With the rise of Kotlin, Android development has been much easier compared to the Java days. Programmers love using Kotlin for creating mind-blowing Android applications for various purposes. It was a known fact that, Java was a bit difficult to master, especially for the beginners. With the arrival of Kotlin, everything was much easier and productive compared to Java. The language is easy to understand and maintain, there are fewer chances of making a mistake because of the simplicity and smaller learning curve, and a lot more benefits make it perfect for Android development.
But still, it is not the most perfect language out there. With that being said, today we are going to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Kotlin.
What is Kotlin?
Kotlin is a modern programming language primarily used for Android app development. Kotlin has become very popular among developers due to its ease of use. It is also easy and fun to learn and works very well with Java.
You can use Kotlin and Java in the same project and create anything out of your imagination. Also, it is a concise language, so you do not have to worry about writing hundreds of lines of code just to move something. You can do much more with Kotlin with fewer lines of code. It is also very safe to use.
What is the Goal of Kotlin?
The aim of Kotlin is to eliminate some common programming mistakes that later lead to bugs. Another feature of Kotlin that makes it popular among the developers is its versatility. You can use this language to build apps, web applications, and whatnot. Kotlin also boosts productivity and is reliable to use. Now, Google has also started supporting Kotlin for Android development, further increasing its popularity.
Advantages of Kotlin
Even though Kotlin is fairly new compared to the programming languages such as Java, it has a lot of advantages over traditional Java Android development. In this section, we are going to discuss those. Here are 5 advantages of Kotlin:
1. Smaller learning curve
Compared to its predecessor Java, Kotlin’s learning curve is much smaller. Anyone who has a basic understanding of programming can start developing in Kotlin without any previous Android development experience.
Instead of just cloning the functionalities of Java, Kotlin focuses on enhancing its features to be much more reliable and easy, based on the most useful parts of the high-level programming languages. This allows Kotlin to deliver the exact same functionality with a much cleaner and easy-to-learn structure.
2. Productivity improvement
Because it is easy to learn and maintain, there is a huge productivity boost compared to Java and other Android development programming languages, it may not be as fast as coding in Flutter.
However, given the functionality and the well-thought-out features, if you really want to make Android development much more fun and easy, Kotlin is the best choice out there. Kotlin can be extremely productive at the same time being powerful for developing complex applications that require a lot of business logic.
3. Fewer bugs
If you code in Kotlin, the chances of making bugs are extremely low compared to other complex programming languages. The reason is very simple and straightforward. Because it is easy to learn and only involves less code to accomplish the same thing, the number of bugs will be also less.
So, if you are a Kotlin programmer, the time you spend on fixing bugs will be extremely low compared to other languages. Definitely a catch for experienced developers who frequently spend hours figuring out the source of a bug.
4. Better reliability
More and more developers are moving towards programming languages that are easy to write and manage. This means complex programming languages such as Java might go stale in the near future. While it is not a certainty, the latest statistics based on the programming language surveys suggest that it is better to go with the high-level programming languages unless you want to really dig deep into the features provided by the platforms.
Of course, if you want to make use of the extremely advanced functions that are only accessible with low-level languages such as Java, you have no other option except to go for it. If that is not the case, going with a high-level programming language such as Kotlin will definitely provide you with better reliability moving forward.
5. Incorporate with Java
If you want to start using Kotlin, you do not have to completely rewrite your code base into the language. You can simply integrate it with the existing Java code and start writing the new sections in Kotlin. The reason is very simple, Kotlin is built on top of Java. This means, any code that you write in Kotlin is basically Java code. This can be a huge advantage for companies that already use a lot of Java code.
Disadvantages of Kotlin
Kotlin has a lot of advantages, as we saw in the previous section. But it also has a lot of cons that you might want to be aware of before jumping into the Kotlin app development. Here are the 5 disadvantages of Kotlin:
1. Not as mature as Java
One of the biggest drawbacks of starting with Kotlin is that it is not a mature programming language like Java. This means that there could be a lot of bugs and huge changes coming up with every update. Even though there is a huge community around the language, if you run into some rare bugs, you might get stuck on it without getting an answer for a while.
While programming languages such as Java have been around for decades, it is very easy to get an answer for almost any bug that you might come across.
2. A bit slower
Kotlin is fast in a lot of areas, such as performing incremental builds. However, when it comes to raw power in developing clean Android applications, Java is still the winner. The reason is obvious, because Kotlin is built on top of Java it is not going to get the exact same performance because of the underlying codebase that has to run on top of the basic Java language.
It is not extremely slow, and is completely ignorable considering the ease it provides in developing Android applications, eradicating the complexity for the beginners. This is a common disadvantage of high-level programming languages.
3. Hiring can be difficult
Because Kotlin is developed recently and is not as mature as Java as mentioned earlier, the number of available developers for Kotlin is also not as big. If you are a big company and planning to hire Kotlin developers as soon as possible, especially if the number is high, you might find it difficult to find experienced Kotlin developers.
While many job portals such as Indeed have a pretty big list of Kotlin developers, finding good ones might be a bit difficult compared to hiring a Java developer. If you are a small company and just want to hire one or two, it will not be a big problem.
4. Learning Kotlin can be hard
When we say learning Kotlin can be hard, we are not referring to the programming language itself, but finding proper learning materials. When you have carefully crafted learning materials made by experienced professionals, learning anything can be extremely easy.
Because Kotlin is a fairly new programming language, the number of available resources that you can refer to is minimal. That means you will have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to do a certain thing in Kotlin, even when there are Java alternatives available everywhere on the internet.
5. You still need Java
Even though you are planning to completely program you are application in Kotlin, you might still want to use Java For certain things. Because the language is not mature enough to provide every single functionality that you might need, especially accessing the advanced functionalities of the hardware, you might still want to make use of Java to make those things work.
So technically, you will be incorporating a lot of Java code inside your Kotlin project. While it cannot be considered as a complete disadvantage, because Kotlin might force you to learn Java anyway, there is still a setback. We should not forget that Java also has a lot of advantages and disadvantages.
Uses of Kotlin
Kotlin is one of those rare programming languages that supports both object-oriented and functional programming. And that is why it has plenty of uses. Let us learn where Kotlin proves itself to be the most useful:
- Android Development: Google announced its support for the Kotlin language on Android in the year 2017. It greatly impacted the significance and popularity of the language. Since then, many developers have started using it to create Android apps, thanks to its concise syntax and function with Java.
- Server-Side Development: Kotlin can also be used for server-side development. It is known for working well with popular frameworks like Spring Boot, which provides developers with a great set of tools for building good applications.
- Cross-Platform Development: If you want to use Kotlin for Cross-Platform development, you will have to get help from Kotlin Multiplatform (KMP). KMP is used by developers to share code across different platforms, like iOS, Android, etc. By doing so, you can save a lot of time and also reduce redundancy.
There are no limits to the use of Kotlins. This language can be used for desktop applications, game development, scripting, etc. Its versatility and efficiency are what make it one of the best languages to use. And its developer-friendly nature is actually the cherry on the cake.