Fragments conducted an online survey with Android developers and teams about Kotlin adoption between March and April 2021. The survey aimed at answering two questions:
- The extent of Kotlin adoption in the Indian startup and enterprise ecosystem.
- How organizations are leveraging Kotlin and its features beyond UI development i.e., whether Kotlin is used for backend engineering and building data pipelines.
Survey respondents were primarily drawn from Android engineers and Android teams in startups, mid-sized organizations and enterprises.
Survey results show that:
Kotlin’s adoption will increase in 2-3 years, with the likelihood that the next generation of entrants in Android software development will be Kotlin native. This will displace Java’s dominance as a programming language for building Android apps.
The results also reinforce that Kotlin is primarily used for UI development. The language’s features and ability for backend engineering is still under-utilized, at least among developers and teams who mainly build Android apps (since the survey respondents are from this demographic).
More importantly, the survey reveals that engineering managers are concerned about moving large Java codebases to Kotlin because of the concern that they will not be able to hire Kotlin programmers and ramp up their teams.
Scroll down to read about the survey sample and detailed findings, and to see the survey questionnarie.
Despite the growing demand for Kotlin and the backing of big tech firms such as Google/Android, there still exist skill gaps in the adoption of Kotlin in India. Kotlin has far-fetched benefits beyond Android as well mainly,
- On the server side, with their interoperability with the Java ecosystem.
- A cross platform mobile and web application development platform through their Kotlin multi platform.
Organizations appear to be reticent in moving their codebase to Kotlin, especially when the codebases are large. This slow move is compounded by the apprehension that hiring Kotlin programmers will be difficult and that upskilling entire teams will be difficult. The current skill gaps likely exist because most developers depend on learning the language by themselves, without access to formal training, and without community forums where experiential case studies about Kotlin can be shared freely.
We conclude that for organizations to make better progress towards adoption of Kotlin, they have to invest in training and upskilling their employees because Kotlin will be the future for Android development.
Bhavani Seetharaman is Research Associate at Hasgeek.
Zainab Bawa is co-founder, director and Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Hasgeek.
Bhavani Seetharaman and Zainab Bawa have written this report. Madhusudhan Sambojhu actively reviewed the report and helped in nuancing the findings and conclusions.
Anish TP illustrated the report.
We would like to thank:
Brief history of Kotlin for Android
Kotlin was first created as a statically typed programming language for Java Virtual Machine (JVM) by Czech tool Manufacturers, JetBrains in 20111. In the decade that has passed, Manufacturers’ estimate that the language has grown from a Java alternative to almost exclusively being used for the development of apps in tablets to mobile phones. JetBrains estimates that about 80 percent of the apps used today are predominantly built using Kotlin1. Since its inception, Kotlin has currently unveiled it’s latest version Kotlin 1.5.02 in 2021.
Since 2017, Kotlin has officially partnered with Android to increase adoption. In addition to this, Kotlin supports multi platform programming3 to enable developers to maintain the previous code and thus increase the shift towards the use of Kotlin in the developer community. In addition to this, tech giants have also begun investing in the adoption of Kotlin, notably AWS introducing Software Development Kits (SDKs) for Swift and Kotlin4. Simultaneously, JetBrains have begun promoting their Kotlin Basics program5 for free so that software developers can learn and code with the Kotlin easily. They also have a YouTube channel6.
JetBrains celebrates 10 years of Kotlin: https://analyticsindiamag.com/ten-years-of-kotlin-programming-language/ ↩↩
Kotlin 1.5.0 – the first big release of 2021: https://blog.jetbrains.com/kotlin/2021/05/kotlin-1-5-0-released/ ↩
Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduces software development kits for Swift and Kotlin: https://marketresearchtelecast.com/amazon-web-services-introduces-software-development-kits-for-swift-and-kotlin/143730/ ↩
JetBrains Academy launches Kotlin basics: https://sdtimes.com/softwaredev/jetbrains-academy-launches-kotlin-basics/ ↩