If you want to get into Android development, you’ve probably spent a long time polishing up your Java knowledge. For years, Java was the main language for making Android apps.
But this has changed recently, with the adoption and rapid support of Kotlin. This NEW programming language has become increasingly prevalent for mobile apps.
You may not have heard of this new language or wonder, Why is it worth learning? After all, Java still exists.
We’re here to cover everything about Kotlin, so read on!
What Is Kotlin Programming Language?
Kotlin is an open-source programming language whose first iteration was released in 2011. Despite being relatively young, Kotlin enjoys a large following of newer developers.
In 2017, Google announced that Kotlin would replace Java and become the preferred language for Android development. This led to a boost in its popularity and quick adoption.
Thanks to its object-oriented and functional programming capabilities, Kotlin can cover Java’s shortcomings.
Kotlin also allows developers to create cross-platform apps even without an IDE. This language’s developer JetBrains is also behind the IntelliJ IDEA IDE, which fully supports Kotlin.
What Are the Features of Kotlin?
Here’s a small preview of what to expect when you begin learning the Kotlin language:
- Statically typed language for functional programming
- Fully compatible with the Java Virtual Machine (JVM)
- Can create code usable across different platforms
- Has safeguards to reduce any potential crashes
- Supports lazy-loading for faster startup
- Explicitly-defined data class members
What Is Kotlin Used For?
Kotlin is a substitute programming language for Java, but note that this doesn’t mean Java has become obsolete. Java is still receiving regular support from its developer.
Newer app developers use Kotlin for their mobile application development, but this programming language can be extended to server-side web development and client-side web development.
This language also shows its worth in server-side web development because of its integration potential with Java.
Large companies have slowly begun moving portions of their apps to Kotlin, file-by-file. This is only possible because their code is so similar.
Kotlin and Mobile App Development
Since Kotlin is now Google’s preferred language for mobile development, it’s easier than ever for newer developers to get into the mobile world.
If you’ve ever made a single parameter mistake in Java and need to fix it quickly, you know how stressful it can get. Whether you’re developing for web or mobile, Kotlin’s got your back.
This new language makes it easier to access web APIs with less writing and with only one programming language.
Kotlin’s developer JetBrains also makes Android Studio, which means Kotlin gives you full support for the Android platform!
If you don’t want to let go of the languages you already know, that’s okay! Other mobile app development languages are available, like Python or C#.
What Are the Benefits of Using Kotlin Code?
Switching to Kotlin from Java may disorient you if you don’t know too many programming languages. Fortunately, you can keep using both languages.
But if you decide to make the switch, here are some benefits of switching to Kotlin code:
#1 Quickly-Growing Community
Since its adoption by Google, the number of Kotlin developers has grown recently. New developers have more resources to fall back on if they encounter any issues.
This new language’s large community is a good safety net and source of help for newer developers. However, note that Kotlin is still fairly young.
Kotlin can’t match the long and concise documentation that Java can offer, but its rising popularity in both web and Android development means it may soon catch up.
#2 Cleaner Code
Java’s age can be seen through some of its older requirements, like long blocks of code that need lots of repetition. This “boilerplate code” is necessary but painful to write and write.
Kotlin handles this issue by having less redundant code by default, letting developers do more with less work and reducing the time spent copying and pasting boilerplate.
Take the main function, for example: In Kotlin, it reads ad “fun main(),” but it’s main() in Java. Despite both functions meaning the same thing, it’s a little more clearly defined in Kotlin.
Kotlin saves time by being inherently simpler than Java. It’s everything a sequel should be because it keeps everything good with Java but makes up for its blind spots.
Thanks to its clearer nature and ease of use, you can access powerful browser functions with this language using less code than a similarly-designed Java app.
While it won’t replace the original, Kotlin’s multi-platform uses make it flexible. A dev team can bypass having to rewrite their program for multiple embedded systems with Kotlin.
#4 Removes the Risk of Null Variables
This is one feature of Kotlin that Java veterans will appreciate. Kotlin has null safety, meaning every Kotlin variable is non-nullable by default.
So even if you accidentally leave a nullable expression in your code, your program won’t crash after you launch it!
Kotlin reduces the potential of null reference exceptions when running your code, like null pointer exceptions in Java. Add a safe call operator to keep your program safe from crashes.
#5 Faster Asynchronous Programming and Extension Support
Sometimes you’ve mistyped a function, but you only catch it after the current program version’s already gone live.
While Java offers some support for asynchronous programming, it’s often difficult and tedious to pull off properly. Kotlin takes the burden off you with the help of coroutines.
In case you’ve misdefined a class and need to add an extension function in Java, it’s fairly difficult, but Kotlin can clearly define the new class without problems!
Kotlin vs. Java Code: What Are the Differences?
Despite being similar, Kotlin and Java are still different languages. Here are some ways they differ:
- Java has more extensive Android documentation than Kotlin
- Kotlin can achieve the same results as Java with less boilerplate
- You don’t need semicolons in Kotlin, unlike Java
- Kotlin’s simpler and easier to work with
Kotlin as a language focuses on interoperability with its predecessor, which means it’s possible to rewrite older apps into Kotlin slowly.
Thanks to its interoperability, any standard Java libraries that your program requires are easily accessible through Kotlin.
Kotlin Being Interoperable With Java Code
Native code written in Java can be quickly moved over to Kotlin because these languages are fully interoperable.
This lets developers reuse their pre-written work instead of having to rewrite it in multiple languages whenever they move platforms.
Why Should You Learn Kotlin Code?
This object-oriented and functional language is worth learning whether you want to develop cross-platform mobile applications or enter the field of web development.
It’s easy to pick up, has a growing base of developers, and is fully supported by Android Studio and Google. Kotlin is future-proof and heavily supported, so it’s worth learning.
Note that it’s strongly typed, so variables like the var keyword or val keyword must be clearly defined before they can be used properly.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We’ve discussed the basics of this programming language, but if you have more questions, you might find them below:
Is Kotlin the Same as Java?
You’d be forgiven for assuming that Java and Kotlin are the same language since Kotlin’s being pushed as the “replacement” for Java. They’re similar but not the same.
Kotlin encourages speed and precision over Java, plus it has some features that Java lacks, like the ability to create extension functions and Lambda expressions.
Java’s enduring prevalence makes it hard to get away from this programming language, but Kotlin has been slowly gaining ground over the last few years.
Anyone who wishes to support Kotlin will find enough resources to get started but won’t find the same amount of resources as Java devs.
Is Kotlin the Same as Python?
Python is one of the “other” languages often touted as easy for beginners to pick up, so it’s usually compared to Kotlin.
These programming languages are different at a fundamental level because Kotlin offers greater support for functional programming in contrast to Python.
Python has more support for object-oriented programming than Kotlin, and it’s more popular than Kotlin for now. This may change in the future.
Is Kotlin Difficult to Learn?
Despite its powerful functions and increasing prevalence in Android development, Kotlin isn’t too difficult to pick up, as long as it’s not your first programming language.
This is mainly because Kotlin has one notable improvement over Java. It eliminates the need to create longer code blocks so developers can do more with less written work.
However, note that it’s important to learn Java before Kotlin to fully appreciate the ease of the newer language because, otherwise, Kotlin code may confuse you.
Is Kotlin Frontend or Backend?
Though typically used to write front-end code, Kotlin is ideal for full-stack web development.
Because it’s so often praised for its front-end usability, Kotlin is sometimes mistaken as unusable for back-end code.
However, Kotlin’s full integration with Java is also ideal for back-end web development. Note that your app may need extra work for server-side development if you use Kotlin.
Kotlin has quickly become one of the most popular programming languages, thanks to its support base. Android developers no longer have to stick with Java for their coding needs!
This modern programming language is ideal for multiple platforms and will produce powerful and flexible programs.
We hope we answered your questions about “what is Kotlin?” and what it’s all about.
Take the plunge and join the Kotlin team!
19 September 2022