How do you use Kotlin?

Kotlin rising: JetBrains’ census reveals the community’s trends

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock / Johanna Varner

Now that Android expressed that they will become “Kotlin-first”, Kotlin is on the radar. This programming language has been on the rise over the past few years. The latest census from JetBrains explores what’s trending in the community, and what developers are using Kotlin for.

Kotlin is on the up and up. A recent blog by JetBrains’ Roman Elizarov explained that functional programming is on the rise.

At Google I/O 2019, Android announced that “Android will be increasingly Kotlin-first”.

Two years ago, we announced Kotlin was a supported language for Android. Our top developers loved it already, and since then, it’s amazing how fast it’s grown. Over 50% of professional Android developers now use Kotlin, it’s been one of the most-loved languages two years running on Stack Overflow, and one of the fastest-growing on GitHub in number of contributors. Many new Jetpack APIs and features will be offered first in Kotlin. If you’re starting a new project, you should write it in Kotlin.

Chet Haase, Android Developers Blog

JetBrains also released the data from their Kotlin Census 2018. This census helps determine what’s rising and fluctuating in the community. What do developers want out of this rising programming language?

Growth and usage

What is the main usage of Kotlin? Most developers use it in production code (58%).

SEE ALSO: I deploy on Fridays (and maybe you should too)

As for people not yet using the language in Kotlin, they refer to lack of knowledge as the number one reason stopping them. This response grew from the 2017 census results: from 36% to 55%. The second most popular answer is ‘low language adoption’, followed by ‘colleagues don’t want to use a new language’.

According to the survey, Java takes the lead as developers’ primary programming language. 42% of respondents remarked that they mostly use Java. However, this is slightly less than 2017 responses, where 49% of respondents mainly used Java.

Similarly, Kotlin as a main programming language grew a small amount: from 37% to 39%.

Meanwhile, Most programmers have been writing in the language for less than 2 years. As the language matures, we will see the length of usage grow. It should also be taken into consideration that the length of time spent with the language may affect a person’s desire to take a survey on the language. (Shout out to the 2% of respondents have been using Kotlin for more than 4 years! Bravo!)

App development

Mobile app development ranks as the most popular kind of app (followed by web back-end). According to JetBrains, “25% of users are developing 2 types of apps with Kotlin”, showing that the language can be used for a variety of different kinds of creations.

As expected, Android development grew over the past year. 66% of respondents develop for Android.  Android Studio also ranks as the most popular tool for mobile development.

SEE ALSO: Why we still use command line interface tools

With the aforementioned announcement from Android about Kotlin-first features, this growth makes sense and may continue rising. Most respondents develop for Android Oreo, followed by Nougat, Pie, and Marshmallow.

Kotlin/JVM is the most popular flavor however, with 67% of respondents using it.

When it comes to the JDK, a majority of respondents develop for JDK 8 (84%). 27% of respondents develop for JDK 11. With the new JDK release cadence and the end of support coming for JDK 8, will this number change soon?

Are you a Kotlin programmer? How do your own experiences compare to the JetBrains census?

Let’s see how the language changes over the next year!

Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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