The latest addition to Kobalt is templates, also known as “archetypes” in Maven.

Templates are actions performed by plug-ins that create a set of files in your project. They are typically used when uou are beginning a brand new project and you want some default files to be created. Of course, nothing stops you from invoking templates even if you already have an existing project since templates can generate pretty much any kind of files. Here is how they work in Kobalt.

You can get a list of available templates with the --listTemplates parameter:

$ kobaltw --listTemplates
Available templates
  Plug-in: Kobalt
    "java"              Generate a simple Java project
    "kotlin"            Generate a simple Kotlin project
    "kobalt-plugin"     Generate a sample Kobalt plug-in project

You invoke a template with the --init parameter. Let’s call the "kobalt-plugin" template:

$ ./kobaltw --init kobalt-plugin
Template "kobalt-plugin" installed
Build this project with `./kobaltw assemble`

$ ./kobaltw assemble
          ║ Building kobalt-line-count ║
───── kobalt-line-count:compile
───── kobalt-line-count:assemble
  Created .\kobaltBuild\libs\kobalt-line-count-0.18.jar
  Created .\kobaltBuild\libs\kobalt-line-count-0.18-sources.jar
  Wrote .\kobaltBuild\libs\kobalt-line-count-0.18.pom

The template was correctly installed, then it provided instructions on what to do next, which we followed, and now we have a fully working project. This one is particular since it’s a Kobalt plug-in and I’ll get back to it shortly. But before that, let’s drill a bit deeper into templates.

Templates would be pretty useless if they were limited to the default Kobalt distribution, so of course, you can invoke templates on plug-ins. Even plug-ins that you haven’t downloaded yet! Kobalt can download plug-ins from any Maven repository and run them.

To illustrate this, let’s see what templates the Kobalt Android plug-in offers:

$ kobaltw --listTemplates --plugins com.beust:kobalt-android:
Available templates
  Plug-in: Kobalt
    "java"              Generate a simple Java project
    "kotlin"            Generate a simple Kotlin project
    "kobaltPlugin"      Generate a sample Kobalt plug-in project
  Plug-in: Android
    "androidJava"       Generate a simple Android Java project
    "androidKotlin"     Generate a simple Kotlin Java project

Several things happened here. First of all, we are invoking the same --listTemplates command as earlier but this time, there is a new --plugins parameter. You pass this parameter a list of Maven id’s representing the Kobalt plug-ins you want Kobalt to install. This is similar to declaring these plug-ins in your build file, except that typically, when you run a template, you don’t have a build file yet. So this is an easy way to install plug-ins without requiring a build file.

Finally, notice that the Maven id used above, "com.beust:kobalt-android:" doesn’t have a version number and instead, ends with a colon. This is how you ask Kobalt to locate the latest version of the plug-in for you.

Kobalt responded by determining that the latest version of the Kobalt Android plug-in is 0.40, downloading it, installing it and then asking it what templates it provides. The Kobalt Android plug-in provides two templates, both of them creating a full-blown Android application, one written in Kotlin and one in Java. Let’s install the Kotlin one:

$ kobaltw --plugins com.beust:kobalt-android: --init androidKotlin
Template "androidKotlin" installed
Build this project with `./kobaltw assemble`

$ find .

$ ./kobaltw assemble
          ║ Building kobalt-demo ║
───── kobalt-demo:generateR
───── kobalt-demo:compile
───── kobalt-demo:proguard
───── kobalt-demo:generateDex
───── kobalt-demo:signApk
Created kobaltBuild\outputs\apk\kobalt-demo.apk
───── kobalt-demo:assemble

We now have a complete Android application written in Kotlin.

Let’s go back to the template we built at the beginning of this article: the Kobalt plug-in called "kobalt-line-count-0.18.jar". It’s a valid Kobalt plug-in so how do we test it? We could upload it to JCenter and then invoke it with the --plugins parameter, but Kobalt provides another handy command line parameter to test such plug-ins locally: --pluginJarFiles. This parameter is similar to --plugins in that it installs a plug-in, except that it does so from a local jar file and not a remote Maven id.

Let’s install this plug-in and see which tasks are then available to us:

$ ./kobaltw --pluginJarFiles kobaltBuild/libs/kobalt-line-count-0.18.jar --tasks

List of tasks


  ═════ kobalt-line-count ═════
    dynamicTask         Dynamic task
    lineCount           Count the lines


As you can see, Kobalt has installed the kobalt-line-count plug-in, which then added its own tasks to Kobalt’s default ones. The Kobalt plug-in template appears to work fine. From this point on, you can edit it and create your own Kobalt plug-in.

Speaking of plug-in development, how hard is it to add templates to your Kobalt plug-in? Not hard at all! All you need to do is to implement the ITemplateContributor interface:

interface ITemplateContributor {
    val templates: List<ITemplate>

Each template provides a name, a description and a function that actually generates the files for the current project. Feel free to browse how Kobalt’s Android plug-in implements its templates.

The full series of articles on Kobalt can be found here.