On 17th May 2017, the Android team at Google announced support for the Kotlin programming language. Kotlin is an upcoming programming language that is expected to take Android development faster. Many top developers including Expedia, Flipboard, Pinterest, Square have already adopted Kotlin. This make, Kotlin a possible candidate to become one of the top programming languages of the future.
Kotlin was originally created by a Czech company called JetBrains in 2011. JetBrains is known for the development of IntelliJ IDEA – a Java-based integrated development environment (IDE) for developing computer software. Kotlin was originally build to solve internal problems. The team at JetBrains were tired of coding the old fashioned way and wanted a new programming language. Hence, they decided to develop a language that was compatible with Java. But why Java?
A study on Programming language Adoption in 2013, found that developers show significant unease and un-enthusiasm for static typing. Developers preferred to work on languages that they were used to work. They switch between languages based primarily on the domain and use of a language, not based on its linguistic features (syntax or semantics.)
Keeping these factors in mind, the Jet Brain team developed Kotlin so that adoption of Kotlin was easier. Java was the most popular language among developers. Kotlin would allow the app development team to add new features to old applications without completely rewriting the applications from scratch. The first preview was launched in 2012 and Kotlin 1.0 in 2016.
Kotlin will be easy-to-use to anyone who has used the Java programming language. In simple words, Kotlin makes Android App writing easier. It is the third language fully supported for Android – in addition to Java and C++.
Are some changes in the coding style and interface the reason for the popularity of Kotlin? Unlikely many other popular programming languages that come from Academia, Kotlin comes from the industry. Thus it’s designed to solve real problems. And it’s open-source too. Did you know that there is a one-click Java to Kotlin converter tool? It’s that easy to convert your codes. It uses all existing Java frameworks and libraries – even advanced frameworks. Kotlin syntax and codes are easy to understand.
Kotlin is supported by all major Java IDEs including IntelliJ IDEA, Android Studio, Eclipse and NetBeans. In addition, a command line compiler is available and provides straightforward support for compiling and running applications
How to learn Kotlin
You can find training material and references at https://kotlinlang.org/.
The Kotlin Koans tutorial is a quick way to get started writing some Kotlin snippets. For resources related to Kotlin for Android, check out Resources to Learn Kotlin
The entire reference documentation for Kotlin can be downloaded at Kotlin Documentation
You can try Kotlin in your web browser with the Kotlin Online editor. It is loaded with many examples including the Koans course – one of the best way to get familiar with the syntax.
According to JetBrains blog, Kotlin is today used by Amazon Web Services, Pinterest, Coursera, Netflix, Uber, Square, Trello, Basecamp and more. I believe that Kotlin is going to be an alternative to Java just as how Java was an alternative to C, 20 years ago. With Android support for Kotlin, the language is going to rule the market for the next few years to come.