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App Development
5 minutes read

What is SwiftUI?

by Mario Tatis
App Development
5 minutes read

Swift is the best programming language used to create native iOS apps, but what is SwiftUI? SwiftUI is a User Interface toolkit that makes Swift easier to use. Swift was initially released by Apple in 2014. In 2019, SwiftUI was released to give developers and programmers more intuitive control over the way they build User Interfaces for native iOS apps. SwiftUI allows developers to build User Interfaces for all iOS devices and native iOS apps with a single tool. 

Let’s learn more about the capabilities of SwiftUI, and how when used with Xcode 11, it is the most powerful tool for building user interfaces for any iOS device. 

The Capabilities of SwiftUI

SwiftUI includes some of the following User Interface building features:

  • Automatic support for Dynamic Type
  • Localization
  • Accessibility
  • Dark mode 

As soon as you start working with SwiftUI, you will be creating powerful User Interface code. However, the true power of SwiftUI is in its declarative syntax and framework integrations.

Declarative Syntax

Declarative programming, or declarative syntax, is a simpler way to code and create specific, fine-tuned User Experiences. Traditionally, a programming language requires developers to write out a set of instructions (code) in order to accomplish a specific task. What makes declarative programming different is that instead of entering a set of instructions to create a final result, a developer only needs to input the final result they desire. 

In other words, developers can simply state what they want their User Interface to do. This drastically reduces the amount of code, makes the code easier to maintain and edit, and speeds up the app development process. SwiftUI’s declarative syntax can even be used to accomplish complex tasks like animation too. Declarative programming makes creating powerful User Interfaces simple. 

Framework Integrations

The powerful framework integrations supported by SwiftUI allows iOS developers to integrate objects from other Apple frameworks, like:

  • UIKit – for iOS and tvOS
  • AppKit – for macOS
  • WatchKit – for watchOS

SwiftUI can be used to create a User Interface on any Apple device that takes advantage of the unique animations, ways of displaying data, and overall experience of the specific platform. The level of customization allowed in SwiftUI means that any app created using this UI framework will include imperative UI elements of whatever iOS device it is being used on. 

What is really cool about SwiftUI’s framework integration is that it works in the opposite direction too. You can take an object or view created in SwiftUI and use it in one of the other iOS UI frameworks. This is aided by the declarative syntax of SwiftUI. Since the end result has already been stated, it can be implemented on different platforms and frameworks regardless of their differences. SwiftUI takes iOS app design to new heights of capability and simplicity. 

Xcode 11 and SwiftUI

Xcode is the development environment created by Apple, and SwiftUI works seamlessly with all of the latest design features and tools. The design tools in Xcode 11 allow developers to keep their code and their design perfectly aligned. Xcode includes a visual editing feature that allows developers to drag and drop items and visually manipulate their User Interface. Any changes made visually to the design are automatically and seamlessly updated in the code editor too.

What is really cool about Xcode is that while you are building your app, you are also running it. The visual editor that allows you to drag and drop elements is far more than an approximation of your User Interface code. It is actually your app being run live. All code changes are automatically updated in your app using dynamic replacement features. This is a powerful tool for developers. No longer do you have to code and check. Xcode 11 and SwiftUI allow you to see your app in action as you code it. 

Xcode also includes a powerful preview tool that allows you to check the UI design of your app in dark mode, in different localizations, with large font settings, etc. You can also use preview modes to display your app on any iOS device and screen orientation. Xcode 11 and SwiftUI are the most powerful combination for building user interfaces on iOS devices. 

Final Thoughts on SwiftUI

What is SwiftUI? Only the most powerful iOS user interface tool available to developers. SwiftUI improves upon the already simple and powerful programming language Swift. If you want to create a native iOS app, your best choice is Swift, SwiftUI, and Xcode. 

The combination of these tools will give you the ability to create intuitive and innovative user interfaces that take advantage of all the native Apple features that people have come to expect and enjoy over the years. SwiftUI gives developers the ability to create user interfaces for all iOS devices with fewer lines of code thanks to a declarative syntax.

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