May 2017 saw Google announcing support for Kotlin- a new programming language for Android development. Kotlin - a statically-typed programming language based on Java Virtual Machine is being touted as a revolution in Android app programming domain. Though not a widely-used language, enthusiasm about Kotlin built up only after Google announced official support for Kotlin at Google I/O 2017 as first-class Android application development language. So, what Kotlin is all about and how it can change the future of mobile application development?
Kotlin Programming Language: Brief History & Overview
Kotlin is being said the future of Android programming owing to its beauty that gives programmers the power to write safer and more reliable code. Kotlin ensures that a programmer does not have to spend valuable time on writing mundane and repetitive code. With Kotlin, a developer can spend less time on quality assurance and bug testing because of its powerful capability of building reliable apps with fewer bugs and crashes.
Though Kotlin was officially released in 2016, it was created in 2011 by JetBrains- a Czech-based development company that develops IDE solutions for programmers and project managers. Initially conceptualized to solve JetBrains’ internal development problems, Kotlin was made public through open source platform. JetBrains team was looking for a modern app development language based on Java.
Java required writing huge amounts of repetitive code to do simple tasks and understanding what a code is trying to achieve was not easy. JetBrains wanted to eliminate the inherent verbosity problem through Kotlin. More than 70 percent of JetBrains products were built with Java, so it was essential that the new language was compatible with Java language and had all modern features.
Before Google announced support for Kotlin, programmers were skeptical about using Kotlin as there was a huge risk involved. If Google changed the way Android worked, all apps written in unsupported languages would not function as they intend to be. But Google opened ways for Kotlin in May and this led to a huge demand for Kotlin programmers at the global level.
Now with official support from JetBrains and Google, Kotlin is rapidly being adopted as a preferred app development language. Industry leaders such as Pinterest, Basecamp, Uber, Evernote, and Pivotal are using Kotlin language for Android programming actively and benefitting from its ease.
Kotlin: Use Case & Applications
A number of coders and programmers at startups around the globe have adopted Kotlin because of its promise of ease along with compatibility with Java. This means they do not have to start working from scratch and the code can be mixed and matched with Java. But apart from just Android programming, Kotlin can be used to develop applications that can run efficiently on desktop computers and servers.
JetStream has invested heavily in making Kotlin a mainstream programming language and has released a number of tools that help programmers in translating Kotlin code into iOS-friendly code. This means apps developed using Kotlin can also function on iOS, efficiently. With growing enthusiasm, powers of Kotlin will grow in the coming years for sure.
Companies successfully using Kotlin for Android App Development
Pinterest: Introduced Kotlin and is being used by 150 Million people every month
Gradle: Using Kotlin to write build scripts
Evernote: Integrated Kotlin language into Android application
Uber: Uses Kotlin to build powerful internal tools
Corda: An open source distributed ledger platform completely developed in Kotlin
Advantages of Using Kotlin
Kotlin offers the multitude of benefits for you as a developer. Some of the generalist benefits that Kotlin offers include:
Complete Java Compatibility: Java and Kotlin can be inter operated. Kotlin is completely compatible with all Java tools and framework making it easier to migrate from Java to Kotlin. Also, the holistic development environment Java and Kotlin promise together can surely expand the scope of programming in a single project.
Automatic Java to Kotlin Conversion: Jetbrain developed a complete Java-Kotlin converter that was integrated into IntelliJ to save developer’s time. This saves time during migration and saves the hassle of retyping huge amount of code.
Increases Productivity: Kotlin was developed to eliminate verbosity of Java language. This means no longer a coder has to deal with huge amount of repetitive coding. With a concise, intuitive and compact coding syntax, Kotlin saves coding time and fastens the whole deployment process. e.g. When App Lock mobile app was converted from Java to Kotlin, there was 30% reduction in total lines of code. This shows Kotlin can reduce coding and deployment time, phenomenally.
Promises Safer, Reliable & Better Apps with Reduced Bugs: Kotlin’s codebase is much more compact and clear compared to Java. This leaves less room for error and stable code. Also, the Kotlin compiler detects errors at compile time itself and not run time, making the final app much more stable and reliable.
The Other Side of the Coin: Downsides of Using Kotlin
Despite the exciting benefits that Kotlin promises, there are some downsides of using Koltin for application development. As the language is still at its nascent stage there are some fundamental limitations of Kotlin, some being the follows:
Training Costs Involved: No matter how similar Kotlin is to Java, the language still requires developers to learn intricacies. This requires investment of time, effort and money in training that can be saved and invested in core programming if you choose to stick to your current framework.
Slower Compilation Speed: Many developers and hardcore programmers have reported Kotlin’s slow compiling speeds. Compilation speed is an important aspect of choosing a programming language for an app development project. No matter whether Kotlin is modern or offers convenience, if it cannot promise faster compilation, it is of no use to the developer community.
Limited Learning & Support Resources: As Kotlin is a young programming language, finding adequate support and resources to learn the language and finding answers to queries can be hard. StackOverflow- an online Mecca for developers just has a limited number of posts related to Kotlin compared to a java related posts on its platform.
Lack of experienced developers: There is a huge dearth of expert Kotlin programmers in the industry. As the language is new, there are only a few who are well-versed with its capabilities and functionality. Indeed.com- one of the largest employment portals also revealed that Kotlin-related job postings only gathered pace after announcement at Google I/O. This leaves companies high and dry even if they want to explore the power of Kotlin.
Despite several disadvantages, Kotlin promises to change the way coders will write down the code for app development in the future. The simplicity, ease and convenience Kotlin offer along with the ability to fasten deployment process make it a great programming platform for Android. If you have any idea to discuss or need help with Kotlin or Android App Development, reach out to us We will try to help you in all possible ways. Let's connect!