and console output inspector. The project navigator sidebar is simple and powerful: you can manage your files and folders with ease. The command palette helps you find commands by text. The search widget has a powerful auto-complete feature to search and find your files.

  • Extensible and configurable: There are many extensions available for every language supported, including syntax highlighters, IntelliSense and code completion, and debuggers. There are also extension to manage application configuration and architecture like Docker and Jenkins.

  • Integrated with Git: You can visually manage your project repositories, pull, commit and push your changes, and easy conflict resolution.( there is support for SVN (Subversion) users by plugin)

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Interest over time
Reviews of Swift and Xcode
Avatar of Bessalitskykh
Software Development Consultan at MLSDev Inc.
Review ofSwiftSwift

The performance of Swift is almost the same as that of C++, which is considered the fastest in algorithm calculation arithmetics. Apple had this idea in mind and worked to improve the speed of Swift. For example, Swift 2.0 has beaten C++ in several computation algorithms, such as Mandelbrot algorithm. Objective-C is slower because it contains C API legacy.

Swift is faster than Objective-C, because it removed the limitations of C language and has been improved with the help of advanced technologies that were unavailable when C was developed. As mentioned by Apple, Swift was originally designed to operate faster.

Despite the fact that languages are different, they both integrate, and work with Cocoa and Cocoa Touch APIs, for all Apple platforms. Therefore, a regular app-user would not recognize the difference in operating speed between Objective-C vs Swift. Speed also depends on a programmer’s level and capabilities, since a slow app can be written in Swift as well.

Learn more here https://mlsdev.com/blog/51-7-advantages-of-using-swift-over-objective-c

Avatar of Bessalitskykh
Software Development Consultan at MLSDev Inc.
Review ofSwiftSwift

Its performance approaches the one of C++ which is considered the fastest algorithm calculation arithmetics. And Apple strives to improve the speed of Swift. Learn more here https://mlsdev.com/blog/51-7-advantages-of-using-swift-over-objective-c

How developers use Swift and Xcode
Avatar of Lawrence Cheuk
Lawrence Cheuk uses SwiftSwift

iPhone app, a new born language, it may good but the IDE, xcode is bad compare with Visual Studio. It just like a baby. playground can only use without connect to other library...you can not do a simply refactor of renaming a variable. You can go to definition and find reference, but you can not go to implementation....I should write them on xcode not here basically it is not the fault of swift, but it tightly to it, unless you want to use a notepad to write it.

Avatar of Refractal
Refractal uses SwiftSwift

Most of our newer apps are written completely in swift, with our older ones and some special cases using a mix of Swift and Objective-C, but with Swift 2, the language is pretty much a must-use. "guard" is <3.

Avatar of Ryan VanBelkum
Ryan VanBelkum uses XcodeXcode

Even though React Native takes care of most of the heavy lifting, there are still some cases where we need xcode. These cases include app icon integration, mobile deployments, loading screens, ect...

Avatar of Refractal
Refractal uses XcodeXcode

Xcode is our primary development platform for iOS applications, with a very fully featured set of dev tools for the platform. For everything else, there's Sublime Text 3.

Avatar of Flutter Health Inc.
Flutter Health Inc. uses SwiftSwift

Flutter is coded with Swift v.2.3 and can be run with Xcode v.8.2.1. To launch in Xcode 9.3, the code needs to be migrated to Swift 4.1

Avatar of Nick De Cooman
Nick De Cooman uses XcodeXcode

Experience with Xcode in the context of iOS development. This includes Storyboards, Debugging tools and the Simulator.

Avatar of Ujjwal Bhujel
Ujjwal Bhujel uses XcodeXcode

QA and Testing have been so much easier with the help of its simulators on Apple Devices like; iPhones and iPads.

Avatar of Promethean TV
Promethean TV uses XcodeXcode

PrometheanTV provides SDKs for IOS devices and utilizes the XCode IDE for development and testing purposes.

Avatar of Maxim Ananov
Maxim Ananov uses SwiftSwift

Most of the app code was gradually rewritten in Swift for better performance and code maintenance.

Avatar of JINJA Ltd.
JINJA Ltd. uses SwiftSwift

Our native iOS app is built on Swift, and most of the basic function is still written in Swift

How much does Swift cost?
How much does Xcode cost?
Pricing unavailable
Pricing unavailable