Inaugural Kotlin Belfast User Group Meetup

26 March 2019

At Instil we absolutely love Kotlin. If you're working on the JVM or Android, we see the move from Java to Kotlin as a complete no-brainer. Internally, we use it for anything we can. It allows you to write less code that is simpler, safer and easier to read while providing a seamless interop solution with all your existing Java code. We wanted to share that message with the community, so we started the Kotlin Belfast User Group.

The first event was held on the 26th March, 2019 at The Hub.

Different Group, Same Ethos

We can, and have, talked about Kotlin at our Bash! events but we felt that Kotlin and the Belfast Kotlin community deserved a separate platform. At Instil, we are all about improving the development community and we try to make our Bash! events less about us and more about the technology, processes and ideas that make for good software development. We want KBUG to be the same idea. We've kicked it off, but we don't want it to be about Instil - we're happy for ideas, speakers and sponsors from across the board. This is for the developers.

The Venue

The venue was The Vault room of the Catalyst Fintech Hub in the Danske Bank building. Definitely one of the more secure meetups I've been to!


ShopKeep helped out with sponsorship, providing food in the form of some excellent sliders, veggie burgers and mini hotdogs. Instil sponsored the usual selection of soft drinks and beers. We needed the refreshments because the talks were fast paced, and you needed to be on your toes.

A Kosmic Kronicle for Kotlin Kolonists - Gareth Fleming


The first talk was a really funny introduction to Kotlin from a good friend of Instil, Gareth Fleming. Gareth is an independent programmer and educator who works with clients on a variety of projects. He has been using Kotlin for over 4 years, and has spoken at a number of software conferences over the years.

Through the power of alliteration and terrible sci-fi puns, Gareth introduced the history of Java and Kotlin and how we ended up where we are today.


He then did some live code demos showing off some of the features of the language such as non-null reference types, type inference and coroutines. He hammered home how Kotlin allows you to write much safer code than Java through the removal of nullability by default. When you explicitly allow null, the compiler enforces handling of the null case and it will propagate throughout your code.

Live Coding of Snake in Kotlin Native

After the intermission, where we scoffed down too many sliders, the next talk was Dmitry Kandalov. Dmitry regularly live-codes at software conferences across the globe. When we were at Kotlin Conf 2018 we saw Dmitry give this same talk and felt it was probably the best of the conference, so we wanted to fly him over to share with the Belfast community.

This was a master class in understanding your language, platform and tools. Dmitry gave a lightning talk on Kotlin Native - showing how Kotlin can be used to develop code for Android, JS and Native. He then jumped into coding a complete working version of Snake using Kotlin Native from a blank project. This was a joy to watch as he effortlessly brought the program to life, using the tools like a virtuoso and constantly explaining all the features of the language he was using. It was funny, and inspiring and educational. He's also pretty good at playing Snake too!

var input = 0
while (input.toChar() != 'q') {

    input = wgetch(window)
    val direction = when (input.toChar()) {
        'i'  -> up
        'j'  -> left
        'k'  -> down
        'l'  -> right
        else -> null

    game = game.update(direction)

Get Involved

If you'd like to get involved with Belfast Kotlin User Group, please get in touch.

Learn More

Our training team offer a range of Kotlin training courses for developer teams at all levels. See our kotlin training page.

In addition, if you need help developing an application in Kotlin we can provide a wide range of services from consultancy to full teams of engineers.

Article By
blog author

Eamonn Boyle

Instructor, developer