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The end for Java?

Kotlin vs Java: Which programming language to choose for your Android application

Harshal Shah
kotlin
© Shutterstock / quietbits

In the Android development community, usage for Kotlin continues to grow, especially since its introduction as a preferred language by Google in 2017. So, which language should you choose for developing your app for Android? This article goes over some of the benefits that developing in Kotlin has over Java.

As we write, the Kotlin mobile app development community is continuing to grow. It was in the year 2017 when Google recognized Kotlin as the second official language of Android app development. Since then, we have seen a monumental rise in the demand for the programming language amongst developers and enterprise communities. Google has already announced Kotlin as one of the most preferred languages for Android app developers. This goes to show that this programming language will prove to be pragmatic, state-of-the-art, and intuitive. 

In the forthcoming sections of this write-up, we have provided a comprehensive differentiation between Java and Kotlin programming languages that can be employed for Android app development. We promise after reading this piece of content; you will be in a far better position to apply Android app development services more effectively. 

kotlin

The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.

Let’s start by understanding Kotlin.

Kotlin is a statistically typed programming language that is primarily employed for JavaScript and Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Some even describe it as a general-purpose language. It introduces functional features that assist in supporting Java interoperability. The principal purpose behind the project’s development was heightened productivity. Its ultimate objective is to enhance the coding experience to make it look practical and useful. 

One of the significant focuses is to enable mixed-language projects. It tries to introduce enhanced syntax along with precise expressions and abstractions. By employing Kotlin with Java, it is possible to reduce excessive boilerplate code. This way, it provides a win-win situation for Android developers.

Where does Kotlin stand as a programming language in the year 2019?

Since Google introduced Kotlin in the year 2017, the programming language has seen a vast amount of growth in Android development. You will be surprised to know that the KotlinConf has been held only twice; however, it has become an institution in the developer community.

It tries to ensure its accessibility across all platforms. However, multi-platform programming has given prominence to a much more innovative outlook, i.e., sharing codes between all platforms. As Kotlin 1.3 has been released, enhancements in Kotlin/Native take the concept of multi-platform convenience to another level. 

SEE ALSO: Jakarta EE 8 is sprinting towards an exciting future for enterprise Java

As a result, today, Android developers can employ a single integrated development environment (IDE) to develop Kotlin on all platforms. The latest release provides more mobile app scalability. This has been possible with the help of code reuse, which ensures saving of time and effort that can be put in to deal with more challenging tasks.  

Kotlin/Native employs the compiler technology LLMV to integrate Kotlin sources into stand-alone binaries for multiple operating systems and CPU architectures, including Windows, iOS, Linux, Webassembly, and Mac.

In the current year, we are seeing more and more enterprises migrating to Kotlin. Alternatively, some are planning to do that. We are also witnessing mobile products like Netflix, Airbnb, Evernote, Pinterest, Twitter, and Trello switching to Kotlin for Android applications. Although the emergence of cross-platform Kotlin development has not been explosive, major industry players are observing the benefits offered.

So, does that mean it is the end of Java? Let’s find out.

Is the end of Java near?

Developers have a mixed opinion on this topic.

Java is a popular programming language that consists of a wide array of open-source tools and libraries that aid developers. However, no language is without loopholes, and Java has its own set of complications that can make the job of a developer intricate. With the introduction of Kotlin, developers will have solutions to regular programming headaches. It will enhance the Java ecosystem as a whole.  

In the last few years, Kotlin has become a more stable and harmonious development alternative for Android studio. Certain developers have the opinion that it will end Java’s association for Android development in the years to come while others think that both can coexist without outweighing the other.

The very first thing is the fact that Kotlin’s strengths are much more than its setbacks. Java has to deal with certain limitations that impede Android API design. On the other hand, Kotlin is lightweight, clean, and far less tedious. This is especially true in terms of writing callbacks, data classes, and getters/setters. In more simple terms, Kotlin has been designed to enhance prevailing Java models by providing solutions to API design deficiencies. 

These are some of Java’s weaknesses addressed by Kotlin.

Conciseness

There are a wide array of developers who praise Kotlin for its conciseness. This is one thing missing in Java. However, it has got to be said that reliability is much more critical than conciseness. It simplifies the job of developers by mitigating the risk for error. However, it does not practice concision solely for the sake of concision. The problem is the boilerplate code that makes it difficult to read and results in more bugs and wasted time to find them.

We have mentioned a simple calculator function written in Java.

public class ClearBridge { 

public static double calculate (double a, String op, double b) throws Exception { 
	switch (op) { 
		case "add": 
			return a + b; 
		case "subtract":
			return a - b;
		case "multiply":
			return a * b; 
		case "divide": 
			return a / b;
		default: 
			throw new Exception();
		}
	}

The same can be put in with the help of Kotlin.

fun calculate (a: Double, op: String, b: Double): Double { 
	when (op) { 
		"add" -> return a + b
		"subtract" -> return a - b
		"multiply" -> return a * b
		"divide" - > return a / b 
		else -> throw Exception()
	}
}

Although you might say that there is not much difference between the codes, the Kotlin version has been written in half the lines of code that it took for the program to run Java. Conciseness is exceptionally critical when it comes to productivity. If you wish to write large projects, it becomes effortless for the developer when he/she has more power for every line of code. A key point of differentiation is the fact that the Kotlin syntax is readable, concise and still substantial.

SEE ALSO: Top programming languages in 2019: Python sweeps the board

Interoperability

The core purpose of Kotlin is interoperability. From the start, the project intends to employ the collective knowledge and expertise to every library accessible to programmers. The developers can write modules in Kotlin that can run without any problem in the existing Java code.

Final words

In the end, it has got to be said that Kotlin has established itself as a preferred programming language for mobile app development. It provides ample opportunities to experiment with modern programming. All in all, it has set a new benchmark for what a programming language should be able to accomplish.

Author

Harshal Shah

Harshal Shah is CEO at Elsner Technologies Pvt.Ltd, Elsner is an Android app development company. Its services include, but not limited to, Magento development, WordPress development, iBeacon and iPhone app development, website design & SEO services.


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9 Comments on "Kotlin vs Java: Which programming language to choose for your Android application"

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Whiteray Coaching
Guest

The explanation you have given about kotlin language is superb. As per the article the kotlin is really helpful, it is simple and concise.

Morten Slott Hansen
Guest

Being a long time Android developer using Android Studio I must say that all the fuzz about writing less is silly. The IDE does a really good job at code completion so it’s really not that big of a deal. Also lamda and libs such as butter knife keep the code slimmed down.

Marko
Guest

I don’t have any problem with the Kotlin, but this text sucks especially that last example :). Write the program in any language you feel comfortable. I hate when I waste 10 good minutes of my life on text like these. When programming, you do 3 things, thinking, writing and debugging. The least time you spend is in writing. Bad programmer makes bugs and not the langauge he is using for writing.

Mario Bolden
Guest

The code for Java is not double compared to kotlin.

Nijat
Guest

The example given here is ridiculous. If the aim is achieving same number of lines, you can write each case of switch statement in single line.

Gregg Ian
Guest

Been using kotlin since 2017 on a big webapp project. I love it. I’m doing 2 projects at the same time using java and kotlin. They can co-exist. Kotlin uses the same java libraries.

Wkfnns
Guest

This is such a terrible comparison… The example showed kotlin with half the lines of code when in reality both were the same lines of code. The Kotlin example just removed line breaks. Overall bad comparison

Tom Dall
Guest

If you don’t go to a new line for the return of each case in the Java version, then you have the same number of lines…

Guest
Guest

Kotlin, your blog is very helpful.