Swift documentation contains a secret reference to Joss Whedon’s Firefly

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Back in the day it would have been entirely possible to draw a direct line between Apple and Joss Whedon’s Firefly TV series: both superb products with passionate fanbases, but largely ignored by the masses.

That might not be true for Apple today (or for Joss Whedon either), but when you’re dealing with two subjects like tech and sci-fi, some overlap is expected. That appears to be the case at Apple, where a member of the Swift team is clearly something of a Firefly fanboy — hiding a reference to the cult show in its documentation for Apple’s new programming language.

The reference? During a section of Apple’s “Swift tour” describing “simple values,” a short code example relates to assigning occupations to different variables: referring to Malcolm the captain, Kaylee the mechanic, and Jayne in public relations. Whedonites will know these as characters from Firefly, in which Malcolm is indeed the show’s captain, Kaylee its mechanic, and the bit about Jayne is a joke about a joke.

This isn’t the first time Apple has included movie references as Easter Eggs in its products. When asked, Siri will offer her snarky opinion of various sci-fi classics, while previous Apple ads have referred back to movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Hollywood, for its part, has returned the favor with multiple Apple-related cameos over the years.)

Firefly is also thought to have been the inspiration for the naming of Google’s long-forgotten Google Wave.

  • Mark

    Lots of other stuff there too. See if you can spot the reference to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!

  • 3Dgerbil

    Check out http://www.udemy.com/swiftdeveloper for a complete language tutorial and how to build real apps using Swift.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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