When comparing Scheme vs Kotlin, the Slant community recommends Scheme for most people. In the question“What is the best programming language to learn first?” Scheme is ranked 6th while Kotlin is ranked 22nd. The most important reason people chose Scheme is:
Scheme syntax is extremely regular and easy to pick up. A *formal* specification of the syntax fits onto just a few pages; it can be introduced informally in a paragraph or two. Students are not distracted by remembering how to write if statements or loops or even operator precedence because every syntactic follows the same pattern. Ultimately, everything looks something like this: (func a b c) This includes not only user-defined functions but even control flow: (if cond then-clause else-clause) or even primitive operations like `define` and `set`: (define foo 10) (set! foo 11) This means that nothing really has special syntactic treatment in the language. There are essentially no weird edge-cases to memorize, and different concepts are given a more equal weight in the language. (Unlike Algol-like languages which tend to given undue weight to loops and assignment statements, for example.)
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Pro Simple syntax
Scheme syntax is extremely regular and easy to pick up. A formal specification of the syntax fits onto just a few pages; it can be introduced informally in a paragraph or two. Students are not distracted by remembering how to write if statements or loops or even operator precedence because every syntactic follows the same pattern.
Ultimately, everything looks something like this:
(func a b c)
This includes not only user-defined functions but even control flow:
(if cond then-clause else-clause)
or even primitive operations like
(define foo 10) (set! foo 11)
This means that nothing really has special syntactic treatment in the language. There are essentially no weird edge-cases to memorize, and different concepts are given a more equal weight in the language. (Unlike Algol-like languages which tend to given undue weight to loops and assignment statements, for example.)
Pro No Magic - it's clear how everything works
Scheme has far less built into the language itself, helping students see that things like OOP are not magical: they are just patterns for organizing code. Everything in Scheme is built up from a very small set of primitives which compose in a natural and intuitive fashion.
Having a language that does not accord many things special status helps keep students open minded. This will help students later go between different languages and paradigms from procedural to object-oriented to functional.
Pro Great at teaching fundamental programming ideas
Scheme teaches the important, fundamental ideas immediately without the distraction of unnecessary syntax or language features.
Pro Great, well known textbooks
There is a set of very strong textbooks introducing CS and programming using Scheme. These books are available for free online.
The most famous example--and one of the most famous CS books full stop--is Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs usually known as SICP. This book introduces fundamental ideas in computer science and covers an incredible amount of material quickly and clearly without requiring any prior knowledge.
However, some people find SICP a bit challenging as a first text. Happily, there are other more introductory texts as well. Simply Scheme is a book designed to be read before SICP, easing beginners into the language as well as CS and programming in general. How to Design Programs is another text used in introductory college courses.
Pro Robust metaprogramming
The quotation functionality of Lisp allow for extremely powerful, yet syntactically straightforward metaprogramming via macros. This is more powerful than the C preprocessor while being less involved than something like Template Haskell or F# quotations.
Using macros to properly decompose a problem domain teaches new developers good habits, improving composibility and reliability when tackling large programs. Scheme metaprogramming also serves as a gentle introduction to domain specific languages.
Unlike most languages, Scheme actually accords both functional programming and imperative programming roughly equal status. Many other languages like Python and Java are staunchly imperative while SML and Haskell are primarily functional; Scheme is a nice middle ground.
Additionally, since Scheme syntax is extremely flexible, it can easily be re-purposed for teaching non-deterministic and logic programming. There is no need to learn a new language like Prolog when the same ideas can easily be expressed with Scheme syntax.
This gives students a good perspective on different ways to think about and organize programs, which makes it much easier to move forward to other languages and technologies.
Pro Great tooling support
Since Kotlin is made by Jetbrains (the developers of IntelliJ IDEA) so it stands to reason that the IntelliJ support for Kotlin is also great. Besides that, Kotlin also works well with existing Java tools such as Eclipse, Maven, Gradle, Android Studio, etc...
Pro Easy adoption for existing Java programmers
Kotlin runs on the JVM and Java interoperability has been one of the main objectives since the language was born. It runs everywhere Java does; web servers, mobile devices (Android), and desktop applications. It also works with all the major tools in the Java ecosystem like Eclipse, IntelliJ, Maven, Ant, Gradle, Spring Boot, etc.
All of this makes adoption extremely easy even for existing Java projects. On top of this there's also ensured Type safety and less boilerplate code needed.
Pro Easy to learn if you have prior programming experience
Kotlin's syntax is extremely easy to understand. The language can be picked up in a few hours just by reading the language reference.
Pro No runtime overhead
The standard library is relatively small and tight. It mostly consists of focused extensions of the Java standard library and as such adds no additional runtime overhead to existing Java projects.
Pro Officially supported for Android development
Starting with version 3.0 of Android Studio, Kotlin support will be built-in. This means that it's now easier than ever to use Kotlin for existing Android projects or even start writing Android apps only with Kotlin from scratch.
This also means that Kotlin and Kotlin plugins for Android Studio will be fully supported in the future and their likelihood of being abandoned is quite small since Google is fully embracing the language for their Android ecosystem (alongside Java and C++).
Pro Low-risk adoption for existing Java codebases
Since it has such a good interoperability with Java, Java libraries, and Java tools. It can be adopted for an existing Java codebase at little to no cost. The codebase can be converted from Java to Kotlin little by little without ever disrupting the functionality of the application itself.
Pro Does not impose a particular philosophy of programming
It's not overly OOP like Java and it does not enforce strict functional paradigms either.
Pro Is built to solve industrial problems
Kotlin has been designed and built by developers who have an industrial background and not an academic one. As such, it tries to solve issues mostly found in industrial settings. For example, the Kotlin type system helps developers avoid null pointer exceptions. Reasearch languages usually do not have
null at all, but APIs and large codebases usually need
Con Little Job Market
There are little to none jobs searching for a Scheme programmer. The ones that exist are more related to Research in Maths or Artificial Intelligence.
Con Fragmented ecosystem
Scheme is an IEEE standard, not an implementation. Unfortunately, the standard is too minimal and practical implementations have diverged--they had to expand on the standard to get anything done, but did so in incompatible ways.
The later de facto standard R6RS tried to correct this, but lost Scheme's minimalist elegance in the process. The newer R7RS standard takes the best of both worlds with an elegant minimalist core and a practical standard library.
Con Very different semantics from mainstream programming languages
Con May be hard for programmers already used to imperative style to learn functional programming from Kotlin
Since Kotlin does not enforce any particular paradigms and is not purely functional, it can be pretty easy to fall back to imperative programming habits if a programmer comes from an imperative background.
Con The need for Java interoperability has forced some limitations
The need to make Kotlin interoperable with Java has caused some unintuitive limitations to the language design.