JetBrains Compose Multiplatform UI Framework for Kotlin Goes Beta

Software development toolmaker JetBrains, the Prague-based maker of the venerable code-centric Java IDE, IntelliJ IDEA, and creator of the Kotlin programming language, has announced the beta release of its Compose Multiplatform, a declarative UI framework for Kotlin the company unveiled earlier this year.

Another step in the company's "grand unified theory of UI development with Kotlin," Compose Multiplatform builds on the foundation laid by Google with Jetpack Compose, its toolkit for UI development on Android. Compose Multiplatform was designed to allow developers to use the same declarative approach and APIs used in Android app development to create native-feeling user interfaces for desktop and web apps, the company says.

Sebastian Aigner, developer advocate at JetBrains, announced the beta in a blog post. This release brings Compose for Desktop and Compose for Web another step closer to their stable release later this year, Aigner said. With this release, JetBrains is starting to stabilize APIs in preparation for the 1.0 release, and explicitly marking experimental interfaces, he said. This release now references Android artifacts published by Google, eliminating compatibility issues.

Compose for Desktop has received a number of improvements in this release, including:

  • Improved stability on problematic hardware/drivers via smart fallback to software rendering.
  • A new mouse pointer API, including a new hoverable API.
  • Support for transparent windows.
  • The first preview of accessibility support on macOS.

Also in this release, Compose for Web introduces the ability to use SVGs in addition to HTML elements in the DOM tree, while still being able to use Compose APIs.

"Building a truly multiplatform UI framework is a challenging venture," said Nikolay Igotti, who leads the Compose project at JetBrains, in a statement. "With each version we’re implementing new features and compatibility layers, making it closer to production-level development."

In its State of Developer Ecosystem 2021 survey, JetBrains found that most of the responding software developers are creating web and desktop applications, with only 30% specializing on mobile.

Kotlin the officially preferred language for Android development, is a statically typed language that compiles to both JVM byte code and JavaScript. JetBrains has claimed that Kotlin 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. It’s also less verbose than Java, which means devs can write less code with a more readable syntax.

JetBrains unveiled Kotlin at the 2011 JVM Language Summit in Santa Clara, CA, and later released it for distribution under the Apache 2 Open-Source License.

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].