Guide on Dart vs Kotlin: Detailed Comparison in 2024

13 June 2024
Konrad Kluz
Konrad Kluz
Android Developer
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Contents

  • Intro

Dart and Kotlin are two vastly popular programming languages with a rich ecosystem of dedicated users. Dart alongside its programming framework (Flutter) is famous in the cross-platform mobile app development space. Kotlin on the other hand is the most popular programming language for building native Android apps. 

To choose between both options developers or businesses looking to build functional web and mobile apps have to compare their peculiarities while weighing their pros and cons. This post is a comprehensive guide on Dart vs Kotlin, providing an overview of each of them.

  • Dart is an open-source programming language developed by Google and commonly used alongside Flutter to build web and mobile applications from a single code base. 
  • Kotlin is a general-purpose development language designed by JetBrains. It is currently one of the most popular languages used for native Android development. 
  • Dart and Kotlin share several similarities including a similar C-like syntax that’s easy to write and read. 
  • The main difference between Dart and Flutter is their respective use for cross-platform development in the case of Dart and native app development for Flutter. 

Dart Overview

Dart is an open-source programming language developed by Google for client-side app development. Over time, it has evolved into a popular language for building web and mobile applications. 

Although it can be used to create software programs on its own, Dart is more popular as the foundation for the Flutter app development framework, a UI toolkit developed by Google for building cross-platform mobile apps. With this framework, developers can create fully responsive apps for mobile, web, and desktop platforms from a single codebase. 

Dart is a modern object-oriented programming language, meaning it creates apps using reusable pieces of code known as objects. This allows developers to structure their app code in an organized manner promoting simplicity, performance, and scalability. 

This language uses a clean C-style syntax which is easy to learn. It also comes with a set of ready-to-use libraries and packages that help simplify common tasks. This makes Dart an appealing option for building high-quality apps quickly and efficiently. To learn more about Dart and how it compares to other popular languages like Swift, read our article on “Swift vs Dart.”

Dart Examples

  • Google Ads
  • Tencent
  • Dream11
  • eBay Motors
  • Nu Bank
  • Reflactly

Kotlin Overview

Kotlin is a general-purpose development language designed by JetBrains as a simpler alternative to the Java programming language. It is designed to be interoperable with JVM (Java virtual machine), Android, JavaScript, Java Class libraries, and other languages in the Java ecosystem. 

Kotlin’s full interoperability means that developers can use it interchangeably with other Java-based languages and libraries within the same project. This makes it quite flexible and convenient to use. Consequently, Kotlin has grown to become one of the world’s most popular programming languages adopted by over 60% of professional Android developers. 

In addition to its simple and concise syntax, Kotlin offers several other advantages over Java such as its improved type inference and better null safety. This makes it a popular choice for developers looking for a simpler and user-friendly alternative to Java. 

It is a statically typed language commonly used alongside Java for server-side development, full-stack web development, and multiplatform mobile app development. While Kotlin is primarily famous for building apps for the Android platform, it can be used to build for other platforms as well including Apple iOS, Apple watchOS, and Linux. To learn more about Kotlin, its pros, and how it compares to other languages, read our article on “Kotlin vs Swift.” 

Kotlin Examples

  • Google
  • McDonald’s 
  • Trello
  • AWS
  • Netflix
  • Basecamp
  • Airbnb
  • Tinder

Dart vs Kotlin – How Are Dart and Kotlin Similar?

Dart and Kotlin are both modern, open-source languages. While they have several notable differences, these two programming languages are known for their simple, concise syntax, excellent tooling, and strong community support. Here’s an overview of their major similarities: 

Open-Source

Dart and Kotlin are both open-source. Google and Jetbrains have made the source code and documentation for these programming languages freely available to the public. Although Dart has a smaller community compared to Kotlin, both languages are maintained by an active community of developers who contribute to their code-base and build valuable third-party tools or libraries to help improve performance while also saving time and resources. 

Simple Syntax

Dart and Kotlin are built on similar, C-like syntax, which is relatively easy for developers to learn and understand. The syntax for both languages has been inspired by Java, which is known for being both concise and expressive. Both languages also support object-oriented programming paradigms, with similar concepts like classes, inheritance, objects, polymorphism, and so on. 

Seamless Interoperability

Both Dart and Kotlin are known for their interoperability. Dart is interoperable with JavaScript, which makes it an ideal choice for web development. Dart code can be converted to JavaScript through a process known as transpilation. 

It is also possible to use JavaScript libraries in Dart apps. Kotlin, on the other hand, is interoperable with existing Java libraries and code, making it a great choice for Android development. Kotlin code can be used alongside Java code in the same project without issues. 

Server-side Development 

Although their mechanisms differ, these two languages can be used for server-side programming. For Dart, frameworks like Shelf or Aqueduct allow seamless integration of your Dart code with backend systems. Kotlin’s multi-platform feature also makes it easy to share common code with different platforms for backend development like JVM. 

Null Safety

Null safety is one of the core features of Kotlin. Dart has adopted this as well starting from version 2.12. Both languages have built-in null safety features that help developers avoid common null reference errors in development. This reduces the chances of null-pointer exceptions which is a common problem with other programming languages.

Kotlin’s null safety is built in by default and can differentiate between null references. Dart, on the other hand, supports sound null safety. This allows compiler optimizations and runs even faster compared to normal null safety.

Modern Language Features

Both Kotlin and Dart are modern languages. Consequently, they share a few modern programming features or concepts such as garbage collection, string interpolation, or lambda expressions. These concepts boost productivity and make coding more efficient. 

Concurrency Support

This refers to the ability of a programming code to handle multiple computations at the same time. Although they work slightly differently, both programming languages have built-in support for handling concurrent execution. 

For Dart, concurrency is handled with a single-thread event loop model, which isolates each computation. Kotlin on the other hand uses coroutines. These are lightweight concurrency design patterns that facilitate asynchronous programming without relying on traditional threading and callbacks.

Support for Developing Mobile Apps

You can use both languages to build fully functional mobile applications. While Kotlin is primarily used for Android development, Dart is used alongside the Flutter framework to build functional User Interfaces for both Android and iOS applications. They also offer robust tooling and libraries for building mobile apps. 

Dart vs Kotlin – How Are Dart and Kotlin Different?

Dart and Kotlin have gained significant traction in recent years due to their performance, efficiency, and uniqueness. Both coding languages share several similarities but also differ in terms of platform support, type system, popularity, and documentation. Here’s an overview of the major differences between Kotlin and Dart. 

Platform Support

Dart was designed by Google for building apps for multiple platforms. This includes web development, desktop apps, as well as iOS and Android apps all from a single codebase. It is the primary language used by Flutter, one of the most popular app development frameworks used for building cross-platform applications.

Kotlin, on the other hand, is mainly used for Android development. It offers excellent support for  Android development and has become the preferred tool for building Android apps over older alternatives like Java. Although the more recently introduced “Kotlin Multiplatform” supports cross-platform mobile development, Kotlin is still primarily focused on Android development. 

Type System

Although Dart and Kotlin both have robust type systems, with great performance and efficient safety checks, there are key differences in how their respective type systems work. Dart is dynamically typed, meaning variable types are determined at runtime. This promotes flexibility, especially for certain development instances. 

Kotlin, on the other hand, is a statically typed programming language. This means variables are declared during development. This makes it more efficient at catching type-related errors early in the development process instead of waiting till runtime like Dart. So while Dart wins in terms of flexibility, Kotlin tends to work better for large-scale projects. 

Community and Documentation

One of the factors that make it easier to learn Dart is the robust developer community built around it and the language’s comprehensive documentation. Thanks to the growing popularity of Flutter for cross-platform app development, more and more developers are adopting this programming language and actively contributing to the development ecosystem. 

Kotlin offers extensive documentation as well, but it’s a little behind Flutter. Its libraries can also be changed at any time since it is still in development. Kotlin has a mature ecosystem with lots of developers but is a bit more restricted since it’s only used for Android app development.

Kotlin vs Dart Performance 

Both Dart and Kotlin are simple, easy-to-write languages. However, their mode of execution is slightly different, leading to differences in their performance. Dart uses a combination of Just-in-Time (JIT) and Ahead-of-Time (AOT) compilation. The JIT method compiles code directly, while AOT compiles it first to native code before running. 

These mechanisms are slightly more efficient than Kotlin’s method of compilation which involves converting the code first to Bytecode (a type of machine code that runs on the Java virtual machine.) Consequently, Dart outperforms Kotlin’s natively compiled applications in some scenarios, especially for frequently used functions.

Detailed Comparison of Dart and Kotlin Mobile App Development

Dart vs Kotlin are almost equally matched in terms of popularity and adoption. So how do you choose between these two modern programming languages? The table below summarizes the differences between Dart and Kotlin for mobile application development.

When to Use Dart?

Dart is the most commonly used language for cross-platform app development. Using Dart with the Flutter framework, developers can build apps that work on both Android and iOS devices without writing separate codes for each platform. 

You may also use Flutter to build apps that work on desktop devices and web interfaces. Dart’s clean and concise syntax, makes it an easy-to-learn option for developers who are new to the language. Web developers who are familiar with Javascript will find it particularly easy to learn and use Dart for mobile or web app development. 

When to Use Kotlin?

Kotlin is practically the official language for Android development now. Although innovations like Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile supports cross-platform development from a single codebase, Kotlin is still more popular as a native development tool for building apps with Android Studio. Native Kotlin projects can leverage native device features, optimizing their performance and reliability. 

Kotlin’s interoperability with Java also makes it the ideal choice when working on existing Java-based projects. Your existing Java code can be integrated within Kotlin projects seamlessly with no need to rewrite the code. It’s also easy to adopt Kotlin if your team consists of developers with basic knowledge of the Kotlin programming language. 

Conclusion

As our Dart vs Kotlin performance comparison shows, these programming languages are similar in a lot of ways but have several unique features as well. It all comes down to the type of app you intend to build and the peculiarities of your project.

Ready to bring your mobile or web app idea to life? CrustLab can help you pick the right programming language and framework for your project. We are a modern software development company that provides app design and development services to clients using the best and newest technologies available. 

Our experience spans across iGaming, Sports, Fintech, and related industries and our skilled developers are familiar with Dart, Kotlin, and other programming languages for native and cross-platform development. We have an agile team with all the skills needed to build an app that’s fully fit for purpose. Let’s discuss your vision!

FAQ

  • Is Dart good for Android app development?

    Dart is a good cross-platform development language. Used with Flutter SDK, this programming language enables developers to build great-performing apps for both iOS and Android devices. Dart’s AOT compilation can also help you achieve performance as close to native apps as possible. However, for Android app development that involves building apps heavily reliant on features or performance optimizations specific to the Android platform, a native development language like Kotlin might be ideal.

  • Is Kotlin good for Android app development?

    Yes. In fact, when it comes to Android app development, Kotlin is the gold standard. It is one of the modern programming languages primarily used for building apps for Android devices, endorsed by Google itself. It is simpler to read and write compared to older languages like Java, enabling developers to achieve more while writing fewer lines of code.

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