Java has been the all-powerful, dominant programming language which remains at the core of the Android mobile operating system. But recently, Kotlin has emerged as the new programming language alternative to Java for Android development. Naturally, there is a lot of buzz about the comparison and pros and cons of these two languages.
Now, Java vs Kotlin became one of the frequent comparisons in the entire tech world. All those Android developers who are trying to decide which of these two programming languages will be best for their coding output, can find this blog post helpful.
Understanding the Basics
Java is the most well-acclaimed programming language that started its journey more than two decades ago when James Gosling developed it way back in 1995. From then on, it continued to become popular and became an active part of almost all major computer programming milestones over the years. As of now, Java holds the highest usability record with the highest number of developers and systems. Apart from this, Java has been a key contributor to the open-source community of developers as well.
In spite of this uncontested reputation of Java, Kotlin as a modern programming language fills the gap with a lot of enhancements. Especially when Kotlin was announced as the official programming language for Android development by Google at its annual Google IO 2019 event, Kotlin got a big push and several major apps finally decided to switch over to Kotlin from Java.
The Definition of Java and Kotlin
Java: Java is platform-independent ‘Write Once & Run Everywhere’ programming language which is widely known to be concurrent, class-based and object-oriented in character. The Java platform comprises an engine, a compiler and a complete set of libraries. Though Java essentially brought a paradigm-shifting approach to programming, it got a majority of the syntax from C and C++.
Origin of Java and Kotlin
Java: Java built by James Gosling and his developer team at Sun Microsystems way back in 1995 was initially intended for compiling into bytecode run on the Java Virtual Machine(JVM).
Kotlin: Kotlin was built originally by JetBrains in 2011. The company which is already known for developing several popular and widely acclaimed IDEs built something to take over the shortcomings of Java while keeping the original Java strength intact.
Why Kotlin has emerged as the irreplaceable programming language choice for Android developers?
Kotlin has emerged as the ideal programming language choice for Android app development and this is why even Google announces it to be the official language for Android development. Here we are going to explain the reasons behind embracing Kotlin for android development.
- Enhanced Efficiency: Kotlin boasts of a very concise and highly intuitive syntax that positively boosts the efficiency of the developer team. Fewer code line and simplicity of code structure are two factors behind the increased efficiency of Kotlin.
- Completely Java-Interoperable: Kotlin is fully interoperable with Java and that’s why the Java methods can be applied with a Kotlin programming as well. This will benefit both the Java developers and the companies having large Java database.
- Easy to maintain: Thanks to a variety of powerful IDEs, android developers can easily manage Kotlin. Apart from Android Studio and several quality SDKs, Android developers can also work with their preferred toolkit.
- Highly Reliable: One of the best things about Kotlin is that no version experiences any compatible issue. The earlier version of Kotlin is equally compatible with the latest version and vice versa.
- Lower learning curve: Learning Kotlin is much easier when you compare the language with Java. Most importantly, to use Kotlin in an Android development project, developers can easily take off without any prior coding exposure or experience.
Android Studio Support
Kotlin also enjoys robust support from Android Studio loaded with an extensive range of adaptation tools. Kotlin developers can work simultaneously with Kotlin and Android Studio.
The Cons of Kotlin
In spite of the gamut of advantages that we have mentioned above, Kotlin has several drawbacks as well. Fortunately, these cons never can outweigh the positive attributes of Kotlin.
Volatile Speed of Compilation: Most Kotlin developers are of the opinion that the speed of compilation with Kotlin is very fluctuating. At times, the speed of compilation can be a lot faster and at times it can be incredibly slow.
Lack of Community Support: Kotlin is a relatively new language and that’s why it boasts of a very limited developer community and available resources for learning the language. Kotlin developers can face a lot of queries that as of now haven’t been answered in online forums.
Not too Many Kotlin Developers Out There: As Kotlin is a new language with just a few years of patronage and developer input, you cannot find a lot of expert Kotlin developers everywhere.
Pros and Cons of Java Language
Java as one of the oldest programming languages that has seen almost the entire horizon of the evolution of computer programming, boasts of almost equal measure of strengths and weaknesses, especially, when you compare it with Kotlin. Here we briefly explain the pros and cons of Java.
Pros of Java
- Lower learning curve: As it became the most mainstream and widely used programming language, any would-be developer will have access to a multitude of learning resources, tools and community help of all types.
- Highly Flexible: Java is a highly flexible language that can run on both the virtual machine and the browser.
- Android is Built with Java: Android operating system was built with Java and that is why Android boasts of several SDKs loaded with Java libraries.
- Large Ecosystem: Java boasts of a large and multifaceted open-source ecosystem of libraries and SDKs. It is also equipped for accelerated assembly in Gradle.
- More Compact: Java apps are a lot more compact compared to the apps built with Kotlin.
- Fast-paced: With a lot of established protocols, Java allows much faster pace in app development.
Cons of Java
Java over the years also shows some critical limitations for Android development. Let us have a quick look at the cons of Java.
- Limitations for Android API: Java Is said to have some limitations that cause problems with the Android API design.
- Need to Write More Code: Java developers need to write more code and this creates a higher probability of bugs and errors.
- Comparatively Slower: Java is comparatively slower in the pace of development when compared with other modern languages.
As an ideal programming language for mobile app development, Kotlin is quickly making a name for itself and providing developers with a variety of options to experiment with cutting-edge programming. It’s safe to state that Kotlin is revolutionising what a programming language is capable of.
Also, when you hire an Android developer, still Java programming skills are common to be found across most developer resumes. So, Java is not going to be obsolete any time soon. But since Kotlin is already the official Android programming language, in future Kotlin can outpace Java for the talent market as well.