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JetBrains Open-Sources Kotlin

In news that failed to make the core publicity channels emanating from productivity tools vendor JetBrains, the company has reportedly made a preliminary version of the Kotlin language available via an open source license on github under an Apache 2 license. Kotlin's statically compiled pedigree allows it to compile to both Java Virtual Machine byte code and JavaScript.

As previously reported on Dr. Dobb's, the main design goals behind this project are: to make Kotlin compile as fast as Java, make it safer than Java (i.e., statically check for common pitfalls such as null pointer dereference), make it more concise than Java by supporting local type-inference, first-class functions, and make it way simpler than the most mature competitor — Scala.

Today, software application developers can access the Kotlin compiler and enhancements to basic Java libraries. There are build tools for integration with Ant and Maven as well as a plug-in to JetBrains's IntelliJ Idea IDE.

The project's FAQ justifies its existence thus, "At JetBrains, we've been developing for the Java platform for a long time, and we know how good it is. On the other hand, we know that the Java programming language has certain limitations and problems that are either impossible or very hard to fix due to backward-compatibility issues. 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."

JetBrains is inviting programmers to contribute code and get involved in project Kotlin in other ways such as presenting talks on the language or continue existing work already carried out to help Kotlin support scripting. The company says that it will soon start a project for Kotlin's Eclipse plugin and developers are welcome to join and share their experiences at this level.

Andrey Breslav, lead designer at JetBrains, says that Kotlin is essentially a general-purpose language for creation of any type of app in the enterprise, on the Web, or for mobile.

Writing on the Kotlin blog this week Breslav comments, "Another thing, or rather many things [that we would like open source community involvement on], are popular libraries and frameworks. Wouldn't it be cool to support Play in Kotlin? Or Akka? Or ?"

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