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In around three months, we’re likely to be settling into our comfiest chairs to watch this year’s WWDC announcements. Thinking about that made me consider what I’d most like to see this year, and if I had to pick only one thing, it would be improvements to Xcode.

Do I wish for an iPad version? Nope. Am I hoping for a complete overhaul from the ground up? Definitely not. Instead, what I’m looking for is less flashy but far more impactful. I’d like to see Xcode truly catch up with Swift.

Xcode gets a lot of criticism, and I am not usually part of the group that generates it. I think it’s a great development environment that I thoroughly enjoy using. That said, I have felt more frustration with Xcode in the past year than ever before. I’d love to get accurate, fast code completion back like we had started to see for Objective-C code before Swift arrived. I’d also love to see speed and reliability improvements to features like Xcode Previews.

I want Xcode to feel like it’s one step ahead of me, rather than feeling like it’s trying to catch up with what I’m typing. If this year’s State of the Union delivers news along those lines, I’ll come away with a massive smile on my face.

Note: I want to finish by clarifying that I’m not trying to criticise the developer tools teams with what I’ve said here. Creating developer tooling for a language like Swift is a challenging task that is easy to underestimate from the outside. I believe this is much more a symptom of continuous, significant language changes that enable more concise code via features such as result builders and property wrappers. Those enhancements can benefit developers and enable technologies like SwiftUI, but some of the impact is lost if the tooling drifts.

Dave Verwer

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