Most Kotlin Devs Are Java Jocks, Survey Finds

Pusher, a UK-based maker of communication and collaboration APIs, has released the results of a new developer survey, which found that most Kotlin developers come from a Java background and/or also work with Java.

Based on responses from 2,774 Kotlin users between January and March of this year, "The State of Kotlin 2018" found that 83 percent of respondents had Java in their skillset. JavaScript backgrounds came in a distant second (23.8 percent), followed by Python (18.3 percent), Swift (10.2 percent), C# (8.4 percent and C++ (6.3 percent).

The survey also found that more than 60 percent of active workers who responded to the survey are actively using Kotlin in their work and personal projects, which is not surprising, given that this was a survey of Kotlin users. Also not that surprising: most survey respondents said they adopted the language after Google announced it was making Kotlin a first-class language for writing Android apps at its annual Google I/O conference in May 2017.

Kotlin usage saw explosive growth after than announcement. In fact, the popularity of Kotlin among both Java and Android developers has been growing fiercely since toolmaker JetBrains created and then open sourced the language in 2011.

"In its early days, Kotlin was being picked up mostly by experienced and professional developers," the report's authors wrote, "but since the announcement its usage has exploded with newer developers, especially students."

"Our team at Pusher predicts that over time, more and more of that growth will come from new developers for whom Kotlin will be their first foray into programming," the company said in a statement, "and it just might happen that they will judge every other language against Kotlin."

The survey also found that, for 80 percent of respondents, the null safety features built into the language is the most important feature of Kotlin, while coroutines and multi-platform support are the least important. Coroutines is a new, experimental approach to writing asynchronous, non-blocking code. Pusher predicts that this preference will change when coroutines are no longer experimental.

Kotlin is a statically typed language similar to Scala, Gosu, Ceylon and Fantom, which compiles to both JVM byte code and JavaScript. JetBrains has claimed that Kotlin is more stable at runtime than Java, because it can statically check weak points and supports things like variable type interface, closures, extension functions and mix-ins. It's also less verbose than Java, which means devs can write less code with a more readable syntax.

"We are already seeing developers use Kotlin when building applications with our new products, Beams and Chatkit," said Zan Markan, Developer Evangelist at Pusher, in a statement. "We are excited about Kotlin's growth and believe that it will become a benchmark for what a programming language should be able to do -- switch between object-oriented, functional, scripting and declarative paradigms, as well as between Android, Web and native platforms."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].