As of today, Dec. 3, Apple's Swift programming language is officially open source. That means the folks just waiting to fiddle with abandon can now do so at will.
There is, as usual, a catch, but it's a relatively minor one.
The Swift programming language, in development since 2010, was first introduced in June 2014 at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), with a stated purpose of making coding apps and the like for the company's various operating systems simpler. The Swift 2 announcement came at WWDC 2015, with a promise of an open source release at a later date — and that date is now.
More specifically, Swift is now open source under the Apache License 2.0. This means that the code is no longer proprietary, so folks can essentially use Swift code for whatever they want as well as distribute it so long as they provide a few essential bits like a copyright notice. That's an oversimplification of the requirements, but not by much. As part of this, a new website — Swift.org — is reportedly the home of this initiative, though the files and documentation also appear at GitHub.
"We couldn't be more excited to work together in an open community to find and fix issues, add enhancements, and bring Swift to new platforms," reads a welcome message at Swift.org. It's clear that Apple will remain heavily involved in the wants and needs of the fledgling programming language while also allowing the community at large to do with it what they will. Which, really, seems like the best of both worlds.