Kotlin Goes Open Source

Kotlin, the JVM-targeted programming language introduced last summer by development toolmaker JetBrains, is now open source. The Prague-based maker of the venerable code-centric Java IDE, IntelliJ IDEA has been developing Kotlin since 2010, and will continue to be a major contributor.

JetBrains has opened access to snapshot builds and source code of the Kotlin compiler (Kompiler); enhancements to the basic Java libraries, including utilities for JDK collections; the build tool integrations (Ant and Maven); and the IntelliJ IDEA plugin to Kotlin's native IDE -- all under the Apache 2 License.

"We are also looking for 'Kontributors,' i.e. Kotlin contributors," wrote JetBrains marketing director Ann Oreshnikova in the company blog. "Brave souls eager to make this world a better place together with us."

Kotlin is a statically typed language similar to Scala, Gosu, Ceylon and Fantom. It compiles to both JVM byte code and JavaScript. The company has claimed that the language will be more stable at runtime than Java because it can statically check weak points. And it supports things like variable type interface, closures, extension functions and mix-ins.

Kotlin was unveiled at the 2011 JVM Language Summit in Santa Clara, Calif., during a presentation entitled, "Project Kotlin, a new JVM language to rescue Java developers?" In a blog posting on the day of the presentation, Kotlin project lead Dmitry Jemerov said that the company had been working on the project for almost a year.

 "We know that Java is going to stand long," he said, "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."

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.

Kotlin is currently under active development, More information is available on the Kotlin Web site and the Kotlin issue tracker. The source code is also available on GitHub.

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].