Grok all the things

grok (v): to understand (something) intuitively.

Kotlin

👷‍♀️  Professionals

Hello Kotlin enthusiasts! Today we are going to dive deep into the fascinating world of Kotlin, the language that has been making waves in the engineering community since its inception in 2011. With its robust and expressive syntax, Kotlin has become the language of choice for many developers. So, without further ado, let's embark on a fantastic voyage through Kotlin's history, features, quirks, and some delightful code samples!

🏛️ A Brief History of Kotlin: From Russia with Love 💓

When JetBrains, the company behind the popular IntelliJ IDEA development environment, decided to create a new language for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), they had one primary goal in mind: to improve upon Java's productivity, expressiveness, and safety. Kotlin was developed by a team in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and was named after a Russian island near the city, Kotlin Island.

The language was officially released in February 2016, and it quickly gained traction in the developer community. One of its most significant milestones came in 2017 when Google announced Kotlin's first-class support for Android development at Google I/O. This decision undoubtedly played a huge role in making Kotlin one of the top programming languages in recent years.

✨ Key Features That Make Kotlin a Joy to Use 😍

1. Null safety 💪

Kotlin tackles one of the most common sources of runtime errors in Java: null pointer exceptions. By using nullable and non-nullable types explicitly in Kotlin, it becomes more challenging to make mistakes related to null values.

val nonNullableString: String = "Look, no nulls!"
val nullableString: String? = null

Also, using the Elvis operator ?:, it's easy to define default values when working with nullable types:

val length: Int = nullableString?.length ?: 0

2. Extension functions 🧰

Kotlin allows you to add new functionality to existing classes without modifying their source code. This is done through extension functions, which enable you to define new methods for existing classes. Here's an example of an extension function for the String class that reverses its characters:

fun String.reverse(): String {
    return this.reversed()
}

val reversedString = "Kotlin".reverse() // Output: niltoK

3. Smart casts 💡

Kotlin's compiler is quite intelligent when it comes to type inference. With smart casts, if you check a variable's type, the compiler automatically casts it to that type within the scope of the check. Here's an example:

fun printUpperCase(obj: Any) {
    if (obj is String) {
        // obj is automatically cast to String
        println(obj.toUpperCase())
    }
}

printUpperCase("kotlin") // Output: KOTLIN

4. Data classes 📦

Kotlin simplifies the process of creating data classes by automatically generating equals(), hashCode(), and toString() methods, along with other useful functions like copy(). Just add the data keyword before the class declaration, and you're good to go:

data class Person(val name: String, val age: Int)

val person1 = Person("Alice", 30)
val person2 = person1.copy(age = 31)

println(person1) // Output: Person(name=Alice, age=30)
println(person2) // Output: Person(name=Alice, age=31)

5. Functional programming bliss 👩‍💼

Kotlin embraces functional programming principles, making it an excellent choice for developers who appreciate writing expressive and concise code. Built-in higher-order functions like map, filter, and reduce are just a few examples of Kotlin's functional programming capabilities:

val numbers = listOf(1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

val evenSquares = numbers.filter { it % 2 == 0 }
                         .map { it * it }

println(evenSquares) // Output: [4, 16]

🍬 Kotlin's Delightful Idiosyncrasies: The Little Things That Make It Special 🌈

1. Destructuring declarations ğŸŽ

Kotlin allows you to unpack properties from a data class or other objects into separate variables effortlessly. This is called destructuring declarations:

data class Point(val x: Int, val y: Int)

val point = Point(1, 2)

val (x, y) = point // Destructuring declaration

println("x = $x, y = $y") // Output: x = 1, y = 2

2. Named arguments 🏷️

Kotlin lets you provide names for arguments when calling a function. This feature makes the function invocation more readable and allows you to provide values for specific parameters while leaving the rest as default.

fun paintTheWall(color: String = "white", surface: String = "smooth") {
    println("Painting the wall with $color color and $surface surface")
}

paintTheWall(color = "<span class="c-blue">blue</span>") // Output: Painting the wall with <span class="c-blue">blue</span> color and smooth surface

3. Infix functions 🤝

In Kotlin, you can define functions that can be called using an infix notation, which arguably makes your code more readable. To create an infix function, just add the infix modifier before the function definition:

infix fun Int.isMultipleOf(number: Int): Boolean {
    return this % number == 0
}

val result = 10 isMultipleOf 5 // Infix notation, same as: 10.isMultipleOf(5)

println(result) // Output: true

🧩 Kotlin and Java: Interoperability Done Right 🔗

One of Kotlin's most notable strengths is its seamless interoperability with Java. Kotlin and Java code can coexist in the same project, and you can even call Kotlin code from Java or vice versa. This makes it possible to adopt Kotlin incrementally in a project without having to rewrite the entire codebase in one go. The Kotlin plugin for IntelliJ IDEA makes it even easier by providing a built-in Java-Kotlin converter.

// Java class
public class JavaGreeting {
    public static String greet() {
        return "Hello from Java!";
    }
}
// Calling Java code from Kotlin
fun main() {
    println(JavaGreeting.greet()) // Output: Hello from Java!
}

🔑 In Conclusion: Kotlin's Exciting Journey 🌍

From its humble beginnings in a JetBrains office in Russia to its adoption by some of the biggest tech giants worldwide, Kotlin has come a long way. With expressive syntax, ease of use, and powerful features, it's safe to say that Kotlin is here to stay. So, what are you waiting for? Let's get coding and explore this fantastic language! Happy kotlin'ing!

Grok.foo is a collection of articles on a variety of technology and programming articles assembled by James Padolsey. Enjoy! And please share! And if you feel like you can donate here so I can create more free content for you.