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Kotlin is now a first-class language for writing Android apps. Notably, the language is 100 percent interoperable with Java, which has always been Google’s primary language for writing Android apps (besides C++).
When the announcement was made, it came as welcome news to programmers already familiar with the unique features and benefits of Kotlin. But it also drew the attention of many who previously hadn’t got the language on their radar.
Within weeks, analyst firm RedMonk, who publish an annual ranking of programming languages, stated that Kotlin had become a language to watch:
“The big question facing Kotlin then isn’t whether it will experience gains based on interest – the language has already jumped nearly twenty spots in one year which is very unusual – but how quickly, and to what degree,”
Kotlin also began climbing the TIOBE Index, which measures the popularity of programming languages using data from a variety of aggregators and search engines, such as Google and Wikipedia. TIOBE speculated that Kotlin’s expressive power and compilation speed might be key features which could drive widespread adoption of the language.
Why should Android developers explore Kotlin?
RedMonk analyst Stephen O’Grady offered a concise answer to this question. According to him, Kotlin’s greatest selling point is its intuitive design which makes it easy to learn and work with.
“The syntax for Kotlin, like Apple’s Swift, is clean and modern. The reaction amongst developers learning Kotlin is not dissimilar to the initial experiences with Ruby years ago. The syntax is so intuitively designed that even without any previous exposure it’s almost possible to guess it.”
Furthermore the language is fully compatible with Java. As Java code is virtually everywhere, the ability to mesh with it is all important. Java’s tooling support is also well renowned, and the language boasts a huge community of engaged supporters.
For a technical comparison of the differences between Java and Scala, check out this post on Kotlin development from Apiumhub.
Getting Started with Kotlin
For those interested getting to grips with Kotlin, this page from OpenCredo is a good place to start. It summarises the language, its objects and classes, and its noteworthy features.
It’s also worth checking out Kotlin’s homepage, which outlines why the language excels at Android, browser, native, and JVM development.
Those interested specifically in building for Android can go to this developer page hosted by Google. Kotlin tooling support for Android is now built directly into Android Studio 3.0 and above. According to Google:
“Android Studio is built upon IntelliJ IDEA, an IDE built by JetBrains—the same company that created the Kotlin language. The JetBrains team has been working for years to make sure Kotlin works great with IntelliJ IDEA. So we’re inheriting all their hard work.”
JetBrains itself remains an independent company, and so Kotlin’s release cycles will remain independent of Android. The current version, 1.1.3, includes JDK 9 support, support for parallel builds via the Maven plugin, TODO and Semantic highlighting, and parameter name and type hints.
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