Variable versus Read-Only

This page has been renamed to Variables versus Values.

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From Comparing Programming Languages.

There are three different places you find "variables" : class fields, local variables and function arguments.

In Java a "variable" can be final, which prevents it being re-assigned. C# uses the same semantics but uses the readonly keyword. Kotlin is different, it has two keywords var meaning it can be re-assigned and val meaning it can't.

I really like the Kotlin style. In fact I'd go so far as saying that Java and C# are quite simply wrong!

If I review my old Java code, there is no information that tells me if the final keyword was omitted on purpose, or through lack of thought. What's worse, once I have reviewed all of my code, there is still no information that tells me that each "variable" has been considered.

I think names matter, if you use the wrong name, you will tend to think incorrectly. C# uses the keyword readonly, and IMHO, this is wrong. You can define a List to be readonly, but that only means it cannot be re-assigned to a different List. This List is still mutable. Neither Java's final nor Kotlin's var / val keywords are misleading.

If you are keeping score : Kotlin 2, Java 1, C# zero ;-)

Kotlin has taken a more radical approach to function arguments - they are never re-assignable. I'm undecided if I approve of this. Time will tell.