Kotlin – the latest programming language for Android from the shores of the Gulf of Finland, writes Varvara Novikova and Alexander Titkov…

NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 19, 2017: In 2017, Google announced plans to use Kotlin, the new programming language for Android development. Some experts say that it is fully compatible with Java, but easier and more user-friendly.

Kotlin is a general-purpose modern programming language that runs on a great number of platforms, including JVM, JavaScript and Android. This language was named after the island in the Gulf of Finland, where the city of Kronstadt was founded over 300 years ago. This city used to serve as the main base for the Russian navy in the Baltic.

The unusual name was given to this language by Andrey Breslav, the head of the development team, a graduate of St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technology, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO University). For St. Petersburg residents, Kotlin is not a fortress, but an urban area to relax in.

Andrey Breslav, the head of Kotlin development team, a graduate of St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technology, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO University)

From the very beginning, Kotlin was developed in a way so that it could be used for large-scale industrial projects. In the spring of 2017, many specialized media outlets reported on Google’s decision to officially support Kotlin as a first-class language for Android development. Six months later, the number of Kotlin users had doubled. Today, Kotlin is already being used for the development of many popular apps.

Now the development team is working to improve the build system and the compilation speed, and also to improve IDE performance and add new features to the tool kit, including those related to full integration into Android Studio.

“We wanted to create a proper tool for developers: a language that can enhance productivity and also provide developers with a wide range of functions that can be helpful. Apparently, users love it, and Google decided to officially support our language on Android. Official support from a leading platform provider like Google means that our language has been recognized at the global level. All this has allowed us to introduce Kotlin to developers who work not just with Android, but other platforms as well,” said Andrey Breslav, ITMO University graduate, head of the Kotlin developer team at JetBrains.

In the summer of 2017, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev personally congratulated ITMO University programmers on their victory in the ACM ICPC Championship. When the champions told the Prime Minister about Kotlin, he noted that it was these kinds of achievements that make Russia and St. Petersburg popular in the IT world.

Apart from ITMO University, there is another university in St. Petersburg that is closely related to this programming language: Peter the Great St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University. Since 2016, students at its Institute of Computer Science and Technology’s Department of Computer Systems and Software Technology have been learning to develop in Kotlin. Every fourth master’s thesis in this university today is either directly related to Kotlin development or is using the language as an operating space.

“In order to promote teaching in this new language, we created the Kotlin Edu plugin and a web-based mini-IDE for students, while members of the Kotlin team organized courses at a number of universities in St. Petersburg. Last year my colleague Mikhail Glukhih, who is currently working on the Kotlin integrated development environment (IDE Kotlin) launched a course at Peter the Great St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University. This course was a success, and now it is a part of the university’s standard curriculum. We also stay in close contact with other Russian universities, providing them all the necessary support to start teaching Kotlin development,” Andrey Breslav noted.

Novosibirsk State University also became interested when hearing about Peter the Great State Polytechnic University’s successful experience with Kotlin. Now the university’s experts are looking into the possibility of developing a new massive open online course on Kotlin. Until then, the university is holding open lectures on
the topic.

Interestingly, all the universities — ITMO, Peter the Great St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University and Novosibirsk State University — are participants in the 5-100 Program, the state support program for the largest Russian universities that allows them to engage in research in leading areas. This project currently includes 21 leading Russian universities.

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