While the world is going gaga over the ‘oh-so-awesome’ apps on the Android platform, what stays behind the scene is the revolutionizing innovations that is empowering the Android app developers worldwide. While Android mobile app development since its inception have been powered by the goodness of the Java technology, the community since 2017 has been introduced to the next level of mobile app development - thanks to Kotlin.
KOTLIN – An Introduction
Kotlin (named after an island in Petersburg, Russia) is a statically-typed programming language developed by JetBrains. Although, it came into existence in 2011, it made heads turn when it was acknowledged as Google’s official language during Google I/O 2017 and was included in Android Studio 3.0.
Fig. Kotlin’s user base has increased from 0.1% in 2011 to 46.8% in 2017 following GoogleI/O announcement (Source)
Fig. The biggest Kotlin advantages – At a glance.
Techtic Solutions as a progressive mobile app development company unleashes the power of this revolutionary technology, as the arrival of Kotlin gives coders an alternative to the traditionally used Java language for Android mobile application development. Let’s do a friendly Java vs. Kotlin comparison to demystify the best of both the technologies.
KOTLIN vs. JAVA –Adding to the Learning Curve
More so, Kotlin is also found to share a number of syntaxes like Java.
Android app developers coding with Java have always being dealing with the NullPointerExceptions wherein, if a null value is assigned to any of the object references, this exception is thrown. However, Kotlin steers clear of this problem – all thanks to its inherent null-safety feature. Unless specifically marked as "nullable," no variable in Kotlin code can hold a null value. So, even if you do assign a null value mistakenly, the code will fail through the compilation process.
Source: Pusher - State of Kotlin report
Interoperability - An Added Advantage
Java and Kotlin works seamlessly in tandem, sans risk of any error within the same project. This interoperability is a boon for the coders as both Java and Kotlin classes can reside concurrently in the project. This does away with the need for full project conversion (to Kotlin), or having to initiate a project from scratch – thus seamlessly allowing Kotlin libraries to be used in Java projects, while upholding the legacy Java codes intact.
Redefining Verbosity – Less is More!
Kotlin is redefining verbosity when it comes to the volume of coding required as against Java development, for carrying out the same function. Considering Kotlin is designed as a more compact language than Java, Kotlin Android Extensions allows the references to be quickly imported into Activity files (within Views), and that View can then be used in the code as part of the Activity.
So, you do not have to rewrite the ‘findViewByld’ method for each case. All you need to do before using the Kotlin extensions is add an additional plugin in the build.gradle file (within the module).
Checked Exceptions – Not anymore!
Checked exceptions are synonymous to Java, as Android app developers are known to ‘catch and declare’ the exceptions, while it’s not a prerogative when it comes to Kotlin app development. It is seen that many developers still prefer to go the traditional way of checked exceptions (preferring to build a more robust and effective code), with greater emphasis on error recovery.
However, there is a catch. Lengthy pieces of code can make things cluttered. The absence of checked exceptions in Kotlin makes things simpler, even though it relies on individual ‘developer’ preferences.
Increased Size of .apk – It Matters
This is however, not applicable in Javas there is no such increase in the run time sizes of .apk files. To make matters worse if it may,increased file size can cause issues mainly with apps download. Java however, has the edge in this context as there is a relative dearth of complex Kotlin examples online.
Widening Conversions -Implicit vs. Explicit
While Java offers built-in support for Android developers so as to perform implicit widening conversions with numbers every time; coding in Kotlin requires undergoing similar conversions but explicitly (as implicit conversions are not supported). Here the Java framework has the added advantage as smaller data types are converted to larger types under the hood, taking into note their efficiency and simplicity.
Higher-Order Functions and Data Classes
The arrival of Java 8 has made life easier for Android developers as support was finally extended for lambdas, but there are still limitations when it comes to features. Kotlin, on the other hand is a lot more developer-friendly as it allows variables to be able to store functions for later use.
Lambdas are supported in Kotlin, and that too with other higher-order functions (taken as parameters), like callback functions. Also, with Kotlin coders get to perform the same function just by adding a keyword (‘data’) inside the class definition. While in Java you create new fields and constructors for data storage; in Kotlin, all ‘getters/setters’ are auto-generated by the compiler.
Kotlin 1.3.20 Released – More Power to You!
Kotlin recently announced the release of Kotlin 1.3.20, that comes with a new bug fix and tooling update, along with improvements to the compiler and IDE.
While Java 8 (being mainly procedural) boasts of features like type annotations, lambda expressions, and method references on Android; Kotlin development brings the best of procedural and functional programming for developers. Kotlin in short, is unassumingly an enhancement on Java, rather than a substitute.
Kotlin 1.3.20 is here!
- Building multiplatform projects with Gradle Kotlin DSL
- Shorter build time for Kotlin/JS with incremental compilation
- Faster Gradle builds with parallel task execution
- Code contracts in Kotlin/Native
and more: https://t.co/ljg0Gytb4z
— Kotlin (@kotlin) January 23, 2019
So, if you are an expert Android app developer with vast experience in Java, working on Kotlin will be a cakewalk considering its more progressive, lightweight and well-versed language. How has been your experience working on Kotlin? We’d love to hear from you.