Understanding The Sudden Surge In Kotlin’s Popularity

It was billed as one of the top 10 programming languages for 2018. Kotlin is the fastest-growing programming language and also the official language for Android development. Reportedly, unlike other programming languages like Go, Kotlin takes a different approach and lets developers decide how to write their own code.

The language has been developed by JetBrains, a Prague-based software development company that specializes in developing IDEs. Kotlin is gradually rising in popularity and it is at #49 at Tiobe. In terms of other indices, Kotlin is at #16 on PYPL and at #27 on RedMonk. And there are about 1,330 job postings related to Kotlin alone. The Google-endorsed language which is popular for building apps has also developed a sizable number of contributors on Microsoft-owned GitHub.

Developers believe that the move by Google is an attempt to sidestep certain Java issues and will help build a base of Android developers around Java. The number of Kotlin contributors also has doubled in the last one year, GitHub’s 2018 Octoverse report indicates. The report billed Kotlin, TypeScript, and Rust as the fastest-growing languages with contributors doubling in the last one year. The purpose of the foundation is to ensure “Kotlin’s development and distribution as free software, meaning that it is able to be freely copied, modified, and redistributed, including modifications to the official versions.”


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And the next fastest growing language going by the increase in a number of contributors is Microsoft-maintained TypeScript, followed by another Microsoft language Rust and PowerShell.

Factors Contributing To The Rise of Kotlin:

  • Google-backed Kotlin is a flexible programming language for Android developed for Java developers
  • It is fully compatible with Java and the Java code can be freely used from the code on Kotlin
  • Java Developers do not have to redo the whole project on Kotlin – it is entirely possible to develop on Kotlin only new parts of the project, with the preservation of the entire previous Java-infrastructure
  • Kotlin beats Java in security and expressiveness, that allows the programmer to develop faster

Kotlin is also preferred more by experienced developers and the majority of Kotlin developers are using the language to build Android apps. According to a survey, 31% indicated they use it for backend/server side applications, while another 31% said they used it primarily for SDK/libraries.

Transition From Java To Kotlin

For most Java developers, Kotlin is completely compatible with Java and with Java’s standard classes heavily extended via the Standard Library, it gives one more functionality. It allows developers to write the same code in Kotlin with far more less code and another highlight is that it has come under the JVM family. In Kotlin, the standard lib extends the String class via method extensions, which means for everything you have Java functionality and Kotlin add-ons.

Another reason why most Java developers are switching over to Kotlin is because Kotlin comes from industry and not the academia, so it is helpful to address most problems that programmers face. For example, a user cited how the type system helps one avoid null pointer exceptions. Most research languages do not have null at all, but it is of no use to people working with large codebases and APIs which do.

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Richa Bhatia
Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.

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