Getting began with SwiftIO – The.Swift.Dev.


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


The SwiftIO board

MadMachine‘s SwiftIO board is an Arduino-like system, however it might probably run Swift code natively on the {hardware}. Swift is a good programming language for schooling functions, it’s a fashionable language with a JavaScript-like syntax that’s straightforward to study and perceive. Swift is protected and environment friendly, this mix makes it an ideal candidate for embedded programs. The SwiftIO board permits 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 strong microcontroller. It’s positively probably the most reasonably priced Swift language studying machine. It may be splendid for STEM schooling functions for college kids who wish to see the right way to construct digital circuits and get some fundamental Swift programming abilities on the identical time.

The Maker Equipment field accommodates 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 plenty 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 all the pieces 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 screen module within the works. Oh by the best way 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 totally 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 around the globe. 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 secure state. ๐Ÿ’ช

Technical specs:

  • i.MX RT1052 Crossover Processor with Armยฎ Cortexยฎ-M7 core @600MHz
  • Micro SD card slot, supporting normal 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 pair of SPI
  • 14 PWM pins
  • Many extra superior options to fulfill the wants of superior customers

Ports, communication, structure

You’ll be able to join the SwiftIO board to your laptop by way of a USB connector, the 2 units can talk by means of a serial port. The USB cable will present the required energy assist, however alternatively you should use an adapter or an exterior battery by means of a protect.

You’ll be able to wire up extra parts utilizing the Common Function Enter/Output pins (GPIO). You’ll be able to 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 helpful instruction guide for absolute newcomers. I felt fortunate, as a result of I used to be capable of strategy this little gadget with my programmer mindset and I may focus extra on Swift as an alternative of constructing working circuits.

So what’s truly beneath 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’s this Zephyr layer which I’ve by no means heard earlier than. I am simply scratching the floor right here, however that is tremendous, 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 supplies an quick access to speak with exterior {hardware} equipment. You’ll be able to learn or write digital and analog indicators utilizing the communication protocol. Are you prepared for some Swift code?

The SwiftIO surroundings

Though the {hardware} is secure, the software program just isn’t completed but. There are two choices accessible, however in case you are on a Home windows machine, you need to seize the official MadMachine IDE and use that. The reason being that the Swift Bundle Supervisor just isn’t prepared for that platform but, so you will not be capable 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 supplies an amazing DX. Choice B, study a bit extra concerning the underlying toolkit and comply with my information, it’s kind of extra difficult, however you may know extra concerning the technical infrastructure in case you select this path. ๐Ÿค”

Putting in the MadMachine SDK & CLI

As a macOS or Linux person you need to know that you may set up the unofficial MadMachine SDK alongside a command line device known as mm. As you’ll be able to see this MadMachine SDK is written in Swift, however you need to know that I ported a python script from the unique mm-sdk venture 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 assumed, it might be cool to do away with the IDE for good, and now, right here we go, now we have a standalone Swift model of the required construct instruments. You’ll be able to 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’ll be able to verify the accessible instructions contained in the README file on GitHub. I’ve not examined this on Linux but, so in case you discover any points, please do not hesitate to report or submit a PR. That is an experimental venture, so hold this in thoughts. ๐Ÿ˜…

The MadMachine toolchain

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

mm toolchain --upgrade

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

The SwiftIO framework

The SwiftIO framework goes to be linked with the applying 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 may make it work, in just some moments. Earlier than we go additional you need 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 parts actual quickly. ๐Ÿคž

Utilizing Xcode

The SwiftIO framework may be compiled in your native machine with the native Swift toolchain (utilizing Xcode), so it’s attainable to construct purposes with out concentrating on the board, and afterward you’ll be able to 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’s an present Xcode template created by @kidmar that you should use as a place to begin.

Utilizing SPM

These days I desire to create a Swift bundle for nearly all the pieces. You need to use SPM with a Makefile and your favourite editor to create SwiftIO apps. You simply need to initialize a brand new executable bundle with the required dependencies, for instance:

import PackageDescription

let bundle = Bundle(
    identify: "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 most important.swift file now you’ll be able to 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 information = Int(self * Float(mul))
        return Float(information) / 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 in case you open the Bundle.swift file utilizing Xcode you’ll be able to even construct the venture regionally utilizing the CMD+B shortcut, however do not attempt to run it, since your Mac just isn’t a SwiftIO board… ๐Ÿ˜…

If you wish to construct and run this venture it’s a must to goal the SwiftIO board. The mm-cli cannot resolve bundle dependencies (but) so it’s a must to set up the required dependencies (SHT3x, LCD1602) the identical means as we did with the SwiftIO library. You must clone each repositories and use the makefile to put in them as native MadMachine system libraries. This can transfer the required recordsdata beneath the ~/.MadMachine/libraries folder, all of the accessible libraries “stay” 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 fitting search paths and library search paths. The mm board --run [binary] command will merely copy the required recordsdata to the MadMachine board whether it is in obtain mode. You must 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 software will likely be loaded & executed instantly. ๐Ÿš€

The MadMachine IDE

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

Anyway, you’ll find actually nice examples with a devoted GitHub repository and plenty of video tutorials on the official YouTube channel. You’ll be able to entry all of the MakerKit pattern codes, they’re each on GitHub and you’ll clone a template with a click on utilizing the MadMachine IDE.


For me, the SwiftIO board was a pleasing shock. I at all times needed to play with embedded programs, know just a little 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 upset, 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 consider 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 consider that is a very vital issue for builders who by no means used such units earlier than. This may be the start and the way forward for Swift on embedded programs. ๐Ÿ˜

You’ll be able to construct some actually enjoyable stuff with SwiftIO, it is an ideal device for studying how electrical circuits work. I can not wait to see an increasing number of sensors and libraries accessible for MadMachine. You probably have an thought or a query be happy to hitch the official discord server.

It’s also possible to preorder the subsequent spherical of SwiftIO boards from the MadMachine Retailer. Andy simply instructed me that in case you order now, they will ship your bundle in 1-3 days as soon as they get a brand new order. This may change quick, however you’ll be able to at all times verify the order particulars on the MadMachine web site. ๐Ÿค–


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