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As we all know, Java has been one of the most popular and widely used programming language since its inception in the 1990s. In the middle of new millennium, after Sun Microsystems made Java Virtual Machine (JVM) free and open source software development tool, its popularity skyrocketed further. So, why is Kotlin getting preference nowadays among the programmers? Before delving into the answer, let us first know a little about the Kotlin programming language.
Kotlin was developed in 2011 by Jetbrains as a new programming language for JVM as they found many features lacking in available languages of the times. Dmitry Jemerov, the lead programmer of the project, said that only the language Scala met most of their requirements but had exceptionally slow compilation times. The name ‘Kotlin’ is derived from an island near St. Petersberg, Russia and it followed the same nomenclature as Java. In 2012, Kotlin was declared as an open source programming language. The 1st declared stable and bug-free version was Kotlin v1.0, which was released in 2016 and currently the latest available version is v1.3, released in 2018 with added features like asynchronous programming and coroutines.
Now, let us have a look at the many advantages offered by Kotlin programming language.
With the declaration of Google that it will offer its full support for Kotlin on the Android application development platform during the Google I/O 2017 annual developers’ conference, most application developers switched to it to take full benefits of the global software giants’ support. Even Applications already written in Java are being re-written in Kotlin for this reason. Thus, along with the developer-friendly nature of the language as it was developed for their benefit and convenience in the first place, Kotlin is projected as the future of Android application development.
As per Wikipedia,
Kotlin is a cross-platform, statically typed, general-purpose programming language with type inference.
It can also be fully integrated with JVM and it takes lesser amount than Java when programming similar functions. This directly translates into lesser number of errors and more output in the same amount of time.
As we have seen with many other successful open source software projects, there is considerable support behind Kotlin programming language. AS developers are already taking active interest in the language, there is cutting-edge work being done on it all the time. Also, the Kotlin Slack team is dedicated towards providing all the required support to the developers.
Even though Kotlin was developed in 2011 and was declared open source in 2012, its first officially ratified version was released in 2016. So, the interim period of five years were used to develop the product on a systematic basis. Many alpha and beta version testing were carried out by programmers who liberally used it during this period to further fine tune the product for future use. Thus, we see much smoother operation and excellent IDE support in the language and it allows most of Java’s developer-friendly features to work without any issues.
When compared with other prevalent languages like Java or Scala, Kotlin offers a much smoother development process. It was developed keeping the rigidity issues of Java or the high compilation times of Scala in mind and is meant to be superior in such aspects. Even the library size of Kotlin is much smaller, thus keeping the method counts low thus allowing for easier application development.
Kotlin v3.0 is fully integrated with Android Studio thus providing it the required speed for Android applications. A programmer can set up a Kotlin project in less than 10 minutes even if he is new to the language. Even the older version of the languages only requires a plugin to fully integrate with Android. Kotlin can fully coalesce with the provided IDE and can be easily debugged. Almost all the positive features of Java can be found in Kotlin and it is without the drawbacks of its predecessors.
Kotlin came into existence because its developers felt the need for a better programming language which can overcome the drawbacks of its contemporaries. Also, the language is used internally by its developers for its own set of products, thus it is in their own interest in keeping the product developed and up to date. Now, with another global giant like Google backing it, there are more numbers of technically brilliant minds working towards its constant improvement. Even now there are constant additions and alterations to the product which contributes towards its overall enhancement of functionality.
As the saying goes, “the only thing constant is change”. Java programmers have become common and most of them have learned to live with its drawbacks. But Kotlin provides developers with s much better tool which eases their workload to a great extent. Also, learning a modern and more efficient language opens their minds to focus more on innovation and creativity. Developers are excited to learn something new and their thirst for knowledge is rekindled while they are encouraged to discard the old and avoid stagnation.
Kotlin offers a higher level of safety than Java as its creation was to eradicate the inherent drawbacks of the contemporary programming languages. Java does not offer enough security due to its inherent design which leads to more coding, thus wasting resources like time and money. Also, one of the most error-prone area of Java is the null function, which is absent in Kotlin unless the programmer expressly requests it. The null pointer exception is absent from Kotlin which is one of the reasons of it being safer than Java.
While being functionally superior to Java, it is based on the same principles of its predecessors thus making it easy to master for contemporary programmers. The developers of the language kept this aspect in mind and ensured that Java programmers are easily able to adapt to it. The new elements that are not a part of Java needs to be carefully studied and understood conceptually, thus making the learning process interesting. Kotlin provides a platform for exercising the creative faculties of the programmer and encourages them to solve problems differently.
To conclude, Kotlin is a well-developed programming language meant to overcome the shortcomings of its predecessors. It is open source, easy to learn and work with while providing full integration with IDE and Android. It contains the best features to Java while its drawbacks have been improved upon or discarded altogether. With commitment towards its constant improvement from Jetbrains and Google, Kotlin’s future looks bright and it is set to replace Java as the preferred language for Android application development.
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