Dart vs. Kotlin: Which One Is Best for Your App in 2021?
Dart or Kotlin? Both programming languages have been gaining popularity over the last few years. Until 2020, some might think that the former would be great for cross-platform app development, while the latter is better for Android development. Still, KMM (Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile) also supports cross-platform app development. So, let’s dive deep into which of the two languages is better for your app.
About the Languages – Dart and Kotlin
Dart has been released by Google in 2011 as a user-oriented programming language aimed to develop user-friendly interfaces along with providing excellent performance for different platforms and devices. Dart is commonly used with the Flutter framework for building high-class web and mobile applications. Kotlin is another modern object-oriented programming language that was initially created to substitute Java, running on JVM (Java virtual machine) and supporting Java’s libraries.
When choosing a programming language for your project, be it Android or iOS applications development, it’s worth comparing them based on the commercial aspects that may include their popularity, market share, learning curve, and app development costs. Below we’ll compare Dart vs Kotlin taking into account the above-mentioned factors.
Popularity demonstrates the level of interest among developers and customers, which may serve as one of the indicators to opt for one of the programming languages. The popularity among developers means that it’ll be easier to hire developers, while the interest among clients proves its attractiveness for businesses.
According to Stackoverflow, over 1,2% of questions are tagged with Dart, while for Kotlin, the percentage is a bit lower – over 1% of questions that month. Still, there has been an increasing interest in both languages for the last few years. Here’s a Stackoverflow Trend Graph:
Over the past year, Google users have been more interested in Dart compared with Kotlin as the Google Trends graph demonstrates below:
What do developers think about Dart and Kotlin? According to Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020, 7,8% of the respondents say they use Kotlin, while Dart is used by 4% of them. However, both languages are among the most loved languages where Kotlin takes the 4th position (62,9%) and Dart – the 7th (62,1%) accordingly.
It’s more common to compare Flutter with Kotlin when it comes to the market share analysis as Dart is used with the Flutter framework. Below are the two technologies’ market share stats are compared:
The learning curve matters for developers when thinking about whether it’s reasonable to start learning one or another programming language, which is also meaningful for clients when they need to ramp up a project team: the easier the language is to learn, the easier it is to hire the required specialists. Taken as a whole, Kotlin is easy to learn as there’s detailed documentation on it provided by Google, but now the focus of interest is more on Kotlin Multiplatform that has relatively limited resources compared to Flutter and Dart accordingly. Still, it may be just a matter of time as Kotlin was announced multiplatform just over a year ago.
App Development Costs
Both Dart and Kotlin are open-source, so you get free access to the original code and the documentation needed for the development. Also, they offer a fast way to build an MVP as both Android and iOS applications can be developed and managed from a single codebase, which reduces costs because you don’t need to run two separate codebases and hire developers to build two different versions for two operating systems. Earlier Kotlin has been available only for Android applications development, but with the introduction of the Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile platform, now it offers cross-platform mobile development.
As mentioned above, Jetbrains announced the Kotlin multi-platform in 2020, so it now makes sense to compare Kotlin and Dart’s technical capabilities.
Are Dart and Kotlin Similar or Different?
They are quite similar when comparing some technical characteristics, but they still have differences. So, how are they similar? Here are a few examples to illustrate this:
- When comparing Kotlin and Dart language syntax, they are more similar to some extent.
- Both languages apply the same rules for writing comments and handling white spaces.
- Both Dart and Kotlin are Object-Oriented Programming Languages.
- Dart and Kotlin are statically typed programming languages, which means that their set of rules ensures the consistent integration of all parts. Still, null safety supported by Kotlin is currently used in BETA by Dart.
Why Do Developers Use Dart and Kotlin?
There are many reasons why developers learn these programming languages. Below are the top five pros rated by developers on stackshare.io:
Dart vs Kotlin: Cross-platform Support
The Flutter-Dart coding combo has already established itself in the cross-platform community for its high performance and great native support. But what is Kotlin Multiplatform and how can you leverage it for cross-platform development?
As Kotlin’s developers state on its website, ‘’support for multiplatform programming is one of Kotlin’s key benefits. It reduces time spent writing and maintaining the same code for different platforms while retaining the flexibility and benefits of native programming.’’
Performance is essential when considering cross-platform development. Flutter’s performance is great due to the Hot Reload feature, allowing you to change the code and see the effect instantly, while Kotlin’s performance is great due to the code modularity and testability.
Actually, there’s no exact decision on what programming language you should use for cross-platform mobile development. Still, Flutter seems to be an excellent low-cost language for startups that will allow them to create multiple apps with one codebase. Kotlin would be the best fit if you work with any pre-existing Java code that can be converted to Dart.
On a Final Note
Who’s the winner in the Dart vs Kotlin race? Both programming languages present benefits and will be compared in the immediate future. Nowadays, Dart with Flutter takes the dominant position, just because they are better known, but it’s only a matter of time until Kotlin becomes the next prominent language for cross-platform app development.