Apple has provided fresh details on the on-going development of Swift 3.1, underlining the fact that it is within schedule for the build to roll out sometime between March and June next year.
In the change log, developers cited that the version 3.1 is source compatible with Swift 3.0 and packs minor enhancements to the core programming language. The limitation in the improvements is attributed to the shift toward the development of Swift 4.
There were also changes made to the Swift Package Manager, Swift on Linux, compiler, and Standard Library.
Swift 3.1 Snapshots vs. Developer Previews
One key innovation in Swift 3.1 involves the so-called snapshots in place of developer previews that have been released with irregular pacing.
"For Swift 3.1 there will instead be daily downloadable snapshots of the release branch," Ted Kremenek, senior manager of Language and Runtimes at Apple, said in a blog post. "Snapshots will be produced as part of continuous integration testing. The cadence of downloadable snapshots will thus be more frequent and granular."
Kremenek stated that development will only continue until Jan. 16. Swift 3.1 will then enter a "bake period" wherein only select and critical fixes will be implemented on the Swift-3.1-branch as the team finally transitions to Swift 4 development. This is, of course, not written in stone as the release manager holds the right to introduce changes on Swift 3.1 if required.
Swift 4 itself will have a late 2017 release based on its dedicated GitHub page.
What Is Swift?
For the uninitiated, Swift is an open source programming language that has been developed by Apple for the operating systems of its devices, which includes the iOS, MacOS, watchOS, and tvOS. It is also built for Linux.
It was first introduced during the 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) and have undergone several updates since then. Its latest release prior to the 3.1 update was back in September alongside the launch of the new versions of Apple's operating systems such as the watchOS 3.
Swift Developer Resource
New programmers interested in learning this language can download The Swift Programming Language, a free manual that can be downloaded on the iBooks Store. This 500-page document is also available at Apple's developer section. It forms part of the company's drive to increase new developers' interest.
"The compiler is optimized for performance, and the language is optimized for development, without compromising on either," Apple stated in the manual. "It's designed to scale from 'hello, world' to an entire operating system. All this makes Swift a sound future investment for developers and for Apple."