Why Swift Creator Chris Lattner Stepped Down From Its Core Team This Week

The creator of Apple’s Swift programming language stayed involved in the Swift core team and Evolution community… until this week. Though he’d left Apple more than five years ago, “Swift is important to me, so I’ve been happy to spend a significant amount of time to help improve and steer it,” Lattner wrote in an explanatory comment on the Swift community forum. “This included the ~weekly core team meetings (initially in person, then over WebEx)…”

The tech news site DevClass notes Lattner is also “the mind behind compiler infrastructure project LLVM,” but reports that “Apparently, Lattner hasn’t been part of the [Swift] core team since autumn 2021, when he tried discussing what he perceived as a toxic meeting environment with project leadership after an especially noteworthy call made him take a break in summer.”

“[…] after avoiding dealing with it, they made excuses, and made it clear they weren’t planning to do anything about it. As such, I decided not to return,” Lattner wrote in his explanation post. Back then, he planned to keep participating via the Swift Evolution community “but after several discussions generating more heat than light, when my formal proposal review comments and concerns were ignored by the unilateral accepts, and the general challenges with transparency working with core team, I decided that my effort was triggering the same friction with the same people, and thus I was just wasting my time.”

Lattner had been the steering force behind Swift since the language’s inception in 2010. However, after leaving Apple in 2017 and handing over his project lead role, design premises like “single things that compose” seem to have fallen by the wayside, making the decision to move on completely easier for language-creator Lattner.

The article points out Lattner’s latest endeavour is AI infrastructure company Modular.AI.

And Lattner wrote in his comment that Swift’s leadership “reassures me they ‘want to make sure things are better for others in the future based on what we talked about’ though….”
Swift has a ton of well meaning and super talented people involved in and driving it. They are trying to be doing the best they can with a complicated situation and many pressures (including lofty goals, fixed schedules, deep bug queues to clear, internal folks that want to review/design things before the public has access to them, and pressures outside their team) that induce odd interactions with the community. By the time things get out to us, the plans are already very far along and sometimes the individuals are attached to the designs they’ve put a lot of energy into. This leads to a challenging dynamic for everyone involved.

I think that Swift is a phenomenal language and has a long and successful future ahead, but it certainly isn’t a community designed language, and this isn’t ambiguous. The new ideas on how to improve things sounds promising — I hope they address the fundamental incentive system challenges that the engineers/leaders face that cause the symptoms we see. I think that a healthy and inclusive community will continue to benefit the design and evolution of Swift.

DevClass also reported on the aftermath:
Probably as a consequence of the move, the Swift core team is currently looking to restructure project leadership. According to Swift project lead Ted Kremenek… “The intent is to free the core team to invest more in overall project stewardship and create a larger language workgroup that can incorporate more community members in language decisions.”

Kremenek also used the announcement to thank Lattner for his leadership throughout the formative years of the project, writing “it has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to work with Chris on Swift.”

In 2017 Chris Lattner answered questions from Slashdot’s readers.

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Facebook and YouTube Block RT, Other Russian Channels From Earning Ad Dollars

Reuters reports:

YouTube on Saturday barred Russian state-owned media outlet RT and other Russian channels from receiving money for advertisements that run with their videos, similar to a move by Facebook, after the invasion of Ukraine.

Citing “extraordinary circumstances,” YouTube said in a statement that it was “pausing a number of channels’ ability to monetize on YouTube, including several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions.” Ad placement is largely controlled by YouTube. Videos from the affected channels also will come up less often in recommendations, YouTube spokesperson Farshad Shadloo said.

He added that RT and several other channels would no longer be accessible in Ukraine due to “a government request….” YouTube previously has said that it does not treat state-funded media channels that comply with its rules any differently than other channels when it comes to sharing ad revenue.

Meta Platforms Inc, owner of Facebook, on Friday barred Russian state media from running ads or generating revenue from ads on its services anywhere in the world.

CNN’s Ukraine-Russia updates point out that YouTube’s actions follow a warning letter to YouTube’s parent company Alphabet on Friday by Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner. “Warner said his staff was able to find instances of RT’s monetization on YouTube, and that he had alerted the Departments of Justice and Treasury to a report about YouTube allowing sanctioned entities to monetize on YouTube as well. “

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Programming in Rust is Fun – But Challenging, Finds Annual Community Survey

Respondents to the annual survey of the Rust community reported an uptick in weekly usage and challenges, writes InfoWorld:

Among those surveyed who are using Rust, 81% were using the language on at least a weekly basis, compared to 72% in last year’s survey. Of all Rust users, 75% said they are able to write production-ready code but 27% said it was at times a struggle to write useful, production-ready code…. While the survey pointed toward a growing, healthy community of “Rustaceans,” it also found challenges. In particular, Rust users would like to see improvements in compile times, disk usage, debugging, and GUI development…

– For those who adopted Rust at work, 83% found it “challenging.” But it was unclear how much of this was a Rust-specific issue or general challenges posed by adopting a new language. During adoption, only 13% of respondents believed the language was slowing their team down while 82% believed Rust helped their teams achieve their goals.
– Of the respondents using Rust, 59% use it at least occasionally at work and 23% use it for the majority of their coding. Last year, only 42% used Rust at work.
From the survey’s results:
After adoption, the costs seem to be justified: only 1% of respondents did not find the challenge worth it while 79% said it definitely was. When asked if their teams were likely to use Rust again in the future, 90% agreed. Finally, of respondents using Rust at work, 89% of respondents said their teams found it fun and enjoyable to program.
As for why respondents are using Rust at work, the top answer was that it allowed users “to build relatively correct and bug free software” with 96% of respondents agreeing with that statement. After correctness, performance (92%) was the next most popular choice. 89% of respondents agreed that they picked Rust at work because of Rust’s much-discussed security properties.
Overall, Rust seems to be a language ready for the challenges of production, with only 3% of respondents saying that Rust was a “risky” choice for production use.

Thanks to Slashdot reader joshuark for submitting the story…

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