{infiniteZest}
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Swift - Variables and Constants
Summary
This article talks about variables and constants and how Swift forces you to choose var (a variable) or let (a constant) right at the time of declaration.
 
Table of Contents

Constants

Variables

Type Inference

Printing

Key Points

 
Article Series
Previous Article:
Test Your Knowledge: Swift - Playgrounds and REPL
This article is part of the Series:
Swift - Introduction and Basics
Next Article:
Test Your Knowledge: Swift - Variables and Constants

Swift forces you to declare right upfront whether an object is a variable or constant. For this you would use one of the two keywords - var for variable and let for constants.

Constants

Constants are the objects whose value cannot be changed after it has been assigned. Simplest way of declaring a constant is:

let siteName = “infiniteZest.com”

You would use let (i.e. the constant declarations) in situations where the value is not changed once it has been assigned. If you try to assign another value to it, the Swift compiler will complain:

siteName = “anotherSite.com”

In the above case, the compiler will helpfully suggest changing let to var, so that this reassignment will work. But the above line itself produces an error as it is changing the value of a constant.

Variables

In Swift, the value of a variable can be changed. There are multiple ways of declaring a variable and assigning a value or changing it.

Simplest way to introduce a new variable into your program is:

var address = “100 Main St”

Here a variable called address is declared and a string value “100 Main St”. Since this is a variable, its value can be changed.

address = “200 Pine St”

Now the new address will be “200 Pine St”.

Whenever the value of a variable remains constant throughout its lifetime, you want to declare it a constant by using the keyword let. If the compiler sees that you have not changed value of a variable (using var) in an entire scope of it, it warns you to change var to let.

From a code safety perspective, you want to use constants (let) whenever possible. This way, value of an object will not be changed inadvertently. It also makes your intent clear - that you want value of certain object remain constant throughout its lifetime (since you used let as opposed to var).

Type Inference

In the above declaration of constants or variables, we have not explicitly stated the types of variables. Both the siteName constant and address variable are of type String. Swift has strong type inference capabilities.

The above lines can be written by explicitly specifying the type:

let siteName: String = “infiniteZest.com”
var address: String = “100 Main St”

Type of a variable (or constant) can be specified by using : (colon) followed by name of the type (String in this case). This is called Type Annotation. Because of Swift’s strong type inference capabilities, this is not necessary. And, it is not considered a Swift way of coding, because it adds extra words to the code without adding any extra clarity. So, this is not necessary as Swift can figure it out.

However, if you do not have a default value at the time of declaration, then the type must be specified. Following will result in an error:

let siteName
var address

Compiler will complain that the type annotation is missing. The following will be the way to declare the variables at one point and assign values to them at a later point.

[CODE

let siteName: String

var address: String

// Assign values later

siteName = “infiniteZest.com”

address = “100 Main St”

[END CODE]

Printing

For printing a value to the console, you will simply use the print() function.

print(siteName)
// Prints infiniteZest.com

If you want to print, multiple variables (or constants), you can use multiple print statements or separate the variables by a comma.

// Prints siteName and address on two separate lines
print(siteName)
print(address)

// Prints siteName followed by address on the same line
print(siteName, address)

So, as you can tell from above, the default terminator for the print output is a newline. Meaning, output of each print statement is ended with a new line.

However, you can also use your own custom terminator by specifying the value to the terminator: parameter.

print(siteName, terminator: “ @ “)
print(address)

// Prints: infiniteZest.com @ 100 Main St

Key Points

  • Use let for declaring constants, var for variables
  • Prefer let over var whenever you can for code safety
  • Let Swift use type inference for code clarity
  • Do not specify type (type annotation) when Swift can figure it out (same as above)
  • print() function prints to the console
Take a Quick Quiz on this Article

1. You want to enforce name of a product be not changed once it’s assigned. How do you declare productName?



: Constant
Question 1 of 6
Article Series
Previous Article:
Test Your Knowledge: Swift - Playgrounds and REPL
This article is part of the Series:
Swift - Introduction and Basics
Next Article:
Test Your Knowledge: Swift - Variables and Constants
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