Chris Lattner Formally Steps Down From Swift's Core Team

Written by Michael Larabel in LLVM on 21 February 2022 at 01:41 PM EST. 18 Comments
LLVM project founder Chris Lattner who began developing the Swift programming language back in 2010 during his time at Apple is now leaving that programming language's core team.

In the years since leaving Apple and as of the Swift Project Lead at the company, Chris Lattner has remain involved with the Swift programming language and part of their "core team" but now that has come to an end.

It was announced yesterday that Swift would be working to restructure the project's leadership to allow more community members to become actively involved in the project's stewardship. That announcement also confirmed that Lattner would be departing from the core team.

This morning Lattner went on to post with announcing his departure and some background as to his decision to leave. He attributes his decision to leave (and taking a break last year) on the "toxic environment" within the Swift core team meetings.

He went on to note a particular moment last year with the toxic environment, "The catalyst was a specific meeting last summer: after being insulted and yelled at over WebEx (not for the first time, and not just one core team member), I decided to take a break. I was able to get leadership to eventually discuss the situation with me last Fall, but after avoiding dealing with it, they made excuses, and made it clear they weren't planning to do anything about it. As such, I decided not to return. They reassure me they "want to make sure things are better for others in the future based on what we talked about" though."

Chris ended the post with:
Swift has a ton of well meaning and super talented people involved in and driving it. They are trying to be doing the best they can with a complicated situation and many pressures (including lofty goals, fixed schedules, deep bug queues to clear, internal folks that want to review/design things before the public has access to them, and pressures outside their team) that induce odd interactions with the community. By the time things get out to us, the plans are already very far along and sometimes the individuals are attached to the designs they've put a lot of energy into. This leads to a challenging dynamic for everyone involved.

I think that Swift is a phenomenal language and has a long and successful future ahead, but it certainly isn't a community designed language, and this isn't ambiguous 599. The new ideas on how to improve things sounds promising - I hope they address the fundamental incentive system challenges that the engineers/leaders face that cause the symptoms we see. I think that a healthy and inclusive community will continue to benefit the design and evolution of Swift.

Chris Lattner's current day focus is serving as co-founder and CEO of Modular AI with seeking to overhaul the AI/ML infrastructure world.
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