Kotlin, the newly minted Android coding language

Published on Jul 10, 2017 in Android Developers Resources
Kotlin, the newly minted Android coding language

The Android operating system has long been known for providing mobile app development companies with an “all-access” pass to one of the world’s most powerful coding platforms. Android has opened the doors to a more diverse array of hardware and software engagement, particularly when compared to the more restrictive Apple OS. Although Android has long been capable of hosting a variety of apps built in both Java and C++, the recent popularization of Kotlin, a Java-based programming language introduced in 2011, has dramatically redefined the scope and intuitiveness of Android at large.

In the world of modern technology, innovation is the primary driver of evolution. The fact that Kotlin has become an official Android coding language is no act of chance. Here are a few reasons why Kotlin has won over mobile app developers from around the world.

A competitor for Swift?

It's impossible not to compare the introduction of Kotlin with the earlier debut of Apple's Swift coding language. Reasons for this are relatively apparent. One of the most compelling indicators that Kotlin is a true analogue for Swift and, most importantly, a relatively similar innovation is the fact that both coding languages have attempted to modernize what previously seemed to be an arcane and needlessly complex syntax.

The appeal of Kotlin and Swift alike is largely based on the fact that mobile app developers can enjoy a greater degree of power and flexibility without additional code. Although this concept may seem somewhat counterintuitive, the unique nature of both languages, more specifically their assimilation and homogenization of earlier languages such as C++, objective C, JavaScript, etc, has fundamentally transformed operational syntax for both Apple and Android alike.

Getting started with Kotlin

Much like the bulk of coding languages being used today, getting started with Kotlin is as simply as downloading it from the official Kotlin website (or a variety of other web platforms) and deploying it within the Android developer environment.

The Kotlin website offers a trove of data regarding virtually all of the vital components of the language, ranging from basic syntax core libraries and advanced scripting. Although much of Kotlin will continue to appear familiar to those with experience in other Android-compatible languages, there are elements of the syntax within this language that are easily distinguished from its peers. Fortunately, a full Kotlin reference, combined with extensive collections of coding examples, is available for review.

New pathways for app development companies

It is an indisputable truth that the emergence of Kotlin comes at a time when major tech giants are trying to inaugurate new generations of Android app developers into their environment who may not have extensive experience with earlier, formative coding languages. Although study of such languages is obviously recommended for all with professional aspirations, the classification of Kotlin as an official coding language for Android has dramatically reduced the learning curve and what may be perceived as conceptual barriers for entry into the Android development environment.

This is, of course, a nearly identical idea and strategy to that being deployed by Apple with regards to the Swift coding language. Both platforms have assimilated both the capabilities and, at times, frustrations of earlier languages into a new hybridized form. As we can see with Kotlin, however, there have been a number of legitimate refinements that are definitely worth noting.

A streamlined approach to app development

Unlike earlier eras of mobile app development, speed has become a more integral component of modern workflow. Although Kotlin is built on the standard Java platform, the syntax itself has been significantly economized, making it much more easy for mobile app developers to deploy new code quickly. Particularly in scenarios where teams of app developers are working remotely, the clarity and efficiency offered by Kotlin will prove to be invaluable.

A great example of Kotlin’s streamlined workflow can be found in the removal of the cumbersome findViewByID method previously used for interacting with views. Kotlin has voided this outdated process and made it tremendously easy for Android app developers to navigate the coding environment. Also, the complete removal of the NullPointerException will likely come as a welcome surprise for mobile app development companies who have been forced to confront the often maddening issue of null checking.

That being said, Android app developers who are new to Kotlin should take heed of certain issues which may cause unwanted headaches over time as they learn to adapt this new language to the Android platform. One such example is safe typasting. Although, outside of Kotlin, certain syntax may have operating without error, use of the language may require app developers to implement safe typecasting in order to avoid crashes.

Multiplatform and powerful app language

The fact that Kotlin is capable of functioning on a variety of platforms has made it particularly appealing. Using Kotlin, mobile app developers can integrate a variety of frameworks from JVM, Android, and the browser. Why is this important? Simply put, there is no turnkey approach to development which Android app developers can use to engage the mass market, which does not address the specific requirements of each of the many platforms in existence today.

Kotlin offers a targeted deployment scheme, which is extremely powerful in its own right. The process is as follows: Android app developers can write fragments of code in Kotlin and assign it to one of various platforms at the touch of a button. No additional coding is needed in order to ensure that the Kotlin syntax can operate at peak efficiency on the targeted platform. Obviously, this means that app developers can not only integrate new Kotlin code into pre-existing projects, but also create entirely new multi-platform experiences as they see fit. Launching new projects on a massive scale can be accomplished at the touch of a button.

Android describes Kotlin as a bi-directional language, which is a significant point of interest. Not only can Android app developers export code directly into projects coded in alternative language, but it is also possible to cut and paste Java directly into Kotlin projects. This is far beyond merely a convenience, and is a significant functional component of this language.

Things to remember about Kotlin for Android app developers

Now that Kotlin is a formally inaugurated member of the Android app development coding family, it is highly likely that the language will evolve and update at a rapid pace. Those who are serious about deploying this language in professional projects are strongly encouraged to stay current with the language. It is important to remember that, as described on the official Kotlin website, the language’s release cycle will be independent of Android. This, of course, brings us to yet another significant perk of Kotlin, which is the avid user community that supports its implementation and use. There will undoubtedly be many questions asked by both new and seasoned app coders alike when it comes to fully integrating the Kotlin coding language into the project workspace.

Within the Kotlin community there currently exists a massive collection of experienced Android app developers who are capable of helping those new to the community troubleshoot issues they encounter.

Currently, the official Kotlin development team is one of the largest of its kind in the world. With over 40 full-time developers on staff, Kotlin has distinguished itself as one of the most well supported coding languages in the world. If you have yet to experiment with Kotlin, now is certainly the time to do so. Much like Swift is rapidly becoming a staple within the iOS app development community, it is only a matter of time before Kotlin becomes a dominant force amongst Android app professionals. As mentioned previously, the intuitive nature of Kotlin is a compelling reason to embrace this new paradigm sooner than later. Good luck!

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