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How to Learn Swift Programming: The Complete Guide

James Gallagher - October 25, 2021


How to Learn Swift

Are you interested in creating your own iOS or Mac app? If so, there is one programming language that you will need to learn: Swift .

This guide will explore the best way to learn Swift online. Additionally, it will give you a set of tips to help as you embark on your journey to learning how to code in Swift.

What Is Swift?

Swift is a programming language that allows you to build apps for the Mac, iPhone, the Apple Watch, and the iPad. Swift was released in 2014 by Apple.

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Swift is behind most of the major apps you will use on Apple devices. Spotify, Instagram, and YouTube are three of the many names that use Swift to power their iOS apps.

Why Should You Learn Swift?

Swift Is easy to learn

The Swift programming language was built to be efficient and easy to use.

Swift uses a simple and expressive syntax that is easy to understand, even if you do not have any prior experience with coding. In fact, Swift was designed to be the first programming language for anyone to learn, according to Apple .

Swift developers are in high demand

According to Apple, the company has created 2,000,000 jobs across all 50 states in the United States. 1,530,000 of those are estimated to be attributable to the App Store ecosystem. This means that the jobs have been created as a result of companies hiring developers to build apps for Apple devices.

In terms of the labor market for Swift developers, the prospects are promising. According to Glassdoor, there are over 3,400 open jobs available in iOS development across the U.S.. Those jobs comprise only a portion of the jobs in mobile application development.

This demonstrates that Swift is, in fact, an in-demand skill, and one in which there are many employers are actively looking for.

Swift Is the future of iOS

Swift may have only been released in 2014, but since its launch it has advanced to become one of the most popular programming languages in the world.

According to the TIOBE Index , Swift is the 12th most searched for programming language. The TIOBE Index tracks the popularity of top programming languages using search engine traffic.

What Is Swift Used For?

Swift is a programming language used to develop applications for Apple devices like the iPhone and Apple Watch. It is a modern replacement for C-based languages which were previously used for Apple development.

Many of the applications you see on the Apple App Store today were written in Swift. In fact, most applications for Apple devices are written in Swift today, other than legacy ones. This is because Swift is the recommended language to use for Apple development.

Is Swift Hard to Learn?

Swift is not a difficult programming language to learn as long as you invest the right amount of time. Many programmers believe it is easy to get started with Swift on account of its syntax and resources for beginners.

Indeed, Apple has detailed tutorials on how to code in Swift on their website and on the Swift documentation site . These tutorials give you all of the knowledge you need to start working with Swift. So, finding resources is not a problem.

Swift uses a clear and expressive syntax. The architects of the language wanted Swift to be easy to read and write. As a result, Swift is a great starting point if you want to learn how to code. You should have no trouble reading Swift code once you master the basics.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Swift?

It takes around one to two months to develop a basic understanding of Swift, assuming you devote about an hour a day to studying. If you study part-time or full-time, you can learn the fundamentals of Swift in a shorter period of time.

You can get to work on your first application with Swift pretty quickly thanks to all of the detailed tutorials out there. Tto start building applications on your own, you’ll need a few months of practice.

If you want to become a professional iOS or Apple device developer, you’ve got a longer road ahead. It will take you at least six months, maybe even a year, to learn the skills you need to become a professional Swift developer.

Like with any programming language, your learning journey will never truly end. Swift is still being updated and there are so many frameworks out there that you’ll never run out of material to learn. How long it takes you to learn Swift depends on how much time you put in and how willing you are to learn the language.

How to Learn Swift Programming

But how do you actually learn to code in Swift? To answer this question, we’re going to discuss the two things you need to know. We’ll talk about the basic skills that Swift developers need and how you can acquire those skills.

Building Your Skills

Before you go on to pursue a career as a Swift developer, you first need to master the basics of the Swift programming language. Although Swift is a relatively modern language, there are a number of great learning resources already available to help beginners learn the language.

To start your journey, you should focus on learning the basics. But before you even do that, you should download Xcode , which is Apple’s app for creating software. You should take a look at Apple’s Swift documentation . This documentation includes a wide range of guides that can be helpful as you start to familiarize yourself with Swift.

Let’s break down the main topics you should explore as you get started with Swift.

Syntax and Variables

The first step to learning any programming language is to get to know how it works, and what rules govern the language. That’s where syntax comes in.

Then, once you have learned the basic syntax for Swift, you can start to explore variables. Variables are used to store data in a program. Here are the main topics you should explore when it comes to syntax and variables:

  • How to create a Swift program
  • How to print output to the console
  • How to write comments
  • How to declare a variable
  • Arithmetic operators
  • Variable data types
  • Constants

Conditionals and Loops

Conditionals allow coders to run a block of code only if and when a certain condition or set of conditions is met. This allows them to control how their program works in various different settings. Loops, on the other hand, allow you to execute repetitive tasks multiple times over.

Here are the main topics you should master when it comes to conditionals and loops:

  • if and else statements
  • else if statements
  • Ternary operators
  • switch and where statements
  • For-in loop
  • while loop
  • break and continue statements

Arrays and Dictionaries

An array is a data type that allows you to store a list of values in a program. A dictionary is a data type that allows you to store a list of labels alongside a list of values. Data is stored in key-value pairs.

When you’re working in Swift, it is essential that you can use these data types. Here are the main topics you should learn:

  • How to create an array
  • How arrays are indexed
  • How to add items to and remove items from an array
  • How to create a dictionary
  • How to add elements to and remove elements from a dictionary
  • How to inspect a dictionary
  • How to access the values in a dictionary

Functions

Functions are blocks of code that execute a particular task in a program. For instance, a function could add two numbers together in a program, or prompt a user to sign in to a mobile application. Here are the main topics you should learn about related to functions:

  • How to define and call a function
  • How to return a value from a function
  • Parameters and arguments
  • Default and in-out parameters
  • Returning multiple values

Classes and Structures

Swift is an object-oriented programming language, which means it makes use of classes to define the structure of data in a program. The purpose of classes is to help make code more readable and reduce repetition. In addition, Swift also uses structures to allow developers to create their own data types.

Here are the main topics you should read up on when it comes to classes and structures:

  • What is a class?
  • How to create a class and an instance of a class
  • Class inheritance and method overriding
  • What is a structure?
  • How to create a structure
  • How to create an instance of a structure
  • Structure and mutating methods with structures

These topics make up the basics of the Swift programming language. There are frameworks out there like SwiftUI which allow you to build more detailed user interfaces. None of these frameworks are out of reach once you have learned the basics of Swift.

Resources to Learn Swift Free

There is a massive community of resources that can help you learn Swift. But what resources are worth your time? Great question.

The answer to that question depends on your learning style. Do you prefer hands-on video tutorials, or do you like reading guides? Do you like mentorship-driven environments, or prefer to learn at your own pace?

Before you start looking for resources, you should think about how you learn best. Try to find resources that match your approach to learning.

Online Swift Courses

  • Learn Swift by Codecademy
  • Developing iOS 10 Apps with Swift by Stanford University
  • iOS Development in Swift by Plymouth University
  • Udacity: Swift for Beginners

Swift Tutorials

One of the best ways to learn to code with programming languages like Swift is through tutorials. You can access beginner, mid-level, and advanced Swift courses, depending on your experience. The article below covers the best Swift tutorials to help you learn quickly and effectively.

Best Swift Tutorials for Beginners

SwiftUI Tutorials – Apple Developer

Learning Swift through Apple’s developer platform is ideal to understand this programming language as Apple created it. SwiftUI Tutorials is a free course that takes approximately four to five learning hours to complete. You will learn the basics of Swift development, even if you have no experience with iOS and Swift.

It features videos and picture tutorials to help you learn as you follow the steps. This course starts with a quick introduction followed by lessons on Swift UI essentials, drawing, animation, app design, layout, and framework integration. Apple’s developer website also features a forum section that includes a strong community of developers.

iOS 12 Swift 4.2 – The Complete iOS Development with Swift Bootcamp – Udemy

Swift is used in writing code for Apple’s tech platforms, including iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and iPadOS. Swift bootcamps and courses offer a fast way of comprehensively learning this programming language. This paid course from Udemy is ideal for novice software developers looking to learn about iOS development through tutorials.

You do not need any technical requirements to take this course. It takes about 55 hours to finish, and it includes videos, articles, tutorials, and other resources. You’ll learn more about building apps, mastering augmented reality apps, and starting an app-based business during this time. This will prepare you to start junior developer jobs.

Swift Tutorial Full Course for Beginners – freeCodeCamp

freeCodeCamp is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing interactive programming education to aspiring developers online. This organization offers a three-hour video tutorial covering variables, constants, data types, functions, properties, classes, IF statements, and parameters. This course is ideal for beginners and available for free on YouTube.

Swift Fundamentals – Pluralsight

This course will teach you the fundamentals of Swift, including essential steps in the app development process, through tutorials. You should consider this course because of its high rating from the hundreds of students who’ve taken it. It is one of the best learning paths for beginners to learn this powerful programming language.

As an aspiring app developer, you’ll learn how Swift works with data and Swift playgrounds. You’ll also adopt a protocol-oriented programming mindset as you work on developing apps on iPhone, Mac, or iPad. It takes about three to four learning hours to complete this course.

Free Swift Tutorial – Code Conquest

Code Conquest put together this free course that features picture tutorials to help aspiring developers learn about Swift. The only requirement is a MacBook with the latest OS version to work with Swift language through this tutorial. However, you will need to further your education to become a professional app developer.

This program will help you in your journey to becoming a Swift developer. You will work on multiple projects by yourself with the help of picture tutorials and gain hands-on experience. You will learn how to set up a Swift environment and get started on your first project as a complete beginner.

Best Advanced Swift Tutorials

AppSync Setup with Amplify – Ray Wenderlich

Tutorials that include videos are an excellent way of learning Swift, even as an experienced programmer. This course is designed for experienced programmers interested in learning the integration of BaaS technology with Apple’s platforms, specifically iOS.

The introductory tutorial is free and offers an excellent opportunity to overview what you will be covering in the weeks to follow. This course features many video tutorials that collectively cover concepts such as AWS AppSync, AWS Amplify, and GraphQL.

iOS App Development with Swift Specialization – Coursera

This is a specialization course delivered by the University of Toronto through Coursera. It covers the fundamentals of iOS application development through Swift. It takes about five months to complete and includes dozens of tutorials to help you learn design patterns, protocol extensions, and more.

Students who finish the program receive a shareable certificate of completion. During this time, you’ll learn app design and development for iOS, how to use XCode, and other development tools. You’ll also work on projects like building your own iOS app or game.

Debugging UIKit Views with Reveal

You should consider this video tutorial if you are an advanced developer and need a comprehensive tool to find and fix rendering problems in UIKit views. This course will help you find auto layout constraint problems, modify layout and rendering even as your app is running, and fix other debugging issues that may arise.

This 36-minute course is free and best if you have programming experience with UIKit views and Xcode. The course is split into three parts. The first part introduces you to Reveal, while the second and third sections help you find or fix related issues and adjust accordingly. These advanced concepts will help you get app development jobs in the future.

Learning Functional Programming with Swift – LinkedIn

LinkedIn offers several paid and free courses that feature video tutorials. This course is ideal for advanced programmers and takes about 53 minutes to complete. After finishing, students get a certificate of completion. Skills covered in this course include mobile application development, functional programming, and Swift.

SwiftUI by Tutorials (First Edition): Declarative App Development on the Apple Ecosystem – Ray Wenderlich Tutorial Team

This book is for advanced iOS programmers who have a working knowledge of Swift Code or Swift. It starts with an introduction to the toolkit and its core features, with later chapters covering concepts like design, testing, and animations. This book will teach you more about the Apple ecosystem, testing, debugging, drawing custom graphics, and using animations.

Best Free Swift Tutorials

Swift Tutorial – Tutorialspoint

Tutorialspoint offers this free Swift tutorial for beginners looking to understand the basics of this programming language. Before taking this course, you should have a basic understanding of computer programming terminology. This course is delivered online through Tutorialspoint’s official webpage, and students are free to print materials on this website for future reference.

Swift Programming Tutorial for Beginners – CodeWithChris

With over four million views on YouTube, this free tutorial is worth considering for new software developers. Code with Chris is a popular channel that helps students learn a wide variety of programming-related subjects such as user interfaces, coding tips for beginners, and programming languages including MySQL.

Through this YouTube tutorial, you’ll learn more about variables, data type, switch statements, loops, initializers, and dictionaries. Lessons from this tutorial will also help you to become a professional developer and enter the programming community.

Free Swift and iOS Tutorials – Hacking with Swift

Hacking with Swift is a website dedicated to Swift programming for beginners and experts. You can take this particular course as a beginner and learn application development from scratch. This website features many useful resources, including hands-on tutorials that you can use to learn more about iOS and Swift.

Learn Swift Fast (2020) Full Course For Beginners – Code With Chris

If you are looking for free online courses to study independently, you should consider this tutorial from CodeWithChris YouTube Channel. With over 200,000 views and 5,000 likes, this course is a popular choice for many beginners and intermediate Swift programmers.

This tutorial is over three hours long but is split into 17 sections, which makes it easier for students to break down the tutorial into sizable lessons. With this tutorial, you’ll learn topics such as loops, initializers, class inheritance, and switch statements, just to mention a few.

Swift: Build Your First App (2021) – iOS Academy

This YouTube video tutorial is ideal for aspiring iOS app developers. It covers topics that will help you develop an iOS app for the very first time. The tutorial was recently uploaded on YouTube and features the latest versions of Xcode 12 and Swift 5. If you want to learn how to build your first app, this tutorial is the place to go.

Apple Swift Playgrounds

Apple has also developed an app called Swift Playgrounds that uses an interactive approach to teaching you how to code in Swift. This app allows you to work your way through a number of basic challenges to familiarize yourself with the basics of Swift.

Apple Developer Resources

No matter whether you are new to programming entirely, or just new to Swift, Apple has you covered. On the Apple Developer website, you’ll find plenty of resources that can help you master the basics of Swift.

In addition, Apple has published a number of excellent free books and courses which you can use. These include:

Attend Coding Bootcamp

There are also a number of top coding bootcamps that teach Swift, such as DevMountain and General Assembly . In bootcamp, you’ll learn all the practical skills you need to pursue a career in technology. You’ll graduate with a portfolio that showcases the skills you have built.

If you’re interested in learning more about Swift coding bootcamps, check out our directory of coding boot camps. This directory features a number of schools that specialize in iOS development.

Learn by Doing

Following tutorials and online videos can only get you so far. Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals of Swift, your next step should be to start working on a project.

What problems do you currently have that you want to solve? Do you enjoy tasting different flavors of tea, and need a place to store your notes? Or do you want a place to track your progress toward the habits you are building?

As you learn about new programming concepts, you should try to work on a project that actually uses those skills. This will help you reinforce the theory you have learned in class, and develop a deeper mastery of Swift.

Are you still stuck for ideas on what you could build? Here are a few to help you out:

  • A to-do list app
  • A habit tracker app
  • A podcast sharing app
  • An app to track the books you have read
  • An app to volunteer your help to the local community
  • A news aggregator app

Alternatively, you could ask your friends, “If you could build an app, what would it be?” and then try to build that. (Everyone knows at least one friend who has a “great app idea” that could change the world. But not everybody actually has the skills they need to turn that idea into a working app!)

Join a Developer Community

Learning how to code can be a difficult journey to walk alone. There are so many opportunities for failure. Working alone makes it really easy to quit when times get tough and you cannot solve a problem.

As soon as you start learning Swift, you should try to join a developer community or two. These communities bring together developers of all stripes and give them a place to share ideas, help each other, and collaborate on projects.

For aspiring Swift developers like yourself, the following communities are worth looking into:

  • r/iOSProgramming : This is a Subreddit dedicated to iOS development, and hosts a wide range of helpful threads on the latest in iOS.
  • Apple Developer Forums : The official Apple Developer Forums are a great place to ask questions about Swift.
  • Dev.to : Dev.to is a community for developers to chat and help each other out. The Dev.to community has a thread dedicated to iOS development. This is a great place for both beginners and experts to come together and share ideas.
  • StackOverflow : StackOverflow is a questions-and-answers community that is used by most developers at some point. If you have a question, it’s highly likely that someone has already posted it on StackOverflow.

When you join a developer community, you should spend some time analyzing how it works. Try to follow in the footsteps of existing members. Contribute as much as you can, and, if you see an opportunity to do so, volunteer to help other people..

The Best Way to Learn Swift Free

There is no better way to become an expert coder than to practice. In fact, the more you practice, the better (which is the general rule for learning any new skill).

As you practice your skills you will become more familiar with the Swift syntax and best practices. You’ll encounter mistakes in your work, and then figure out how to fix them. This will allow you to build a massive repository of knowledge in your mind which makes programming easier as you go.

The more you can practice the better. At the start of your journey you should try to devote at least a couple of hours a week to learning Swift. Or, if you’re committed to learning Swift now, you could even try to code every day. Once you’ve built a good habit, you’ll be on a good trajectory toward learning how to code in Swift fast.

Practice Suggestions to Learn Swift Programming

Here are a few suggestions on how you can practice your Swift skills:

  • Follow online tutorials and immersive workshops. Spending some time following along with online tutorials is a great way to practice your skills. And, when you feel ready, you can start to make your own changes to the code you build in tutorials.
  • Build a project. Building a project is a great way to fit more practice into your life. When you have a project going, it is easy to decide what to work on. You can hack away at what you are building over a long period of time.
  • Take coding challenges. Codewars , CodeChef , TopCoder , and Coderbyte are a few examples of the many platforms out there that host coding challenges. These challenges, which typically take a few minutes or hours to complete, are a great way to refine your skills.

No matter how you want to practice, the principle is the same—just keep coding. Then, when you look back on this day a year from now, you’ll be amazed by how far you have come.

Wrapping Up

The Swift programming language, while newer than technologies like Objective-C, is a skill worth learning. Knowing how to code in Swift gives you the skills you need to build mobile apps, Mac apps, and apps for other Apple devices.

That’s not all! Because Swift is such an important technology used for app development, there are many companies who are actively looking for qualified Swift developers. And, as mobile becomes even more popular, new career opportunities will arise.

To summarize, here are the five main steps you should follow to learn Swift fast:

  • Find learning resources
  • Master the basics
  • Build a project (or multiple projects)
  • Join a developer community
  • Practice your skills

If you follow these steps, you’ll be on a great track to learning how to code in Swift! When you know the basics, there is no limit to what you can build aside from your imagination.



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James Gallagher

About the author: James Gallagher is a self-taught programmer and the technical content manager at Career Karma. He has experience in range of programming languages and extensive expertise in Python, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. James has written hundreds of programming tutorials, and he frequently contributes to publications like Codecademy, Treehouse, Repl.it, Afrotech, and others.

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