The iOS Developer Community Survey

How popular is Swift?

This page contains analysis and opinion by Dave Verwer.

You might be expecting the balance of Swift vs Objective-C to be biased towards Swift, and you’d be right. Here’s how it looks for people’s personal/hobby apps:

Almost 70% of people are writing 100% of their personal/hobby Apple platform code in Swift. Given that company/team restrictions and the impact of an existing codebase is much less of an issue in personal/hobby projects. I think this question is a good indicator of developer interest in the language, and what this tells me is that Swift is dominating.

When it comes to apps written for a company, you might expect the number to fall. It does, but not by much.

These results show just how much of a success story Swift has been for Apple platform development. For a language that’s barely more than five years old, it’s incredible progress.

Apple has shown consistency and clarity with its message that Swift is the future of Apple platform development, and they deserve credit for how easily it can interoperate with Objective-C. The community has also embraced the language wholeheartedly. I’d say these numbers back up the popular opinion that the transition is going exceptionally well.

So let’s dig a little deeper into those numbers. Let’s slice the company/business apps data by company size and limit it the responses to those by people who work for medium or large companies, with more than 100 employees:

Amazingly, the numbers barely change and the average still comes out at exactly 8.

So, let’s go one step further and take only the responses of people who work for large companies with more than 500 employees:

This time the average drops, but only ever so slightly from 8 to 7.9. This average is even more incredible when you say it like this – 69.5% of companies with more than 500 employees write 80% or more of their Apple platform app code in Swift rather than Objective-C. That’s incredible.

Finally, let’s look at how the adoption of Swift for personal/hobby apps varies based on the amount of time that the person has been in the industry. Slicing the data from Question 6 by how long people have been creating apps for Apple platforms, limited to people who have been working with Apple platforms for up to 5 years.

Predictably, the average increases. More than 94% of people who have been in the industry for five years or less write 80% or more of their Apple platform code in Swift instead of Objective-C.

I think the transition from Objective-C to Swift is going well, and I expect to see this continue in next year’s survey.

Updates to this analysis:

21st Feb – Jeff Johnson asked to see the results for Question 7 filtered by very small companies too. Here are those numbers:

Remarkably, this is lower than the balance between Objective-C and Swift for companies with more than 500 employees. I think that makes those numbers for large companies even more impressive.

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