Java enthusiast but wondering what the future is for the language?
Looking to move your career into developing android apps?
Heard of Kotlin but not sure whether it’s any good?
It’s time to examine Kotlin’s reputation for android development, and to find out whether it’s deserved. Ready to get started? Let’s go.
The rise in popularity of Kotlin
Developed by JetBrain in 2017 Kotlin was originally designed to make coding in Java more productive. But with support from Google it was introduced as its own official programming language and introduced as an alternative to Java for mobile development.
In just 3 years, 7.7% of industry experts use Kotlin and it’s among the top 3 languages that most businesses are planning to migrate their apps to (SOURCE). That’s a phenomenal rise in popularity in such a short time.
With such an increase in popularity it’s easy to see why many in the android community are championing Kotlin. Netflix, Trello, Uber, Twitter and Pinterest all use Kotlin to develop their Android apps and many others will follow suit.
Kotlin vs Java
Java was always the norm. It was the go-to for developers and everyone was happy with that status quo, until Kotlin arrived. Now the debate has turned to Kotlin vs Java, which is better.
Both languages have their own strengths and weaknesses. So there is no overarching rule on which to use, instead it’s a case of choosing the right tool for the job. If you’re looking to develop large applications packed with features and functions and they need to work across all platforms, then choose Java.
If you’re looking to develop an android application then it’s going to be Kotlin.
What’s so special about Kotlin for android development?
With Google declaring Kotlin as the preferred programming language for Android app development, it’s clear that the weight of the programming world is behind Kotlin. But what is it about Kotlin that makes it so good for android development?
Easy to learn, easy to apply
As a modern language Kotlin has some major advantages over Java for creating faster and higher quality android applications. As a result, it’s much easier to use, and to learn thanks to its straightforward syntax. Those with Java knowledge will pick up Kotlin with no issues and as Kotlin is 100% interoperable with Java you’ll be bale to call Kotlin code from Java and Java code from Kotlin.
As an expressive and concise programming language Kotlin reduces common code errors. For a start, Kotlin reduces the number of code lines by an estimated 40% compared to Java, providing less opportunity for errors to be made. But it has also eliminated the danger of null references to avoid costly mistakes.
Data classes within Kotlin replace common classes, but with one big difference. Data classes contain a huge amount of self-generated code, eliminating lines of code and acting as a store for data properties. They save developers from creating a lot of boilerplate code that has to be manually generated in Java.
Unlike Java which doesn’t support extension functions. Kotlin gives you the ability to extend a class by adding new features, without having to inherit it. These extensions let you add functions to a class without needing to modify it and you can then use the functions as if they were part of the original class.
Despite its relatively young age, the online support and communities for Kotlin developers is staggering. Whether you’re looking for a Kotlin library or simply to check a line of code there are active communities full of helpful developers waiting to be of assistance.
It’s clear that compared to Java, Kotlin’s features and style makes it a great partner for Android development. When you throw into the mix Google’s endorsement and the names that are already championing it as the language for android applications and it’s easy to see why it’s gained its reputation. But it's a reputation that’s well deserved. It’s quick, it’s easy to use, it reduces errors and load times and it’s quickly received the backing of the developer community.
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