JAVA language has taken the Android app development market by storm. It is the most preferred and popular language for developing Android based applications. Technology is ever-changing and so are the development needs. The usability and performance benchmark for applications is reaching a notch higher every passing day. JAVA is the most robust and feasible programming language but one cannot deny the limitations that come with it. These challenges may sometimes prove a deterrent for developers.
Kotlin is the latest among the JVM languages that are becoming quite popular in Android development community. It is being considered as a great alternative to JAVA. There are several other languages available in the JVM pack but they do not offer integration with Android’s studio and Google primary IDE for Android.
Kotlin has been conceptualized by JetBrains that is also behind IntelliJ the IDE of Android Studio. The idea behind developing Kotlin was to solve practical and real-time development issues. With Kotlin JetBrains have tried to provide something beneficial and usable for enterprise developers and erase the prominent development issues. Apart from that Kotlin also focuses on backward compatibility so that it is feasible with almost all the JAVA and Android projects.
Kotlin does not include features like its own program manager and build system. If it were included in it then it would have broken the projects that used Gradle and Maven. Gradle and maven are the open source project management tools widely used by Android developers.
Limitations of JAVA:
JAVA is one of the oldest programming languages. It was developed during that time when nobody knew about application development. The kind of technological renaissance that has taken place in the last few years has changed the dynamics of programming and coding. The applications need to be developed at a rapid pace and at the same time they should be efficient, reliable, flexible and easy to maintain.
JAVA is verbose where the developers need to write reams of code making the coding and development process too complex and time-consuming. The exception and error-handling feature in JAVA is a nightmare for developers. The most common one is how it handles Nullability exception that ends in NPE(null pointer exception) also termed as a billion dollar mistake in the coding world. This problem aggravates when working with Android. It is just not possible to develop a complete application in JAVA without encountering an NPE.
The inclusion of JAVA API’s is a ceremonious task. There is a series of events involved that the developers need to follow to get simplest of things done, for instance, accessing a database or handling a specific function/class snippet and so on.
It is pretty tough to switch to a new language when you are fully equipped in one. Android developers swear by JAVA but let us see why switching to Kotlin for Android development can be a good idea:
- Kotlin is concise: Kotlin is very much precise and you do not need to write thousands of line to get a simple task done. A lesser number of lines make the code much more sorted and crisp. It is easier to understand as compared to JAVA coding. It also prevents the boilerplate code, which in coding language refers to pre-defined syntax. The boilerplate code doesn’t add any value to the function of the code but increases the total lines of codes and subsequently the file size.
- Interoperable with JAVA:
Kotlin is 100% interoperable with JAVA.A single project can have both Kotlin and JAVA codes exist simultaneously.When you are working in Kotlin you can seamlessly call JAVA code and vice versa.This is very much beneficial as it allows you to switch to Kotlin in an already existing JAVA based project avoiding the hassle of starting afresh.Interoperability also allows you to use JAVA libraries and frameworks.Both the languages generate a similar type of bytecodes.
- Supportive error handling: As mentioned before NPE’s are the biggest nightmare for developers in JAVA. It is a daunting and a time-consuming task to guard your code everywhere against null checks. Null safety comes as a package deal with Kotlin. When using Kotlin you will not be witnessing crashes at the runtime. It intimidates the coder about nullability exception during the compilation itself.
- Easy setup and advance toolkit support: Initially to add Kotlin to an android project the developers needed a plugin. This problem has been erased with the incorporation of “Include kotlin support” checkbox in Android studio 3.0. The developers just need to check this box during the creation of a new project.
The developers can also convert a complete JAVA file to Kotlin with just one click. It also supports Lambda expressions, undefined exceptions and many more similar issues that couldn’t be addressed by JAVA.
It has a large number of extensions to provide extra support for Android app development. One such extension is the synthetic extensions that remove the cumbersome idea of viewing and navigating a code using findviewbyid. With help of this extension, you can easily view and navigate a code with just a single line of syntax.
- Easy to learn: Kotlin is not that tough to understand and implement. You just need to understand and read the language reference and you can acquire most of it. JAVA developers can easily interpret Kotlin as they may find the syntax very much familiar. You can start by writing simple and smaller codes of your application in this language and eventually move towards the complex coding. Smaller code snippets will make it easier for you to understand the programming syntax.
Kotlin is a great language and can be one of the best bets if you plan to switch to it from JAVA. As it a well-known fact that none of the programming languages is perfect the same applies to Kotlin. There are some of the minor glitches with Kotlin like extra runtime, smaller communities, and lack of extra support. Overall, it is the best alternative to JAVA and Android app development.