Kotlin Help

Compilation and caches in the Kotlin Gradle plugin

On this page, you can learn about the following topics:

Incremental compilation

The Kotlin Gradle plugin supports incremental compilation. Incremental compilation tracks changes to source files between builds so that only the files affected by these changes are compiled.

Incremental compilation is supported for Kotlin/JVM and Kotlin/JS projects, and is enabled by default.

There are several ways to disable incremental compilation:

  • Set kotlin.incremental=false for Kotlin/JVM.

  • Set kotlin.incremental.js=false for Kotlin/JS projects.

  • Use -Pkotlin.incremental=false or -Pkotlin.incremental.js=false as a command line parameter.

    The parameter should be added to each subsequent build.

Note: Any build with incremental compilation disabled invalidates incremental caches. The first build is never incremental.

A new approach to incremental compilation

The new approach to incremental compilation is available since Kotlin 1.7.0 for the JVM backend in the Gradle build system only. Starting from Kotlin 1.8.20, this is enabled by default. This approach supports changes made inside dependent non-Kotlin modules, includes an improved compilation avoidance, and is compatible with the Gradle build cache.

All of these enhancements decrease the number of non-incremental builds, making the overall compilation time faster. You will receive the most benefit if you use the build cache, or, frequently make changes in non-Kotlin Gradle modules.

To opt out from this new approach, set the following option in your gradle.properties:


We would appreciate your feedback on this feature in YouTrack.

Learn how the new approach to incremental compilation is implemented under the hood in this blog post.

Precise backup of compilation tasks' outputs

Starting with Kotlin 1.8.20, you can enable precise backup, whereby only those classes that Kotlin recompiles in the incremental compilation are backed up. Both full and precise backups help to run builds incrementally again after compilation errors. A precise backup takes less build time compared to a full backup. A full backup may take noticeably more build time in large projects or if many tasks are creating backups, especially if a project is located on a slow HDD.

Enable this optimization by adding the kotlin.compiler.preciseCompilationResultsBackup Gradle property to the gradle.properties file:


Example of using precise backup at JetBrains

In the following charts, you can see examples of using precise backup compared to full backup:

Comparison of full and precise backups

The first and second charts show how using precise backup in a Kotlin project affects building the Kotlin Gradle plugin:

  1. After making a small ABI change: adding a new public method to a module that lots of modules depend on.

  2. After making a small non-ABI change: adding a private function to a module that no other modules depend on.

The third chart shows how precise backup in the Space project affects building a web frontend after a small non-ABI change: adding a private function to a Kotlin/JS module that lots of modules depend on.

These measurements were performed on a computer with an Apple M1 Max CPU; different computers will yield slightly different results. The factors affecting performance include but are not limited to:

  • How warm the Kotlin daemon and the Gradle daemon are.

  • How fast or slow the disk is.

  • The CPU model and how busy it is.

  • Which modules are affected by the changes and how big these modules are.

  • Whether the changes are ABI or non-ABI.

Evaluating optimizations with build reports

To estimate the impact of the optimization on your computer for your project and your scenarios, you can use Kotlin build reports. Enable reports in text file format by adding the following property to your gradle.properties file:


Here is an example of a relevant part of the report before enabling precise backup:

Task ':kotlin-gradle-plugin:compileCommonKotlin' finished in 0.59 s <...> Time metrics: Total Gradle task time: 0.59 s Task action before worker execution: 0.24 s Backup output: 0.22 s // Pay attention to this number <...>

And here is an example of a relevant part of the report after enabling precise backup:

Task ':kotlin-gradle-plugin:compileCommonKotlin' finished in 0.46 s <...> Time metrics: Total Gradle task time: 0.46 s Task action before worker execution: 0.07 s Backup output: 0.05 s // The time has reduced Run compilation in Gradle worker: 0.32 s Clear jar cache: 0.00 s Precise backup output: 0.00 s // Related to precise backup Cleaning up the backup stash: 0.00 s // Related to precise backup <...>

Gradle build cache support

The Kotlin plugin uses the Gradle build cache, which stores the build outputs for reuse in future builds.

To disable caching for all Kotlin tasks, set the system property kotlin.caching.enabled to false (run the build with the argument -Dkotlin.caching.enabled=false).

Gradle configuration cache support

The Kotlin plugin uses the Gradle configuration cache, which speeds up the build process by reusing the results of the configuration phase for subsequent builds.

See the Gradle documentation to learn how to enable the configuration cache. After you enable this feature, the Kotlin Gradle plugin automatically starts using it.

The Kotlin daemon and how to use it with Gradle

The Kotlin daemon:

  • Runs with the Gradle daemon to compile the project.

  • Runs separately from the Gradle daemon when you compile the project with an IntelliJ IDEA built-in build system.

The Kotlin daemon starts at the Gradle execution stage when one of the Kotlin compile tasks starts to compile sources. The Kotlin daemon stops either with the Gradle daemon or after two idle hours with no Kotlin compilation.

The Kotlin daemon uses the same JDK that the Gradle daemon does.

Setting Kotlin daemon's JVM arguments

Each of the following ways to set arguments overrides the ones that came before it:

Gradle daemon arguments inheritance

If nothing is specified, the Kotlin daemon inherits arguments from the Gradle daemon. For example, in the gradle.properties file:

org.gradle.jvmargs=-Xmx1500m -Xms500m

kotlin.daemon.jvm.options system property

If the Gradle daemon's JVM arguments have the kotlin.daemon.jvm.options system property – use it in the gradle.properties file:


When passing arguments, follow these rules:

  • Use the minus sign - only before the arguments Xmx, XX:MaxMetaspaceSize, and XX:ReservedCodeCacheSize.

  • Separate arguments with commas (,) without spaces. Arguments that come after a space will be used for the Gradle daemon, not for the Kotlin daemon.

kotlin.daemon.jvmargs property

You can add the kotlin.daemon.jvmargs property in the gradle.properties file:

kotlin.daemon.jvmargs=-Xmx1500m -Xms500m

kotlin extension

You can specify arguments in the kotlin extension:

kotlin { kotlinDaemonJvmArgs = listOf("-Xmx486m", "-Xms256m", "-XX:+UseParallelGC") }
kotlin { kotlinDaemonJvmArgs = ["-Xmx486m", "-Xms256m", "-XX:+UseParallelGC"] }

Specific task definition

You can specify arguments for a specific task:

tasks.withType<CompileUsingKotlinDaemon>().configureEach { kotlinDaemonJvmArguments.set(listOf("-Xmx486m", "-Xms256m", "-XX:+UseParallelGC")) }
tasks.withType(CompileUsingKotlinDaemon).configureEach { task -> task.kotlinDaemonJvmArguments = ["-Xmx1g", "-Xms512m"] }

Kotlin daemon's behavior with JVM arguments

When configuring the Kotlin daemon's JVM arguments, note that:

  • It is expected to have multiple instances of the Kotlin daemon running at the same time when different subprojects or tasks have different sets of JVM arguments.

  • A new Kotlin daemon instance starts only when Gradle runs a related compilation task and existing Kotlin daemons do not have the same set of JVM arguments. Imagine that your project has a lot of subprojects. Most of them require some heap memory for a Kotlin daemon, but one module requires a lot (though it is rarely compiled). In this case, you should provide a different set of JVM arguments for such a module, so a Kotlin daemon with a larger heap size would start only for developers who touch this specific module.

  • If the Xmx argument is not specified, the Kotlin daemon will inherit it from the Gradle daemon.

Rolling back to the previous compiler

From Kotlin 2.0.0, the K2 compiler is used by default.

To use the previous compiler from Kotlin 2.0.0 onwards, either:

To learn more about the benefits of the K2 compiler, see the K2 compiler migration guide.

Defining Kotlin compiler execution strategy

Kotlin compiler execution strategy defines where the Kotlin compiler is executed and if incremental compilation is supported in each case.

There are three compiler execution strategies:


Where Kotlin compiler is executed

Incremental compilation

Other characteristics and notes


Inside its own daemon process


The default and fastest strategy. Can be shared between different Gradle daemons and multiple parallel compilations.

In process

Inside the Gradle daemon process


May share the heap with the Gradle daemon. The "In process" execution strategy is slower than the "Daemon" execution strategy. Each worker creates a separate Kotlin compiler classloader for each compilation.

Out of process

In a separate process for each compilation


The slowest execution strategy. Similar to the "In process", but additionally creates a separate Java process within a Gradle worker for each compilation.

To define a Kotlin compiler execution strategy, you can use one of the following properties:

  • The kotlin.compiler.execution.strategy Gradle property.

  • The compilerExecutionStrategy compile task property.

The task property compilerExecutionStrategy takes priority over the Gradle property kotlin.compiler.execution.strategy.

The available values for the kotlin.compiler.execution.strategy property are:

  1. daemon (default)

  2. in-process

  3. out-of-process

Use the Gradle property kotlin.compiler.execution.strategy in gradle.properties:


The available values for the compilerExecutionStrategy task property are:

  1. org.jetbrains.kotlin.gradle.tasks.KotlinCompilerExecutionStrategy.DAEMON (default)

  2. org.jetbrains.kotlin.gradle.tasks.KotlinCompilerExecutionStrategy.IN_PROCESS

  3. org.jetbrains.kotlin.gradle.tasks.KotlinCompilerExecutionStrategy.OUT_OF_PROCESS

Use the task property compilerExecutionStrategy in your build scripts:

import org.jetbrains.kotlin.gradle.tasks.CompileUsingKotlinDaemon import org.jetbrains.kotlin.gradle.tasks.KotlinCompilerExecutionStrategy // ... tasks.withType<CompileUsingKotlinDaemon>().configureEach { compilerExecutionStrategy.set(KotlinCompilerExecutionStrategy.IN_PROCESS) }
import org.jetbrains.kotlin.gradle.tasks.CompileUsingKotlinDaemon import org.jetbrains.kotlin.gradle.tasks.KotlinCompilerExecutionStrategy // ... tasks.withType(CompileUsingKotlinDaemon) .configureEach { compilerExecutionStrategy = KotlinCompilerExecutionStrategy.IN_PROCESS }

Kotlin compiler fallback strategy

The Kotlin compiler's fallback strategy is to run a compilation outside a Kotlin daemon if the daemon somehow fails. If the Gradle daemon is on, the compiler uses the "In process" strategy. If the Gradle daemon is off, the compiler uses the "Out of process" strategy.

When this fallback happens, you have the following warning lines in your Gradle's build output:

Failed to compile with Kotlin daemon: java.lang.RuntimeException: Could not connect to Kotlin compile daemon [exception stacktrace] Using fallback strategy: Compile without Kotlin daemon Try ./gradlew --stop if this issue persists.

However, a silent fallback to another strategy can consume a lot of system resources or lead to non-deterministic builds. Read more about this in this YouTrack issue. To avoid this, there is a Gradle property kotlin.daemon.useFallbackStrategy, whose default value is true. When the value is false, builds fail on problems with the daemon's startup or communication. Declare this property in gradle.properties:


There is also a useDaemonFallbackStrategy property in Kotlin compile tasks, which takes priority over the Gradle property if you use both.

tasks { compileKotlin { useDaemonFallbackStrategy.set(false) } }
tasks.named("compileKotlin").configure { useDaemonFallbackStrategy = false }

If there is insufficient memory to run the compilation, you can see a message about it in the logs.

Trying the latest language version

Starting with Kotlin 2.0.0, to try the latest language version, set the kotlin.experimental.tryNext property in your gradle.properties file. When you use this property, the Kotlin Gradle plugin increments the language version to one above the default value for your Kotlin version. For example, in Kotlin 2.0.0, the default language version is 2.0, so the property configures language version 2.1.

Alternatively, you can run the following command:

./gradlew assemble -Pkotlin.experimental.tryNext=true

In build reports, you can find the language version used to compile each task.

Build reports

Build reports contain the durations of different compilation phases and any reasons why compilation couldn't be incremental. Use build reports to investigate performance issues when the compilation time is too long or when it differs for the same project.

Kotlin build reports help you to investigate problems with build performance more efficiently than with Gradle build scans that have a single Gradle task as the unit of granularity.

There are two common cases that analyzing build reports for long-running compilations can help you resolve:

  • The build wasn't incremental. Analyze the reasons and fix underlying problems.

  • The build was incremental but took too much time. Try reorganizing source files — split big files, save separate classes in different files, refactor large classes, declare top-level functions in different files, and so on.

Build reports also show the Kotlin version used in the project. In addition, starting with Kotlin 1.9.0, you can see which compiler was used to compile the code in your Gradle build scans.

Learn how to read build reports and about how JetBrains uses build reports.

Enabling build reports

To enable build reports, declare where to save the build report output in gradle.properties:


The following values and their combinations are available for the output:




Saves build reports in a human-readable format to a local file. By default, it's ${project_folder}/build/reports/kotlin-build/${project_name}-timestamp.txt


Saves build reports in a format of an object to a specified local file.


Saves build reports in the custom values section of the build scan. Note that the Gradle Enterprise plugin limits the number of custom values and their length. In big projects, some values could be lost.


Posts build reports using HTTP(S). The POST method sends metrics in JSON format. You can see the current version of the sent data in the Kotlin repository. You can find samples of HTTP endpoints in this blog post


Saves build reports in JSON format to a local file. Set the location for your build reports in kotlin.build.report.json.directory (see below). By default, it's name is ${project_name}-build-<date-time>-<index>.json.

Here's a list of available options for kotlin.build.report:

# Required outputs. Any combination is allowed kotlin.build.report.output=file,single_file,http,build_scan,json # Mandatory if single_file output is used. Where to put reports # Use instead of the deprecated `kotlin.internal.single.build.metrics.file` property kotlin.build.report.single_file=some_filename # Mandatory if json output is used. Where to put reports kotlin.build.report.json.directory="my/directory/path" # Optional. Output directory for file-based reports. Default: build/reports/kotlin-build/ kotlin.build.report.file.output_dir=kotlin-reports # Optional. Label for marking your build report (for example, debug parameters) kotlin.build.report.label=some_label

Options, applicable only to HTTP:

# Mandatory. Where to post HTTP(S)-based reports kotlin.build.report.http.url= # Optional. User and password if the HTTP endpoint requires authentication kotlin.build.report.http.user=someUser kotlin.build.report.http.password=somePassword # Optional. Add a Git branch name of a build to a build report kotlin.build.report.http.include_git_branch.name=true|false # Optional. Add compiler arguments to a build report # If a project contains many modules, its compiler arguments in the report can be very heavy and not that helpful kotlin.build.report.include_compiler_arguments=true|false

Limit of custom values

To collect build scans' statistics, Kotlin build reports use Gradle's custom values. Both you and different Gradle plugins can write data to custom values. The number of custom values has a limit. See the current maximum custom value count in the Build scan plugin docs.

If you have a big project, a number of such custom values may be quite big. If this number exceeds the limit, you can see the following message in the logs:

Maximum number of custom values (1,000) exceeded

To reduce the number of custom values the Kotlin plugin produces, you can use the following property in gradle.properties:


Switching off collecting project and system properties

HTTP build statistic logs can contain some project and system properties. These properties can change builds' behavior, so it's useful to log them in build statistics. These properties can store sensitive data, for example, passwords or a project's full path.

You can disable collection of these statistics by adding the kotlin.build.report.http.verbose_environment property to your gradle.properties.

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Last modified: 11 July 2024