Lattner didn’t give a reason for his exit, simply saying he’s leaving later this month “to pursue an opportunity in another space.” (We’ve put some feelers out and if we uncover anything interesting about his departure, we’ll update this post with the details.)
Lattner joined Apple in 2005 after leading the creation of another developer tool, known as “LLVM” for his PhD. LLVM was integrated into Apple’s developer tools and Lattner went on to build much of Swift.
Swift is Apple’s language for building Mac and iOS apps. Apple released it at its Worldwide Developers Conference in 2014, and since then it has soared to become one of the most popular programming languages around. In a recent survey on Stack Overflow, a site where developers answer each others questions, Swift landed as the No. 2 most-loved language, beaten out only slightly by one called Rust (a language led by Mozilla Research).
Ted Kremenek, another power player in the Swift world, will be taking over as the lead developer for Swift at Apple, but Lattner’s shoes will be big ones to fill.
As one person noted on Hacker News, a site where programmers chat about stuff, “He is leaving Swift in an excellent position and has set up an outstanding structure where Swift is way more than just one person. He spent more than 5 years building Swift inside Apple, so I can definitely understand he is ready for his next challenge. Can’t wait to see what it is!”
Other developers are also saluting him on Twitter.
A big loss today as Apple loses Chris Lattner
— Wesley Dyson (@WesleyDyson) January 10, 2017