JetBrains, known as the maker of the IntelliJ Idea Java IDE appears set to add another language to the increasinly crowded field of Java Virtual Machine-based languages.

"We've looked at all of the existing JVM languages, and none of them meet our needs. Scala has the right features, but its most obvious deficiency is very slow compilation," said Dmitry Jeremov, JetBrains development lead.

The company said that while it knows how good Java is, it has limitations and problems that are "either impossible or very hard to fix due to backward-compatibility issues." JetBrains believes 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 wants the object-oriented Kotlin language to be safer than Java, statically checking for pitfalls such as null pointer dereference, and more concise than Java. Another goal is to make it simpler than its "most mature competitor", Scala.

"Kotlin's purpose is to fix some of the problems that programmers have with Java," said analyst John Rymer. "Most of the features seem to be trying to simplify creation of complex applications and packing more power into each line of code."

The name "Kotlin" comes from an island near Saint Petersburg, Russia. JetBrains has research and development operations in the city.
— Paul Krill (July 22, 2011) "JetBrains readies JVM-based language" InfoWorld
We aimed at creating a language that would be in line with the same principles that drive our tools : create something that helps developers with the tedious and mundane task, allowing them to focus on what's truly important and make the process as enjoyable and fun as possible.
— Maxim Shafirov (May 17, 2017) "Kotlin on Android. Now official" JetBrain Blog


Today, at the Google I/O keynote, the Android team announced first-class support for Kotlin. For Android developers, Kotlin support is a chance to use a modern and powerful language, helping solve common headaches such as runtime exceptions and source code verbosity. Kotlin is easy to get started with and can be gradually introduced into existing projects, which means that your existing skills and technology investments are preserved.

Starting now, Android Studio 3.0 ships with Kotlin out of the box, meaning Android developers no longer need to install any extras or worry about compatibility.

It also means that moving forward, you can rest assured that both JetBrains and Google will be supporting Android development in Kotlin. We will be partnering with Google to create a non-profit foundation for Kotlin. Language development will continue to be sponsored by JetBrains, and the Kotlin team (over 40 people and second largest team at the company) will operate as usual. Andrey Breslav remains the Lead Language Designer, and Kotlin will be developed under the same principles as before. We'll keep our design processes open, because your feedback is critical for us in moving Kotlin in the right direction.
— Maxim Shafirov (May 17, 2017) "Kotlin on Android. Now official" JetBrain Blog
"Is JetBrains going to be acquired by Google?" No. JetBrains is and continues to be an independent tool vendor catering to developers regardless of their platform or language of choice.
— Paul Krill (July 22, 2011) "JetBrains readies JVM-based language" InfoWorld