Tutorial - Writing Vaadin apps in Kotlin Part 1

Kotlin provides some very interesting language features which are immensely helpful when writing Vaadin apps. Let us start from scratch, building necessary functionality as we progress. The result of this exercise will be a Kotlin-based simple web app, built with Gradle, using Hibernate+JPA o store entities into the database. I will not use Spring nor JavaEE here - the whole thing will run in a pure Servlet environment like Tomcat or Jetty. The complete exercise may take some 60 minutes. I will be using Intellij IDEA Community which you can download for free here: Download IDEA. When installing, just press the “Skip remaining” button to install Intellij with the default settings.

Originally I intended to write the tutorial using Gradle, but there were bugs in the Gradle Vaadin Plugin which would disallow the app to launch without using IntelliJ Ultimate. Therefore I have chosen Maven with more stable support for tooling.

Let’s start by creating a Maven-based Java Vaadin project by following this tutorial (I am using the org.test.myvaadin groupId and vaadin-app as artifactId throughout this tutorial). Just install Maven 3, follow the steps in the Vaadin tutorial and you’re good to go. After you have run the project from the command-line, just fire up IDEA, open the pom.xml file with File / Open; then select Open as Project.

To run the project in IDEA, click on the bottom-left touchpad-like button in the lower-left corner, then click Maven Projects in the upper-right corner. Unwrap the tree: vaadin-app / Plugins / jetty, right-click jetty:run and select Run (or Debug). Then, point your browser to http://localhost:8080/.

Now it may be a good idea to start versioning, so that you can play with the project safely and just revert the changes, should things go banana. Just run this in your command-line, inside the project directory (vaadin-app):

$ git init .

Create a .gitignore with the following contents:


Then, in your console:

$ git add .
$ git commit -m "Initial import"

Intellij will detect a git repo, just click “Add Root” in the popup dialog.

Finally, let’s Kotlinify the project. Open the MyUI class (by pressing Ctrl+N) and press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+K - this will automatically convert the Java class to Kotlin class. Intellij will show “Kotlin not configured” popup - click “Kotlin” (not Kotlin-Javascript), then just press OK - the pom.xml will be modified automatically.

Tip: to see the cheat-sheet with the keyboard shortcuts in IDEA, just open the Help / Keymap reference menu.

Now, head back to the MyUI class and change the following line: val button = Button("Click Me Kotlin"). Now, when you run the project using the jetty:run as before (or just press Shift+F10 since the Maven launcher for this task has been created, just see the upper-right corner in the IDEA window; this way you can also launch the project in debug mode), Kotlin should auto-compile the class and the page saying “Click Me Kotlin” should open. Good job!

Please feel free to experiment around. When you alter some code, press Ctrl+F9 to recompile - the code should be deployed to Jetty immediately, just press F5 in the browser. If not, just head down to the Debug Tool Window and then press the green arrow “Rerun ‘vaadin-app’“, to recompile the project and restart the Jetty web server.

In the next blog post, we will add database support.

Written on March 3, 2017