Is Kotlin the Mullet of Programming Languages?

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Is Kotlin the Mullet of Programming Languages?

In a forwarding-thinking view, a Zone Leader wonders if the popularity of Kotlin will match the popularity of the once-popular mullet hairstyle.

· Java Zone ·
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The mullet hairstyle appeared in the fashion landscape in the 1970s as a result of artists like Rod Stewart, David Bowie, and Paul McCartney adapting the look. In the 1980s, the hairstyle reached its apex, with not only musicians wearing it, but actors and celebrities also making the choice to wear a mullet. This translated to the general public, where it became so commonplace to see the mullet that it no longer became even noticeable. Through the 1990s, the mullet started to lose popularity, and by the 2000s, the mullet started becoming a reference to the decades prior.

Realizing that the year is 2018, I certainly expect some readers to have no idea what is behind the mullet hairstyle. The phrase "business up front and party out back" has often been used to describe the hairstyle. This meant that from the frontal and side views, the person donning the mullet would look as if they had a traditional short haircut. Ready to do business. However, when the back side of their head came into focus, one could see long strands of hair flowing down towards their neckline. Ready to party.

What Is Great About Kotlin

Kotlin is a great programming language and has been matched by its popularity in our industry. Those reading this article likely know far more than I do about Kotlin, so my goal here is not to provide a definitive summary of what makes Kotlin great.

However, for those unaware of Kotlin, here are some impressive aspects of the programming language:

  • Kotlin runs on the Java Virtual Machine and can compile into JVM bytecode or JavaScript
  • Kotlin can leverage all existing Java-based frameworks and libraries
  • Kotlin exposed Java 8 functionality to Android developers, removing limitations of Java 6
  • The type system in Kotlin is focused on eliminating the dangers of null references from code
  • Kotlin is well-suited for Functional Programming projects
  • Boiler-plate code, often found in languages like Java, is reduced significantly using Kotlin

Why Kotlin Could Be the Mullet of Programming Languages

Knowing Kotlin executes on top of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), I felt like that part of the design meets the "business up front" mantra of the mullet hairstyle. With the result compiling down to JavaScript, this triggers the association of what can be a wide open programming world for the developer. To me, that sounds a lot like the "party out back" requirement to meet the simple mullet requirements.

However, when I started writing this article, I wasn't really trying to find something that matches based upon using Java on one side of the language and JavaScript on another. Instead, I was trying to take a step back and try to predict what will be considered the mullet of programming languages at some point in the future.

You see, while it might sound like the mullet was an impressive fashion statement, the public's view of the mullet is not so favorable. To most who used the hairstyle, it was merely something that happened. People may have had the hairstyle, but most aren't proud of that choice — yet they are well beyond it now and can laugh off the choices of their earlier years. At the time, wearing a mullet just seemed like the right thing to do.

Where I think Kotlin is the mullet of programming languages is that it has gained momentum based on offering a new choice for programmers that leverages existing languages. The fact that it provides an opportunity to develop in a functional manner adds value and popularity to Kotlin, since that is a driving focus-area for developers.

Like the mullet, I expect the popularity of Kotlin to grow toward its apex, before making a sudden decline. That decline will be driven by a programming choice that offers a better approach than what is in place with Kotlin.

I have no idea what that choice will be, but years down the road when paths cross with former Kotlin developers, they will likely talk about those days of writing Kotlin 1.2 code, when they thought they were on the top of the world. Just like those who cruised the streets every weekend, proudly displaying their version of the mullet.

Have a really great day!

future of jvm, java, kotlin

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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