Apple decided to make its Swift programming language available open source to developers worldwide, and a company executive now explains why this is a historic step.

As we previously reported, Apple's Swift programming language is now available to any and all developers worldwide. Any developer can now download the Swift source code and make changes or improvements to it, and that opens up a world of great opportunities.

Apple's Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software, explained why Apple chose to open up Swift.

"In terms of where we hope the open source project will take Swift, it comes back to the original goals of making Swift the language you learn to program in from the outset," Federighi told The Next Web (TNW).

"When you learn it you'll be able to use it to accomplish everything you want to accomplish, all the way from building mobile applications to cloud development."

The move is particularly surprising because it comes from Apple, a company notoriously keen on keeping its technology under tight wraps.

Federighi further highlighted that having Swift available open source can be of great help in a number of ways. A university, for instance, could start teaching Swift programming with far less hassle, with Swift now open source.

The executive thinks that Swift will power programming for decades to come, shaping up as the "next major programming language." Swift is fast, safe, easy to learn and expressive, and has all it needs to serve as a great programming language for apps and systems.

"It's the perfect programming language for anyone who is learning to program all the way to writing systems," added Federighi.

Apple wants people to learn Swift as their primary programming language and, with contributions from developers to make Swift suitable for everything from writing code in the cloud to apps scripting for mobile.

"We think the best way to enable all of that is to open source it."

Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs previously said the company would make the FaceTime protocol available open source, but that never materialized. While the protocol is still behind Apple walls, open sourcing Swift is nonetheless a notable step with amazing potential. Great things could come of this, and it will be interesting to see Swift expand its scope and reach.

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