Exploring Kotlin: What Lies Behind the Definition of this Powerful Language

Kotlin is a powerful, modern programming language that is gaining popularity at an astonishing pace. Since its official release in 2016, Kotlin has exploded onto the software development scene and has quickly become one of the top programming languages in the world. In fact, according to Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey 2020, Kotlin is ranked as the fourth most loved programming language, with a 62.9% popularity score. In this glossary, you will learn what Kotlin is, how it works, its benefits, use cases, best practices, and some recommended books to further your knowledge.

“Kotlin is what Java 9 should have been if it was written today from scratch.” – Hadi Hariri, Kotlin advocate and developer at JetBrains.

What is Kotlin? Definition of Kotlin (programming language)

Kotlin is a statically-typed programming language that runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and can also be compiled to JavaScript or native code for multiple platforms. It is a versatile language that enables developers to build a variety of applications, from Android apps to server-side development. Kotlin was developed by JetBrains, a company known for creating some of the most popular Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), such as IntelliJ IDEA, PhpStorm, and PyCharm.

ℹ️ Synonyms: JetBrains Kotlin, JVM language, programming language

How it Works

Kotlin is designed to be fully interoperable with Java, which means developers can seamlessly use Kotlin code alongside Java code in their projects. The Kotlin compiler translates Kotlin source code into Java bytecode, ensuring compatibility with existing Java libraries and frameworks.

Kotlin also supports multiplatform development, allowing you to write common code that can be shared across multiple platforms, such as Android, iOS, Web, and Desktop. This is achieved through Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile (KMM), which enables you to use a single codebase for the business logic of your application while keeping platform-specific code separate.

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Benefits of using Kotlin

  • Concise syntax: Kotlin’s syntax is clean, expressive, and concise, which allows for more readable and maintainable code.
  • Interoperability with Java: Kotlin’s seamless integration with Java makes it easy for developers to adopt Kotlin in their existing Java projects.
  • Increased safety: Kotlin helps developers avoid common programming mistakes and reduce the number of runtime errors through features like null safety and immutable data classes.
  • Extension functions: Kotlin allows you to add new functionality to existing classes without modifying their source code using extension functions, leading to more modular and readable code.
  • Smart casts: Kotlin’s smart casts automatically insert the necessary type casts after checking the type of a variable, reducing the amount of boilerplate code needed.
  • Official support for Android development: Google has officially announced Kotlin as a first-class language for Android app development, making it a reliable choice for Android developers.

Kotlin Use Cases

Kotlin is suitable for various application types and platforms, including:

Android App Development

Since Google announced its support for Kotlin, the language has become increasingly popular among Android developers. Kotlin’s concise syntax, improved safety features, and interoperability with Java provide a great alternative to Java for building Android apps.

Backend Development

Kotlin enables developers to build scalable and high-performance backend systems on platforms like Spring Boot, Ktor, and Vert.x. Its support for coroutines and non-blocking I/O helps developers create more efficient web services and applications.

Desktop Application Development

Kotlin can be used to create cross-platform desktop applications with frameworks like TornadoFX (for JavaFX) and Jetpack Compose.

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Data Science and Machine Learning

Kotlin’s interoperability with Java libraries makes it suitable for Data Science and Machine Learning projects using popular libraries such as TensorFlow and Apache Spark.

Best Practices

When using Kotlin, it is essential to follow best practices to maximize productivity and maintainability. Some key best practices include leveraging Kotlin’s null safety features to prevent NullPointerExceptions, using data classes for representing simple data types, using extension functions to add functionality to existing classes without modifying their source code, and taking advantage of Kotlin’s powerful standard library functions. It is also recommended to leverage Kotlin’s coroutines for asynchronous programming to avoid blocking calls and improve performance.

Most Recommended Books About Kotlin

If you’re interested in learning more about Kotlin, check out these highly-recommended books:

  1. Kotlin in Action by Dmitry Jemerov and Svetlana Isakova
  2. Atomic Kotlin by Bruce Eckel and Svetlana Isakova
  3. Kotlin for Android Developers: Learn Kotlin the easy way while developing an Android App by Antonio Leiva
  4. Programming Kotlin: Create Elegant, Expressive, and Performant JVM and Android Applications by Venkat Subramaniam
  5. Mastering Kotlin: Deep Dive Into The World of Kotlin by Nate Ebel


Kotlin is a modern, versatile, and powerful programming language that offers various benefits to developers, including concise syntax, improved safety, and seamless interoperability with Java. Different Kotlin use cases range from Android app development and backend development to desktop application and data science projects. By following best practices and leveraging Kotlin’s key features, developers can streamline their workflows and create more maintainable, efficient applications. To further your knowledge of Kotlin, consider reading some of the highly recommended books mentioned above.

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Back in 2013, I founded Echo with the simple business idea: "Connect great tech companies around the globe with the brightest software engineers in Eastern Europe." We've employed hundreds of talents so far and keep going.
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li-url Lou Reverchuk

IT Entrepreneur

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