Preview of Eclipse Plugin for Kotlin JVM Language Released

Software development toolmaker JetBrains has announced the alpha release of an Eclipse plugin for its Kotlin open-source, JVM-targeted programming language.

Kotlin is a statically typed language similar to Scala, Gosu, Ceylon and Fantom. It compiles to both JVM byte code and JavaScript.

JetBrains, maker of the code-centric Java IDE, IntelliJ IDEA, has claimed that the language is more stable at runtime than Java, because it can statically check weak points and supports things like variable type interface, closures, extension functions and mix-ins.

"Kotlin support in IntelliJ IDEA has always been among our top priorities," said JetBrains developer Nikolay Krasko in a company blog post, "but we have been working on Eclipse support as well..."

This is an alpha release of the plugin, which "needs further improvement," Krasko emphasized, but its features and capabilities gets things off to a good start. They include, among others: a Kotlin compiler that is integrated into the Eclipse build process—which means that developers can mix Kotlin and Java freely in a single project; auto-import support in the editor for unresolved classes from both Kotlin and Java; support for the Eclipse JDT debugger; and support for users who already have JUnit 3 or 4 in the classpath who want to write their tests in Kotlin;

Prague-based JetBrains began developing Kotlin in 2010; the company released it in July 2011 for distribution under Apache 2 Open Source License. "We know that Java is going to stand long, but we believe that the community can benefit from a new statically typed JVM-targeted language free of the legacy trouble and having the features so desperately wanted by the developers," project lead Andrey Breslav told ADTmag at the time. The company released the first Kotlin milestone (M1) in April 2012 with a plugin for the JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA dev tool suite. Milestone release 8 was released in July 2014 with amped up reflective capabilities, enhanced inlining functions, new error reporting for platform signature clashe and an expanded standard library with new functions.

Because this is an alpha release, Jetbrains said it is very interested in user feedback: "We could have continued implementing features one by one slowly making the plugin more and more stable and powerful," Krasko said. "But instead we decided to show the early alpha, hoping for the feedback. It is very important for us."

Interested users can add their observations and feature requests via the issue tracker.

According to Wikipedia, Kotlin is the name of a Russian island located near the head of the Gulf of Finland, 20 miles west of Saint Petersburg in the Baltic Sea. One of JetBrains' development offices is located in Saint Petersburg.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].