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Learning Swift

Learning Swift

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Learning Swift

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Lançado em:
Jun 30, 2015


About This Book
  • Practically write expressive, understandable, and maintainable Swift code
  • Discover and optimize the features of Swift to write cleaner and better code
  • This is a step-by-step guide full of practical examples to create efficient IOS applications
Who This Book Is For

If you are looking to build iOS or OS X apps using the most modern technology, this book is ideal for you. You will find this book especially useful if you are new to programming or if you have yet to develop for iOS or OS X.

Lançado em:
Jun 30, 2015

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Learning Swift - Wagner Andrew J

Table of Contents

Learning Swift


About the Author

About the Reviewer


Support files, eBooks, discount offers, and more

Why subscribe?

Free access for Packt account holders


What this book covers

What you need for this book

Who this book is for


Reader feedback

Customer support

Downloading the example code




1. Introducing Swift

Defining our goals for this book

Setting up the development environment

Running our first Swift code

Understanding playgrounds

Learning with this book


2. Building Blocks – Variables, Collections, and Flow Control

Core Swift types

Constants and variables





Swift's type system

Printing on the console

Control flow





Basic functions

Parameterized functions

Functions that return values

Functions with default arguments

Bringing it all together


3. One Piece at a Time – Types, Scopes, and Projects


Types versus instances


Member and static methods

Computed properties

Reacting to property changes


Custom initialization


Inheriting from another class


Overriding initializers

Required initializers

Designated and convenience initializers

Overriding methods and computed properties


Computed properties





Basic declaration

Testing enumeration values

Raw values

Associated values

Methods and properties


Setting up a command-line Xcode project

Creating and using an external file

Interfacing with code from other files

File organization and navigation



How is scope defined

Nested types

Access control


4. To Be or Not to Be – Optionals

Introducing optionals

Unwrapping an optional

Optional binding

Forced unwrapping

Nil coalescing

Optional chaining

Implicitly unwrapped optionals

Debugging optionals

The underlying implementation


5. A Modern Paradigm – Closures and Functional Programming

Functional programming philosophy

State and side effects

Declarative versus imperative code


Closures as variables

Closures as parameters

Syntactic sugar

Building blocks of functional programming in Swift

The filter function

The reduce function

The map function

The sorted function

How these affect the state and nature of code

Lazy evaluation

Curried functions


6. Make Swift Work for You – Protocols and Generics


Defining a protocol

Implementing a protocol

Using type aliases

Defining a generic

The generic function

The generic type

Type constraints

Protocol constraints

Where clauses for protocols

Where clauses for equality

Extending the existing generics

Enhancing arrays

Enhancing dictionaries

Putting protocols and generics to use



Product of Fibonacci numbers under 50


7. Everything is Connected – Memory Management

How data is stored in a computer



Value types versus reference types

Determining a value or reference type

Behavior on assignment

Behavior on input

Capturing behavior of closure

Automatic reference counting

Object relationships

Strong relationships

Weak relationships

Unowned relationships

Strong reference cycles

Strong reference cycles between objects


Fixing the cycles

With closures



Lost objects

Between objects

With closures


8. Writing Code the Swift Way – Design Patterns and Techniques

What is a design pattern?

Behavioral patterns

The iterator pattern

The observer pattern

The callback property

The notification center

Structural patterns

The composite pattern


An alternative to subclassing

The delegate pattern


Creational patterns

A singleton/shared instance

The abstract factory pattern

Using associated values effectively

Replacing class hierarchies

Concisely representing a state

Extending system types to reduce code

Lazy properties

Avoiding unnecessary memory usage

Avoiding unnecessary processing

Localizing logic to the concerned property


9. Harnessing the Past – Understanding and Translating Objective-C

Swift's relationship with Objective-C

The history of Objective-C

Constants and variables

Value types

Reference types




Control flow









The basic class









Header files

An implementation file


Calling Objective-C code from Swift

A bridging header

Using functions

Using types


Reference type translation


10. A Whole New World – Developing an App

Conceptualizing the app


The interface


Setting up the app project

Configuring the user interface

Running the app

Allowing picture taking

Temporarily saving a photo

Populating our photo grid

Refactoring to respect Model-View-Controller

Permanently saving a photo


11. What's Next? Resources, Advice, and Next Steps

Apple's documentation

Forums and blogs

Blog posts


Prominent figures




Learning Swift

Learning Swift

Copyright © 2015 Packt Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.

Every effort has been made in the preparation of this book to ensure the accuracy of the information presented. However, the information contained in this book is sold without warranty, either express or implied. Neither the author, nor Packt Publishing, and its dealers and distributors will be held liable for any damages caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by this book.

Packt Publishing has endeavored to provide trademark information about all of the companies and products mentioned in this book by the appropriate use of capitals. However, Packt Publishing cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information.

First published: June 2015

Production reference: 1250615

Published by Packt Publishing Ltd.

Livery Place

35 Livery Street

Birmingham B3 2PB, UK.

ISBN 978-1-78439-250-5




Andrew J Wagner


Giordano Scalzo

Cory Bohon

Commissioning Editor

Sarah Crofton

Acquisition Editors

Vivek Anantharaman

Richard Brookes-Bland

Content Development Editor

Kirti Patil

Technical Editor

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Copy Editors

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Project Coordinator

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Safis Editing


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Cover Work

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About the Author

Andrew J Wagner is an independent software developer who concentrates on iOS development and backend web services and has a degree in computer engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York. He has also been developing his own iOS apps through his company, Learn Brigade LLC, since 2008 and has experience working with and for large-scale companies and small-scale companies. He is passionate about using computers as a creative outlet and writing software that is beautiful in implementation, functionality, and experience.

About the Reviewer

Giordano Scalzo has been a developer since the days of the ZX Spectrum.

He worked with C++, Java, .NET, Ruby, Python, and a ton of other languages he has forgotten the names of. After years of backend development and a hiatus from the technical side when he worked as a project manager, he is currently a freelancer in London where, through his company, Effective Code Ltd, he delivers code for iOS aiming at quality and reliability.

In his spare time, when he is not crafting retro game clones for iOS, he writes his thoughts on his blog at http://giordanoscalzo.com.

I'd like to thank my better half, Valentina, who lovingly supports me in everything I do—without you, none of this would have been possible.

I would also like to thank my children, Mattia and Luca, who are my future and have given me lots of smiles and hugs when I needed them.


Support files, eBooks, discount offers, and more

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This book will help you get started with Swift in no time. It will help you to understand the nuances of iOS programming not only from a conceptual point of view, but also from an implementation perspective. This book is an invaluable resource if you are looking forward to a dive deep into the world of iOS application programming.

What this book covers

Chapter 1, Introducing Swift, takes you through the process of installing Swift and running your first Swift program to expose its power right away.

Chapter 2, Building Blocks – Variables, Collections, and Flow Control, introduces you to the various built-in mechanisms Swift has to represent complex information in expressive and accessible ways with the help of a real-world example.

Chapter 3, One Piece at a Time – Types, Scopes, and Projects, introduces the tools necessary to more closely model the real world with code. It will teach you to define your own custom types using structures, classes, and enumerations. It also explores the concept of scope and access control.

Chapter 4, To Be or Not to Be – Optionals, focuses on a special and critical type in Swift called optionals. It includes a detailed explanation of how optionals work and how they can be used to turn a seemingly complex topic into a very intuitive concept.

Chapter 5, A Modern Paradigm – Closures and Functional Programming, introduces you to a new way of thinking about code called functional programming. We learn how Swift supports this technique and how we can apply it to our programs to make them even more understandable and expressive code.

Chapter 6, Make Swift Work for You – Protocols and Generics, describes what generic protocols are and how they can provide power and safety at the same time.

Chapter 7, Everything is Connected – Memory Management, discusses how a computer stores information and how we can use that knowledge in combination with some new tools in Swift, to ensure that our code remains responsive and minimizes its effect on battery life. In this chapter, we dive deeper into the inner workings of Swift.

Chapter 8, Writing Code the Swift Way – Design Patterns and Techniques, introduces you to the art of programming by taking you through a number of specific design patterns that help reduce the complexity of code.

Chapter 9, Harnessing the Past – Understanding and Translating Objective-C, develops a basic understanding of Objective-C with a focus on how it compares to Swift. This allows you to make use of the vast resources that exist in Objective-C to help with your Swift development.

Chapter 10, A Whole New World – Developing an App, explains the process of creating a real-world iOS application with the help of an example.

Chapter 11, What's Next? Resources, Advice, and Next Steps, discusses how to move forward to become the best app developer you possibly can. It will also provide you with a list of resources you can use to continue your Swift and app development learning process.

What you need for this book

The only thing that you need for this book is Xcode 6.3.

Who this book is for

If you are looking to build iOS or OS X apps using the most modern technology, this book is ideal for you. Learning Swift will place you in a small developer community that will explode in demand as the development of apps for Apple's platforms transitions to it. You will find this book especially useful if you are new to programming or if you are yet to develop an app for iOS or OS X.


In this book, you will find a number of text styles that distinguish between different kinds of information. Here are some examples of these styles and an explanation of their meaning.

Code words in text, database table names, folder names, filenames, file extensions, pathnames, dummy URLs, user input, and Twitter handles are shown as follows: It stores the text Something Else into a new variable called str.

A block of code is set as follows:

if invitees.count > 20 {

  println(Too many people invited)


else if invitees.count <= 3 {

    println(Not really a party)


else {

    println(Just right)


New terms and important words are shown in bold. Words that you see on the screen, for example, in menus or dialog boxes, appear in the text like this: To view the console, you can go to View | Assistant Editor | Assistant Editor.


Warnings or important notes appear in a box like this.


Tips and tricks appear like this.

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Downloading the example code

You can download the example code files from your account at http://www.packtpub.com for all the Packt Publishing books you have purchased. If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit http://www.packtpub.com/support and register to have the files e-mailed directly to you.


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Chapter 1. Introducing Swift

A programming language is really only ever a means to an end, and you are not going to learn much from this book or any other resource if you don't have at least some idea of what that end is. Before diving into learning Swift, we have to understand what it really is and how it will help us achieve our goals. We also need to move forward with an effective learning technique and get a taste of what is to come. To do all this, we will go over the following topics:

Defining our goals for this book

Setting up the development environment

Running our first Swift code

Understanding playgrounds

Learning with this book

Defining our goals for this book

Swift is a programming language developed by Apple to allow developers to continue pushing their platforms forward. It is their attempt to make iOS and OS X app development more modern, safe, and powerful.

Developers have already begun looking for ways to push Swift to do even more than iOS and OS X app development. Some are using it to create command-line scripts to replace/supplement the existing scripting languages, such as Python and Ruby. However, Apple's priority, at least for now, is to make it the best language possible to facilitate app development.

It is important to note that learning Swift is only the first step towards developing Apple's platforms. To develop a device, you must learn the programming language and the frameworks that the device maker provides. Skill in a programming language is the foundation to get better at using frameworks, and ultimately building apps.

Developing software is like building a table. You can learn the basics of woodworking and nail a few pieces of wood together to make a functional table, but you are very limited in what you can do because you lack advanced woodworking skills. If you want to make a truly great table, first, you need to step away from the table and focus on developing your skill set. The better you are at using the tools, the more possibilities open up to you to create more advanced and high quality furniture. Similarly, with very limited knowledge of Swift, you can start to piece together a functional app from the code you find online. However, to really make something great, you have to put the time and effort into refining your language-related skill set. Every language feature or technique that you learn opens up more possibilities for your app.

That being said, most developers are driven by a passion to create things and solve problems. We learn best when we can channel our passions into truly improving ourselves and the world around us. We wouldn't want to get stuck learning the minutia of a language with no practical purpose.

The goal of this book is to develop your skills and confidence to dive passionately into creating compelling, maintainable, and elegant apps with Swift. To do this, we will introduce the syntax and features of Swift in a practical way. You will build up a rich toolset, and see it being put to real-world usage. So, without further ado, let's jump right into setting up our development environment.

Setting up the development environment

In order to use Swift, you will need to have a Mac running OS X. The only piece of software you will need is called Xcode (version 6 and higher). This is the environment that Apple provides to facilitate development for its platforms. You can download Xcode for free from the Mac App Store at www.appstore.com/mac/Xcode.

Once downloaded and installed, you can open the app and it will install the rest of Apple's developer tool components. It is as simple as that! We are now ready to run our first piece of Swift code.


Downloading the example code

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Running our first Swift code

We will start by creating a new Swift playground. As the name suggests, a playground is a place where you can play around with code. With Xcode open, navigate to File | New | Playground from the menu bar, as shown here:

Name it MyFirstPlayground, leave the platform as iOS, and save it wherever you like.

Once created, a playground window will appear with some code already populated inside it for you:

You have already run your first Swift code! A playground in Xcode runs your code every time you make a change and shows you the code results along the right-hand side of the sidebar.

Let's break down what this code is doing. The first line is a comment that is ignored while being run. It can be really useful to add extra information about your code there inline with it. In Swift there are two types of comments: single line and multiline. Single line comments such as the one in the previous code always start with //. You can also write comments that span multiple lines by surrounding them with /* and */. For example:


  This is a multi-line comment

  that takes up more than one line

  of code


The second line, import UIKit, imports a framework called UIKit. UIKit is the name of Apple's framework for iOS development. For this example, we are not actually making use of the UIKit framework, so it is safe to completely remove that line of code.

Finally, on the last line, the code defines a variable called str that is being assigned to the text Hello, playground. In the results sidebar, next to the last line, you can see that Hello, playground was indeed stored in the variable. As your code becomes more complex, this will become incredibly useful to help you track and watch the state of your code as it is run. Every time you make a change to the code, the results will be updated, showing you the consequences of the change.

If you are familiar with other programming languages, many of them require some sort of line terminator. In Swift, you do not need anything like that.

Another great thing about Xcode playgrounds is that they will show you errors as you type them in. Let's add a third line to the playground:

  var str = Something Else

On its own, this Swift code is completely valid. It stores the text Something Else into a new variable called str. However, when we add this to the playground, we are shown an error in the form of a red exclamation mark next to the line number. If you click on the exclamation mark, you are shown the full error:

This line is highlighted in red and we are shown the error Invalid redeclaration of 'str'. This is because you cannot declare two different variables with the exact same name. Also, notice that the results along the right-hand side turned gray instead of black. This indicates that the result being shown is not from the latest code, but from the last successful run of the code. The code cannot be successfully run to create a new result because of the error. Instead if we change the second variable to strTwo, the error goes away:

Now the results are shown in black again and we can see that they have been updated for the latest code. If you have experience with other programming environments, the reactiveness of the playground may surprise you. Let's take a peek under the

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