Utilizing Swift on the server-side frontier has just happened 2 years back. While Swift rose to be a potential player in the mobile application development, the Server-Side Swift is also setting up high hopes among developers to build a product that is completely driven by Swift on both frontend and backend.
The idea seemed to be quite appealing to the development community and it received a lot of support from organizations like IBM, Qutheory, PerfectlySoft and many more.
Swift is fast and that is why it takes the lion’s share popularity in the development landscape. As it treads the new Server-Side features, let us explore what frameworks offer the best support to it.
Vapor, developed by the team of Qutheory is the only framework that supports Swift purely. Introduced in early 2016, Vapor has a very active community. The primary reason behind Vapor’s popularity is that it offers developers an environment in which the Cocoa developers were familiar. It offers the developers an independent environment which is quite readable because of its easy syntax. The API’s developed are simple as they are exclusively developed in Swift and are more readable. Some of its features make it better than its contenders like it supports Apple’s Push Notification Service and facilitates SMTP for sending emails. When we talk about Vapor’s database support, a developer who is thorough with Swift can make it work with any database. It offers a native set of connectors to MySQL, PostgreSQL, Sqlite, Redis, and MongoDB.
Vapor flaunts its own set of features that are exclusive:
Vapor sports the largest community today as its syntax is perfect for the beginners to start with. The active community makes the adoption of Vapor framework even easier as a lot of educational material is available. Its exclusivity is driven by the fact that it uses no other library apart from Swift. Right now the Github followers of Vapor framework are 13k plus making it a very popular framework for server-side work.
A feature-packed framework for a Server-side script that is fast and big. A lot of its credit goes to the fact that it is developed by the previous team of Lasso language from the Apple itself. The team comes with years of experience in Server-side technology. It offers 5 different GitHub libraries to its open-source community followers. The repositories are
Perfect stands true to its name and offers its users a plethora of features that range from routing, SSL, templating engines like Mustache, Markdown, JSON but it has no native templating engine like Vapor. For emailing support it offers SMTP as well as MqTT and enables the Apple Push Notifications too.
It is invariably closer to Vapor but does not have a native route type validation and command line extension support. The community support of Perfect is gaining up quickly as it is feature packed. The database support is extensive and goes a little far than Vapor. The framework supports MySQL, SQLite, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, MongoDB, Redis, CouchDB, and FileMaker. For the security and authentication feature implementation, the framework depends upon Turnstile. The framework is perfect to instantly set up logins to Facebook, Google, LinkedIN, Slack and GitHub.
Exclusivity of Perfect lie in the fact the native cURL wrapper and allows the developers use various file formats, directories types and Zip file holding. The already written applications are add-on advantages of where the developers need ready to deploy codes. It offers support to Swift codes also and offers a drag and drop style to facilitate fast deployment.
Its dedicated IDE, SCADE allows developers to create hybrid code that can be used on both iOS and Android platforms. The SCADE makes it possible as it compiles the same code in executable format for both iOS and Android separately. With a buzzing active community, Perfect offers lots of educational and learning material to its new members and if you are Chinese you would love Perfect as the entire set of documentation is available in Chinese too.
While Perfect may not be a Swift only framework, it is a vivid framework that lets you explore the server-side of Swift with third-party integrations too. It offers support to such an extensive set of third-party tools like BSON, cURL, ODBC, Kerberos, and Hadoop that it is a perfect framework to do advanced developments. Whether you want to handle complex or simple projects, Perfect is all you could ask for.
Kitura comes from IBM and Apple coming together to develop a framework that is feature packed without compromising the speed of development. It is an ideal mix of standard and advanced features to facilitate server-side development. Kitura is the only framework that is ready to support IoT messaging as it supports the third party plugin of Aphid MqTT. Just like Perfect it allows authentication via third-party plugins of Google, Facebook, and Github. Kitura offers database support by its native SQL database abstraction called Kuery and also supports MySQL, SQLite, PostgreSQL, Redis, CouchDB, ScyllaDB and Apache Cassandra. As it is an IBM product it provides a native connector to bring in Watson for features like Weather Analytics.
With no native templating engine, it supports Mustache, Markdown, and Stencil too. It is not as extensive as Perfect or Vapor but offers a sound community support for beginners to learn server-side development using Swift and other third-party tools. Kitura is going to amass a lot of projects that need exclusive feature support for Stencil templating engine, Databases like Apache Cassandra and ScyllaDB. It lags behind Perfect and Vapor in community strength but it can turn out to be pretty useful for certain specific applications.
All the three top Swift server-side frameworks differ from each other significantly on the basis of installation, authentication support, data formats they can handle, templating engines, database support, syntax, cloud support of Heroku and AWS while only Kitura supports Bluemix. Perfect seems to be a clear winner in case the developer is comfortable to make use of non-Swift elements.
Each framework offers some exclusive functionality that makes it garner a lot of attention and support from active community members. It is definitely going to be a personal choice based on whether you require a native cURL wrapper, Bluemix, multiple file, directory, and .zip handling, Watson API support, native templating engines like Leaf and Toolbox for Command Line extension.
The server-side development of Swift is still in infancy but seems to be a very alluring idea for developers. With the active communities and lot of informational and educational material available around the three frameworks of Perfect, Vapor and Kitura, we will soon witness a wave of developers shifting to a completely Swift based project that has both frontend and backend developed on the same.