Google recently declared Kotlin as the new official programming language for Android development at their event Google IO, in the midst of 2017. Since then, the Android development community has been in a state of dilemma and confusion.
The primary question that lies in front of them is the most obvious one: Should they now use Kotlin or Java for developing their apps on the Android platform?
parnetWe will be reflecting upon some in-depth facts and challenges involved in using Kotlin and we will discuss a detailed comparison of Kotlin vs Java in this blog so that you are able to go with the best choice for your next android application!
Java was originally developed by Sun Microsystems as an object-oriented programming language and is now under the acquisition of Oracle. Java has, undoubtedly, cemented its place in the Android development community as the top choice for developing android apps for over 20 years now.
Despite the undeniable reputation of Java, there was a long-awaited need of a modern programming language that could fill the gaps and shortcomings that Java clearly had and Kotlin did exactly that. Let’s have a look at some of the pros and cons of Java
Kotlin arrived as an open-source and statically-typed programming language, based on JVM (Java Virtual Machine) and created by JetBrains. Kotlin gave an essential modern touch to the domain of Android development and immediately filled in the weak zones that were prominent in Java.
When it comes to the performance comparison of Java and Kotlin, we can clearly say that there are no consistent and measurable differences between the two languages.
Kotlin, basically, tends to generate byte-code that’s ultimately similar to Java byte-code; therefore the two languages are observed to exhibit the same performance parameters.
This, however, is not the case when it comes to full and partial builds.
In the case of full builds, Java still is the faster language bearing 13% faster compilation rates than Kotlin. However, one parameter that comes into major play is the incremental speed of compiling. This plays a crucial role while testing incremental builds. Experiments reveal that Kotlin appears to have an edge over Java in case of incremental builds with Gradle daemon running.
This outcome is really an important one to ponder upon on account of the fact that mobile developers tend to re-compile codes in an incremental manner each time after making a few changes to the code. Thus, incremental builds are the more important category of builds that you should be taking into consideration.
Summing it up, in our comparison of Kotlin performance vs java, we can clearly conclude that Java has a clear edge over Kotlin in case of clean complete builds but in case of scenarios that involve incremental builds, the two languages are expected to produce almost the same performance results or Kotlin might be leading in this case.
In order to convert your existing Java app code into Kotlin, you need to follow a series of steps demonstrated as follows:
The much-valued nullability feature in Kotlin tends to convert all of your previous data objects into nullable fields and thus, this explicit conversion results in compilation issues at first.
However, this issue can easily be fixed by making your data-objects immutable with the use of non-nullable fields. The immutable version of your class can be created by simply specifying the list of arguments in a constructor as follows:
One more thing that might come into handy is the solution to the issue associated with Android Annotations. During the conversion of Java code into Kotlin, Android studio might have broken the usage of the Android annotations library.
In order to resolve this and re-use Android Annotations, simply add the koplin-kapt plugin to the specified build script. Moreover, you need to include the android annotations dependency to the kapt configuration as follows:
Once you are done with this, the fields marked with @ViewById will lead the annotation processor to throw out the following error message:
To resolve this, add lateinit to the declarations in the previous code and remove the nullable notations as follows:
One last amend – The ”!!” notation present on references to the fields needs to be removed.
The lateinit keyword comes in with Kotlin and declares that the specific field is going to be initialized once the constructor is called and that the field can be marked as a non-nullable as well.
Finally, you are all set to go with your newly-converted Kotlin code without any more hassles involved.
The conversion from Kotlin, back to Java. is a pretty straightforward procedure.
Simply go to the Menu tab and select the “Tools” option from there. Select “Kotlin” from the dropdown and click on “Show Kotlin Bytecode”. Next, click on the decompile button. Here you have it! Your Kotlin code has been successfully converted to Java code and is all set to go!
The basic syntax differences between Kotlin and Java can be summed up as follows:
Summing everything up, we arrive on the fact that Kotlin has undoubtedly made programming lives much easier due to its concise syntax and modern nature. With that said, Kotlin still has its limitations and shortcomings.
Nonetheless, Kotlin seems the future of Android development at the moment and if you are planning to switch your android development team from Java to Kotlin, we would recommend you to take it one step at a time.
This is primarily because Kotlin is a relatively new language and an immediate transition of a complete development team to it can result in an unprofessional team lacking expertise in that area. With that said, Kotlin holds a bright future for those who tend to carry on android development while learning and experimenting with this new innovative programming language!
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