JetBrains announces Kotlin Goodies

JetBrains announced several new tools and projects designed to complement and enhance the Kotlin ecosystem. The announcements were made by JetBrain at the Kotlin 2021 Premier event and include a new faster compiler, WebAssembly support, Kotlin symbol processing, a new code coverage plug-in, and better support for static analysis. JetBrains also announced the release of Kotlin 1.6.

Kotlin is the open source language that originated from JetBrains and is being promoted by Google as the first-class language for Android to replace or complement Java.

The announcements began with the new Kotlin compiler, which is now called K2 after the second highest mountain in the world. The new compiler should accelerate the development of new language features, standardize all platforms supported by Kotlin, bring performance improvements and provide an API for compiler extensions.

The new compiler changed the type of backend used, with a new IR (internal representation) backend built around an IR for Kotlin code that behaves a bit like bytecode in virtual machines. When the move was first announced, the team said:

“A shared backend infrastructure opens the door to more cross-platform compiler enhancements. It allows you to fit in the pipeline and add some custom processing and / or transformations that work automatically for all destinations.”

This version of K2 has new JVM and JS-IR back ends. In addition, K2 has a new front end that offers better editing functions such as syntax checking, use of syntax colors and faster performance. K2 is also faster overall and the developers say up to twice as fast in their benchmarks.

The Premier Event also saw Kotlin’s first public demo for WebAssembly. This is still under development but will be a tool for writing code that is optimized for load time efficiency, size, and predictable speeds. The tool enables users to write code in Kotlin that can interact with JavaScript applications.

Kotlin Symbol Processing (KSP) was also demonstrated at Kotlin 2021 Premier. KSP is the result of a collaboration between Google and JetBrains that can be used to create lightweight compiler plugins and metaprogramming in Kotlin.

Following the event, JetBrains has now released Kotlin 1.6, with improvements including officially stable comprehensive whens, Kover and a new memory manager for Kotlin / Native. Kover is JetBrain’s new Gradle plug-in that measures code coverage for Kotlin code created with the Kotlin / JVM compiler.

More information

Kotlin Premier Event 2021

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