Ever-changing requirements in coding have always been happening, ones that cause programmers to change their minds about using the appropriate programming language and tools to code. Java has been there for a long time, a really long time, 24 years ago. It is relatively easy to use, write, compile, debug, and learn than other programming languages.
However, its certain inhibitions like slow performance, unavailability of any support for low-level programming, possessing poor features in GUI 4, and having no control over garbage collection is putting Java developers in a dilemma on choosing an alternative to Java, such as JetBrains’ programming language, Kotlin, presently an officially supported language for Android development or Scala, an all-purpose programming language supporting functional programming and a strong static type system.
Today, we will discuss how developers can decide to choose Scala or Kotlin as an alternative to Java. We will briefly talk about Scala and Kotlin separately and talk about their application before moving forward to looking at the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of both and finally have you decide which one of these two suits your requirements.
Before we begin, here is a question for the readers, ‘What are you looking for in the next programming language that you will use?’ It is an obvious question because the programming purposes drive the actual basis and need of developing a language. Do you need a language that strives to better Java or use a language that lets you do things that aren’t possible in Java? If it is the first reason, then Scala might be the best one for you, otherwise, it is a simplified programming language like Kotlin.
Now let us first briefly discuss Scala and Kotlin individually.
Developed by Martin Odersky, the first version of Scala was launched in the year 2003 and is a classic example of a general-purpose, object-oriented computer language, offering a wide range of functional programming language features and a strong static type system. Inspired from Java itself, Scala, as the name suggests, is highly scalable and this very feature sets Scala apart from other programming languages.
When we say that Scala is inspired from Java, that means developers can code Scala in the same way they do for Java. Additionally, Scala makes it possible to use numerous Java and libraries within itself as well. It is designed to be able to use an elegant, concise and type-safe method to express common programming patterns. Scala is a very popular programming language amongst developers and rising up its ranks in the world of technology.
Although Scala comes with a number of plus points, there are some which make it a bit ineffective. Here are the strengths and weaknesses of Scala.
Developed by JetBrains, Kotlin was released on February 2012 as an open-source language. Until now, there have been two released versions with the latest one being Kotlin 1.2, the most stable version that was released on November 28, 2017. Since Kotlin is extremely compatible with Java 6 the latest version of Java on Android, it has gained critical acclaim on Android worldwide and additionally, it offers various key features that are prepared only for Java 8 and not even Java 6 developers have access to that.
Kotlin provides seamless and flawless interoperability with Java. That means, developers can easily call Java codes from Kotlin and same goes the other way around. The built-in null safety feature avoids showing the NullPointerException (NPE) that makes developing android apps easy and joyful, something every android programmer wants.
Below mentioned are the key pointers on the strengths and weaknesses of Kotlin.
Scala is a powerful programming language packed with superior features and possesses a flexible syntax. It is not an easy language to learn and is a nightmare for newcomers. Kotlin, on the other hand, has been reported to have been an easy-to-learn language for many Java developers as getting started with Kotlin is relatively easy and so is writing codes. Even though it is a comparatively easier language to learn and code with, Kotlin lacks the solid set of features that is common in Scala. It might take less time to learn a programming language, but the most important thing to look for is a comprehensive array of features.
Scala, even though a very difficult language to learn, is cherished by the developers as it lets them do things that cannot be done in Kotlin
Here are the major differences between Scala and Kotlin:
|Singleton object||Massive Interoperability|
|Concurrency control||Lessens Crashes at Runtime|
|String interpolation||Smart Cast Function|
|Higher-order function||Safe and Reliable|
|Case classes and Pattern matching Lazy computation||Low adoption cost|
|Rich collection set|
Now, whether you may like a programming language or not, if that very language helps you get the best out of your job, then you will have to live with it. These are the facts about getting the best results. The outcome is the main factor in you deciding the appropriate language for your job. Kotlin is the only option for Android development as Android doesn’t use JVM, so any old JVM-compatible language will not work in Android. Kotlin has it all what it takes to compile, debug, and run the software on Android because of which it is in-built into Android Studio.
However, Kotlin is not so usable outside Android development. If you are one of the developers who like working with Eclipse for your IDE, then Scala IDE is better than the Kotlin Plugin even if you can make Eclipse work with both the languages with limitations. Scala IDE is more advanced than the Kotlin plugin and is easier to set up. Some developers found it quite difficult to make the Kotlin plugin work. This case is quite the same with NetBeans. Kotlin is still getting there but is already popular amongst Java developers as it offers an easier transition than Scala. Kotlin is still maturing, but many Java people find adopting it is an easier transition than Scala is.
Scala, however, is for developers who are focused more on discovering new ideas while Kotlin is for those who want to get results. Kotlin stresses fast compilation but is more restrictive while Scala gives a lot of flexibility. Go for Scala if you breathe functional programming! It has more appropriate features for this type of programming than Kotlin does. Scala supports currying and partial application, the methods of breaking down functions requiring multiple arguments offering more flexibility.
Go for the one that is the most appropriate one for your work, style of working and what you are aiming at. Think before you leap.
At the end of the day, all that matters is what you want to use the language for. While Scala goes well for the projects that require a combination of functional, OOP style programming languages, and where programmers need to handle lots of data or complex modelling, Kotlin becomes the best choice when you want something less frustrating than Java while developing apps because using Kotlin makes app development less cumbersome and a great thing to work on. It is just like a better-looking version of Java with less lengthy codes.
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