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Swift lessons

Published March 17, 2019

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Learning Swift programming isn’t easy, but I must admit the language has stuck with me far more than any other attempts I’ve made to learn programming languages in the past. I credit much of that to the 100 Days Of Swift schedule that I mentioned last time – a brilliantly structured path that gives you code snippets to learn, example apps, and challenges to keep practicing.

With that in mind, here are five things I’ve uncovered so far in my journey.

  1. Practice with challenges. Learning the various Swift fundamentals is good and working through tutorials is a vital part of moving forward. But I’ve found the key to really reinforcing the lessons is the call to add functionality to your practice apps without guidance. In the 100 Days of Swift, every app we’ve made comes with three additional challenges, and then every few days there’s a bigger task of creating an app from scratch. Using your head, thinking about how best to achieve something, that’s some of the most important work in coding.
  2. It’s also worth mentioning that you don’t have to learn everything off by heart. You just need to understand what you’re doing and build up a library of code that you can refer back to. As with most learning these days, it’s not about being word perfect, it’s about knowing what to search for and where to look. Copy and paste that code all you like, as long as you know what it’s doing and how to tweak it for your current project.
  3. Don’t be scared of the documentation. If I’m honest, I still actually am quite scared of the documentation, but the few times I’ve dived in there and had a look, I can see it is really well done, very useful, lots of details. I’m probably not at the level where this is a regular feature of my studies, but I’m still impressed with what I’ve seen.
  4. Try not to get carried away. At the moment I’m limited to Swift practice at the weekends, which means when I do sit down to open up Xcode, I want to do ALL THE THINGS. And then suddenly it’s late and you’ve had some wine and your brain is fried. It’s easy to get carried away, and I can’t pretend that I’ve got this under control yet, but it’s quite important not to get burnt out.
  5. Try not to get carried away, part 2. Once you reach a point where you’ve made a couple of apps that work, and when you go to set up a new project, you know the early stages off by heart, you start to think you can take on the world. You can, of course, but not all in one go. My app ideas aren’t going to revolutionise the world but already I want to make this to do this, and that to do that and another one to do something else. It’s quite hard to remember that I’m still very new at this, I’ve only really got the basics down, and that building apps takes time, effort and work. Becoming the next app millionaire isn’t something that happens overnight!

Here’s a video from another fabulous iOS engineer and Swift advocate, Sean Allen, who covers 9 things he recommends for newbies – some of which I’ve mentioned above but others I hadn’t even thought of.

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