What is Kotlin and its advantages and disadvantages of Kotlin
Technology is a fast-moving commodity. The rate at which newer ideas hit the stands is faster than ever before. The evolution and its adoption are one of the greatest stories of the 21st century. Even the older languages which ruled the roost for so many years are gradually transforming themselves and giving way to newer versions of themselves. There are also a few which have appeared as an alternative to the ones which have been used by millions of us globally for many years. One such language is Kotlin. It has been around for some time and came into public focus when Google announced it was supporting it in 2017.
What is Kotlin?
Kotlin is a programming language that runs on the Java Virtual Machine or JVM. It is an open-source programming language which was developed by JetBrains. The name has been derived from the Kotlin Island, which is situated near the city of St. Petersburg, Russia. While it does function on the Java Virtual Machine, Kotlin is not compatible with Java. However, it can interoperate with Java. In other words, the code written in Kotlin works well with Java as well as natively.
How does Kotlin work?
Kotlin uses an aggressive inference to calculate the types of values as well as expressions if they aren’t already stated. This makes it even more different from Java. The latter, at times, requires repetitive type specifications.
Usage of Kotlin?
Kotlin is a powerful language that has simplified the development process. It has inherently tried to take away the complexities that Java developers would face. The basic idea behind the development of the language was to create an alternative to the ever humongous and burgeoning language structure of Java. It is not just a great tool to be used for Android and iOS development, but it has also JVM development. Because of the presence of coroutines, developers can work with asynchronous code easily than before. In combination with Flow, which is Kotlin’s Reactive Stream, a replacement for RxJava has finally been found. This augurs well for developer community and the programming world.
Kotlin is a rising star, something I have already mentioned previously. The reason being the numerous advantages it provides to its users. There is a growing community of users who have reposed faith in the language and that is the reason why it is seeing more crossovers. It became more popular after Google started supporting it and when big techs support newer technologies, the only way to travel is up. Let us quickly look at some of the advantages that Kotlin provides and like all good things, the disadvantages too.
One of the reasons why projects succeed, or fail is the collective effort of the team as well as the existence of a clear channel of communication. Often, projects get delayed because of the complexities that arise out of challenging software which are difficult to work upon. However, with Kotlin, this is not the case. It is clear and compact, and its syntax is succinct and intuitive. This allows developers to easily grasp the nuances while programming with it. Team efficiency also improves, and projects are completed and delivered on time. Most Project Managers and CTOs would prefer to work with tools that increase the productivity of the team and improves efficiency. Timeline management for any organisation of great essence since a lot depends on it including the budget. With Kotlin, more work can be done within lesser time and writing fewer lines of codes.
Interoperability with JAVA
While Kotlin might not be Java compatible, but its codes are interoperable with Java. It is consistent with the Java structure and all its related tools and frameworks. This makes it easier for Java specialist to switch to Kotlin. However, there are instances where the project would need a separate base for Java. In that case, fret not, both the languages can be used concurrently. The beauty of Kotlin lies in its statically typed open-source architecture. As mentioned previously, it uses aggressive inferences to determine the types of values and expressions. This allows it work commendably well alongside Java and for that matter any other language. The feature of interoperability is one of the reasons for Kotlin’s immense popularity. Kotlin was also created to remove some of the issues Java developers had with the language. Despite Java’s immense popularity, Kotlin has illustrated amply that new ideas always a space for development and adoption.
A language is popular if it is easily maintainable and does not need debugging frequently. It would also mean that the program would have a large support base with an ecosystem of IDEs and SDK tools. Most developers look for such features while deciding to work on projects. Kotlin is an easily maintainable language which is supported by a vast majority of IDEs. This also includes Android Studio. The language is also supported by a host of SDK tools. Because of this advantage developers can work efficiently and improve productivity. Maintainability of code has been a long-standing pain for developers globally. Much effort has been put by software development companies in building codes that required less effort. While efficiency has improved over a period, there is still some way before we achieve absolute mastery over it. However, Kotlin has been able to bridge that gap considerably. It provides all the advantages to a developer. Because of its easy maintainability, developers can now focus more on development rather than troubleshooting and debugging. Kotlin also has been able to reduce the effort taken by users to create apps and that has had a positive effect on project deliveries. Overall, the easy maintainability of Kotlin has made it a sought-after asset for everyone.
Less of bugs
When it comes to programming, the one thing developers are most aware of are bugs. These are anomalies and errors that occur while programming. Much time is spent on the removal of bugs and organisations end up wasting considerable resources on it. However, not always is it the developer’s fault. Many a times, the language itself is the root cause for it. There are instances where features do not function properly because of the inherent flaws that the platform itself brings. This limits the scope of the product and thereby has a negative effect on the efficiency and deliverability. Kotlin is less buggy. Its codebase is clear and compact and remains stable and consistent on most occasions. The detection of bugs during compilation stage is also a major advantage. Developers can remove them as soon they are identified. Any error that is fixed before runtime bodes well for the project because it reduces the probability of a testing delay.
All the above advantages of Kotlin speaks of only one thing: it’s reliability. Compared to other emerging technologies that are gradually flooding the market, Kotlin is far more reliable. This is also the reason why Goggle began supporting it. One of the reasons behind its famed reliability is the insane amount of testing it has undergone. Kotlin is known to have undergone one of the longest periods of Alpha and beta testing effort. JetBrains while finally releasing Kotlin, made it reversely compatible thereby making it reliable for the existing Kotlin based apps. Reliability of tools and frameworks are an issue that every software worth its salt face during its lifespan. The development team must be able to remove most issues from the products before it is finally released as a product for the consumer to use. Kotlin is popular amongst its users because of this very reason and its legion of fans grow by the day.
Easy to Learn
A major drawback that most teams face is the long adoption time of languages. This is a concern across organisations globally. One of the pertinent justifications for this is the complexity of the programming language in use. An inordinate delay happens due to users taking up a lot of time trying to learn and understand a particular language before it is use. This is a real challenge and institutions are finding out ways to minimise it. Kotlin is a simple to use language that is built to enhance the features of Java. A mobile app developer who has mastered Java will not need to retrain oneself to become proficient in Kotlin. It is simply an extension of it. Easy to learn entities are more eagerly adopted by companies and teams and their growth too is unprecedented. Kotlin, over the years has further simplified its syntax formation and architecture to allow a larger number of users enjoy the many features that it provided. An easy to learn and use language is force multiplier.
Though Kotlin was built to work as an extension of Java and remove some of its issues, it is still different from it, no matter the similarities. This does make the job for mobile app developers who have worked long enough on Java a tad tough. While Kotlin is not a hard language to learn and most of it already resembles Java, it will not always simple for the developer to simply switch over. There are certain compatibility issues that does crop up from time to time. The development team of Kotlin are working furiously to remove this anomaly.
Slow Compilation Speed
Kotlin to a great extent is speedier than Java, especially when it comes to performing incremental builds. However, in the long run, Java being the larger entity will reign supreme. Java is known for its clean building and there is no denying the fact that in the long run, it will take much effort from Kotlin to really become the alternative it intends to become. Java has a wider reach and has been the go-to language for many decades and millions use it for their daily developmental work.
Supply and Demand
Kotlin is a new language and hence the adoption is slow. The process of awareness is gradual and probably in the next few years it will attain greater popularity. This has created a major challenge for companies though. Those who have moved to Kotlin are facing a shortage of qualified manpower. The supply and demand curve for Kotlin is skewed with not many developers with the knowledge of Kotlin available. There is also the case of those who have worked for years on Java and not wanting to crossover. The early adoption of the language as an alternative to Java has therefore hit a roadblock since without a large user base, no software grows.
Even there are numerous learning resources which help developers know more about Kotlin, it is nowhere near enough. There are limited learning opportunities in Kotlin and that is because of its newness. A limited learning resource constricts the availability of knowledge and thereby creates a roadblock for further growth. Every new-fangled technology faces the same and over a period it develops enough learning material for its users. Kotlin too will be able to do same and time will say how fast that would be. As of now, more needs to be done to propagate the presence of this wonderful language that can be a game changer, as suggested earlier.
Kotlin is gradually taking up its rightful space in the world of app development. Because of its numerous features and advantages, the language provides great benefits to its users. It is still a journey that needs to be fulfilled before the full potential of Kotlin can be experienced. In the meantime, there are certain niggles that every entity faces during its growth. These are birth pangs, and it is expected that with the backing of big tech, it would be overcome soon.