Ups and Downs of Kotlin – Is It Better than Java Programming Language?

When you say Android programming, the chances are that the first programming language that comes to your mind is Java, and rightfully so. But since Google announced they now started to support Kotlin as Android’s official language, the situation is likely to change in the future. Nevertheless, just like Kotlin has raised a few questions.

One of them asked both by seasoned professionals and new entrants on the market for Android apps, is whether it’s smart to make a transition to this latest craze of a language or stick to the traditional and well-known Java.

After weighing all the upsides and downsides of Kotlin here we’ve come up with the following review. We have also got enormous help from Ms. Abby Adams, the senior business analyst at Itransition (a software development company), to find out all bright and dull sides of Kotlin. So, if you consider joining such tech giants as Atlassian, Pivotal, Pinterest, Evernote, and Uber, make sure that you understand all the benefits and possible shortcomings of this language.

The Sunny Side of Kotlin

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100% Java interoperability

Ups and Downs of Kotlin - Point 1One of the main strengths of this programming language is its compatibility with Java. Kotlin goes well with all Java-based components and therefore enables Java-to-Kotlin migration. It’s not altogether impossible to bring Java and Kotlin together within one project with no downsides to it, as the software development company Itransition has seen in its practice.

Due to this feature, you can try and launch a pilot programming project on a fraction of your code. In case of success, you could transfer to Kotlin gradually, or introduce Kotlin only in the new components from then on.

Recommended for you: Java Programming: The Core Concepts of Java Development.

Fewer bugs and increased productivity

Ups and Downs of Kotlin - Point 2Unlike Java, Kotlin is the language with a clean and powerful syntax.  This usually results in up to 25–35% less source code, while the generated bytecode remains about the same size and efficiency. This feature should make coding in Kotlin a much more enjoyable experience. As you can see, Kotlin can contribute to your team’s efficiency considering that it takes noticeably fewer efforts to create and implement a new code.

Also, by being more concise and cleaner, Kotlin enables developers to deliver a more stable code that contains fewer bugs.  Also, as all the errors are detected during compilation, Kotlin appears to be safer than Java.

Stress-free learning

Ups and Downs of Kotlin - Point 3Since Kotlin tends to be an improved option for Java-based programming, it takes a reasonable amount of time for developers to learn it. They will find that many skills they acquired throughout their Java career apply to their Kotlin projects. For Java developers, most of the Kotlin syntax will feel familiar. And if in some case, Java developers encounter a code that differs significantly, they can still comprehend it thanks to Kotlin’s intuitive and easy-to-read design.

Outstanding compatibility with Android Studio

Ups and Downs of Kotlin - Point 4Kotlin has been developed by the creators of IntelliJ, that is the base for Android Studio, the third most popular IDE with just under 10% share and almost 9% growth in the last 5 years according to the PYPL Index. Thus, Android Studio provides top compatibility with Kotlin.

Android Studio can read, compile and run Kotlin-based code easily.  Using it, developers can also fix bugs, use auto-complete, navigate the code, carry out unit testing and fully refactor Kotlin.  Java-to-Kotlin conversion is also possible after your Android Studio project is configured to support Kotlin.

Maturity

Ups and Downs of Kotlin - Point 5Although it has been officially acknowledged by Google only recently, Kotlin was initially introduced in 2011. Since then it has been polished and tested thoroughly before its ultimate release, which makes it a mature and reliable programming language.

On the other hand…

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Besides all the mentioned advantages, Kotlin has its flaws that need to be taken into consideration before making the transition.

Larger file package size

Ups and Downs of Kotlin - point-01One of the main drawbacks is that the size of .apk grows heavily due to the runtime and the Kotlin Standard Library. Although the additional size makes less than 1 megabyte,  for large apps this extra size can result in fewer downloads eventually.

Compilation speed

Ups and Downs of Kotlin - point-02According to some developers, another downside of Kotlin is its slower compilation speed. Although Kotlin is faster than Java in this regard, sometimes it´s slower indeed.

Java Kotlin Seconds Chart

Code readability

Ups and Downs of Kotlin - point-03Its true Kotlin is clear and concise, but at times it can be difficult to decipher some bits because they’re so tightly packed. In comparison, some unfamiliar bits of Java is easier to comprehend.

This simply means that unfamiliar Java code is easier to decipher than that that’s unfamiliar in Kotlin.

You may also like: 5 Best Programming Languages for Mobile App Development.

Less professional support yet

Ups and Downs of Kotlin - point-04Kotlin is still in its early adoption phase, and the community surrounding it is only starting to form. If you think about becoming a Kotlin developer, you couldn’t find much of helpful materials out there, including developers’ manuals and forums.

Lack of professional workforce

Ups and Downs of Kotlin - point-05There’s still a lack of professional Kotlin developers because the language is young. Still, the number of Kotlin-related vacancies is steadily going up.

So, is it better than Java?

Ups and Downs of Kotlin - conclusion

That being said, in certain aspects Kotlin is better than Java, while in others it still cannot compete with its predecessor.  But will you choose a concise syntax and increased productivity with outstanding Android Studio support over a smaller file package size and faster compilation speed with an established support community? Let’s discuss your opinion on which is better in comments.

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Article Published by Souvik Banerjee

Web Developer & SEO Specialist with 10+ years of experience in Open Source Web Development, specialized in Joomla & WordPress development. He is also the moderator of this blog "RS Web Solutions".

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