Hidden in a slide during Apple’s WWDC developer conference keynote today was a reference to “Xcode editor extensions.”
The presentation style of this information suggests that this is a minor update. But in fact, it’s a major addition to Xcode, Apple’s integrated development environment for building iOS,
OS X macOS, watchOS, and tvOS apps. This will let Xcode do more than it does now — and developers will be able to install exactly the third-party tools that they want.
“New Xcode extensions for the source editor let you customize your coding experience,” Apple says on its website. “Use extensions to navigate within your editor’s text, and select, modify, and transform your code. Bind your favorite extensions to a keyboard shortcut to make common reformatting tasks a snap. Xcode includes a new template so you can easily create editor extensions and distribute them on the Mac App Store, or sign your extensions with your Developer ID to share them online. And because extensions run in a separate process, Xcode stays safe and stable.”
Other IDEs, like Google’s Android Studio and Microsoft’s Visual Studio, have support for plugins, and now Xcode 8 will, too. This is also similar to the way that text editors, which are generally less powerful and full-featured, have been getting extensions — Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code and GitHub’s Atom have both gone in this direction.
The actual Xcode 8 file size (5.5GB for the beta) is smaller than previous versions, such as Xcode 7.3, when you download it. That means it takes less time to start using the first time, and with every subsequent update.
There’s also a new thread sanitizer and an FPS gauge in Xcode 8, among other things.
And the IDE comes with Swift 3, along with the software development kits (SDKs) for iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.
You can download Xcode 8 in beta here.