RFC: Donate kotlin to Apache Foundation


Hi, i am learning and using kotlin for several month. seems it good, amazing fast. best support web development, and Android development.

Now i have a concern about the kotlin language .

Would you please donate kotlin to Apache Foundation?

To donate kotlin to a real opensource project/foundation.
It will boost the develop community. and spread the open mind to the world.

I am worried about the kotlin language , because now it only supported by the company “JetBrains”.

If Jetbrains discontinue the project. delete everything .
The kotlin will dead.

But if the project transfer to Apache foundation. Every one can join and contribute for it.

And using and involved free.


Sources of Kotlin is open and on GitHub. Anybody can join even now, if they have enough skills.


JetBrains has existed since the beginning of 2000, for almost as long as the Apache Software Foundation. In 17 years of its existence, it has almost never discontinued projects, and absolutely never “deleted everything” for any of these projects. Moreover, Kotlin is fully open-source, so even if we do discontinue the development of Kotlin at some point, it will be easy to transfer the code to ASF at that point.


As much as I like open source and independence of a single organisation (which is de-facto JetBrains at the moment), I think donating Kotiln to the ASF would do more harm than good. Someone just analyzed (I can not find link), that a “benevolent dictator” is a critical success factor for programming language. Ok, PHP is successful, too, but look at the poor technical quality, because there is no such steward.


Based on the latest Kotlin Q&A session hosted by JetBrains around 30 people are part of the Kotlin team working on the language. At the time of this writing the official Kotlin GitHub repository has 145 contributors of which around 80% of the contributors are from the community (outside JetBrains). Plenty of interest in the repository with 7,538 stars. As @yole mentioned it would be easy to transfer Kotlin to the ASF (Apache Software Foundation) since the language is fully open source, is under the Apache 2 license, and provides an opportunity for the ASF to provide a programming language that works outside of the JVM. Oracle could make some moves that are against the interests of the Java platform community (eg unreasonable licensing) so having a Plan B is essential.

However there needs to be a reality check here. As mentioned above more of the community are involved in the development of Kotlin than JetBrains itself so community involvement isn’t an issue. ASF doesn’t have any relevant experience in managing a programming language, before taking on the management of Groovy. If you look at the success of Groovy over the last few years it has been shrinking under the ASF’s watch. Gradle Inc for instance is providing support for Kotlin to be used in writing build scripts, and many people anticipate that Gradle will eventually drop support for Groovy in the near future. Kotlin is currently in 12th position on GitHub in programming languages which is higher than Python (CPython), and C# (Roslyn), while Groovy is much further behind in 28th position (it has languished).

Some other companies/organisations have provided support for Kotlin like Gradle Inc as mentioned above. Pivotal (the one that used to manage Groovy, and is likely the biggest enterprise user of Kotlin) support Kotlin with Spring Boot, Spring Framework, and Reactor. Vert.x have recently provided Kotlin support. Square Inc are huge supporters of Kotlin on the Android side (eg SQLDelight). There will be plenty of other companies supporting Kotlin. @hhariri should seriously look at interviewing someone from Netflix (they maintain the Kotlin gradle plugin on Nebula) for the next Talking Kotlin podcast.


I’d be happy to. If you know someone in particular, let me know, cause otherwise it’s just looking through list of contributors.


@hhariri - Try contacting Jon Schneider and see if he would like to be interviewed. He did a talk titled, Kotlin in Spring Boot last year.


Please no. I have nothing against the Apache Foundation which does great work, but one of the reasons I chose to invest my time in Kotlin is that I have developed a great deal of trust in the technical leadership of JetBrains. In my list of things I’d change about Kotlin, the people and governance structure are at the bottom: they are working brilliantly, just as they are.


I also fail to see the upside here. On the downside (this is just speculation) there is overhead in transferring the data and ongoing politics.

Keep inventing!


To follow up on this older discussion, as announced at Google I/O as part of Google’s official support for Kotlin on Android it was stated:

“Just like Android, Kotlin has always been an open source project, primarily under Apache 2. It involves an entire community and does not belong to just one company. So we’re working with JetBrains to move Kotlin into a non-profit foundation.”

Hopefully that is NOT Apache


No, it’s not Apache.


Agree. The quality of other products of JetBrains is very good too. The productivity of JetBrains strongly enstores Kotlin.


When jetbrains put kotlin into an opensource foundation, and do not all control the whole design and plan . We can safe and trust to use it .
Now the kotlin not belong the open source developers. You can not control what to do next. You have no vote , you have no access to let the core team know it .
I like the JCP process, Every change should have JEP draft, and not like kotlin this kind ( Just direct develop, no the Draft->talk->implement->accept progress)


I’m having a hard time understanding your concerns. I guess I can see where one would want to discuss every change through a KEEP, but many changes already are. Personally I find letting JetBrains design and improve is preferred to design by committee.

To summarize some of the responses to your questions:

"Kotlin not belong the open source developers"

Kotlin is opensource (see here on GitHub):

"You have no vote"

This is not true. The Kotlin team has setup processes to take feedback and contributions from developers as well as actively sought feedback on features. Check out the KEEP repo. You can also vote, add, and discuss issues in YouTrack.

"donating kotlin will boost the develop community"

I and others disagree. We believe this would not help and possibly even be harmful to Kotlin’s utility and growth.

"If Jetbrains discontinue the project. The kotlin will dead"

JetBrains won’t “delete” Kotlin. Even if they tried, the many users who have cloned or forked the code would still maintain their copy. The concern for an opensource language like Kotlin more so with the support of only one company. This is a low risk as it’s official adoption is growing among companies, and if needed, Kotlin could easily be transferred to a foundation.


Nice summary. Case closed. :sweat_smile:


Kotlin Foundation should close the issue



And it is not Apache. Everyone is happy :slight_smile:


Now kotlin has it’s foudation.


Very happy to see it works.