Before this discussion becomes repetitive (ok it kinda has already) I want to give my own opinion.
I can see where both sides come from. The truth is, right now Intellij is the only viable option for Kotlin development with an active development team behind it. There is a language server out there and it comes with a plugin for VSCode. I have however no idea about the quality of it.
IMO it is ok that the community is developing the language server. Would it be better if JetBrains would put resources into it? Probably, but I don’t think this is a good enough reason for JetBrains or any other company to invest in it yet.
I think the request for VSCode support comes from a wish to use Kotlin JS. I know that many JS developers use VSCode and therefor it’s understandable that they want to keep using VSCode. That makes me ask 2 questions?
- Is the current language server good enough? Ok, it’s not as good as Intellij but that’s not important. It will never be as good. Kotlin is build by the same developers that create Intellij (or at least same company). Getting the same level of support is impossible.
- Should JetBrains (or any other company interested in Kotlin/VSCode, that would be Google and Microsoft) start developing the language server as to improve VSCode-Kotlin support. Google is mostly interested in Kotlin for android so they are out. Microsoft (I think they are the ones mostly developing VSCode) is also probably not interested in developing it. They gain nothing by doing so. That leaves JetBrains.
So the question JetBrains has to ask themself is whether they think it’s worth it. They only have a limited number of resources and I guess even less resources they can use for no-profit open source development. A lot of this is spent on Kotlin directly. You could argue, that VSCode-Kotlin support would make more people switch to Kotlin which might bring them then to buy Intellij Ultimate later, because they see that it’s more feature rich. But this assumption rests on some facts I don’t see. I don’t have any data about how many people use Kotlin. I don’t know how many people might switch to Kotlin and then there is still the risk of people just sticking with VSCode.
Also there is this thing called opportunity cost. The resources spent developing a VSCode plugin could be spent improving Kotlin, so maybe that is a better way of getting more people to switch.
I don’t think Kotlin is vendor locked. As many people have pointed out JetBrains released all the tools necessary to use Kotlin without depending on them. The real reason why JetBrains is not working on VSCode IMO is that it’s just not a good idea for them to do so. I am sure they have and are constantly analyzing the market to see where they can spent their resources most effective and as far as I can tell right now it is by improving Kotlin itself.
Kotlin is becoming more and more suitable to target JS as there are more libraries being released bridging the gap between the Kotlin JVM and Kotlin JS ecosystem. The current focus is on mutliplatform and this will probably improve Kotlin far more than support for VSCode.
I still want to see support for VSCode, but I don’t think that it’s JetBrains job to deliver this support. Kotlin is open source and maybe the community can and should build the tools JetBrains can’t.