A good programming language increases the readability of programs and their long-term maintainability. The faster the bugs can be fixed, the more time there isto develop a product. This is exactly where Kotlin comes in: The programming language on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) has set itself the goal of preventing many errors from occurring in the first place. With zero safety , zero exceptions can be ruled out at compile time.
A wealth of language constructs such as sealed classes , objects and inline classes make it possible to define data types that do not even allow inconsistent combinations which makes working with the language as pleasant as possible and despite the static typing, Kotlin can automatically determine the data type from the expression (type inference).
Kotlin also clears up traditional sources of error. For example, the switch construct known from Java and C / C ++ will not be found in Kotlin. Instead, there is a more powerful when , where errors like forgotten break statements are a thing of the past.
One of the most popular Kotlin features are data classes . These automatically and invisibly generate all the methods you need: toString (), equals (), hashCode (), copy () and all getters and setters. Another strength of Kotlin becomes visible here: it makes programs easier to read and of shorter length.
Immutability also has a special place in Kotlin. This starts with the naming of the variables. Because the word length is the same, you don’t have to choose between better maintainability and better readability. And Kotlin’s decision to introduce the new List interface, which is immutable by default , means that lists are no longer accidentally changed.
For Java developers, Kotlin offers, in addition to full interoperability between Kotlin and Java code, complete access to the entire Java ecosystem. All Java libraries can also be used under Kotlin. In the past, Kotlin was able to score points for Android developers above all because suddenly many new language constructs – for example in functional programming – were available that could not previously be used comfortably on Android.
In 2019, Google announced that Android development will be “ Kotlin first “ in the future . So jetpack Compose , the new UI toolkit for Android, written entirely in Kotlin and currently only being used with Kotlin.
Image credit: newsletterest.com |Jetpack Compose, the new UI toolkit for Android
Last but not least, the cooperation between the programming language Kotlin and IntelliJ IDEA should be mentioned. Since both are developed by Jetbrains, special attention was paid to the interaction. All the refactorings you would expect these days will work. There are also other helpers: Many Kotlin constructs can be improved using shortcuts and quick fixes.
But what use is a good programming language if it is difficult to learn? Jetbrains has created a tool here to make it easier for Java developers to get started. IntelliJ IDEA’s Kotlin plugin has a built-in converter that can automatically convert code snippets and entire classes from Java to Kotlin. This is not only handy to get started, but also to learn how to write popular Java constructs in Kotlin. In addition, the IDE provides tips and quick fixes that can be used to learn new Kotlin concepts.
Good news for Java developers: In contrast to other languages, you don’t have to immediately adapt a new way of thinking – such as functional programming – but can start with the classic imperative way of thinking. Another advantage: Instead of having to migrate over several months, Kotlin and Java files can coexist in one project and access one another. That means: The project remains fully operational even during a migration.
There are numerous ways to learn the language and for further training. Kotlin itself offers excellent documentation , which thanks to play.kotlinlang.org also offers code snippets that can be tried out directly in the browser. With the “ Kotlin-Koans ” tutorial many Kotlin features can be tested. For some special topics, Kotlin itself offers hands-on tutorials. And there are answers to urgent questions in Stackoverflow and Kotlin Slack .
The developers at Kotlin make sure that the language remains downward compatible and that it continues to develop in a meaningful way. Suggestions for improvement and errors can be communicated publicly via Youtrack .
A lecture by Roman Elizarov takes a detailed look at the further development of Kotlin. It also includes fundamental improvements: In a long-term initiative for quality and performance, the Kotlin developers are currently in the process of rewriting the entire compiler. According to internal measurements by Jetbrains, projects can be compiled 4.5 times as fast .
In addition, Kotlin is in the process of building a bridge from the JVM to the world of native development and the web. With Kotlin Multiplatform, Kotlin code can be written for multiple platforms – and used in the browser and on iOS using techniques such as Kotlin / JS and Kotlin / Native .
Kotlin enables developers to write code that is more readable and to eliminate some errors entirely. The fact that Kotlin offers full compatibility with Java and a code converter makes it easier for programmers from the Java world to get started. The interaction between language and IDE makes Kotlin easy to learn and also enables complex refactorings. The language has already become the standard on Android. Kotlin is on its way to making the leap from JVM to web and native development
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