What is SwiftUI? Benefits and Drawbacks
SwiftUI is a user interface toolkit that lets us design Mobile applications in a declarative way. That’s a modern way of saying that we tell SwiftUI how we want our User Interface to work and look, and it figures out how to make that happen as the user interacts with it.
Before SwiftUI, you’d build User Interface for iOS apps with Interface Builder and Storyboards in Xcode. They essentially drag a bunch of User Interface elements to the screen and connect them with source code. Standardised User Interface elements, such as map views, navigation, table views, and buttons could be customised to fit a developer’s preferences.
In SwiftUI, a view is a function of its state, it is not just a sequence of events. App platforms like React Native and Flutter already use declarative User Interface. Web developers have been using declarative Source code for ages, with CSS and HTML. SwiftUI is created for cross-platform use to develop applications with less code than UIKit but with the same complexity.
Benefits of SwiftUI
- SwiftUI has fewer codes for larger purposes and Easy to use. With its declarative property changes will reflect immediately you don’t have to compile code every time
- It is easy to learn. Also, the code is very simple and clean
- It can be integrated with UIKit using UIHostingController
- SwiftUI focuses entirely on the workflow of developers. Till now, User Interfaces for applications were built with Interface Builder. An Interface Builder uses a file format of XML based. Two developers working on the same User Interface is likely to lead to so-called merge conflicts, because of the structure of this Interface Builder XML file. But SwiftUI is entirely composed of Swift source code, merge conflicts are less likely to occur, and easier to resolve. This leads to better developer productivity.
- If we look at the adoption and evolution of the Swift programming language, we see that the Swift language has matured in the last 5 years. In fact, Swift was introduced in 2014, so the Swift isn’t that old, relatively. It’s likely that we will see the same adoption with SwiftUI
- SwiftUI gives mechanisms for reactive programming enthusiasts with ObjectBinding, BindableObject, and the whole Combine framework
- It offers a live preview. This is a very helpful and progressive way to see the output of code execution in real-time without having to build
- The interface builder of SwiftUI is replaced by Canvas, an interactive interface editor. It is helpful to the developer because, at the time of writing the code, the visual part is automatically generated in Canvas and when you create visual elements, they will automatically appear in the code
- In SwiftUI you did not face AutoLayout related problems. You can use things like VStack, HStack, ZStack, Lists, Groups, and more. Instead of AutoLayout SwiftUI always produces a valid layout.
Drawbacks of SwiftUI
- SwiftUI can only be used from the latest version of iOS 13 and up. SwiftUI alleviates this issue by integrating seamlessly with applications that are built and run with Interface Builder (such as UIKit, Storyboards, etc.). You can use SwiftUI views in Storyboard based User Interface, and vice versa. This is a very helpful tool in slowly transitioning an application to SwiftUI
- The Swift was introduced in 2014, so there is not much data on Stack Overflow. It means that you can not get much help to solve complicated errors
- It does not allow you to analyze the view hierarchy in Xcode previews
If you are starting with iOS development today, you should only learn to work with SwiftUI? Probably not. Storyboard based User Interface will remain relevant in the near future, and just as Objective-C is still relevant for many applications, Interface Builder and UIKit will remain relevant next to SwiftUI.
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