IBM Shuttering Swift Sandbox January 2018

Swift Dice Offices San Jose
Swift at the Dice Offices in San Jose

Swift Sandbox is shutting down in January 2018, as IBM ‘deprecates’ it to focus on server-side developer initiatives.

Also affected is IBM’s Swift Package Catalog. “While both bolstered server-side Swift adoption and experimentation, previewing Swift on the server in this fashion is no longer required,” says IBM. It’s now directing developers to give its other cloud-based app-building and deployment services a shot:

Given the pervasiveness of cloud computing, it is now easier than ever to experiment directly in these environments. IBM’s App Service console will create and deploy a server-side Swift application in less than five minutes. Kitura Init and IBM Cloud Developer Tools quickly create and run a Kitura application in a local sandbox. As well, any Kitura, Vapor, or Perfect app that runs Docker can be easily deployed to IBM Cloud.

Server-side functionality is monetizable for IBM via its Docker-like Container Service, and it’s getting harder to support it away from a proper IDE. The language is edging into an abyss of complexity compared to when it launched, and it hasn’t even established ABI stability yet.

If you’re set on learning Apple’s newest language in the cloud, IBM suggests We Heart Swift’s own sandbox or the popular Swift Modules. There’s also glot.io, repl.it and iswift.org. IBM points to the proliferation of open source repos on GitHub as a reason it no longer sees the value in supporting its own Sandbox.

Kitura isn’t the only solution for server-side Swift. There’s Perfect and the Perfect Assistant, which makes it easy to deploy containers on just about any cloud service. Assistant also weaves directly into Xcode, making server-side Swift that much easier to maintain. A study commissioned to gauge server-side functionality showed Perfect outperformed other options; Kitura, for what it’s worth, ranked second-to-last in that study, beating only Node.js for server-side speed and reliability.

Sadly, IBM’s Sandbox turndown comes as Swift is gaining in popularity, and earning its place amongst iOS developers (even longtime Objective-C holdouts are starting to see the light!). It routinely ranks well on various language popularity charts, and has a vibrant community with a ton of worldwide conferences dedicated to the language. Sadly for IBM, it seems that community has outgrown tinkering with Swift in the cloud.