The Labor Department has taken the title of Apple’s new programming language to heart.
A Labor Department IT specialist posted a software development kit (SDK) written entirely in Apple’s Swift language to GitHub a few weeks ago. Swift has only been open to developers for about a month since Apple announced the new language at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
The tech giant touts the new language as being easier for developers to write, and it can co-exist with Objective-C, a popular language among app developers.
The Labor Department SDK allows developers to access application programming interfaces from across 15 different agencies and platforms, including full datasets from the Census Bureau, the Education Department, Healthcare.gov and NASA.
Mike Pulsifer, the Labor Department specialist who wrote the SDK, wanted to the get the kit on the Internet for other developers to use as soon as possible.
“I was motivated to create the Swift SDK now, even though it’s built on pre-release software, because I want to help developers inside or outside government have the best tools to help them get data and useful products built around that data into the hands of the public,” Pulsifer wrote in a email to FedScoop.
Even though Swift is in open beta, any apps developed in the language will not be released until Apple rolls out OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 in the fall.
Pulsifer said he expects both seasoned developers and those with very little coding experience to take advantage of the SDK, with novices being able to open up entirely new sets of data they haven’t used until this point.
“I believe all of our SDKs have the greatest impact on [novices] as it removes the government as an obstacle between the data and the next great app or service that benefits the public,” he said. “The most valuable uses of government data are those that reach across government silos.”
While the government is often viewed as lagging behind private industry when it comes to new technologies, Pulsifer said this is an example of how the government is making inroads to innovation.
“The reputation of the government being slow to adopt new tech is well-earned,” Pulsifer said. “However, there are pockets within government that aren’t recognized often enough that are adopting new tech early on in the hopes of providing greater value to the taxpayer and to ensure we can provide the public with the best services we can in a cost-effective way.”
Those who want to use the SDK or are unfamiliar with Swift can download Apple’s ebook or watch tutorials on YouTube.