Kotlin vs. Java: Android Programming Language

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For developers, what can be more exhilarating than a new programming language. Just like Java was named after the Java Island, Kotlin’s name comes from the Kotlin Island, thus starting the conflict between these two. We have covered some comparisons between these two languages.

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In Java, Groovy and Scala both are powerful and versatile languages however they are also verbose, and not optimised for mobile.

Android’s answer to keeping up with the rapid pace of mobile development – The Kotlin programming language.

Let’s understand Kotlin first:

Kotlin is a statically-typed programming language that runs on the Java Virtual Machine and also can be compiled to JavaScript source code or uses the LLVM compiler infrastructure. Although the syntax isn’t compatible with Java, Kotlin is designed to interoperate with Java code and is reliant on Java code from the existing Java Class Library.

Kotlin is an enhancement to Java, rather than a completely new language, so many of your skills that you’ve acquired through your Java career should still be applicable to your Kotlin projects.

Well, why should iOS developers have all the fun? If you’re an Android developer and if you’re thinking of rewriting your Java project in Kotlin. Don’t stress – the Kotlin plugins have you covered. These plugin even has a handy tool that allows you to convert a Java source file to Kotlin.

Switching to Kotlin from Java:

Although Java 8 introduced a lot of new features for developers and is a modern programming language, Android specific developers can use it only partially and are stuck with Java 7. Java’s syntax is also pretty verbose, particularly when compared to some other modern programming languages.

So you may want to switch to one of the many modern programming languages that are designed to run on the JVM, like Kotlin. Its greatest strengths are the sheer level of interoperability between Java and Kotlin. Everything will still compile flawlessly and users won’t be able to tell which parts of your project are written in Java, and which parts are written in Kotlin. You won’t have to convert or rewrite anything at all.

It is an enhancement to Java, rather than a completely new language, so many of your skills that you’ve acquired through your Java career should still be applicable to your Kotlin projects. Also, just in case you come across some code which seems drastically different since Kotlin is also designed to be intuitive and easy to read you should still be able to get an idea of what’s happening there.

It is a crossover between procedural and functional programming and aims to bring you the best of both worlds by combining concepts and elements from both.

For the Android developers out there, Kotlin is developed by JetBrains, the company behind IntelliJ, which is also the IDE that Android Studio is based on.

If you compare a Java class and a Kotlin class, the one written in Kotlin will typically be much more concise and compact. As every developer knows, less code means fewer bugs!
 Few drawbacks in Kotlin too:

  • There is an extra runtime size, the Kotlin Standard Library and runtime will increase the size of your APK but this only equates to around 800KB.
  • The biggest factor that might worry a developer is that Kotlin isn’t officially endorsed by Google. Also, on Stack Overflow, when compared to Java, Kotlin has a smaller community and thus lesser available help.

In conclusion, Java 6, 7 and 8, with all their workarounds, back-ports and tools to overcome those hurdles, still had room for improvement and it grew up in the same room. The newer, lightweight Kotlin is designed to advance existing Java paradigms, solve problems with API design flaws, and even though it’s equally suited for enterprise back-end systems, make Android mobile development better.

Overall, It is one of the safest bet as an alternative to Java for custom Android app development.
And did I mention, that semicolons are optional 😉

Stay tuned for more updates.

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