When comparing Ceylon vs Swift, the Slant community recommends Swift for most people. In the question“What is the best programming language to learn first?” Swift is ranked 31st while Ceylon is ranked 42nd.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Strong static typing, null safe and flexible, almost dynamic type system
The compiler prevents you from using a potentially null variable, unless you check it is not null. Ie. it forces you to check a potentially null value before using it.
The type system is strict, but flexible, allowing union and intersection of types, covariant and contravariant types, reified types, etc.
Type inference and union types allows a dynamic programming style, close of JS spirit.
It brings type safety to JS, allowing to define interfaces to existing JS APIs, yet using the
dynamic keyword for flexible calls in the JS ecosystem.
Pro Excellent IDE support
Ceylon has reified generics, so it doesn't loose the type of collections at runtime. This makes autocompletion, debugging, etc. first-class. The Eclipse plugin makes it a full-fledged Ceylon IDE, and an IntelliJ IDEA plugin is in the works.
Pro Great tutorial
Gavin King, main author of the language, has a great, clear technical writing style, making understandable difficult concepts like variance or sound type system.
Pro Try it out in the browser
It has a Web IDE: http://try.ceylon-lang.org/ with impressive demos: http://try.ceylon-lang.org/?gist=bd41b47f325b6d32514a so you can try it without installing anything, and see the JS generation / interop in action.
Pro Excellent documentation
The language specification is very complete and up to date; also, the language module is very well documented.
Pro Easy to learn even if you don't have prior programming experience
Ceylon is indeed fairly easy and readable. Of course those ones who know OOP and a bit of functional programming concepts will feel almost at home right from the start.
Pro Generate HTML
HTML generation is supported right in the SDK.
Pro Same code in backend and frontend
Pro Modern syntax
Pro Swift is closer to other platforms
Apple’s modern programming language is easier to understand for non-iOS developers and minimizes time for additional explanations and clarifications. Moreover, Swift can be used as a script language. It is an interesting solution for the iOS community to unify writing of build scripts. At the time being iOS developers are split up in regard to this activity. Some of them write build scripts in Bash, others use Ruby, Python, etc. Swift gives an amazing opportunity to be applied to all iOS programming needs.
More details can be found here https://mlsdev.com/blog/51-7-advantages-of-using-swift-over-objective-c
Pro Works with Apple's Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks
Pro Can be used as a Just-In-Time language
Pro Inherent parallelism
Pro Low memory footprint due to reference counting
Pro Backed by Apple
Pro Performance speed comparable to native C
Pro Swift has some clever tricks up its sleeve
Due to having elements of a functional programming language. Things like 'map' and 'filter' for example.
Pro Uses LLVM compiler and Obj-C runtime allowing C, Objective-C, Objective-C++ and Swift code to run side by side within a single program
Con Lack of physical or electronic books
We should hope Red Hat or anyone interested would take the time and write one. That would strengthen the maturity of the language, but Ceylon is rapidly developing which can make the author's efforts futile because his or hers work will become obsolete soon.
The second hindrance is, of course, popularity of the language which can't give much to the pockets of the author (however, Dart's unpopularity at start didn't prevent it to have a lot of printed material, but that's Google's child, we know).
Con Currently has large runtime
Ceylon 1.2 needs a language runtime of 1.55 MiB, and the Collection library adds another 370 KiB. That's a lot for the Web...
Now, this has to be put in perspective: if you use Ceylon to make a web application, these files will be loaded once, then cached by the browser (that's not casual browsing).
Moreover, most servers compress such resource, and the numbers become respectively 234 KiB and 54 KiB, which is more reasonable...
Con Swift is a moving target
They've released 1.2 so far, and 2.0 is coming soon. Every small update brings adjustments to paradigms (such as how to do type casting) that can be a little frustrating to absorb. Objective C was also constantly updating, however, but not at the same rate these days.