The rise of Kotlin and the decrease of technical debt

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By Herman Kononets

Kotlin is a programming language for the Java Virtual Machine that’s able to be used in any scenarios that currently utilize Java. Kotlin is quickly replacing Java as the preferred language for programming Android applications and functions.

For developers currently using Java, it’s simple to move to Kotlin. Developers can carry over their work from previous Java projects into Kotlin with ease, and they can utilize various Java frameworks within Kotlin. Many developers are successfully using both of the programming languages in one project. Kotlin is also native for Android, which removes many of the potential conflicts and bugs found when working with non-native programs.

Development teams dealing with technical debt will likely see benefits moving to Kotlin. This is due to a shrinking of the code base with Kotlin and improvement in code quality. The lines of code are reduced by upwards of 30%, so programmers are less likely to take the shortcuts that can result in down-the-line technical debt. Also, it’s noteworthy that Google recommends using Kotlin to develop new applications. In the majority of presentations from Google of new features, they demonstrate their work with the use of Kotlin. This recommendation may affect developers’ choice of a programming language when they are starting work on a new project.

Benefits of Kotlin Syntax

Kotlin provides developers with a range of benefits that make it a desirable choice for Android application projects.

  • Kotlin is null-safe by default. It doesn’t involve several types of error exceptions.
  • A more succinct code is possible with Kotlin (compared to Java), because the language utilized is more concise. Developers can complete more in less time because they’re writing less code, and the code is much more readable and manageable.
  • Data classes which allow the storing of important non-operational data within a much more manageable format with a minimal amount of code. Kotlin offers a massive amount of self-generated code within these data classes.
  • With Kotlin, developers can use extension functions to add behavior to classes without diving into the source code. This makes the code more readable and allows developers to streamline their work.
  • Apps can run faster on devices due to Kotlin’s support of inline functions which increases execution speeds.
  • Kotlin features support for constructors
  • Smart casts in Kotline are another benefit for developers. These are features that allow the compiler to track a condition that is inside an expression. If the variable is not identified as null, then the compiler can access the variable.

Kotlin vs. React Native

First a refresher of React Native. It’s a JavaScript library used for creating user interfaces. It’s essentially a framework that allows developers to create tiers of IU components. And users can create applications with React NAtive for both Android and IoS applications, a massively important point that is drawing the attention of some of the biggest tech companies in the world. There’s a debate going on about the usage of Kotlin or React Native, with both sides offering valid points. Comparing React Native to Kotlin we see benefits and drawbacks for each:

  • Using Kotlin, developers can create full applications
  • React Native lets you “shoot two platforms with one framework” which can dramatically reduce development time
  • Full functionality cannot be obtained only using React Native. Developers still need to build some modules with native code for full-featured applications.
  • Massive apps require native programming through Kotlin or Java. React Native is ideal for creating applications with speedy UI.
  • React Native can be slower than other choices, and navigation within the program is not as intuitive as it could be.
  • React Native is
  • Kotlin has been around since 2011 and boasts proven reliability. It also has a very strong support community that can help developers manage tricky situations.
  • Writing less code for the same functions with Kotlin leaves less room for errors.
  • Mixing React Native and Kotlin is possible, but it’s cumbersome and requires a large and experienced development team and a considerable amount of hours.

The debate over programming languages is nearly as old as the PC. For Android app developers, Kotlin provides an interesting alternative to Java that often results in less required code and more manageable projects.

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