In May, Google surprised Android developers and any mobile app design company when it announced for the first time that it adds a new programming language to the OS. Since then, the adoption of Kotlin language has exploded among developers so much that it’s set to overtake Java in the next two years.
THE KOTLIN PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE
It is important for an Android app developer or an Android app development company is that Kotlin is a statistically typed programming language that’s developed by JetBrains for JVM, JS browser, Android and native apps. Since August 2015, the number of apps built with Kotlin has grown by 125 percent, and around 20 percent of Kotlin apps these days were built with Java in the past. A report from Realm found several Android applications that are built with Java has decreased by 6.1 percent in the past four months. Moreover, Realm predicts that by December 2018, Kotlin would overtake Java for developing Java in the same way that the Swift programming language has overtaken Objective C for iOS application development. Realm notes that the fast adoption of Kotlin and Swift point to ongoing migration for modern programming languages.
DEVELOPING AN ANDROID APPLICATION
For an Android application developer, when talking about Android app development, the first programming language that comes to mind is of course Java. Although majority of Android applications are written in Java, developers have to know that it is not the only language for writing code. An Android application could be written in any language, which could be compiled and run on the JVM or the Java Virtual Machine.
FEATURES AND BENEFITS OF KOTLIN
The following are some of the features and benefits of the Kotlin programming language.
Easy coding. It is not a difficult language that’s born in academia. Any programmer from OOP domain is familiar with the syntax. It could be easily understood by beginners and experienced programmers as well. It somewhat differs from Java, since there are several variable declarations or reworked constructors.
Requires less coding. Kotlin requires less coding than java. A code written in Kotlin would be much more compact compared to the one written in Java. This is because Java’s a bit outdated, meaning that every new launch should support features included in the previous version. Eventually, this increases the code to write, which result in absence of layer to layer architecture.
The language and environment are mature. Unlike languages such as Swift, the release of Kotlin has gone through a lot of stages before releasing the final 1.0. This means that there hardly are any problems when working with the programming language, everything works as expected. The IDE plugin works in a smooth way, and already enables a lot of features that developers love and use in Java.
It makes for a much easier Android development. Kotlin is simplicity combined with power, thus there is a new world of possibilities if one is coming from Java that one could not even imagine. This honestly is the only viable option to Java for the development of great applications on Android. The compilation times in Kotlin these days are already the same to Java and the library needed to write Kotlin apps is very small, thus it will not boost the method count that much.
Seamlessly integrated with Android Studio. A project could be set up and ready to work in as little as ten minutes without problems, even if one does not know anything about Kotlin. With Android 2.23, it only needs installing a plugin and in 3.0 the entire process would be integrated seamlessly. A developer could run from the IDE, do refactors, debug without problems, use instant run and everything one could imagine is still there and could be used.
It saves a lot of effort and time. Less code means less errors and less bugs. Developers do not have to spend a lot of time writing code and fixing bugs. Since less time is tracked on the entire coding process, developers will definitely love it. Developers find it a wise idea to switch to Kotlin.
THE PRAGMATIC APPROACH OF KOTLIN
Kotlin takes a pragmatic approach through not including features like having its own package manager or build system because of open source tools like Maven and Gradle are already handling this well. Having its own build system will have broken projects, which already use Maven and Gradle. Another pragmatic approach was not re-implementing the whole Java collections framework. This would have been easy, but creators also wanted the programming language to be compatible with the JDK collection interfaces with no need to break any current project implementations.
THE DRAWBACKS OF KOTLIN
Just like other languages, Kotlin also has some drawbacks that developers should be aware of. The conversion from Java to Kotlin will be more painful, since not all functions could be converted. In this case, the biggest fix for the problem will be to continue working on Java itself. The possibility of switching from language to language will depend on the project size.
If a project is small, around 160-200 hours and there is no complex architecture, consider switching to Kotlin. For a medium project that could take from five to six months, it is pretty convenient to switch to Kotlin from Java.
There are indeed many features of Kotlin that makes it a practical choice. Nevertheless, it’s not owned by Google and could target other platforms. For a concise way of coding for Android, Kotlin is the best option.