Swift vs Python: Which of Them is More Promising in 2019?
The popularity of programming languages changes every year. Some of them become out of fashion, whereas others rapidly gain popularity. In recent years, there are two major languages which popularity grows by leaps and bounds. The names of these languages are Swift and Python.
The recent PYPL statistics put Python in the first place of the most popular languages. And what we can say about Swift? This newbie language from Apple tends to be the next fastest-growing language after Python. Swift was released in 2014 and managed to get to the 10th place in RedMonk's 2018 programming language ranking within less than 5 years. Pretty good for a newbie, huh?
In this article, we will sort out the reasons why the popularity of this languages increases so fast. Also, we seek to help you find the answer to the common question: 'if they are both so popular, should I learn Swift or Python in 2019?'
Python is 1st in Top 10 most popular programming languages
Pros and cons of Python
Python is a dynamic high-level programming language first released in 1991. First, it was used to write automation scripts and prototype apps, but with the time it became useful for more purposes, including machine learning, data science, and back-end development.
Python popularity and use cases
Before moving to Python pros and cons, let's take a look at statistics. Not only PYPL noted an extraordinary growth of Python popularity. In 2017 Stack Overflow claimed that Python was the fastest-growing programming language on the basis of data from Stack Overflow Trends.
An incredible popularity growth greatly affects the number of companies that use this programming language. The list of tech giants using Python includes Quora, Netflix, Dropbox, Reddit, Facebook, Spotify, Instagram, and many others.
Find out the top reasons why Instagram, Facebook, and Amazon choose Python. Here are the top 5 companies using this programming language.
The Python language popularity can be explained by the great number of its use cases. Python Developers Survey in 2017 found the most popular areas where it is used. Data analysis goes first, then follow web development, machine learning, and DevOps. The language is less used for educational purposes, Quality Assurance services, and prototyping.
TOP Python use cases
Major Python's advantages
Now let's discover the reasons why more developers move to Python. We have already mentioned that Python has a wide range of use cases. It's time to become familiar with other strong sides of this language.
Code simplicity and readability is the main benefits of learning Python. It is definitely not a verbose language but looks very much like English. Thereby, it is easy to read and use. What's more, this language is a good solution for beginners in programming. Style guide PEP8 tells developers how to format code, so it can be easily understood by another Python developer regardless of their skill level.
It is both object-oriented and procedural language. The support of procedural paradigm allows reuse code, while object-oriented methodology enables multiple inheritances and encapsulating data and functions into one.
Python is open source, so you can download and change its source code. This fact helped to build a strong community which continues improving it.
It is extensible and embeddable language, so can be easily integrated to C, C++ and Java applications.
Want to know the main differences between Python and other languages? Read our comprehensive comparison
It is compatible with various platforms, so you have no need to change the code in case you want your project to be supported in another platform.
Since it is old enough, Python has a strong community that has created tens and hundreds of libraries and frameworks for different purposes: from web development to machine learning. The standard library already provides programmers with a wide spectrum of opportunities. Beside it, there are such libraries like NumPy, Pandas, Plotly, Pipenv, and others. Among the most famous frameworks, there are Django, Flask, CherryPy, and PyTorch.
Here are the main advantages of Python
Drawbacks of Python
To make a wise decision, you should know both the pros and cons of Python programming language. Even despite the long history of this language, it still has several weak sides.
If you want to become a mobile developer, choosing Python is not a good solution. But if you are ready for dealing with some challenges, you can try Kivy - a cross-platform Python framework for developing mobile apps.
Python has certain design restrictions. Since it is dynamically typed language which uses duck typing, Python automatically detects a type of variable. Sometimes it makes mistakes. Yes, you have no need to identify the type of a variable when declaring it, but it can cause runtime errors.
Since this language is characterized by high memory consumption, it is not a good choice for intensive memory tasks.
See also the comparison of the most popular mobile platforms
Swift pros and cons
Swift is a relatively new programming language. It was introduced at the WWDC conference in 2014. Modern, fast and interactive - those are the main features of this language, as Apple stated. Swift's creator Chris Lattner claimed that his brainchild was influenced by several languages like Ruby, C# and particularly by Python. That's why we can easily find a couple of similarities between Swift and Python.
Use cases and popularity
In July 2018 Swift raised to the 11th position in Tiobe Index top 50 programming languages. In the previously mentioned PYPL rating, Swift is in the 9th place. As far as Swift was developed by such tech giant as Apple, it is primarily used to create applications for iOS, software for MacOS, watchOS and even tvOS. Among iOS applications written in Swift, there are Hubspot app, Lyft, Pandora, OpenTable, Airbnb, LinkedIn, Yahoo Weather and Khan Academy.
Applications written in Swift
Swift continues to get better. At WWDC 2017 Apple's team introduced Swift 4. This year the company introduced Swift 4.2 which include several improvements. Along with this, Apple also announced Swift 5 to be available in early 2019. It may mean that soon the popularity of this programming language will only grow.
Major Swift's advantages
Apple does its best to create an easy and powerful programming language for developers. There is a large list of benefits of Swift.
Apple loves minimalism. That's why Swift has a simple syntax, so it is easy to read an write on this programming language. Swift can be simply understood by developers who use other languages. This fact is crucial while developing an application for several platforms.
Another Swift's strong side is safety. It is a statically typed language, so it enables programmers to quickly find bugs before compilation and rapidly fix them. What's more, with the help of nil pointer safety improvements developers can get rid of errors in compiling caused by null references.
We have compared Swift and Objective-C. Find out which one is more suitable for iOS development
ARC, which stands for Automatic Reference Counting, tracks and manages application's memory usage by its own. Developers have no need to waste time on doing it manually. As a result, they shorten the time on building applications.
Swift became open source at the end of 2015. This event had a major impact on Swift popularity. In 2015 Swift became Github's most loved language, in 2016 it came in the 2nd place.
By making the language open source, Apple made a step towards making its brainchild cross-platform. Now, it is also available on Linux. Apple also claims that it is intended to make it available on Windows. The tech giant IBM also made a major contribution to developing this language. The company introduced Swift Sandbox and brought it to the cloud. This way, server-side Swift can integrate with a large number of backend tools.
Integration with Objective-C Runtime Library (RTL) makes it possible to write programs using Swift, C, Objective-C, and C++ at the same time.
The list of Swift main advantages
Lack of maturity greatly affects Swift and it still has several unsolved issues. Apple works hard to get rid of them and make Swift multi-purpose language, but to date, we have determined the following problems:
As far as Swift is on an initial stage, there's a lack of talented Swift developers. But this drawback can easily become an advantage for those who want to be a Swift developer: the demand for Swift coders is increasing and the concurrence is still not so big.
Still, there is a lack of native Swift tools that will work seamlessly in different versions. Most libraries and frameworks are made for earlier versions but are useless for the newer ones.
A lot of developers point to the same problem. Because of changes introduced in newer versions, Swift tends to be unstable. It means that in case a developer wants to switch their project to the newest version of this language, they should rewrite the code. This problem was partly solved by introducing Swift Migration Tool for XCode which makes migration from the third to the fourth version easy.
Python vs Swift 2019: Which is better for you?
Now you've got acquainted with the strong and weak sides of each language. It is high time to move forward to the most crucial part of the article: choosing which language is better for you.
What do Python and Swift have in common
While it seems that Swift and Python are fundamentally different languages, they have several common sides. The first and the most obvious thing is a simplicity. They both have a clear syntax and resemble the English language. Almost every programmer knows how it feels when an IDE shows the error 'missed semicolons' after the long compilation. You have no problems with semicolons on Swift and Python.
Both languages have a RELP environment, which facilitates finding errors in code and debugging. They are both multi-paradigm. Moreover, they have additional tools to make learning easy and pleasant. Python IDLE for Python and The Playground for Swift are the perfect solutions for those who want to learn Swift or Python. There is a comprehensible guide to Swift created by Apple and available for free on the iBooks store.
Swift vs. Python: who will win?
We get clear that these languages are used for different purposes. Being backed by Apple, Swift is perfect for developing software for Apple ecosystem. Python has a big scope of use cases but is primarily used for back-end development.
Another difference is Swift vs Python performance. As the name implies, Swift tends to be swift. Apple claims that Swift is 8.4x faster comparing with Python.
When a developer chooses the language to start with, they also take into consideration the situation on the job market and salaries. To date, there are more than 6,000 Swift developer and 58,000 Python developer vacancies on Indeed. Python developer average salary is $114,492 per year, while Swift developer gets $111,158 per year.
So now you can see that in fact choosing Python or Swift for coding mostly depends on your purpose. If you are fond of developing mobile applications that will work seamlessly on Apple operating systems, you should definitely choose Swift. Python is good in case you want to develop your own artificial intelligence, build the backend or create a prototype.