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I still (just about! 👴) remember the first time I came across asynchronous programming. I assumed, incorrectly, that when I called into the concurrent code, execution would continue in my calling function after it had completed. Of course, I was as wrong then as I often am now!

I feel like programming languages are finally catching up with my naive expectations as async/await syntax becomes more standard across a wide range of languages. The great news is, that group of languages will soon include Swift.

I started thinking about this topic after reading Alejandro Martinez’s post on Swift concurrency and watching the three videos that accompany it. He covers three distinct parts of the Swift concurrency story in detail, and I learned a lot from watching them. I’m sure you will too.

Over the years, I feel like I’ve seen programming languages fight a constant battle against complexity as the hardware, operating systems, and user expectations push languages and frameworks to evolve. As the battle progresses, complexity goes through advances and retreats and for every step forward that languages make, there’s complexity lying in wait trying to gain new footholds.

For example, manual memory management was a huge advance for the complexity army until the combined forces of reference counting, garbage collection, and eventually, automatic reference counting pushed it to retreat. It advanced again as asynchronous programming became something we all had to deal with until languages struck back with threads, queues, promises, and eventually async and await. There are more examples, of course, but those are two big ones. It happens over and over again.

I feel like complexity has been increasing quite consistently in Swift over the last few years, so I’m pleased to see the language make a decisive strike against it with some of the language changes carried by the Swift 5.5 cavalry! 🦄

Dave Verwer

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This issue’s insider call is on Monday, and we’ll be talking about complexity in software development, as well as covering some of the other links in this issue. Join us?

And finally...

A bug in a web app that only manifested on Windows PCs and started in 1977? That sounds like a story you should read, doesn't it. 🤯