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On August 22, the JetBrains team announced the release of Kotlin 1.3.50. Some of the major improvements in this Kotlin version include a preview of the new Duration and Time Measurement API in the standard library, using Dukat for the experimental generation of external declarations for npm dependencies in Gradle Kotlin/JS projects, a separate plugin for debugging Kotlin/Native code in IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate, and much more.

The team has also worked on improving Java-to-Kotlin converter and on Java compilation support in multi-platform projects. Let us have a look at these improvements in brief.

Major improvements in Kotlin 1.3.50

Changes in the standard library

Experimental preview of duration and time measurement API

A new duration and time measurement API is available for preview. The researchers say that if the API expects the duration stored as primitive value like Long, one can erroneously pass the value in the wrong unit, and unfortunately, the type system doesn’t help prevent that. Hence, the team created a regular class to store duration solves this problem. However, this brings another problem, i.e., additional allocations.

Now the API can use the Duration type, and all the clients will need to specify the time in the desired units explicitly.

This release brings support for MonoClock which represents the monotonic clock, which doesn’t depend on the system time. The monotonic clock can only measure the time difference between given time points, but doesn’t know the “current time.”

The Clock interface provides a general API for measuring time intervals. MonoClock is an object implementing Clock; it provides the default source of monotonic time on different platforms.

When using the Clock interface, the user explicitly marks the time of action start, and later the time elapsed from the start point. It is especially convenient if one wants to start and finish measuring time from different functions.

To know more about this feature in detail, read Kotlin/KEEP on GitHub.

Experimental API for bit manipulation

The standard library now contains an experimental API for bit manipulation. Similar extension functions for Int, Long, Short, Byte, and their unsigned counterparts have also been added.

IntelliJ IDEA support in Kotlin 1.3.50

Improvements in Java to Kotlin converter

This release includes a preview of Java to Kotlin converter to minimize the amount of “red code” one has to fix manually after the conversion. This improved version of the converter tries to infer nullability more correctly based on the Java type usages in the code. The goal is to decrease the number of compilation errors and to make the produced Kotlin code more convenient to use. The new converter fixes many other known bugs, too; for instance, it now correctly handles implicit Java type casts.

This new converter may become the default one in the future. To turn it on, specify the Use New J2K (experimental) flag in settings.

Debugging improvements

In Kotlin 1.3.50, the team has improved how the Kotlin “Variables” view chooses variables to display. As there’s a lot of additional technical information in the bytecode, the Kotlin “Variables” view highlights only the relevant variables. Local variables inside the lambda, as well as captured variables from the outer context and parameters of the outer function, are correctly displayed:

Source: jetbrains.com

Kotlin 1.3.50 also adds improved support for the “Evaluate expression” functionality in the debugger for many non-trivial language features, such as local extension functions or accessors of member extension properties. Users can now modify variables via “Evaluate expression”:

Source: jetbrains.com

Added new intentions and inspections

This release includes the addition of new intentions and inspections. One of the goals of intentions is to help users learn how to write idiomatic Kotlin code. The following intention, for instance, suggests using the indices property rather than building a range of indices manually:

Source: jetbrains.com

Updates to Kotlin/JS

Kotlin 1.3.50 adds support for building and running Kotlin/JS Gradle projects using the org.jetbrains.kotlin.js plugin on Windows. Users can now build and run projects using Gradle tasks, dependencies from NPM required in the Gradle configuration are resolved and included. Users can also try out their applications using webpack-dev-server and much more.

The team has also added performance improvements for Kotlin/JS by improving the incremental compilation time for projects. With this users expect speedups of up to 30% when compared to 1.3.41.

This version also shows an improved integration with NPM, which means that projects are now resolved lazily and in parallel, and support for projects with transitive dependencies between compilations in the same project has been added.

Kotlin 1.3.50 also brings changes in the structure and naming of generated artifacts. Generated artifacts are now bundled in the distributions folder, and they include the version number of the project and archiveBaseName (which defaults to the project name), e.g. projectName-1.0-SNAPSHOT.js.

Using Dukat for automatic conversion of TypeScript declaration files

Dukat allows the automatic conversion of TypeScript declaration files (.d.ts) into Kotlin external declarations. This makes it more comfortable to use libraries from the JavaScript ecosystem in a type-safe manner in Kotlin, thus, reducing the need for manually writing wrappers for JS libraries.

Kotlin/JS now ships with experimental support for Dukat integration for Gradle projects. With this integration, by running the build task in Gradle, typesafe wrappers are automatically generated for npm dependencies and can be used from Kotlin.

As Dukat is still in a very early stage, its integration is disabled by default. The team has prepared an example project, which demonstrates the use of dukat in Kotlin/JS projects.

Updates to Kotlin/ Native

Previously, the version of Kotlin/Native differed from the version of Kotlin. However, in this version, schemes for Kotlin and Kotlin/Native are now aligned. This release uses version 1.3.50 for both Kotlin and Kotlin/Native binaries, reducing the complexity.

This release brings more pre-imported Apple frameworks for all platforms, including macOS and iOS. The Kotlin/Native compiler now includes actual bitcode in produced frameworks. Several performance improvements have also made in the interop tool.

The team has also announced that Null-check optimizations have been planned for Kotlin 1.4. Starting from Kotlin 1.4, “all runtime null checks will throw a java.lang.NullPointerException instead of a KotlinNullPointerException, IllegalStateException, IllegalArgumentException, and TypeCastException. This applies to: the !! operator, parameter null checks in the method preamble, platform-typed expression null checks, and the as operator with a non-null type. This doesn’t apply to lateinit null checks and explicit library function calls like checkNotNull or requireNotNull.”

Apart from the changes mentioned, Java compilation can now be included in Kotlin/JVM targets of a multiplatform project by calling the newly added withJava() function of the DSL. This release also adds multiple features and improvements in scripting and REPL support.

To know more about these changes and other changes in detail, read Kotlin 1.3.50 official blog post.

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