Special K

Top 5 IDEs and text editors for Kotlin

Jane Elizabeth
© Shutterstock / GaudiLab

Our IDE series continues with Kotlin! This pragmatic language for the JVM has a number of options for developers, which might explain why it’s on the rise. Today, we take a look at some of our favorite IDEs and text editors.

This popular language developed by the JetBrains team continues to wow developers around the world. Kotlin’s popularity exploded last year after Google announced it would be supporting the language for Android applications. Developers keep saying yes to Kotlin, so we thought it was about time to take a closer look!

As always, this list is subjective. There are a lot of options out there and we can’t cover every one of them. However, if you think there’s been a huge miscarriage of justice, let us know about the IDEs that we’ve forgotten in the comments below.

In no particular order, here are our top 5 IDEs and text editors for Kotlin.

IntelliJ IDEA

No surprises here! IntelliJ has a lot of versatility and stability, which is why it’s made the list before. Kotlin was initially developed by the JetBrains team, which means there’s an extra level of compatibility between the two. Kotlin even has IntelliJ-specific tutorials and getting started guides.

IntelliJ offers developers a number of tools for refactoring, software testing, and more. In particular, the code coverage analysis and the integrated version controls systems are both particularly helpful.  IntelliJ supports lots of other languages, including Java, Groovy, and Scala. More options are available in the Ultimate version. However, the relatively stripped down Community version is still a powerful option for developers.

More information about IntelliJ IDEA is available here. The Community version is open source, while the Ultimate option has a 30-day free trial.

SEE ALSO: Kotlin/Native v0.8 brings iOS support and library improvements


Just starting out on your Kotlin journey? This simple text editor is a cloud-based application available in the browser that is compatible with any operating system. This JVM allows developers to run the code as soon as they finish typing it.

TryKotlin is a pretty lightweight text editor, but it supports modular testing of Junit and a Java to Kotlin code converter. In keeping with its introductory nature, TryKotlin has quite a few examples of premade code for basic Kotlin functions. Other features include JavaScript and Canvas support, as well as a save and share function for any code written.

More information about TryKotlin is available here, along with an intro video here. TryKotlin is available as freeware.

Android Studio

This is our only mobile development suite on the list! Android Studio provides the developers with fast tools for building apps on every type of Android device. Android Studio has had full support for Kotlin since May 2017, with support for standard components and Android templates.

Since there are pretty significant design similarities between Android Studio and IntelliJ IDEA, it makes it even easier for developers to transition to create mobile applications with this IDE. Out of the box tools include code refactoring as well as search tools to seek out and find any performance issues or version incompatibilities. Editing can be done with Drag-and-Drop, while Gradle takes care of automatic assembly and generation of .apk. Developers can view the layout on different mobile screens so they can control for differing sizes and resolutions.

More information about Android Studio can be found here. Android Studio is available as freeware + source code.

SEE ALSO: Kotlin and Java go well together, report shows


Vim is without a doubt the oldest text editor on this list at a venerable 26 years old. While it might be easy to get lost in Vim, there’s certainly a reason why it has remained so popular as other tech darlings come and go. This ubiquitous option is highly configurable, making it easy for developers to adapt to any problem that comes their way.

Looking for a stable environment? Vim is rock solid. Other features include a multi-level undo tree, extensive plugin system, and powerful search and replace. As befitting an editor that is old enough to rent a car, Vim has support for hundreds of programming languages and file formats. With a Kotlin plugin, developers can take advantage of syntax highlighting, automatic indentation, code checking with Syntastic, and more.

More information about Vim can be found here. Vim is available as freeware, but do mind your step. Vim has a reputation for ensnaring the unwary.

Sublime Text

The last on our list, Sublime Text 3 is a sophisticated text editor with great features for code, markup, and prose. Thanks to the Kotlin plugin, developers can take advantage of the easy to use interface and high performance of this text editor.

Features include syntax highlighting, errors detection, and autocompletion. Multiple selections saves times while making changes and the command palette simplifies looking for tools. Developers are able to make their own templates and quickly insert them into a file as well as create their own extensions. Sublime Text also offers a built-in Java compiler called JavaC, along with a powerful API and package ecosystem.

More information about Sublime Text can be found here.  Sublime text is available as freeware, although you will be periodically asked to subscribe at $70 a pop.

SEE ALSO: Kotlin 1.2.50 is a sight for sore eyes

Honorable mentions

Both of our honorable mentions have made previous lists! Atom is a customizable IDE that makes it easy to use with a Kotlin plugin. By the same token, Eclipse IDE is also on the honorable mentions list so we can make room for a few Kotlin-specific IDEs. Just install the Kotlin plugin to your Eclipse IDE to enjoy the full support of this innovative platform!


Looking for our favorite IDEs in other languages? Check them out here:

Jane Elizabeth
Jane Elizabeth is an assistant editor for

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3 years ago

“Just install the Kotlin plugin to your Eclipse IDE to enjoy the full support of this innovative platform”
Try yourself and after write. Kotlin plugin for Eclipse is holy shit, impossible to use in big projects!

Reply to  Vladimir
2 years ago


3 years ago

You can also use Visual Studio Code with Kotlin plugin (fwcd), Kotlin debugger plugin (fwcd) and Code Runner plugin (Jun Han).
Kotlin plugins are in the developing stage, but they are already pretty functional.