Kotlin Multiplatform: A New Player In Cross-Platform Development

This recent tweet is all about KMM.

KMM stands for Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile.

A number of frameworks are in the race of making cross-platform development faster and efficient. And they are successful in doing so. Cross-platform development has proven its worth in the mobile app world due to its affordability and performance. For startups and mid-sized businesses, cross-platform is like spending less and gaining more. Cross-platform development frameworks such as React Native, Flutter, Ionic, Kotlin are gaining wider traction and used by renowned companies.

Good Read: React Native vs. Ionic vs. Flutter: Comparison of Top Cross-Platform App Development Tools

We have already covered many cross-platform tools in detail. Our series of comparison between tools also consist of everything in depth in such a way that makes selection easy.

This article is a part of that series and aims to discuss Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile and everything around it.

What Is Kotlin?

Kotlin is an open-source, statistically-typed, and general-purpose programming language developed by JetBrains.

Kotlin is now officially supported language by Google for Android App development. It is fully interoperable with Java and mainly targets JVM. Kotlin app development is used to Build Ultra-Modern, Scalable, And Secure Applications.

Kotlin is the fourth most loved programming language according to the 2020 Stack Overflow Developer Survey.

Source: stackoverflow.com

Good Read: Top Examples Of Popular Apps Built With Kotlin

By leveraging the multiplatform capabilities of Kotlin, developers can build native apps for Android and iOS using reusable common code.

Kotlin_Multiplatform

What Is Kotlin Multiplatform?

Kotlin Multiplatform is focused on leveraging Kotlin’s cross-platform app development capabilities by maintaining the same code for different platforms. It allows reusing common business logic code on all platforms such as JVM, Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, Mac, other embedded systems, and also backend.

Who Is Using Kotlin Multiplatform
  • VMware
  • Autodesk
  • Yandex
  • IceRock
  • Quizlet
  • Chalk
  • Mirego

Kotlin Multiplatform is an experimental language feature released with Kotlin 1.2 in 2017. Now it is upgraded and released with KMM in alpha version.

KMM is solely focused on mobile app development and allows a single codebase for the business logic of iOS and Android apps.

What Is Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile?

Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile is an SDK that allows developers to use the same business logic code in iOS and Android applications.

How Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile Differs From Other Cross-Platform Development Tools?

The existing cross-platform tools are great at doing their jobs, i.e. building apps for different platforms using the same code base. But, this requires rewriting of existing code into native platforms. If developers want to do something at the native level or want to customize, they have restricted functionalities.

Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile differs here.

Developers can use a single codebase for business logic and write platform-specific code where it’s required. It is not ‘build once and deploy anywhere’ solution, unlike other cross-platform tools. Here, developers don’t recreate UIs as per their native environment. Instead, Kotlin is focused on sharing common code, freeing developers to create user interfaces using native, platform-specific libraries.

This is how Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile works:

kotlin-multiplatform-working-procedure
Image Source: kotlinlang.org

Here are several benefits of Kotlin Multiplatform. Let’s discuss those in detail.

Benefits Of Kotlin Multiplatform: How It Helps Reduce App Development Time?

Be it any project of app development – the goal is always universal; developing products more efficiently in lesser time with proper testing and maintenance environment.

Every cross-platform framework does the same thing but in different ways. While React Native has a JavaScript bridge to communicate with native components, Kotlin does so by allowing the sharing of common code across platforms.

Here are several benefits of Kotlin Multiplatform:

  • It’s Modern:

Kotlin is developed by JetBrains but it was open-sourced in 2012. In August 2020, Kotlin 1.4 released and Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile goes in the Alpha phase. It is backed by a powerful community of developers and tech enthusiasts from all over the world. It became the third language supported by Google for Android after Java and C++. In 2019, Google announced Kotlin as a preferred language for Android app development.

Kotlin’s concise code practices, improvements such as null-pointer safety and extension functions, IDE support, and full Java compatibility make it one of the modern, efficient, and faster programming languages.

  • Faster Development:

When you build the same app for different platforms, it is likely to happen that the application’s business logic, authentication, data management, and analytics would remain identical. UI is different – from scrolling to navigation to structure. Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile allows developers to share such common parts of the code and build UI code separately.

This easy code sharing saves the time and effort of developers, making app development faster and easier.

  • Clear, Quick, And Clean:

This sums up everything in terms of benefits for any app development. Kotlin is known for its concise and easy syntax. Without re-working or re-architecting, all you going to do is – sharing common code between mobile platforms and this saves a lot of time and cost. Optional sharing, lower risk, and smooth interop without any 3rd environment – these all equally contribute to making KMM a worth try for your next cross-platform project.

  • Support And Community:

Kotlin is already popular and used by world-famous companies in their production environments such as Pinterest, Gradle, Twitter, Lyft, Netflix, Trello, Reddit, and many more. Contributors all around the world continuously putting efforts to make Kotlin next-gen programming language.

Developers who are already familiar with Java can easily switch to Kotlin as it is object-oriented and fully interoperable with Java. Kotlin developers can seek help from forums, Slack, Stack Overflow, Kotlin Talks, and many more.

Developers can write Kotlin code in IntelliJ IDEA, Android Studio, or Xcode. Intellij studio is also a JetBrains’ product and the Android studio is built on JetBrains’ IntelliJ IDEA software. This is one of the reasons behind great IDE support and tooling for Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile.

There are several limitations also. Let’s see what the disadvantages of Kotlin Multiplatform are.

Limitations Of Kotlin Multiplatform

  • It’s Very Young:

At this time, Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile is in the alpha version. In the upcoming time, it will likely to grow because of its potential to make mobile app development easier and faster. You can try it and become an early adopter like these companies (VMware, Yandex, Fastwork, Quizlet) that are using it in their environment.

  • Limited Support

Less number of available libraries, discussion threads on issues, and support forums result in limited support for Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile development. As time goes, this will improve but at this moment, there are fewer experts to hire for this platform. It will take some time to find experienced Kotlin developers who can make the best use of this platform to build advanced apps.

  • Performance Issues:

Compared to native development, testing, and compilation of apps built with Kotlin /multiplatform are slower. It also faces compatibility issues (mainly in iOS) and multithreading issues due to coroutines, a new way of writing asynchronous code.

Despite these drawbacks, Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile allows developers to go beyond just mobile app development and deliver apps faster with utmost efficiency.

Cross-platform development is all the rage these days so let’s see how Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile compared to other top cross-platform development tools.

Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile vs React Native:

React Native is the first name when we think about cross-platform. It is a widely-adopted and mature framework created by Facebook. It is still early to compare both these frameworks but Kotlin is emerging as a strong player in the mobile app world with cross-platform compatibility. Also, React Native is facing performance and JS bridge issues that affect performance on both Android and iOS platforms. Kotlin is increasing in popularity and it is also the preferred language for Android development. Well, it will take time to actually compare these tools as React Native is a much wider and mature tool.

Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile vs Flutter:

Flutter is Google’s UI SDK to create applications for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, web, and Google’s new operating system. It is one of the popular cross-platform development tools and backed by Google. It outperforms React Native in some context and is used by well-known organizations. It is faster, customizable, and suitable for creating MVPs and prototypes for startups. Flutter is there in the market for 3 years and therefore, it has a noticeable presence compared to Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile.

There is a space for Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile to win the hearts of developers and grow gradually with better support from developers and tech enthusiasts.

Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile: A New Cross-Platform Development Tool

There are many established and popular tools available for cross-platform mobile app development. Due to a wide range of benefits and a shorter timeline, organizations consider cross-platform a great alternative to native development at the initial phase. Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile, an SDK that supports sharing code between platforms, making it easier for the developers to reduce the time and effort required in native development.

Let’s hope best for Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile and the community behind it!

Author: SPEC INDIA

SPEC INDIA, as your single stop IT partner has been successfully implementing a bouquet of diverse solutions and services all over the globe, proving its mettle as a boutique ISO 9001:2015 certified IT solutions organization. With efficient project management practices, international standards to comply, flexible engagement models and superior infrastructure, SPEC INDIA is a customer’s delight. Our skilled technical resources are apt at putting thoughts in a perspective by offering value-added reads for all.


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