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Conference Review: Kotliners @BMC Budapest

5 minutes

It’s 2019 and Kotlin has never been more popular in the developer scene. Based on our research, which we conduct on a yearly basis across tech companies and developers, we noticed that the willingness to switch from a certain ecosystem to Kotlin has been more of a natural choice compared to how it was even in early 2018. We also realized that Kotlin, with the ability to provide fluidity between OOP and FP paradigms, makes it an interesting option to people on a wider spectrum. In the mobile development scene, it is more of a must for Android developers to do the transition from Java native development to Kotlin as we are in the middle of the new era. The transition has been quite significant but this year has been a big leap as Google at Google I/O 2019 went public about naming Kotlin the primary preferred language for app development, which is a huge accomplishment considering that they officially started to support Kotlin in 2017. 

With all the great things happening in and around the Kotlin scene, I had the pleasure to attend Kotliners 2019 which was a one-day conference hosted in Budapest this June. Kotliners is organized by Makery and have strong support from the developers and creators of Kotlin (JetBrains), and is widely considered one of the best events to attend if you would like to deepen your knowledge of Kotlin and also to have a chance of networking with fellow Kotliners.

Last year’s event was hosted at the BMC Music Center, which I believe was a great location and I was happy to realize this year we were going to the heart of Budapest once again! There were also great improvements, such as having two tracks this year in parallel – with the exception of the keynote speakers who were all presenting on the main stage – on two different stages. The first track (main stage) focused on the latest improvements and hot trends such as Kotlin/Native, Domain Driven Development with Kotlin, as well as the general state of the Kotlin in the Android ecosystem. The second track (Android stage) purely focused on Android development with deep dives from testing to architectural decisions using practical apps.

I mostly went with the main stage speakers as I was more interested in the ecosystem and the state of Kotlin but also joined two sessions at the Android arena and I can say that the overall quality was impressive on both sides.

I especially enjoyed Qian Jin’s speech about using Kotlin/Native on Raspberry PI, where she built a Rock-Paper-Scissors hand game robot. Kotlin/Native still needs improvement in many ways (it is still in beta) but as she has shown in her presentation, even in low-level coding it could be a viable option in the future and hopefully, the community will also grow around it, just like it did with Kotlin.

Kotliners conference slide from the Kotlin/Native session

I also watched Wojtek Kalinicki’s presentation who represented Google at Kotliners with the latest updates and insights of how they see the current state of Kotlin. Wojtek showed us that Google does not just put Kotlin as the primary preferred language for Android, but they also allocate a lot of resources in growing the community around it, as well as making it accessible in online platforms such as Udacity. Looking at the statistics: 44% of apps out of the top 1000 in the Play Store are using Kotlin, which simply tells us that Kotlin is not going away and the Android track should stay with Kotliners for the upcoming years. 😊

Kotliners conference slide

At the Android stage, I had a chance to watch Marton Braun’s presentation which showed us how they implemented Kotlin at Autsoft (an agency working with external clients) as the primary language in writing mobile apps. Most of the developers they have in their teams have never used Kotlin before but as we have seen in the market – and he confirmed it from his side as well -, that the learning curve is good for the newcomers to jump in and with Java background there are a lot of similarities such as Lambdas. He also deep-dived into coding examples and practical tools to show how they use Kotlin on a daily basis in Android app development.

I have not touched upon the topic of organization @Kotliners yet, which was one of the best I have ever seen. The organizers stuck to the schedule and the breaks were long enough to have a chance to network with fellow Kotliners, which was for me one of the highlights @Kotliners. Speaking of highlights, the catering was also spot on, easily 5 stars for the quality and choices!

Looking back at 2018 it is easy to see that Kotliners is improving year-to-year and I hope they will stay on the same track. 

Hats off to Makery, cannot wait for Kotliners 2020!