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Monday 24 September 2018
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Is Kotlin taking over for Java? What do I need to know?

Is Kotlin taking over for Java?  What do I need to know?

Businesses are always looking for the most efficient way to make technology work for them.  New programming languages can be sources of new efficiencies that improve the way software applications are created.

A new programming language; Kotlin, has gained an amazing amount of interest among developers in the past two years—especially following the Google’s Android announcement supporting it as an official language for their  apps.

What is Kotlin?

Kotlin is a programming language for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and can, therefore, be used anywhere Java is used today, as you know is virtually everywhere! Developed by JetBrains, who are currently working to bring Kotlin to many other software applications including iOS, with the potential to become a one-stop language for technology improvements.

The main goal for Kotlin was to bring together programming language features that often show promising benefits for large-scale projects.  Kotlin has become a popular language among developers due to its clean language design and powerful features.

The beginning area of focus for Kotlin was to build Android apps. There have been many new languages that try to challenge Java’s top spot in the Android world.  Some believe that Kotlin has the potential to replace Java in the mobile development ecosystem.

What you need to have is a reliable comparison of Java and Kotlin to help you decide which language will work best for your next mobile development project.

Java

At the top of the languages that are often chosen by developers, Java is the favorite when it comes to Android app development – mainly because Android itself was written in Java. Developed by Sun Microsystems (now Oracle), Java is an object-oriented programming language is the second most active language on GitHub. And that’s not very surprising – it’s been around for over 20 years, and its popularity only seems to grow.

Pros of Java

  • A good choice for cross-platform apps;
  • Java apps are more compact – in comparison to Kotlin, Java apps tend to be lighter; a Kotlin app that includes complex computing processes in its code can turn out to work slowly on user devices with low technical specs, if built by inexperienced developers;
  • Easy to learn and understand;
  • Flexibility is Java’s strong suit– you can run it in a browser window or a virtual machine. This is helpful when you reuse code and update software;
  • Android relies on Java – the Android SDK contains many standard Java libraries;
  • Java has a large open-source ecosystem;
  • Top development speed – Java ensures faster build process than Kotlin.

Cons of Java

  • Java has limitations that cause problems with Android API design;
  • As a verbose language, Java requires writing more code, which carries a higher risk of errors and bugs;
  • It’s slower in comparison to many other languages and requires a lot of memory.

Kotlin

Kotlin was designed by programmers from JetBrains because they wanted to add some modern features to Java that come in handy in mobile development. Based on Java Virtual Machine (JVM), Kotlin is an open source, statically typed, but you can also compile it to JavaScript or Native for building code that can run on iOS. Installing the Kotlin Plugin may help by letting it configure your project.

Pros of Kotlin

  • Kotlin is a very concise language, more than Java, which means fewer opportunities for errors;
  • Has been used in many Android development projects large and small, but it’s also being used in backend projects such as Spring 5;
  • The switch from Java to Kotlin is easy – just install the Kotlin plugin, add it to the Gradle build files, and click ‘Convert’;
  • It helps developers build clean APIs with smart extension functions
  • Has null in its type system – nullability problems are a common issue in Java, Kotlin solves it by placing null directly in its type system;
  • Interoperable with Java; Kotlin is compatible with all Java libraries and frameworks;
  • Adopting Kotlin doesn’t cost anything;

Cons of Kotlin

  • Learning curve is large, it may not be worth switching your entire team to Kotlin language;
  • Java may still have a quicker compilation speed (although Kotlin was shown to beat Java in some cases);
  • Small developer community, which means limited learning resources and difficulty in finding answers to questions;
  • Experienced Kotlin engineers are still a rarity;
  • Android Studio’s auto-complete and compilation tends to run slower in comparison to pure Java project.



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