Getting began with SwiftIO – The.Swift.Dev.

SwiftIO is an digital circuit board that runs Swift on the naked metallic. It may management sensors, shows, lights, motors and extra.


The SwiftIO board

MadMachine‘s SwiftIO board is an Arduino-like system, however it may possibly run Swift code natively on the {hardware}. Swift is a superb programming language for training functions, it’s a fashionable language with a JavaScript-like syntax that’s straightforward to be taught and perceive. Swift is secure and environment friendly, this mixture makes it an ideal candidate for embedded techniques. The SwiftIO board allows us common Swift / iOS builders to construct IoT initiatives utilizing our favourite programming language.

The board itself has a small footprint, it is nearly 1,57″ x 2,36″ (4cm x 6cm) huge.

It is fairly a robust microcontroller. It’s positively probably the most inexpensive Swift language studying machine. It may be best for STEM training functions for college students who wish to see the right way to construct digital circuits and get some fundamental Swift programming expertise on the identical time.

The Maker Equipment field comprises each a 7 section and an LCD show, a servo and a DC motor with drivers, a humiture (tempearture & humidity) sensor, a buzzer module a potentiometer and a lightweight sensor and lots of extra different issues (breadboard, resistors, LEDs, buttons and cables, and so on.) that you should use to construct the starter initiatives. You’ll have just about every part within the field that you simply want as a newcomer to get began and have some enjoyable time utilizing SwiftIO. ๐Ÿ“ฆ

Sadly you will not discover a working GPS, Wifi or bluetooth module for the SwiftIO board but, however hopefully these type of equipment are just some months away. There’s a new protect and a model new display module within the works. Oh by the way in which a sheild is someting that you may plug into your board and join exterior equipment utilizing “particular” colourful cables. ๐ŸŒˆ

Shields are boards that may be plugged on high of the Arduino PCB extending its capabilities. The completely different shields comply with the identical philosophy as the unique toolkit: they’re straightforward to mount, and low-cost to provide. – ArduinoShields

The board initially went on sale in July, 2020 and many individuals introduced it from all all over the world. New plug-ins, extensions and modules are nonetheless being developed by the makers, however it is very important emphasize that the SwiftIO board {hardware} is in a steady state. ๐Ÿ’ช

Technical specs:

  • i.MX RT1052 Crossover Processor with Armยฎ Cortexยฎ-M7 core @600MHz
  • Micro SD card slot, supporting commonplace and excessive capability SD playing cards
  • Micro USB connector for energy
  • On-board USB to UART for serial communication
  • 46 GPIO on left and proper edges
  • On-board GRB LED
  • 12x 12-bit analog to digital (ADC) converters
  • 4 UART, 2 CAN, 2 IIC, and a couple of SPI
  • 14 PWM pins
  • Many extra superior options to fulfill the wants of superior customers

Ports, communication, structure

You possibly can join the SwiftIO board to your laptop by way of a USB connector, the 2 gadgets can talk via a serial port. The USB cable will present the mandatory energy help, however alternatively you should use an adapter or an exterior battery via a protect.

You possibly can wire up extra elements utilizing the Normal Objective Enter/Output pins (GPIO). You possibly can see the precise specification on the image above, however actually I barely perceive this diagram.

Confession time: I do not know shit about electronics (but). ๐Ÿ’ฉ

The board can be utilized with a protect and luckily the MakersKit arrives with a useful instruction handbook for absolute learners. I felt fortunate, as a result of I used to be capable of method this little gadget with my programmer mindset and I may focus extra on Swift as a substitute of constructing working circuits.

So what’s truly underneath the hood? How can I construct & run purposes for SwiftIO?

The grey space is the {hardware} itself, on high of that within the pink-ish/purple bins there may be this Zephyr layer which I’ve by no means heard earlier than. I am simply scratching the floor right here, however that is high-quality, since as a Swift developer we solely care concerning the orange stuff. Lengthy story quick, there’s a customized constructed Swift toolchain for this machine that enables us to construct and run Swift purposes on the board. ๐Ÿ˜…

If there’s a toolchain, then we are able to run Swift binaries, however how will we talk with the ports and stuff like that? Luckily the SwiftIO framework is right here for us. It offers an easy accessibility to speak with exterior {hardware} equipment. You possibly can learn or write digital and analog alerts utilizing the communication protocol. Are you prepared for some Swift code?

The SwiftIO atmosphere

Though the {hardware} is steady, the software program shouldn’t be completed but. There are two choices obtainable, however if you’re on a Home windows machine, it’s best to seize the official MadMachine IDE and use that. The reason being that the Swift Package deal Supervisor shouldn’t be prepared for that platform but, so you will not have the ability to work with the instruments that I will present you subsequent. Sorry Home windows, no offense. ๐Ÿ˜…

So choice A, is to go along with the IDE, it is very easy to make use of and offers a fantastic DX. Choice B, be taught a bit extra concerning the underlying toolkit and comply with my information, it is a bit extra difficult, however you will know extra concerning the technical infrastructure for those who select this path. ๐Ÿค”

Putting in the MadMachine SDK & CLI

As a macOS or Linux consumer it’s best to know that you may set up the unofficial MadMachine SDK alongside a command line device known as mm. As you possibly can see this MadMachine SDK is written in Swift, however it’s best to know that I ported a python script from the unique mm-sdk mission with the assistance of Marcus Kida. First, he made an Xcode template by invoking the unique script contained in the official MadMachine IDE, then I believed, it could be cool to eliminate the IDE for good, and now, right here we go, now we have a standalone Swift model of the mandatory construct instruments. You possibly can set up it like this:

git clone
cd MadMachine
make set up

Now you have to be prepared to make use of the mm cli app, you possibly can examine the obtainable instructions contained in the README file on GitHub. I’ve not examined this on Linux but, so for those who discover any points, please do not hesitate to report or submit a PR. That is an experimental mission, so maintain this in thoughts. ๐Ÿ˜…

The MadMachine toolchain

To be able to use the MadMachine SDK you’ll need a working toolchain put in in your laptop. You possibly can seize the most recent one by operating the next command:

mm toolchain --upgrade

It will seize the most recent launch from the unofficial MadMachine toolchain repository, and place it underneath your own home folder contained in the .MadMachine listing. There may be one extra factor that now it’s important to do earlier than you possibly can begin constructing SwiftIO apps. At the moment there may be one further python script that was not ported but, as a result of it is going to be utterly eradicated sooner or later. For now you continue to must obtain the official MadMachine SDK from the GitHub releases web page and place your complete contents of the mm-sdk/tools_[platform]/scripts/dist/gen_isr_tables folder into the ~/.MadMachine/legacy listing. You may need to create a legacy folder. ๐Ÿ™ˆ

The SwiftIO framework

The SwiftIO framework goes to be linked with the appliance binary, now we have to put in it (with the assistance of the mm-cli device) as a system library first. There’s an unofficial repo with a makefile for this:

git clone
cd SwiftIO
make set up

You will discover the library reference for the SwiftIO framework, however we’ll see you can also make it work, in just some moments. Earlier than we go additional it’s best to be aware that the customized MadMachine toolchain is a modified model of the Swift 5.1 toolchain. This implies that you may’t use Swift 5.3 on the board but, however hopefully the creators of SwiftIO will launch new software program elements actual quickly. ๐Ÿคž

Utilizing Xcode

The SwiftIO framework might be compiled in your native machine with the native Swift toolchain (utilizing Xcode), so it’s attainable to construct purposes with out focusing on the board, and in a while you possibly can re-compile the supply recordsdata with the mm-cli command, signal the ultimate binary and deploy it to the SwiftIO board after you have pressed the obtain button. That is the present workflow in a nutshell.

There may be an current Xcode template created by @kidmar that you should use as a place to begin.

Utilizing SPM

These days I desire to create a Swift package deal for nearly every part. You should utilize SPM with a Makefile and your favourite editor to create SwiftIO apps. You simply must initialize a brand new executable package deal with the mandatory dependencies, for instance:

import PackageDescription

let package deal = Package deal(
    title: "myProject",
    merchandise: [
        .executable(name: "myProject", targets: ["myProject"]),
    dependencies: [
        .package(url: "", .branch("main")),
        .package(url: "", .branch("main")),
        .package(url: "", .branch("main")),
    targets: [
        .target(name: "myProject", dependencies: [
            .product(name: "SwiftIO", package: "SwiftIO"),
            .product(name: "SHT3x", package: "SHT3x"),
            .product(name: "LCD1602", package: "LCD1602"),

Contained in the essential.swift file now you possibly can write a easy Humiture sensor app that shows the present humidity & temperature on a 16×2 LCD show like this:

import SwiftIO
import SHT3x
import LCD1602

extension Float {
    func format(_ f: Int) -> Float {
        guard f > 0 else {return self}
        var mul = 10
        for _ in 1..<f {
            mul *= 10
        let knowledge = Int(self * Float(mul))
        return Float(knowledge) / Float(mul)

let i2c = I2C(Id.I2C0)
let liquid crystal display = LCD1602(i2c)
let sht = SHT3x(i2c)

whereas true{
    let temp = sht.readTemperature()
    liquid crystal display.write(x: 0, y: 0, "Temperature:")
    liquid crystal display.write(x: 0, y: 1, String(temp.format(1)))
    liquid crystal display.write(x: 4, y: 1, " ")
    liquid crystal display.write(x: 5, y: 1, "C")
    sleep(ms: 1000)

Now for those who open the Package deal.swift file utilizing Xcode you possibly can even construct the mission regionally utilizing the CMD+B shortcut, however do not attempt to run it, since your Mac shouldn’t be a SwiftIO board… ๐Ÿ˜…

If you wish to construct and run this mission it’s important to goal the SwiftIO board. The mm-cli cannot resolve package deal dependencies (but) so it’s important to set up the mandatory dependencies (SHT3x, LCD1602) the identical means as we did with the SwiftIO library. You need to clone each repositories and use the makefile to put in them as native MadMachine system libraries. It will transfer the required recordsdata underneath the ~/.MadMachine/libraries folder, all of the obtainable libraries “reside” there. ๐Ÿ”จ

After you have put in the libraries, you should use the next Makefile for the precise binary builds:

    mm construct --name myProject --binary-type executable --input . --output ./myProject

run: construct
    mm board --run ./myProject/swiftio.bin

    rm -r ./myProject

The mm construct command invokes the swiftc compiler from the SwiftIO toolchain with the proper search paths and library search paths. The mm board --run [binary] command will merely copy the mandatory recordsdata to the MadMachine board whether it is in obtain mode. You need to press the obtain button on the board earlier than you run this command. Urgent the obtain button will mount the SD card so we are able to deploy the signed binary to the machine, then eject the storage, which can restart the board and the brand new utility shall be loaded & executed straight away. ๐Ÿš€

The MadMachine IDE

For those who do not wish to play with command line utilities, you possibly can all the time use the MadMachine IDE to construct and ship your initiatives. It makes use of a mmp file to explain dependencies, so it may possibly resolve them on the fly, however I do not like the truth that I’ve to make use of a brand new package deal supervisor and editor to work with Swift. I am in a love and hate relationship with Xcode (plus I am an old-school Elegant Textual content fan). โค๏ธ

Anyway, you could find actually nice examples with a devoted GitHub repository and lots of video tutorials on the official YouTube channel. You possibly can entry all of the MakerKit pattern codes, they’re each on GitHub and you may clone a template with a click on utilizing the MadMachine IDE.


For me, the SwiftIO board was a pleasing shock. I all the time needed to play with embedded techniques, know a little bit extra about hardwares and low stage stuff, however the Raspberry PI and the Arduino felt like alien planet. As soon as I’ve tried to construct an app for a Raspberry PI at a hackaton, however it was a whole catastrophe, I used to be dissatisfied, as a result of the instruments and the developer expertise was actually unhealthy.

The promise of MadMachine is that you may simply use Swift on such a tool and I imagine that Andy Liu created one thing that may have a shiny future on the long run. I felt in love with SwiftIO proper after I’ve assembled my first circuit and deployed my very first Swift supply. It was a seamless (ache free) expertise and I imagine that is a very vital issue for builders who by no means used such gadgets earlier than. This may be the start and the way forward for Swift on embedded techniques. ๐Ÿ˜

You possibly can construct some actually enjoyable stuff with SwiftIO, it is an ideal device for studying how electrical circuits work. I can not wait to see increasingly more sensors and libraries obtainable for MadMachine. You probably have an thought or a query be at liberty to hitch the official discord server.

You may as well preorder the following spherical of SwiftIO boards from the MadMachine Retailer. Andy simply advised me that for those who order now, they will ship your package deal in 1-3 days as soon as they get a brand new order. This would possibly change quick, however you possibly can all the time examine the order particulars on the MadMachine web site. ๐Ÿค–

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