Swift for the Really Impatient 1st Edition
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About the Author
Dave Wood has been developing for iOS since 2008 and OS X since 2009. He began writing code at age 9 on a TI/99/4A and instantly fell in love. He has worked on various types of projects, including systems that interface with stock exchanges, news outlets, and banking systems, as well as newspaper websites and, of course, mobile apps ranging from games, social networks, financial apps, and productivity and developer apps. When possible, he enjoys whitewater kayaking and scuba diving. Currently he runs his own development studio, Cerebral Gardens, and freelances as a Cocoa engineer for MartianCraft.
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It offers a quick, concise walkthrough of core elements the language. Concepts are illustrated with a few lines of example code, and often coupled with commentary on usage and motivation.
I especially like the fact you can finish the book in a day!
I had previously read Scala for the Impatient by Cay S. Horstmann. I’d like to note that, despite the similarity in title, Swift for the Really Impatient is not written by Cay S. Horstmann. I found the writing style to be noticeably different, but in neither a good nor a bad way. I just wanted to mention that Swift for the Really Impatient is written by Matt Henderson and Dave Wood, in case you’re a Horstmann devotee.
I’d like to make one thing clear for future readers. This book will not teach you to write your first functional OS X or iOS application; it assumes you’re an experienced Objective-C developer wanting to learn Swift’s syntax quickly. It differs in this way from Horstmann’s books, the style of which the authors have attempted to mimic. For example, after reading Scala for the Impatient the reader will be be able to write parsers, perform file and network functionality, as well as design and implement a minimal (yet powerful) distributed event bus using actors. Swift for the Really Impatient won’t teach you any of these types of things. Again, it’s related to Horstmann’s books only by similarity in title.
The book flows very well and very quickly. I read the entire book in my spare time, spanning only a few days. At only about 140 pages, compared to The Swift Programming Language book written by Apple (~600 pages), Swift for the Really Impatient is by far the easiest and quickest book to digest if you want to gain an understanding of Swift. If you’re familiar with Scala, you’ll breeze through this book.
One thing that kept throwing me off in the book was how it really feels targeted toward developers who were previously familiar with Objective-C. This isn’t a bad thing, considering you’ll need to at least understand Objective-C to really dig into OS X and iOS development using Swift. It’s also not a prerequisite for reading and understanding this book. The reason it threw me off is because the book doesn’t really ever explicitly define the target audience as having prior Objective-C knowledge, so sections explaining that “…the syntax of Swift should look familiar to Objective-C developers…” offer very little to developers without Objective-C backgrounds. It is fair to mention that the description on the Amazon product page for the book does clearly define the target audience as experienced Objective-C developers. If you pick this book up having had no prior experience on Apple’s platform, you’ll probably see some of the Objective-C code and think “what the…?!” Good news, though! You should be able to easily glance over the Objective-C parts and still fully understand the syntax of Swift.
The book definitely delivers the material you need to quickly understand the capabilities and syntax of Swift. The reason I’ve given it 4 stars instead of 5 is because it doesn’t explain how to execute Swift code. There’s no mention that XCode 6 is required to build and compile Swift. XCode is mentioned only on one page, less than 20 pages from the end of the book. The section mentioned XCode explains how to bridge Swift and Objective-C code which took me a couple of tries to figure out when I attempted this while following Apple’s official documentation. I’d imagine that a truly ‘Really Impatient’ developer would get frustrated with the short explanation of the process.
Swift for the Really Impatient should absolutely be the starting point for any developer hoping to code for Apple products. It is quick, concise, and (most importantly) accurate. I may even go so far as to suggest the book to any engineers who are interested in learning the syntax of different languages.
However, sometimes the book doesn't go exaclty in order. Some concepts are used in the code before they're explained, or briefly mentioned and then not fully explained until a few chapters later. For example, optionals are briefly touched on in Chapter 2, but not fully explained until Chapter 4. Generics are used fairly early on, but not fully explained until Chapter 5. There are other things that are not really explained at all. One of the early exercises is to declare variables in a way so as to use the type inference features of Swift. However, they don't really tell you how to use the IDE to check what types the compiler has inferred.
After reading through this book, I participated in a hackaton. During the hackaton, I was asked to help on a project using Swift. I was able to use this book as a reference. It was quite useful in that regard.
I've been plowing through quite a few Swift books, mostly been focused on a practical approach where you develop different applications throughout the book. This is the type of book I'm usually the most comfortable with. I feel that coding along with the author is a great way to apply your new knowledge instantly. This book is more theoretically driven, with a few exercises at the end of each chapter.
But where most books just seem to rephrase what's in the official Swift book from Apple, this one really explains in a new way why and how. It's very well written and it kept me interested through its 170 something pages.
I did learn a lot of new stuff, that I could apply to my previous knowledge, especially where said knowledge fell short. It claims to cater primarily for more experienced developers who come from an Objective-C background, but I'd say newer developers who haven't got said experience with the old language really can benefit from this book as well.
All in all I'd say this is the best Swift book I've read, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about this incredibly exciting language.
Top international reviews
It's hard to explain how much they cover and yet so concisely.
Great writing style, no fluff - it's perfect if you're in a hurry.