Kotlin interop: mixing Kotlin and Java ButterKnife-annotated activities

I’ve been working with Kotlin for a while, mainly for side-projects or toy-projects. Since last Google I/O 2017 announcement it has become clear that there are no more reasons or excuses to not use it in production.

One of the big selling points of Kotlin is that you can start small, by converting one class or two, or by creating new ones, while keeping all the remaining code in Java. So, interop between the two languages is almost 100% transparent. Almost.

Working to convert a small project step by step, I started to convert activities into Kotlin. Those activities use ButterKnife (I’m using current version, which is 8.7.0) to inject the views. So, after converting the first activity I stumbled upon a problem with the annotation processor: in Gradle script, you have to use either annotationProcessor or kapt, but not both at the same time. So, you have to choose:

  • using annotationProcessor only will not find Kotlin classes, and because of that injection will silently fail at runtime,
  • using kapt only will make compilation fail.

The final workaround I found was:

  • using kapt3 (by applying kotlin-kapt plugin to the Gradle script) and,
  • adding a @JvmField() annotation in addition to ButterKnife annotations so Kotlin compiler generates public fields instead of getters and setters.

By applying kapt3 we fix the compilation error involving “kotlin.jvm.internal.FunctionReference.(ILjava/lang/Object;)V” and by converting Kotlin fields to plain-old Java fields we allow ButterKnife compiler to find the fields to inject, as is unable to find Kotlin fields.

You can find the source code with different options in different branches (the one with the final solution is kotlin-workaround) in this GitHub project.

The project has two activities, one (MainActivity) that is written in Java and kept in this language, and the second one (NextActivity) that is converted to Kotlin. Notice that a simple suite of tests is available to check that both activities are being correctly injected, and that there is a TextView in both activities that has its text replaced by code to prove that the activity has been successfully injected.

Hope this tip is useful!

Kotlin RC and kotlinx

I’ve been toying with Kotlin for a while. Yesterday RC was released, making it one step closer to have a stable version.

One small change that has made me scratch my head a little, even if I read the solution, has been the changes regarding Kotlin Extensions. This had been integrated with the main Kotlin plugin (instead of being a separated plugin) but on RC you need to change your Gradle file a little to keep using it.

The symptom is that you find an “Unresolved reference: kotlinx” plus others that come from the same namespace. Resolution is easy: in the announcement for the release Kotlin 1.0 Release Candidate is Out! in the section Tooling, it reads (bold is mine):

To enable Android Extensions in Gradle in a more idiomatic way, we now say:

apply plugin: 'kotlin-android-extensions'

in the build.gradle file (individually for each project).

The old way doesn’t work any more and prints fixing instructions to the output.

So, I haven’t found this instructions, but the solution is easy: apply the new kotlin-android-extensions plugin right after the kotlin-android plugin in your gradle file. Usually, the end result will be like this:

apply plugin: 'com.android.application'
apply plugin: 'kotlin-android'
apply plugin: 'kotlin-android-extensions'

After that you just need to sync your Gradle configuration and rebuild the whole project.