App Development Cross-platform app development Kotlin

Kotlin Multiplatform for Cross-Platform Mobile App Development

Kotlin is a statically typed, general-purpose programming language designed and developed by JetBrains. Kotlin is JVM based and the beauty of the language is, it is fully interoperable with Java. Kotlin programming language became more popular and the developer’s choice when Google announced it as a preferred language for Android app development and given first-class support for Kotlin at Google I/O 2017. The syntax of the Kotlin programming language is very similar to its peers which helped developers to easily adopt that language with the lesser learning curve.

Kotlin is mainly used for server-side, client-side web, and Android app development. In release version 1.2 Kotlin introduced a new feature called Multiplatform as an experimental feature that provides an option to share common codes between platforms. This brings an invaluable benefit of reuse for codes and expertise. This will save effort for tasks so that can avoid implementing everything twice or multiple times. Already, this has changed the face of conventional cross-platform app development methods and introducing the capabilities of native tools in this area.

Features of Kotlin Multiplatform

Kotlin multiplatform is an extension feature of the language that helps it expand beyond Android application development. It enables developers to share codes, data, and business logic across multiple platforms such as iOS, Web, Linux, macOS, Android, and Java Virtual Machine (JVM) in a clean, clear way to avoid having to write the code twice.

It is an SDK

Based on Kotlin’s philosophy, while in development – we don’t need to migrate/move the whole application, instead we can work on a single module or a particular feature first. Once we find that the module or feature is working as expected, then we start moving the other parts progressively.

Reusability of the business logic

We can reuse the previously written Kotlin code and modify the code to be compatible with other platforms. Since the written code is tested and verified as working, it generates less code for the other platforms and with a very less number of bugs. Various cross-platform frameworks already have this feature in place, but what makes Kotlin different from those is that it has shared code and libraries below the UI layer which helps to interact with the native environment effortlessly.

Look and Feel with Native UI

There are no restrictions or instructions on creating the user interface for the application. Kotlin does not force the developer to use UI components in a defined way. The UI developers can work on the look and feel of the app based on native appearances, behavior, and performance that they were working on as of now since the shared code is only the business logic.

Platform-specific code and Smooth Interoperability

If the shared logic is not helping to resolve the problem, then there are always options to use the platform-specific codes seamlessly in order to complete the logic and resolve the issue. There are different patterns defined for catering to this purpose so that the smooth interoperability can be achieved. The expected common logic can be modified with the actual platform-specific code.

Lesser Learning Curve

Since the developers are using the native programming language for development, they do not need to learn an entirely new language for building cross-platform applications. This reduces developer effort on learning because Kotlin syntax is quite similar to other programming languages like Java, Swift, Scala, Groovy, etc so they can easily learn the language and start development on Multiplatform.

Open Source

Kotlin is open-sourced under Apache 2 license. Jetbrains and Google have created the Kotlin foundation to ensure open and independent development.

Final Word

Even though there are numerous advantages, the extension is still struggling to find a place in the development community because of the below disadvantages.

As mentioned in the beginning the extension is not yet stable, this is still in an experimental stage. Only very few basic libraries are available for the development, which is very difficult for the developers to build applications faster and seamlessly. Even though Kotlin provides cross-platform development capabilities, the knowledge of the other native platforms is required to generate builds corresponding to those. With that being said, it is particularly ideal for  enterprise applications that are to be launched in multiple platforms – since the code can be reused using mulitplatform.

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