Mar 18, 2020

Kotlin for Android Apps: Pros and Cons of Programming Language

What programming language do you remember about when it comes to Android development? Most likely, you will immediately think about Java. However, there is an equally popular and convenient language for Android apps development called Kotlin. What is it? Who invented it? What advantages it has? We will talk about all this in today’s article.

What is Kotlin

Kotlin is one of the new statically typed open-source programming languages. It can run effectively on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Kotlin is developed by JetBrains and is officially supported by Google.

Let’s look at Kotlin in numbers. The latest App brain statistics show that Kotlin currently accounts for 46.29% of the market in the top-end app segment. At the same time, 46.69% of new installations also fall on apps written in Kotlin. Also, according to the latest survey of developers by StackOverflow, Kotlin got into the top 5 respondents’ favorite programming languages. He received 72.6% of the vote, overtaking Swift (LINK), famous for its simplicity.

Currently, Kotlin is used to create Android apps by business leaders such as Pivotal, Atlassian, Pinterest, Evernote, and Uber.

How a new language appeared

Kotlin is a relatively young language from the Russian company JetBrains. It appeared in 2011. The main goal of the language is to outperform Java and give developers a convenient tool. As an argument, the creators of Kotlin said that Java has accumulated a lot of unsuccessful solutions that can not be changed in any way, which is why a language with a more pleasant syntax for developers is needed.

It is worth noting that the first release version was released in 2016. But the impetus for the rapid popularization of Kotlin was the official recognition of the programming language by Google. Google officials said that Kotlin will be included in the integrated development environment Android Studio 3.0, which is used to create Android apps. Until that, Java and C ++ have been used primarily for Android products. Many programmers enthusiastically began to learn Kotlin, because its code is about 40% shorter than Java code. It is also considered more secure, and the automatic code converter significantly speeds up and facilitates the process of transition from Java.

Many people compare Kotlin with Apple’s Swift language because of its clear syntax and simplicity for newcomers. Looking at new languages, we can conclude that the industry strives for brevity and conciseness to attract new human resources.

An interesting fact about the name of the language

The creators of Kotlin decided to follow the path of naming Java, which is named after the famous Java island in Indonesia. Kotlin is a small island in the Gulf of Finland near St. Petersburg, on which the city of Kronstadt is located. Apparently, this way the creators give a reference to the fact that the new language follows in the footsteps of Java.

What are the advantages of Kotlin

Since JetBrains decided to replace Java, they brought many advantages to the new programming language. Let’s consider them in detail.

Performance

Kotlin’s consistent and intuitive syntax provides enhanced productivity for the development team. Writing a program requires less time and fewer lines of code. As a result, you get the finished application faster. Many developers praise Kotlin for its brevity and quality, which Java is no different from. Less code means fewer errors. But Kotlin doesn’t abuse brevity, because code readability is a priority.

Excellent Java compatibility

From the very beginning of the project, the goal was to use existing knowledge and experience so that all libraries are available to Kotlin programmers. You just write modules in Kotlin, and they work great with Java. The compiler allows you to combine languages in one project. This has become a great advantage not only for developers but also for companies with a large Java code base.

Open-source

Kotlin code is open to all programmers who want to work with it. Its implementation in the project is also absolutely free. Also, the source code makes it possible to easily find and identify the problem in case of its occurrence, in order to inform the language developers about it.

Ease of study

The idea to make the language equally convenient for both beginners and experienced developers was directly expressed in its syntax. Like any modern analog, Kotlin is extremely concise, compact and understandable.

Support

Android Studio provides enhanced Kotlin support and customization tools. This makes it easy to integrate it into your project.

Security

The rules for creating code embedded in the syntax of the language allow you to avoid small, hard to find errors that occur only at the time the program starts. The most common pitfall of many programming languages is trying to access a null value. This causes an error. Kotlin is created to eliminate this kind of error from your code.

Additions

For the full convenience of working with Kotlin, the creators made it compatible with the Java library, as many programmers switched from it to Kotlin. It can use all well-known Java frameworks and libraries, as well as individual modules in current projects. The Kotlin standard library only offers improvements and fixes to the older brother library, Java.

Lazy Loading

You may have heard about Lazy Loading in web development. This feature allows you to load only the necessary initial content of the app and significantly reduces the download time. Thanks to this Kotlin feature, Android developers simply prioritize core resources by storing them in main memory and slowly loading other resources from secondary memory. In general, this reduces the launch time of the application, which is a very important factor for the success of the project.

Disadvantages of Kotlin

No programming language is perfect. Although Kotlin has something to offer Android developers, there are some flaws to keep in mind.

Compilation speed

Developers complain about fluctuations in the speed of compiling Kotlin code. In some cases, it occurs very quickly, while in others it is noticeably slower.

Developer search

Finding qualified developers with knowledge of this programming language is quite difficult. This is the main problem of all young languages.

Community

Kotlin has a small community of developers, and therefore the number of resources for learning this language is limited. You will have to look for answers to questions and solve possible problems yourself.

Conclusion

The less code, the fewer bugs in the application and the better the result. This is exactly what Kotlin provides for building applications. Android developers got the language they were waiting for: pragmatic, modern, intuitive. Don’t be afraid of the cons of Kotlin, they are minimal, and the experience gained will help to cope with them. If you want to constantly look for new, interesting solutions for Android development, Kotlin can be a great find for your projects.