Making Open Work
May 8–9, 2017: Training & Tutorials
May 10–11, 2017: Conference
Austin, TX

Build your backend in Swift

Jon Manning (Secret Lab), Tim Nugent (Lonely Coffee), Paris Buttfield-Addison (Secret Lab)
9:00am12:30pm Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Adopt This Now
Location: Meeting Room 18 C/D
Level: Beginner
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 2 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Swift programmers who develop for iOS and macOS
  • Server developers (particularly Node.js developers) who want to learn Swift

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A working knowledge of Swift

Materials or downloads needed in advance

  • A laptop running either macOS 10.12 or any modern Linux operating system

What you'll learn

  • Learn how to use Swift to build server-side applications


Swift on the server is a great choice for new projects. By developing your backend in the same language as your mobile client, you get to share source code, as well as a host of other benefits. Additionally, the Swift project has announced its intent to make Swift as easy as possible for backend developers. Jonathon Manning, Tim Nugent, and Paris Buttfield-Addison explain how to use Swift to build apps on the server side. Server-side Swift has something for everyone. Whether you’re coming from an existing server background or client-side work, you’ll come away with useful skills for producing the counterparts to your Swift frontend software. If you’re coming from a Node.js background, you’ll be struck by how simple and expressive Swift is as a language and how the toolkits are close to frameworks you’re already used to. If you’re coming from frontend iOS development, you’ll unlock an entire world of server-side functionality for your apps to talk to.

Topics include:

  • Setting up a Swift environment
  • Getting started with stand-alone Swift
  • Using Kitura, a Swift web framework built by IBM
  • Deploying to a platform as a service (PaaS)
  • Sharing code between a server and a client
  • How to take this further
Photo of Jon Manning

Jon Manning

Secret Lab

Jon Manning is the cofounder of independent game development studio Secret Lab. He’s working on the critically acclaimed award-winning adventure game Night in the Woods, which includes his interactive dialogue system Yarn Spinner, and Button Squid, a top-down puzzler. He’s written a whole bunch of books for O’Reilly about iOS development and game development. Jon holds a PhD about jerks on the internet. He’s currently writing Practical AI with Swift for O’Reilly.

Photo of Tim Nugent

Tim Nugent

Lonely Coffee

Tim Nugent pretends to be a mobile app developer, game designer, tools builder, researcher, and tech author. When he isn’t busy avoiding being found out as a fraud, Tim spends most of his time designing and creating little apps and games he won’t let anyone see. He also spent a disproportionately long time writing his tiny little bio, most of which was taken up trying to stick a witty sci-fi reference in…before he simply gave up. He’s writing Practical Artificial Intelligence with Swift for O’Reilly and building a game for a power transmission company about a naughty quoll. (A quoll is an Australian animal.)

Photo of Paris Buttfield-Addison

Paris Buttfield-Addison

Secret Lab

Paris Buttfield-Addison is a cofounder of Secret Lab, a game development studio based in beautiful Hobart, Australia. Secret Lab builds games and game development tools, including the multi-award-winning ABC Play School iPad games, the BAFTA- and IGF-winning Night in the Woods, the Qantas airlines Joey Playbox games, and the Yarn Spinner narrative game framework. Previously, Paris was a mobile product manager for Meebo (acquired by Google). Paris particularly enjoys game design, statistics, blockchain, machine learning, and human-centered technology. He researches and writes technical books on mobile and game development (more than 20 so far) for O’Reilly; he recently finished writing Practical AI with Swift and is currently working on Head First Swift. He holds a degree in medieval history and a PhD in computing. Paris loves to bring machine learning into the world of practical and useful. You can find him on Twitter as @parisba.

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Picture of Jon Manning
Jon Manning | COFOUNDER
05/10/2017 3:30pm CDT

Hi everyone!

Thanks so much for coming to this workshop! I hope that you had a great time.

If you ended up with the USB key that contained the installers for Xcode, and Swift, could you please hand it to a member of staff in the Speaker Lounge on Level 4, and shoot me an email at to let me know? I’d really appreciate it!

Thanks again for coming! I’ll see you around the conference!


Picture of Jon Manning
Jon Manning | COFOUNDER
05/08/2017 2:56pm CDT

Hi everyone!

In preparation for the workshop tomorrow, it’ll be very useful if you already have a copy of Swift on your machine.

If you’re using a Mac, Swift is included in Xcode, which you can download from the App Store here:

If you’re using Ubuntu, you can get packages from here:

We also suggest that you install Docker for your machine.

If you’re on a Mac, get Docker Community Edition from On Linux, docker is available via your package manager.

We should be able to help you out if you don’t have them in the day, but things will move a little more quickly for you if you already have them!

Picture of Audra Carter
01/17/2017 11:28am CST

Thank you, Nathan – this tutorial was meant to be at 9:00am and is now.

Picture of Nathan Stocks
01/13/2017 11:33am CST

I don’t understand how (Jonathon Manning, Tim Nugent, and Paris Butterfield-Addison) (together) can present both “Build your backend in swift” and “How Do I Game Design? Design games, understand people!” in separate rooms at the exact same time. Has there been a mistake?