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High-level JVM/JavaScript language Kotlin gets open-sourced

JetBrains, the St Petersburg-based company known for its IDEs for Java, PHP, Objective-C and other languages, has announced the open-sourcing of its most recent project, Kotlin. Unveiled early last month, Kotlin is a high-level, statically-typed language that compiles into either JVM bytecode or JavaScript.

Source code for Kotlin’s ‘kompiler’, Java library enhancements, build tools and IDE is now available on GitHub under the Apache 2 licence, and the company is seeking volunteer developers to help the language evolve:

[We’re] looking for Kontributors, i.e. Kotlin contributors -- brave souls eager to make this world a better place together with us. All Kontributions, from compiler to IDE patches to libraries and examples, are welcome and appreciated. You can start by reading our issue tracker or by just picking your favorite library and making it Kotlin-friendly.

Kotlin aims to remove some common pitfalls of Java, including null pointer exceptions, while adding features such as higher-order functions, mixins and pattern matching. A handy comparison page details the similarities and differences between Kotlin and the the popular Java-compatible language Scala, key improvements being simplicity of syntax and compile-time.

Research firm RedMonk’s latest Programming Language Rankings showed strong performance for high-level languages, with CoffeeScript booming in popularity and Scala and Groovy also sitting towards the top-end of the chart. JetBrains have provided a handy live demo on their website, allowing potential users to try out Kotlin before they download and install, with options to execute through either Java or JavaScript. Why not head over and try it out now?

Louis Goddard

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