Kotlin Help

Calling Kotlin from Java

Kotlin code can be easily called from Java. For example, instances of a Kotlin class can be seamlessly created and operated in Java methods. However, there are certain differences between Java and Kotlin that require attention when integrating Kotlin code into Java. On this page, we'll describe the ways to tailor the interop of your Kotlin code with its Java clients.


A Kotlin property is compiled to the following Java elements:

  • a getter method, with the name calculated by prepending the get prefix

  • a setter method, with the name calculated by prepending the set prefix (only for var properties)

  • a private field, with the same name as the property name (only for properties with backing fields)

For example, var firstName: String compiles to the following Java declarations:

private String firstName; public String getFirstName() { return firstName; } public void setFirstName(String firstName) { this.firstName = firstName; }

If the name of the property starts with is, a different name mapping rule is used: the name of the getter will be the same as the property name, and the name of the setter will be obtained by replacing is with set. For example, for a property isOpen, the getter will be called isOpen() and the setter will be called setOpen(). This rule applies for properties of any type, not just Boolean.

Package-level functions

All the functions and properties declared in a file app.kt inside a package org.example, including extension functions, are compiled into static methods of a Java class named org.example.AppKt.

// app.kt package org.example class Util fun getTime() { /*...*/ }
// Java new org.example.Util(); org.example.AppKt.getTime();

To set a custom name to the generated Java class, use the @JvmName annotation:

@file:JvmName("DemoUtils") package org.example class Util fun getTime() { /*...*/ }
// Java new org.example.Util(); org.example.DemoUtils.getTime();

Having multiple files with the same generated Java class name (the same package and the same name or the same @JvmName annotation) is normally an error. However, the compiler can generate a single Java facade class which has the specified name and contains all the declarations from all the files which have that name. To enable the generation of such a facade, use the @JvmMultifileClass annotation in all such files.

// oldutils.kt @file:JvmName("Utils") @file:JvmMultifileClass package org.example fun getTime() { /*...*/ }
// newutils.kt @file:JvmName("Utils") @file:JvmMultifileClass package org.example fun getDate() { /*...*/ }
// Java org.example.Utils.getTime(); org.example.Utils.getDate();

Instance fields

If you need to expose a Kotlin property as a field in Java, annotate it with the @JvmField annotation. The field will have the same visibility as the underlying property. You can annotate a property with @JvmField if it:

  • has a backing field

  • is not private

  • does not have open, override or const modifiers

  • is not a delegated property

class User(id: String) { @JvmField val ID = id }
// Java class JavaClient { public String getID(User user) { return user.ID; } }

Late-Initialized properties are also exposed as fields. The visibility of the field will be the same as the visibility of lateinit property setter.

Static fields

Kotlin properties declared in a named object or a companion object will have static backing fields either in that named object or in the class containing the companion object.

Usually these fields are private but they can be exposed in one of the following ways:

  • @JvmField annotation

  • lateinit modifier

  • const modifier

Annotating such a property with @JvmField makes it a static field with the same visibility as the property itself.

class Key(val value: Int) { companion object { @JvmField val COMPARATOR: Comparator<Key> = compareBy<Key> { it.value } } }
// Java Key.COMPARATOR.compare(key1, key2); // public static final field in Key class

A late-initialized property in an object or a companion object has a static backing field with the same visibility as the property setter.

object Singleton { lateinit var provider: Provider }
// Java Singleton.provider = new Provider(); // public static non-final field in Singleton class

Properties declared as const (in classes as well as at the top level) are turned into static fields in Java:

// file example.kt object Obj { const val CONST = 1 } class C { companion object { const val VERSION = 9 } } const val MAX = 239

In Java:

int constant = Obj.CONST; int max = ExampleKt.MAX; int version = C.VERSION;

Static methods

As mentioned above, Kotlin represents package-level functions as static methods. Kotlin can also generate static methods for functions defined in named objects or companion objects if you annotate those functions as @JvmStatic. If you use this annotation, the compiler will generate both a static method in the enclosing class of the object and an instance method in the object itself. For example:

class C { companion object { @JvmStatic fun callStatic() {} fun callNonStatic() {} } }

Now, callStatic() is static in Java while callNonStatic() is not:

C.callStatic(); // works fine C.callNonStatic(); // error: not a static method C.Companion.callStatic(); // instance method remains C.Companion.callNonStatic(); // the only way it works

Same for named objects:

object Obj { @JvmStatic fun callStatic() {} fun callNonStatic() {} }

In Java:

Obj.callStatic(); // works fine Obj.callNonStatic(); // error Obj.INSTANCE.callNonStatic(); // works, a call through the singleton instance Obj.INSTANCE.callStatic(); // works too

Starting from Kotlin 1.3, @JvmStatic applies to functions defined in companion objects of interfaces as well. Such functions compile to static methods in interfaces. Note that static method in interfaces were introduced in Java 1.8, so be sure to use the corresponding targets.

interface ChatBot { companion object { @JvmStatic fun greet(username: String) { println("Hello, $username") } } }

@JvmStatic annotation can also be applied on a property of an object or a companion object making its getter and setter methods static members in that object or the class containing the companion object.

Default methods in interfaces

Starting from JDK 1.8, interfaces in Java can contain default methods. To make all non-abstract members of Kotlin interfaces default for the Java classes implementing them, compile the Kotlin code with the -Xjvm-default=all compiler option.

Here is an example of a Kotlin interface with a default method:

// compile with -Xjvm-default=all interface Robot { fun move() { println("~walking~") } // will be default in the Java interface fun speak(): Unit }

The default implementation is available for Java classes implementing the interface.

//Java implementation public class C3PO implements Robot { // move() implementation from Robot is available implicitly @Override public void speak() { System.out.println("I beg your pardon, sir"); } }
C3PO c3po = new C3PO(); c3po.move(); // default implementation from the Robot interface c3po.speak();

Implementations of the interface can override default methods.

//Java public class BB8 implements Robot { //own implementation of the default method @Override public void move() { System.out.println("~rolling~"); } @Override public void speak() { System.out.println("Beep-beep"); } }

Compatibility modes for default methods

If there are clients that use your Kotlin interfaces compiled without the -Xjvm-default=all option, then they may be binary-incompatible with the code compiled with this option. To avoid breaking the compatibility with such clients, use the -Xjvm-default=all mode and mark interfaces with the @JvmDefaultWithCompatibility annotation. This allows you to add this annotation to all interfaces in the public API once, and you won't need to use any annotations for new non-public code.

Learn more about compatibility modes:


Default behavior. Do not generate JVM default methods and prohibit @JvmDefault annotation usage.


Generate JVM default methods for all interface declarations with bodies in the module. Do not generate DefaultImpls stubs for interface declarations with bodies, which are generated by default in the disable mode.

If interface inherits a method with body from an interface compiled in the disable mode and doesn't override it, then a DefaultImpls stub will be generated for it.

Breaks binary compatibility if some client code relies on the presence of DefaultImpls classes.


In addition to the all mode, generate compatibility stubs in the DefaultImpls classes. Compatibility stubs could be useful for library and runtime authors to keep backward binary compatibility for existing clients compiled against previous library versions. all and all-compatibility modes are changing the library ABI surface that clients will use after the recompilation of the library. In that sense, clients might be incompatible with previous library versions. This usually means that you need a proper library versioning, for example, major version increase in SemVer.

The compiler generates all the members of DefaultImpls with the @Deprecated annotation: you shouldn't use these members in Java code, because the compiler generates them only for compatibility purposes.

In case of inheritance from a Kotlin interface compiled in all or all-compatibility modes, DefaultImpls compatibility stubs will invoke the default method of the interface with standard JVM runtime resolution semantics.

Perform additional compatibility checks for classes inheriting generic interfaces where in some cases additional implicit method with specialized signatures was generated in the disable mode: unlike in the disable mode, the compiler will report an error if you don't override such method explicitly and don't annotate the class with @JvmDefaultWithoutCompatibility (see this YouTrack issue for more details).


The Kotlin visibility modifiers map to Java in the following way:

  • private members are compiled to private members

  • private top-level declarations are compiled to private top-level declarations. Package-private accessors are also included, if accessed from within a class.

  • protected remains protected (note that Java allows accessing protected members from other classes in the same package and Kotlin doesn't, so Java classes will have broader access to the code)

  • internal declarations become public in Java. Members of internal classes go through name mangling, to make it harder to accidentally use them from Java and to allow overloading for members with the same signature that don't see each other according to Kotlin rules

  • public remains public


Sometimes you need to call a Kotlin method with a parameter of type KClass. There is no automatic conversion from Class to KClass, so you have to do it manually by invoking the equivalent of the Class<T>.kotlin extension property:


Handling signature clashes with @JvmName

Sometimes we have a named function in Kotlin, for which we need a different JVM name in the bytecode. The most prominent example happens due to type erasure:

fun List<String>.filterValid(): List<String> fun List<Int>.filterValid(): List<Int>

These two functions can not be defined side-by-side, because their JVM signatures are the same: filterValid(Ljava/util/List;)Ljava/util/List;. If we really want them to have the same name in Kotlin, we can annotate one (or both) of them with @JvmName and specify a different name as an argument:

fun List<String>.filterValid(): List<String> @JvmName("filterValidInt") fun List<Int>.filterValid(): List<Int>

From Kotlin they will be accessible by the same name filterValid, but from Java it will be filterValid and filterValidInt.

The same trick applies when we need to have a property x alongside with a function getX():

val x: Int @JvmName("getX_prop") get() = 15 fun getX() = 10

To change the names of generated accessor methods for properties without explicitly implemented getters and setters, you can use @get:JvmName and @set:JvmName:

@get:JvmName("x") @set:JvmName("changeX") var x: Int = 23

Overloads generation

Normally, if you write a Kotlin function with default parameter values, it will be visible in Java only as a full signature, with all parameters present. If you wish to expose multiple overloads to Java callers, you can use the @JvmOverloads annotation.

The annotation also works for constructors, static methods, and so on. It can't be used on abstract methods, including methods defined in interfaces.

class Circle @JvmOverloads constructor(centerX: Int, centerY: Int, radius: Double = 1.0) { @JvmOverloads fun draw(label: String, lineWidth: Int = 1, color: String = "red") { /*...*/ } }

For every parameter with a default value, this will generate one additional overload, which has this parameter and all parameters to the right of it in the parameter list removed. In this example, the following will be generated:

// Constructors: Circle(int centerX, int centerY, double radius) Circle(int centerX, int centerY) // Methods void draw(String label, int lineWidth, String color) { } void draw(String label, int lineWidth) { } void draw(String label) { }

Note that, as described in Secondary constructors, if a class has default values for all constructor parameters, a public constructor with no arguments will be generated for it. This works even if the @JvmOverloads annotation is not specified.

Checked exceptions

Kotlin does not have checked exceptions. So, normally the Java signatures of Kotlin functions do not declare exceptions thrown. Thus, if you have a function in Kotlin like this:

// example.kt package demo fun writeToFile() { /*...*/ throw IOException() }

And you want to call it from Java and catch the exception:

// Java try { demo.Example.writeToFile(); } catch (IOException e) { // error: writeToFile() does not declare IOException in the throws list // ... }

You get an error message from the Java compiler, because writeToFile() does not declare IOException. To work around this problem, use the @Throws annotation in Kotlin:

@Throws(IOException::class) fun writeToFile() { /*...*/ throw IOException() }


When calling Kotlin functions from Java, nobody prevents us from passing null as a non-nullable parameter. That's why Kotlin generates runtime checks for all public functions that expect non-nulls. This way we get a NullPointerException in the Java code immediately.

Variant generics

When Kotlin classes make use of declaration-site variance, there are two options of how their usages are seen from the Java code. For example, imagine you have the following class and two functions that use it:

class Box<out T>(val value: T) interface Base class Derived : Base fun boxDerived(value: Derived): Box<Derived> = Box(value) fun unboxBase(box: Box<Base>): Base = box.value

A naive way of translating these functions into Java would be this:

Box<Derived> boxDerived(Derived value) { ... } Base unboxBase(Box<Base> box) { ... }

The problem is that in Kotlin you can write unboxBase(boxDerived(Derived())) but in Java that would be impossible because in Java the class Box is invariant in its parameter T, and thus Box<Derived> is not a subtype of Box<Base>. To make this work in Java, you would have to define unboxBase as follows:

Base unboxBase(Box<? extends Base> box) { ... }

This declaration uses Java's wildcards types (? extends Base) to emulate declaration-site variance through use-site variance, because it is all Java has.

To make Kotlin APIs work in Java, the compiler generates Box<Super> as Box<? extends Super> for covariantly defined Box (or Foo<? super Bar> for contravariantly defined Foo) when it appears as a parameter. When it's a return value, wildcards are not generated, because otherwise Java clients will have to deal with them (and it's against the common Java coding style). Therefore, the functions from our example are actually translated as follows:

// return type - no wildcards Box<Derived> boxDerived(Derived value) { ... } // parameter - wildcards Base unboxBase(Box<? extends Base> box) { ... }

If you need wildcards where they are not generated by default, use the @JvmWildcard annotation:

fun boxDerived(value: Derived): Box<@JvmWildcard Derived> = Box(value) // is translated to // Box<? extends Derived> boxDerived(Derived value) { ... }

In the opposite case, if you don't need wildcards where they are generated, use @JvmSuppressWildcards:

fun unboxBase(box: Box<@JvmSuppressWildcards Base>): Base = box.value // is translated to // Base unboxBase(Box<Base> box) { ... }

Translation of type Nothing

The type Nothing is special, because it has no natural counterpart in Java. Indeed, every Java reference type, including java.lang.Void, accepts null as a value, and Nothing doesn't accept even that. So, this type cannot be accurately represented in the Java world. This is why Kotlin generates a raw type where an argument of type Nothing is used:

fun emptyList(): List<Nothing> = listOf() // is translated to // List emptyList() { ... }
Last modified: 18 January 2024