Apple launched a new open-source programming language and no one even noticed

Apple MacBook Air code
(Image credit: Future)

Apple has very quietly launched a brand new open-source programming language for producing configuration. 

As noted by our friends at TechRadar, Pkl (pronounced "pickle) was launched on February 1 and is designed to address the shortcomings of static configuration languages like JSON, YAML, or Property Lists. 

Specifically, Apple's team wants to address shortfalls "when configuration grows in complexity" and to simplify formats that get enhanced to the point that they "almost become programming languages" themselves. 

"We created Pkl because we think that configuration is best expressed as a blend between a static language and a general-purpose programming language," Pkl's new website states.

The best of both worlds

Apple says that Pkl takes "the best of both worlds" and seeks "to provide a language that is declarative and simple to read and write, but enhanced with capabilities borrowed from general-purpose languages." Apple says that writing Pkl will let coders "use the language features you’d expect, like classes, functions, conditionals, and loops," build abstraction layers, and share code by creating packages and publishing them. 

Apple says Pkl has three overarching goals:

  • To provide safety by catching validation errors before deployment.
  • To scale from simple to complex use-cases.
  • To be a joy to write, with our best-in-class IDE integrations.

Pkl also comes with "best-in-class" editor support, guiding users through the process of filling in configuration data, as well as giving feedback. Apple says interested users should take a look at Pkl's tutorial, or try it locally by downloading Pkl's CLI. Apple says "We’re so excited to share Pkl with you, and we are just getting started. We are looking forward to seeing what you might do with it!"

It's easy to forget that Apple does some incredible work behind the scenes to make coding possible. The most obvious example of this is the company's Xcode program, a powerful tool that can be used to build apps on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Rumor has it that Apple is planning to introduce powerful AI to iOS 18 and beyond at WWDC 2024, possibly with improvements to Xcode in tow. 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9