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Kotlin vs Scala: What are the differences?

Developers describe Kotlin as "Statically typed Programming Language targeting JVM and JavaScript". Kotlin is a statically typed programming language for the JVM, Android and the browser, 100% interoperable with Java. On the other hand, Scala is detailed as "A pure-bred object-oriented language that runs on the JVM". Scala is an acronym for “Scalable Language”. This means that Scala grows with you. You can play with it by typing one-line expressions and observing the results. But you can also rely on it for large mission critical systems, as many companies, including Twitter, LinkedIn, or Intel do. To some, Scala feels like a scripting language. Its syntax is concise and low ceremony; its types get out of the way because the compiler can infer them.

Kotlin and Scala can be primarily classified as "Languages" tools.

"Interoperable with Java" is the primary reason why developers consider Kotlin over the competitors, whereas "Static typing" was stated as the key factor in picking Scala.

Kotlin and Scala are both open source tools. Kotlin with 28.3K GitHub stars and 3.28K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Scala with 11.8K GitHub stars and 2.75K GitHub forks.

According to the StackShare community, Scala has a broader approval, being mentioned in 437 company stacks & 324 developers stacks; compared to Kotlin, which is listed in 268 company stacks and 208 developer stacks.

Advice on Kotlin and Scala
Needs advice
on
RustRustKotlinKotlin
and
JavaJava

I was thinking about adding a new technology to my current stack (Ruby and JavaScript). But, I want a compiled language, mainly for speed and scalability reasons compared to interpreted languages. I have tried each one (Rust, Java, and Kotlin). I loved them, and I don't know which one can offer me more opportunities for the future (I'm in my first year of software engineering at university).

Which language should I choose?

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Replies (8)
Recommends
KotlinKotlinJavaJava

I will highly recommend Kotlin. I have worked with all three intensely and so far the development speed and simplicity is the best with Kotlin. Kotlin supports coroutines out of the box. Now, it isn't something that can't be implemented in other languages but Kotlin makes it super easy to work with them. Kotlin has a bit of learning curve, so, by the time you can actually use it idiomatically chances are that you will get proficient in Java too. But once you get it, you get it, then there is no other language ;) Kotlin is backed by Google and Jetbrains team so you can expect latest programming features and good community support.

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Recommends
RustRust

If you want a compiled language then go for Rust. It takes a certain mindset to get your head around its memory management system and the way it handles "borrowed" memory. However, it will generate blindingly fast code that you can cross-compile for other platforms. As a systems programming language I highly recommend it. Take time and learn it.

Java is only compiled to bytecode, not to machine code. So it executes in the Java Virtual Machine. DOn't think that its not fast, because the latest incarnation are very fast indeed. For most practical purposes, users of your code won't notice any difference. There are a heck of a lot of features in Java that you either have to import via crates in Rust, or write yoursef. So productivity-wise, Java may well beat Rust.

Kotlin is a Java-lookalike. It's a nice, and succinct version of Java and is totally interoperable. But its a bit niche, and for me it fails because my dev environment of choice (Spring Tool Suite) doesn't really play well with Kotlin. To use it you would be well advised to use iDeaj. I have used kotlin, and I like it, but not enough to ditch all my Java code.

Other contenders, depending on your platform of choice are Golang, C, C++, and C# (available as Mono on Linux systems).

I use Rust and Java and if you need a compiled language I recommend Rust.

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Mayur Borse
Software Engineer at hyphenOs · | 4 upvotes · 97.4K views
Recommends
RustRust

I'd say Rust's knowledge will be more valuable in comparison. You can work in Blockchain development, compile to WASM (WebAssembly). There is a new JavaScript/TypeScript runtime named Deno (by the creator of Node.js) that has its backend in Rust.

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malekmfs
at Meam Software Engineering Group · | 4 upvotes · 89K views
Recommends
RustRustRubyRubyKotlinKotlin

It depends on which level and use cases you prefer to work at. Close to the machine? Rust is great but if you need to find more job opportunities, then take C/C++. Java has many job positions but I suggest Kotlin over it. Think about it as a better Java, but fewer job positions. Do you want to do your own projects? So a productive language like Ruby is way better. Like to program front-end apps? Take JS. Find your passion.

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ALESSIO SALTARIN
Master IT Architect at IBM · | 4 upvotes · 97.2K views
Recommends
GoGo

As you certainly know, there are languages that compile in meta-code for Virtual Machines (Java, C#, Kotlin) and languages that compile in Machine Language (Go, Rust). Apart specific domains (blockchain, IoT embedded software, AI, cloud) almost no-one uses languages that compile in machine language, for a series of reason, most of all security and portability. So, if you are going to learn for business go with Kotlin - Java is a bit ancien regime. If you seriously need to learn a language that compiles in ML - for example you will code for IoT - go with Go - or Rust - but keep in mind that Rust is much less used than Go. PS: Kotlin also compiles in ML, but I would choose a language designed for that, instead of one that compiles "also" in ML. PPS: Some Virtual Machines - ie: GraalVM - allow you to compile Java in ML. The world of IT is beautiful.

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Luiz H. Rapatão
Senior Software Engineer at rapatao.com · | 3 upvotes · 90.3K views
Recommends
KotlinKotlinJavaJava

I'd recommend you to take a look at Java and Kotlin, the first due to the number of companies that actively use it in your products. Kotlin is gaining adept since it is fully compatibly with the Java ecosystem but usually requires less code to do the same (ignoring other benefits of the language). Another benefits of the Kotlin is that it is in fact multiplatform, where you could use the same syntax to code for mobile, web and backend applications. The drawback of Kotlin, is the number of open jobs that exists currently compared to Java, but I pretty sure that it will change in the near future.

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Radu Maerza
Software Engineer at Freelancer · | 3 upvotes · 90.5K views
Recommends
KotlinKotlin

I would go with Kotlin. It is pretty hyped currently.

You can use Kotlin for a lot of application types. To name some:

  • Kotlin Multiplatform with Gradle
  • Ktor (https://ktor.io)
  • Spring Boot
  • Kotlin JS (as you already know Javascript, you might like this one)

The code is also really concise, readable and modern. It also provides many features that you will find in many other programming languages.

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Alexander Nozik
Senior researcher at MIPT · | 3 upvotes · 90.3K views
Recommends
KotlinKotlin

All those are nice languages, but Rust is harder to learn properly and has a smaller ecosystem. If you want to work in system programming (like hardware drivers) Rust is probably your choice. Otherwise, Java/Kotlin ecosystem is much larger and gives much more possibilities (maybe excluding low-level system programming).

When talking about Kotlin and Java, both are good. But Kotlin, again, gives much more opportunities. Kotlin-JS gives you browser applications, Kotlin-Native allows to compile to native application (and interop with them). Kotlin-WASM will be available shortly. Rust is better than Kotlin-Native for native development tight now, but not by far and it makes sense only if you are focusing only on native development.

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Needs advice
on
KotlinKotlinF#F#
and
C#C#

Hi there. I want to expand my coding toolset. So I want to learn a second backend language besides Kotlin. Kotlin is fantastic. I love it in every aspect, and I think I can never return to Java. And also why should I? It is 100% interoperable with java and can co-exist in every project.

So my question here is. Which language do you think will bring me more joy? I think F#; it is more like Kotlin. Then C# (it's more or like 100% java). But, let's say I learn F#. Is it 100% interoperable like Kotlin? can they live side by side? Can I, then, apply to .NET jr jobs after a while, for example, or is C# the holy cow? I would like to learn .Net.

If it is the worst and only C# is acceptable, then which language should I learn? Dart? Go?

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Replies (3)
Recommends
C#C#

animefanx1,

First let's get your questions sorted: Which language do you think will bring me more joy?

This you will have to decide for yourself, I am a long time C# developer and have seen it grow into a very compelling platform. The language and I'd compare it more to Kotlin than Java (by a long margin). More on .NET in a bit.

say I learn F#. Is it 100% interoperable like Kotlin?

You can have 100% interop with a caveat, your F# libraries have to implement certain guidance in order to be referenced from C#. Some (dare I say most) of the differences between F# and C# are predicated on language constructs that are not available in C#. For instance F# functions that return Unit.

can they live side by side?

Yes.

Can I, then, apply to .NET jr jobs after a while, for example, or is C# the holy cow?

I don't know if I take your meaning, but let me say this: Learning either C# or F# will likely force you to understand concepts such as garbage collection, primitive types, etc. which apply to all .NET languages, thus a lot of the effort you put into .NET is bound to pay off regardless of your choice.

If it is the worst and only C# is acceptable, then which language should I learn? Dart? Go? You can't go wrong with any of these and I venture to say whether you select C#, F#, Dart or Go as your next adventure, your willingness to learn will take you to try other languages, some which mey not even exist yet!

PS1: .NET is an end to end environment now. With the introduction of Blazor and Razor pages one does not need JavaScript or other browser scripting languages, it even interops with JavaScript. PS2. Microsoft is working on unifying .NET. Soon there will be only one version: .NET 5! Caveat: Some features such as WinForms will still be specific to the windows environment but all of those are likely things you don't need in Mac or Linux

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Recommends
KotlinKotlinC#C#

Exceptional decision to go with Kotlin. For the other story, go full with C#. "is C# the holy cow? Yes it is.". Specially now when netCore is crossplatform and you can build asp.net core applications on Windows, Linux and macOS via Visual Studio Code which is also multiplatform. Nothing will beat C# in the near future. Also, at the end of 2021 Microsoft will release Net 6.0 which will include MAUI.

"For those new to .NET MAUI (standing for .NET Multi-platform App UI), Microsoft says it's "the evolution of Xamarin.Forms extended from mobile to desktop scenarios with UI controls rebuilt from the ground up for performance and extensibility."

So, C# all the way sire!

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Recommends
GoGo

I think you can learn go instead C#. C# is cool, but Golang also cool. It can run on any OS without specific software. C# can run on linux too but it's only the .NET Core as I know. But golang is flexible. So try it and decide what do you think about Golang

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Needs advice
on
KotlinKotlin
and
DartDart

Can anyone help me decide what's best for app development or even android Oreo development? I'm in a state dilemma at the moment. I want to do Android programming, not necessarily web development. I have heard a lot of people recommend one of these, and it seems that both the tools can do the job. Which language would you choose?

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Replies (4)
Ondrej Malek
Recommends
DartDart

I assume that you mean Flutter by Dart. I have over 6 years experience programming in Android SDK, but about 1,5 month in Flutter. So far I think that Flutter is the future for mobile development. Flutter SDK is much better designed. Ecosystem of libraries seems having much higher quality. I would even say that android opensource libs are having really poor quality. Many times I am wondering how can garbage like that have so many stars at GitHub. Android SDK is hard to compose so you reinvent even basic things on and on, which is totally different story at Flutter. Lolcycle? Both are having good documentation. I quess apps in Flutter can be done in 1/3 of time compared to develop AndroidSDK and iOS, its design is that much better and contemporary. As of language comparison - Kotlin is better, but the difference is not that important. Go from one language to other is no problem. Dart is being updated with new features.

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Recommends
DartDart

I've selected Flutter and Dart for my side projects and never regretted. Dart learning curve is easy after any OOP language . Flutter as a framework is also has a low entry threshold. I've already started development after a week of learning. Pros for me: code can be build for Android and IOS devices (for ios you need mac or VM), apps written in Dart have great performance on each of these platforms, flexibility. Cons: if you want to build a product as a business and want to hire a new Flutter Developer in the future it can be a problem as the framework and language is not popular for the moment.

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Tran Phuc
CTO at Nextfunc Co., Ltd · | 3 upvotes · 120.4K views
Recommends
DartDart

I have worked in mobile development since 2010. I have experienced myself on various techs including Native SDK (Android), React Native (from 2016) and Flutter (2018). Almost the apps nowadays can be built using cross-platforms frameworks like React Native or Flutter. I suggest you start with Flutter. Flutter SDK is designed well to speed up your development and it still keeps the quality for your apps. If you're familiar with OOP languages (Java, C#...), switching to Dart is really quick and easy. Of course, sometimes you will need to dive deep into native parts but almost the cases you don't need. Good luck!

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Ranjeet Sinha
Senior Software Engineer · | 3 upvotes · 120.4K views
Recommends
KotlinKotlin

It depends on what is the purpose of your app development. Do you want to make one app that shares the codebase for both iOS and Android? If yes, then Dart is the way to go. Does your app include interacting with hardware features like camera, Bluetooth, if yes, then go for native Android for better performance? Dart is good for simpler UI apps where you just do basic crud operations over the network and show data but if you need richer UI experience go with native.

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Needs advice
on
ScalaScalaNode.jsNode.js
and
GoGo

Finding the best server-side tool for building a personal information organizer that focuses on performance, simplicity, and scalability.

performance and scalability get a prototype going fast by keeping codebase simple find hosting that is affordable and scales well (Java/Scala-based ones might not be affordable)

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Replies (1)
David Annez
Head of Engineering at loveholidays · | 4 upvotes · 126.1K views

I've picked Node.js here but honestly it's a toss up between that and Go around this. It really depends on your background and skillset around "get something going fast" for one of these languages. Based on not knowing that I've suggested Node because it can be easier to prototype quickly and built right is performant enough. The scaffolding provided around Node.js services (Koa, Restify, NestJS) means you can get up and running pretty easily. It's important to note that the tooling surrounding this is good also, such as tracing, metrics et al (important when you're building production ready services).

You'll get more scalability and perf from go, but balancing them out I would say that you'll get pretty far with a well built Node.JS service (our entire site with over 1.5k requests/m scales easily and holds it's own with 4 pods in production.

Without knowing the scale you are building for and the systems you are using around it it's hard to say for certain this is the right route.

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Decisions about Kotlin and Scala
Chose
PythonPython
over
ScalaScala

I am working in the domain of big data and machine learning. I am helping companies with bringing their machine learning models to the production. In many projects there is a tendency to port Python, PySpark code to Scala and Scala Spark.

This yields to longer time to market and a lot of mistakes due to necessity to understand and re-write the code. Also many libraries/apis that data scientists/machine learning practitioners use are not available in jvm ecosystem.

Simply, refactoring (if necessary) and organising the code of the data scientists by following best practices of software development is less error prone and faster comparing to re-write in Scala.

Pipeline orchestration tools such as Luigi/Airflow is python native and fits well to this picture.

I have heard some arguments against Python such as, it is slow, or it is hard to maintain due to its dynamically typed language. However cost/benefit of time consumed porting python code to java/scala alone would be enough as a counter-argument. ML pipelines rarerly contains a lot of code (if that is not the case, such as complex domain and significant amount of code, then scala would be a better fit).

In terms of performance, I did not see any issues with Python. It is not the fastest runtime around but ML applications are rarely time-critical (majority of them is batch based).

I still prefer Scala for developing APIs and for applications where the domain contains complex logic.

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Alexander Nozik
Senior researcher at MIPT · | 3 upvotes · 72.7K views
Migrated
from
JuliaJulia
to
KotlinKotlin

After writing a project in Julia we decided to stick with Kotlin. Julia is a nice language and has superb REPL support, but poor tooling and the lack of reproducibility of the program runs makes it too expensive to work with. Kotlin on the other hand now has nice Jupyter support, which mostly covers REPL requirements.

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Alaa Alzaibak
iOS Developer at Volt Lines · | 1 upvote · 90.7K views

From cross platform development point of view: Using kotlin multiplatform is more convenient than java for implementing cross platform code, since it can be converted to be used in iOS (swift) projects, and it can be easily learned if you already know swift. It still an experimental feature but it helped so far to unify a lot of the common code between our iOS and Android projects. And it is more future proof than java regarding support and maintain multiplatform converting.

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We needed to incorporate Big Data Framework for data stream analysis, specifically Apache Spark / Apache Storm. The three options of languages were most suitable for the job - Python, Java, Scala.

The winner was Python for the top of the class, high-performance data analysis libraries (NumPy, Pandas) written in C, quick learning curve, quick prototyping allowance, and a great connection with other future tools for machine learning as Tensorflow.

The whole code was shorter & more readable which made it easier to develop and maintain.

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Nick Parsons
Director of Developer Marketing at Stream · | 11 upvotes · 58.8K views

I work at Stream and I'm immensely proud of what our team is working on here at the company. Most recently, we announced our Android SDK accompanied by an extensive tutorial for Java and Kotlin. The tutorial covers just about everything you need to know when it comes to using our Android SDK for Stream Chat. The Android SDK touches many features offered by Stream Chat – more specifically, typing status, read state, file uploads, threads, reactions, editing messages, and commands. Head over to https://getstream.io/tutorials/android-chat/ and give it a whirl!

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Pros of Kotlin
Pros of Scala
  • 64
    Interoperable with Java
  • 48
    Functional Programming support
  • 44
    Null Safety
  • 39
    Official Android support
  • 39
    Backed by JetBrains
  • 31
    Concise
  • 29
    Modern Multiplatform Applications
  • 24
    Expressive Syntax
  • 22
    Target to JVM
  • 22
    Coroutines
  • 21
    Open Source
  • 15
    Practical elegance
  • 15
    Statically Typed
  • 14
    Type Inference
  • 14
    Android support
  • 10
    Better Java
  • 9
    Readable code
  • 9
    Pragmatic
  • 8
    Powerful as Scala, simple as Python, plus coroutines <3
  • 6
    Lambda
  • 6
    Expressive DSLs
  • 6
    Target to JavaScript
  • 6
    Better language for android
  • 5
    Less boilerplate code
  • 4
    Used for Android
  • 3
    Less code
  • 3
    Fast Programming language
  • 2
    Functional Programming Language
  • 2
    Less boiler plate code
  • 2
    Friendly community
  • 1
    Latest version of Java
  • 188
    Static typing
  • 179
    Pattern-matching
  • 177
    Jvm
  • 172
    Scala is fun
  • 138
    Types
  • 95
    Concurrency
  • 88
    Actor library
  • 86
    Solve functional problems
  • 83
    Open source
  • 80
    Solve concurrency in a safer way
  • 44
    Functional
  • 23
    Generics
  • 23
    Fast
  • 18
    It makes me a better engineer
  • 17
    Syntactic sugar
  • 13
    Scalable
  • 10
    First-class functions
  • 10
    Type safety
  • 9
    Interactive REPL
  • 8
    Expressive
  • 7
    SBT
  • 6
    Implicit parameters
  • 6
    Case classes
  • 4
    Used by Twitter
  • 4
    JVM, OOP and Functional programming, and static typing
  • 4
    Rapid and Safe Development using Functional Programming
  • 4
    Object-oriented
  • 3
    Functional Proframming
  • 2
    Spark
  • 2
    Beautiful Code
  • 2
    Safety
  • 2
    Growing Community
  • 1
    DSL
  • 1
    Rich Static Types System and great Concurrency support
  • 1
    Naturally enforce high code quality
  • 1
    Akka Streams
  • 1
    Akka
  • 1
    Reactive Streams
  • 1
    Easy embedded DSLs
  • 1
    Mill build tool
  • 0
    Freedom to choose the right tools for a job

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Cons of Kotlin
Cons of Scala
  • 5
    Java interop makes users write Java in Kotlin
  • 4
    Frequent use of {} keys
  • 2
    Hard to make teams adopt the Kotlin style
  • 2
    Nonullpointer Exception
  • 1
    Friendly community
  • 1
    Slow compiler
  • 1
    No boiler plate code
  • 11
    Slow compilation time
  • 6
    Multiple ropes and styles to hang your self
  • 4
    Too few developers available
  • 3
    Complicated subtyping
  • 2
    My coworkers using scala are racist against other stuff

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What is Kotlin?

Kotlin is a statically typed programming language for the JVM, Android and the browser, 100% interoperable with Java

What is Scala?

Scala is an acronym for “Scalable Language”. This means that Scala grows with you. You can play with it by typing one-line expressions and observing the results. But you can also rely on it for large mission critical systems, as many companies, including Twitter, LinkedIn, or Intel do. To some, Scala feels like a scripting language. Its syntax is concise and low ceremony; its types get out of the way because the compiler can infer them.

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Blog Posts

Aug 28 2019 at 3:10AM

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What are some alternatives to Kotlin and Scala?
Swift
Writing code is interactive and fun, the syntax is concise yet expressive, and apps run lightning-fast. Swift is ready for your next iOS and OS X project — or for addition into your current app — because Swift code works side-by-side with Objective-C.
Java
Java is a programming language and computing platform first released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. There are lots of applications and websites that will not work unless you have Java installed, and more are created every day. Java is fast, secure, and reliable. From laptops to datacenters, game consoles to scientific supercomputers, cell phones to the Internet, Java is everywhere!
Groovy
It is a powerful multi-faceted programming language for the JVM platform. It supports a spectrum of programming styles incorporating features from dynamic languages such as optional and duck typing, but also static compilation and static type checking at levels similar to or greater than Java through its extensible static type checker. It aims to greatly increase developer productivity with many powerful features but also a concise, familiar and easy to learn syntax.
Python
Python is a general purpose programming language created by Guido Van Rossum. Python is most praised for its elegant syntax and readable code, if you are just beginning your programming career python suits you best.
Go
Go is expressive, concise, clean, and efficient. Its concurrency mechanisms make it easy to write programs that get the most out of multicore and networked machines, while its novel type system enables flexible and modular program construction. Go compiles quickly to machine code yet has the convenience of garbage collection and the power of run-time reflection. It's a fast, statically typed, compiled language that feels like a dynamically typed, interpreted language.
See all alternatives