It`s no secret that Java has been number one language for Android development for years and has demonstrated its reliability during that time.
However, there is one particular statically typed programming language that is already a success and could question the position of Java as main language for Android in the nearest future. And the language I`m talking about is Kotlin, the language that has been introduced in 2011 and became officially supported by Google in 2017.
In this article, we will review the Kotlin vs. Java question and name the benefits and drawbacks of each language to better understand whether it makes sense to use Kotlin for the applications development over the traditional stack.
Java vs. Kotlin: Advantages of Kotlin
Kotlin is Interchangeable with Java
Kotlin is positioned as a 100% Java-interoperable programming language. You can easily have codes in Java and Kotlin existing together, without it causing a single problem to the project.
Kotlin is supported by all major Java IDEs including IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse, and NetBeans. Kotlin plugin is bundled with Android Studio starting from version 3.0. The language also integrates with some of the main build tools such as Gradle, Maven, Ant, and Kobalt.
Kotlin Combines the best of the procedural and functional programming
Kotlin supports not only object-oriented programming but also functional programming. Kotlin has proper function types built in, as opposed to Java’s Single Abstract Method (SAM)-conversions, so it can help solve many problems developers face more easily.
Kotlin has more concise code
If you compare the Kotlin and Java class that produce same results, the one written in Kotlin will typically be much more compact and succinct than the one written in Java. Thus Kotlin will be less buggy in comparison to Java: less code means the less bugs.
Inbuilt Null Safety
Kotlin’s type system has inbuilt null safety. The infamous NullPointerException is largely responsible for Android development mistakes. Android relies on null to represent the absence of a value, but null can easily destroy an app. Kotlin solves this problem by incorporating inherent null safety. This addition saves developers from writing extra code to work around the issue.
Gentle Learning Curve for Java Developers
Kotlin is an easy language to learn, especially for those who already have experience with Java. It’s a language that bears the strong resemblance to and doesn’t feel like a whole rewrite on Java.
Java vs. Kotlin: Downsides of Kotlin
The code for mobile app development written in Kotlin takes more time to compile compared to Java. This can result in unwanted lags in the development lifecycle
Kotlin is a relatively young language and it still has a small developer community. This leads to the limited resources for learning language and makes finding answers to any of the questions that may arise in process of the app development difficult.
Less Kotlin experts to hire in comparison to Java
In comparison to Java there are fewer Kotlin experts in the market and finding a Kotlin guru may still be a hard task for the company.
As you see, there are no reasons not to try going Kotlin. However we don’t see the immediate need to switch the whole tech stack to it. Kotlin seems to be a codification of Java best practices, with a few features from other languages thrown in for good measure but it is still immature, new in the app development market and it will take time until it gets further boost.
And Have you already tried to use Kotlin and build apps on it?