GET TO KNOW KOTLIN, THE PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE FOR ANDROID APPS
Desiliciouskitchen-To be able to create Android applications, the first thing to do is learn the programming language. Well, Kotlin is one of the programming languages for Android that you must master. What is the reason? Apart from being popular thanks to official support from Google, Kotlin also has many features that stand out from other programming languages.
What is Kotlin?
Kotlin is an open-source programming language developed by JetBrains for various platforms. However, this programming language is increasingly being used to build Android applications. The Kotlin language runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), a platform that allows computers to run Java-based code, or code from other languages compiled using Java. This means that Kotlin can implement a compile mechanism in Java, which is to write code and then run it on a supported platform (Write Once Run Anywhere). In fact, Kotlin can also be used in conjunction with Java. In other words, you can use both Kotlin and Java to build a single Android app.
For example, you can use Kotlin to create one page of your application, while the other pages are written in Java. The two languages will not clash with each other as they produce the same output file. Well, the Kotlin programming language is a statically typed language. That is, all variables that are entered into the program must be introduced in advance what their types are. That way, errors that occur when writing code (coding) can be detected right away. So that during the compilation process, the program is completely clean of errors. That’s the explanation of the meaning of Kotlin. Now, let’s study the history of Kotlin’s development until it is as popular as it is today.
Kotlin Development History
Kotlin was created by JetBrains in 2011. Initially, Dimitry Jemerov as the head of JetBrains saw that most programming languages, such as Java, have complicated coding rules. What happens, developers need to write several lines of code just to make one simple command. This is certainly less efficient, because the time to build applications takes longer. Now, because Java has an advantage in its vast ecosystem, the idea came up to create a programming language that is more concise, but can use all of Java’s ecosystem. That’s where the Kotlin programming language was born.
In 2012, JetBrains changed the status of the Kotlin language to open-source under the Apache 2 license. This means that Kotlin can be used free of charge and developed freely. After that, many large companies decided to use the Kotlin programming language. Some of them are Atlassian, Pinterest, and Uber. Kotlin continues to grow rapidly, especially after Google in 2017 provided first-class support. In fact, in 2019 Google prioritized Kotlin as the primary programming language for Android over C++ or Java. The popularity of the programming language Kotlin has skyrocketed and the top 70% of the Google Play Store apps are built using Kotlin, including Google’s own apps like Maps and Drive.
As a programming language, Kotlin’s function is to make Android apps run smoothly. However, Kotlin’s function is not limited to that. Kotlin can also be used to create iOS and web-based applications because it is a multi-platform programming language. Examples of applications built using Kotlin are Netflix (iOS), and Data2viz and Barclay’s Bank (web based). This benefits developers, as they don’t need to use different programming languages to build applications across multiple platforms.
Why Choose Kotlin?
There are several reasons why you should choose Kotlin for building Android apps, including:
- Google Official Support – Kotlin is fully supported by Google. Starting from adding features, improving performance, to system security.
- Ease of learning – Kotlin is a programming language that is easy to learn, thanks to its simple code-writing rules. Moreover, there are many courses from Google to learn it, from beginner to advanced level.
- Multi-platform ecosystem – With a multi-platform ecosystem, Kotlin makes it easy for you not only to build applications based on Android, but also applications on other platforms without experiencing significant obstacles.
Well, the three reasons above should make you sure to choose Kotlin. If you’re still not sure, let’s look at the explanation of the advantages of Kotlin in the next section.
Advantages of Kotlin
After understanding what Kotlin is, its history, and its functions, here we present some of the advantages that the Kotlin language has:
1. Expressive and Concise
Kotlin is an expressive programming language. This means that every command that will be used must be introduced or declared first. In addition to minimizing the occurrence of errors, this will make it easier for developers to update applications that have been released. For example, when adding new features.
Apart from being expressive, Kotlin is also a concise language. In fact, Kotlin has 40% fewer lines of code than Java for the same command. With compact Kotlin code, it takes less time to build an app and a smaller app size.
2. More Secure Code
Kotlin-based apps have a 20% lower chance of crashing, thanks to a mechanism that protects code from Null Pointer Exception (NPE) errors. It works by ensuring that each variable must have an initial value. What if you want to keep a null variable? Don’t worry, Kotlin also has a solution through a function called Nullable. That is, a null value variable must be declared by adding the suffix ‘?’
Whereas in some other languages, each variable can be declared without having to have an initial value. If you’re not careful, the app can contain undetected errors that cause a force-close when it’s already in use by the user.
3. Can be used in conjunction with Java
Kotlin can be used in conjunction with Java because the two languages can communicate with each other and exchange information. For example, to exchange functions, classes, or variables.
This can happen because Kotlin and Java both run on the JVM platform. Both programming languages will generate byte-code files in the compilation process. With the identical byte-code file structure, if you’re already building applications with Java, you can easily stick with Kotlin.
4. Concurrent and Structured
The Kotlin language has a characteristic that is simultaneous and structured, meaning that two code that is executed not at the same time (asynchronously) still has the exact same structure as the end result.
Well, this can happen thanks to a feature called Coroutine. Coroutines are a concurrent design pattern to simplify asynchronous code execution. The existence of Coroutines has benefits for the resulting application, namely:
- Lightweight – Coroutines can lighten the workload of the system by eliminating commands that cause applications to become unresponsive.
- Less Memory Leaks – Simplification of code in Coroutines can minimize excessive memory usage on the system.
- Cancellation Support – Coroutines support automatic cancellation if the system crashes or is unresponsive.
- Jetpack integration – Coroutines can use the Jetpack library providing many supporting extensions.
As a result, the resulting Android application will be more responsive, minimal bugs, and does not use too much RAM when used by users.
Disadvantages of Kotlin
Before using Kotlin, make sure you have considered the following disadvantages of Kotlin:
1. Unstable Compile Speed
Compilation speed in Kotlin is unstable. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s slow, it can even be slower than Java.
From a test, it seems that Kotlin tends to be faster if it is used for the incremental build type compilation process. However, the speed decreases when it comes to compiling clean build types. This drawback is worth considering because compile speed has a vital role, especially when building multiple applications at once.
2. Lack of Community and Developers
Kotlin is a new programming language, so it doesn’t have a wide community yet. If you experience certain errors, you may have a hard time seeking help from the community for a solution.
In addition, the number of active Kotlin developers is only around 5 million people, not as big as Java, which has already reached 8 million people. So, when you want to build a large-scale application, the choice of people to work with in a team will be limited.