Popularity of Swift is on the rise in a major way

At WWDC 2014, Apple delivered a bombshell of an announcement when Craig Federighi unveiled Swift, a new high-level programming language positioned to be the future of iOS development. In a broad sense, the underlying goal of Swift is to make programming for iOS much more approachable than Objective-C, not a hard task given the latter's daunting syntex. Moreover, Swift aims to make it easier for developers to churn out incredible apps with less code, making for a more efficient development process all around.

Objective-C, meanwhile, isn't going anywhere just yet. Naturally, it takes time for a new programming language to gain traction amongst developers. Moreover, there's never a guarantee that a newly introduced programming language will take off in the first place. Still, Apple has indicated that Swift -- which was in secret development for four years at Apple -- is the future of iOS development, so perhaps its time to check in and see how developers are taking to the programming language nearly 7 months after its debut.

According to Redmonk, a research firm which tracks and ranks programming languages, developer interest in Swift is on a discernible, if not unprecedented rise.

As was said during the Q3 rankings which marked its debut, "Swift is a language that is going to be a lot more popular, and very soon." Even so, the growth that Swift experienced is essentially unprecedented in the history of these rankings. When we see dramatic growth from a language it typically has jumped somewhere between 5 and 10 spots, and the closer the language gets to the Top 20 or within it, the more difficult growth is to come by. And yet Swift has gone from our 68th ranked language during Q3 to number 22 this quarter, a jump of 46 spots. From its position far down on the board, Swift now finds itself one spot behind Coffeescript and just ahead of Lua. As the plot suggests, Swift's growth is more obvious on StackOverflow than GitHub, where the most active Swift repositories are either educational or infrastructure in nature, but even so the growth has been remarkable. Given this dramatic ascension, it seems reasonable to expect that the Q3 rankings this year will see Swift as a Top 20 language.

It's important to note, however, that these rankings do not necessarily correlate with developer adoption. As Wired points out, the rankings use "only two dimensions to rank developer interest: the number of lines of code in the popular code hosting and collaboration site GitHub, and the number of questions being asked about a particular language on the question and answers site StackOverflow."

Given how young Swift is, it's hard to dispute that iOS development remains a primarily Objective-C endeavor. That said, the App Store remains the most lucrative mobile software storefront on the planet, and with Apple throwing its full weight and support behind Swift, it stands to reason that Swift will continue to make even more headway in the future. For anyone interested, Apple's Swift announcement from WWDC can be viewed below.