Kotlin vs Java: Which Is the Best Choice?

Kotlin vs Java

Interested in which is the best choice, Kotlin vs Java? 

This is a great topic which we will cover in this article.

Kotlin vs Java: Which one to choose?

Should you choose Java or Kotlin for your next software development project? Consider the following factors:

Factor #1: The larger objective

If Android development is the main objective, then Kotlin is the right choice given the productivity advantages and the massive support from Google.

However, if the objective is the creation of larger, more complex products,  then working with Java is the better choice. The use of Kotlin for backend projects is a recent phenomenon. For e.g., Spring 5.0 started supporting Kotlin only in 2017, so it still lacks the advantage that Java has in terms of maturity.

Overall, Java is among the top three most popular programming languages due to the various advantages it offers. The latest TIOBE index confirms this. Read “TIOBE index for May 2022” for more details.

Factor #2: Can you afford a learning curve?

Kotlin has a concise syntax. Let’s take a deeper look:

  • Developers can write less code, however, post-launch maintenance teams can still easily understand the code. This advantage comes from the concise nature of the language. Read more about it in “The character of Kotlin: Conciseness”.
  • A concise syntax helps with various coding aspects, e.g.:
    • Class creation;
    • Data modifier;
  • Developers have a steep learning curve when first trying to get used to this concise syntax. As an entrepreneur or a project manager, you need to determine whether you can accommodate this learning curve.
  • Now, for the good news. Except for the concise syntax, Java developers face no further learning curve when working with Kotlin. They can use most of the Java coding skills that they learned previously. Read about this in “Java vs. Kotlin: should you be using Kotlin for Android development?”.

Factor #3: Development manpower cost

If you opt for Kotlin, then prepare to incur higher development manpower costs. This is due to the following reasons:

Kotlin is one of the hottest programming language skills to have today, as you can see in “Best Programming Languages to Learn in 2022“. The average salary of Kotlin developers is $ 128k per annum, while the best can earn up to $ 170k per annum, as this ZipRecruiter report

Kotlin job postings increased dramatically during 2018, as per Dice Insights’ report. The prized place of Kotlin in the Android development space has caused this increase. Android development will only increase, further pushing up the demand for Kotlin developers.

Consequently, you should prepare for a longer hiring lead time, which again translates to increased costs.

Factor #4: Limitations of using Java in Android

Android doesn’t support the full range of Java capabilities. Android Studio supports Java 7 fully, however, it only supports a subset of Java 8 features. Read about it in “Use Java 8 language features”.

If your love for Java is holding you back when Kotlin is the better choice then you might as well bite the bullet. Allocate a higher up-front budget, and just take the plunge with Kotlin.

The longer-term benefits, including higher productivity, really are worth it. If you plan to develop multiple apps in the future, you are also investing in improving future development success.

Factor #5: Productivity gain with Kotlin

If productivity gain matters to your project, Kotlin is the way to go. Kotlin productivity levers are as follows:

Library: Kotlin has a far more comprehensive standard library than Java. There is an excellent collection of APIs. The language has many extension functions that developers often require. Extension Functions Kotlin allows extending class functionality without inheriting from them

Programmers can add their custom functions, and they can extend an existing class with this new functionality. Read more about it in “Comparison to Java Programming Language”.

Features: Kotlin has many more features than Java, e.g., null-safety, easier generics, string templates, companion objects, data classes, primary constructors, etc. Java is also considered a bit slower as compared to other programming languages. Read more about these features in “Kotlin language documentation”.

Kotlin is an intuitive language with robust code.

Support for functional programming: Kotlin supports “Lambdas”, i.e., anonymous functions and the language includes them in the standard library. Read “Kotlin by examples: methods and lambdas” to know more about how Kotlin treats Lambdas.

Developers write less code, thanks to the concise syntax. Programmers can avoid writing “boiler-plate” code since Kotlin generates it.

A smaller Kotlin code makes it easier to maintain.

Read more about the productivity benefits of Kotlin in “How Kotlin makes me a more productive software developer”.

Factor #6: Kotlin handles “Null” better

Kotlin handles “Null” well, which is a great advantage over Java. This difference manifests itself as follows:

With Java code, you can assign “Null” to any variable. The challenge comes when using object references with null values, and you get a “NullPointerException”. This is a common challenge and impacts the productivity of the team.

In Kotlin, no “type” can hold null by default. Developers need to explicitly define a “nullable” variable if they want to hold null in it. This rules out “NullPointerException”, which is a significant advantage.

Read more about it in “Kotlin vs Java: key differences between Android’s officially-supported languages”.

Factor #7: Handling long-running network I/O or CPU-intensive tasks

Kotlin has advantages over Java with respect to handling long-running network I/O or CPU-intensive operations. The two languages differ as follows:

In the case of Java, a thread involving a long-running I/O or a CPU-intensive task is blocked. Java allows multi-threading in the background, however, it’s complex.

When programming in Kotlin, developers can run multiple threads. Kotlin supports coroutines. These suspend execution at a certain point without blocking the thread.

Read “Differences between Java vs Kotlin” for more insights.

Grappling with the Kotlin vs Java choice for your strategic app?

Kotlin and Java both have their strong points. So to choose the right one you will need to consider the long-term strategic aspects of both platforms, including the fact that Google is slowly moving away from Java.

Making the right choice for your app development can be tricky. If you lack the complete range of skills and team, then I recommend you take professional advice.

Read “How to find the best software development company?” before you engage a development partner. 

If you are still on the lookout for a competent and experienced software development partner, DevTeam.Space can help you with its field-expert software developers community.

You can partner with these field-expert app developers for your next software development project. Write to us your initial product specifications via this quick form, and one of our account managers will get back to you for further assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions on Kotlin vs Java

Is Kotlin better than Java?

Kotlin is a statically typed programming language for JavaScript and a Java virtual machine (JVM). It is not a purely object-oriented programming language or a functional programming language. It was created to try to overcome some of the shortfalls of the Java language. While Kotlin is much-loved, you should examine your programming requirements carefully before choosing between the two.

Should I learn Java or Kotlin 2020?

If you plan to be an Android developer it is worth learning both Java and Kotlin languages. If you had to choose between the two then Java is the most widely used language for Android development so is the best option.

Is Kotlin replacing Java 2020?

Kotlin is gaining in popularity but it will be a long time before it replaces Java, if at all.

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