Kotilin – Introduction

Kotlin is a general purpose, free, open source, statically typed “pragmatic” programming language initially designed for the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) and Android that combines object-oriented and functional programming features. It is focused on interoperability, safety, clarity, and tooling support. Versions of Kotlin targeting JavaScript ES5.1 and native code (using LLVM) for a number of processors are in production as well.

JetBrains, the company behind IntelliJ IDEA, created Kotlin in 2010, and it has been open source since 2012. The JetBrains Kotlin team now has over 90 full-time members, while the Kotlin project on GitHub has over 300 contributors. Many of JetBrains’ products, notably its flagship IntelliJ IDEA, employ Kotlin.

History of Kotlin

  • Kotlin is relatively a new statically-typed language by 2017, developed by JetBrains. Kotlin is targeted to run on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Kotlin addresses most of the redundancies present in Java programming language, and also new features have been added that could make application development faster and easier.
  • There are other new languages with new features that could run on JVM, but Kotlin excels in the reduced compile time (comparable to the time taken by Java Compiler) when compared to other languages.
  • Also, Kotlin is concise and expressive while maintaining a good compatibility with existing Java stack. And Kotlin could be written alongside Java or we could convert existing Java classes to Kotlin files or classes using IntelliJ IDEA. All these features make it easy for a Java developer to get started with Kotlin quickly.
  • That being said, the first stable version of Kotlin, Kotlin 1.0 has been released on 15th, Feb 2016. JetBrains would provide backward compatibility for Kotlin 1.0 for a long time. Also, Google added Kotlin as an officially supported language for Android Application development, which is available from Android Studio 3.0.

Where is Kotlin Now ?

Many companies like Corda, Uber, Trello, Pinterest and Evernote are using Kotlin along with other programming languages to create applications.  In the Google I/O held on 17 May 2017, Android team announced Kotlin as an official language for Android app development. Lines of Kotlin code increased from 2.1 million to 10 million in an interval of year from 2016 to 2017.  Statistics shows approximately 160,000 users have already tried Kotlin.

Features of Kotlin

The reason for Kotlin’s popularity is because of the unique features that it possesses. Let’s now get into the details of the various features.

  1. Concise: Kotlin is more concise than Java and you would need to write approximately 40% fewer lines of code when compared to Java.
  2. Interoperability: Kotlin programming language is highly interoperable with Java. You will never face any difficulty using Kotlin in a Java project.
  3. Feature-rich: Kotlin provides several advanced features such as Operator overloading, Lambda expressions, String templates, etc.
  4. Easy: Kotlin is easy to learn programming language. If you have come from a Java background, you would find it easy to learn Kotlin.
  5. Less error-prone: As I have mentioned before, Kotlin is a statically-typed programming language, which makes you able to catch errors at compile-time, as Statically typed programming languages do type checking at compile-time.

So, these are some of the features that add to the popularity of Kotlin programming language. Now let’s take a look at the various platforms on which you write and develop your Kotlin applications.

Kotlin IDE’s

Kotlin ide's to work on - What is Kotlin - Edureka

As shown in the above figure, you can either use Eclipse or IntelliJ or Android Studio to develop applications. But, I am using IntelliJ IDEA because it is the platform which is mainly designed and developed for Kotlin and a feasible IDE.

What Is Kotlin Used For?

Kotlin is a programming language that runs on a Java Virtual Machine and can coexist with Java. Although Kotlin was created particularly for Android development, its capabilities soon spread beyond the Java community, and it is now utilized in a wide range of apps.

  • Android development

As we mentioned, Kotlin is the preferred language for Android development as it allows developers to write more concise, expressive, and safer code. The official IDE for Android development, Android Studio, supports it completely, so you can get the same type of code completion and type checking to help you write Kotlin code as you do with Java.

Having a mobile presence is a requirement for most businesses since most people access the internet now through mobile phones. Android accounts for over 70% of the market share of mobile phones, so even if Kotlin was only for Android development, Kotlin developers would be in high demand. Still, it can be used for so much more.

  • Back-end web development

A lot of back-end web development is done in Java, using frameworks like Spring. But, Kotlin made inroads into server-side web development since it was so much easier for developers to work with.

The modern features of the language make it possible for Web Developers to build applications that can scale quickly on commodity hardware. Since Kotlin is interoperable with Java, you can slowly migrate an application to use Kotlin one file at a time while the rest of the application still uses Java.

Kotlin also works with Spring and other frameworks, so switching to Kotlin doesn’t mean you have to change everything you’re used to. Google, Amazon, and many other companies have already replaced Java with Kotlin in some of their server-side code.

  • Full-stack web development

It makes sense to use Kotlin for server-side web development. After all, Java has been used since its inception. Still, you can also use Kitling for front-end development using Kitling/JS.

Kotlin/JS allows developers to access powerful browser and web APIs in a type-safe fashion. Full-Stack Developers only need to know Kotlin. They can write front-end code in the same language that they used for back-end code, and it’ll be compiled to JavaScript to run in the browser.

  • Data science

Data Scientists have always used Java to crunch numbers, detect trends, and make predictions — so it only makes sense that Kotlin would find a home in data science as well.

Data Scientists can use all the standard Java libraries that they used for Java projects but write their own code in Kotlin. Jupyter and Zeppelin, two tools used daily by many Data Scientists for data visualization and exploratory research, also support Kotlin.

  • Multi-platform mobile development

Kotlin Multi-platform Mobile is intended to be a software development kit for creating cross-platform mobile applications. This means that from one Kotlin code base, you’ll be able to compile apps that run on not just Android phones but also iPhones and the Apple Watch. This project is currently in the alpha stage but has a lot of promise.

What are the advantages of Kotlin?

Kotlin’s creation arose after Lead Developer Dmitry Jemerov sought features he couldn’t find in Java. Scala, another language that runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), was close to what he wanted, but it took too long to compile.

Jemerov wanted a language that had all the features of more modern programming languages, would run on the JVM, and would compile as fast as Java. So he created his own language, Kotlin.

Kotlin was designed as a replacement for Java on the Android operating system. Eight years after it was released, in 2019, Google finally agreed with Jemerov and most Android developers and announced that Kotlin was the preferred language for Android app development.

Here are some reasons developers prefer Kotlin to Java:

  • Kotlin is concise, saving time that you’d otherwise spend writing boilerplate code in Java.
  • You can convert a Java file into a Kotlin file with just a script.
  • Kotlin has no runtime overhead. Sometimes, adding features to a language means it has more overhead, which lowers its performance. Not so with Kotlin.
  • Kotlin has a large community. If you ever get stuck, you can easily find other developers to help you on coding forums and social networks.
  • Kotlin streamlines asynchronous programming. Making network and database calls asynchronously in Java is clumsy and painful. Kotlin has coroutines that make asynchronous programming simple and efficient.
  • Kotlin handles nulls. A null in Java can crash a program if you haven’t prepared for it. In Kotlin, you can add a simple operator to variables that may be null to prevent these crashes.
  • Kotlin can run on multiple platforms. Kotlin can run anywhere Java runs, so you can use it to build cross-platform apps.
  • It’s easy to switch to Kotlin. Kotlin is fully compatible with Java, so you don’t have to change all your code at once. You can slowly migrate an application to use Kotlin.

I hope you found what you were looking for from this tutorial. If you want more Kotlin tutorials like this, then do join our Telegram channel for future updates.

Thanks for reading, have a nice day 🙂

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