Writting maven plugin using Kotlin.

If you are a Java developer you must be familiar with maven - a widely used Java build system. Maven has simple and reliable execution lifecycle: it runs several consecutive phases (like compile, test, package or deploy), and during each phase a set of plugins can be run, for example javac via maven-compiler-plugin during phase ‘compile’.

For a particular plugin one declares a <plugin> section in pom.xml, and each plugin can have several executions. Each execution is bound to a particular phase of build lifecycle, and it may include several goals. Goal is a particular action the plugin can execute, for example compile source code or run tests or check code style.

We are developing diktat - an automatic kotlin code style checker and formatter, which is intended to be used as CI/CD tool that constantly checks quality of code that developers are adding to their projects. To provide a convenient way to run it for all developers we support run from CLI and are preparing to release a dedicated maven plugin to run diktat directly from maven.

Designing a plugin

MOJO class

A main structural entity in maven plugin is a MOJO. MOJO stands for ‘Maven POJO’ or ‘Maven plain old Java object’, and it is a class that defines logic for a particular plugin goal. MOJO is a Java class annotated with @Mojo annotation, but since we are developing kotlin code style checker, we are going to implement our plugin in kotlin too. Kotlin code can be compiled in Java bytecode, so it won’t be a problem.

Desired usage

When the plugin is ready, we want to invoke it like this:


With this config in pom.xml during mvn verify the goal check will be run.


Implementation of the plugin seems straightforward:

class DiktatCheckMojo: AbstractMojo() {
     * Paths that will be scanned for .kt(s) files
    @Parameter(property = "diktat.inputs")
    var inputs = listOf("\${project.basedir}/src")

    // other properties...

    override fun execute() {
        // all logic goes here

The main point is the execute method which will be called during our MOJO invocation. Also, maven lets us capture parameters passed via configuration in pom.xml by simply annotating properties with @Parameter.

Sharing common logic among plugin goals

Note, that only classes annotated with @Mojo will be considered as mojos, not the classes extending AbstractMojo. It means that we can create a base abstract class extending AbstractMojo with common logic and configuration parameters and then create implementations of that base class for every particular plugin goal that we want.

For example, in diktat-maven-plugin we want to support two operation modes: checking code style and fixing it. The following code will help us achieve this:

class DiktatBaseMojo : AbstractMojo() {
     * Path to diktat yml config file. Can be either absolute or relative to project's root directory.
    @Parameter(property = "diktat.config", defaultValue = "diktat-analysis.yml")
    lateinit var diktatConfigFile: String

    abstract fun runAction(params: KtLint.Params)

    override fun execute() {
        // common logic

class DiktatCheckMojo : DiktatBaseMojo() {
    override fun runAction(params: KtLint.Params) {
        // logic of check goal

class DiktatFixMojo : DiktatBaseMojo() {
    override fun runAction(params: KtLint.Params) {
        // logic of fix goal


What is less straightforward is how to package our code as a maven plugin.

You should create a maven plugin as a separate maven module in (possibly) multi-module maven project. The first step is to change the module’s packaging to a special value:


Then we need to add a maven-plugin-plugin to pom.xml of our plugin module. This plugin will create our plugin’s descriptor - a file called plugin.xml, which will be included in resulting jar and will store all metadata that maven needs to run our plugin.

plugin.xml pretty much acts as a pom.xml for a plugin: it contains groupId, artifactId and version of plugin as well as some special fields, e.g. goalPrefix is a string which will be used when calling plugin goals from CLI (i.e. in diktat:check diktat is a goalPrefix).

This file also contains a list of mojos - xml descriptors for all plugin goals that we created. Mojo has a list of parameters, so that IDE can suggest you values when configuring your pom.xml, as well as goal and parameter descriptions - pieces of documentation that IDE can show you when selecting plugin parameter.

Here appears the only real caveat of developing maven plugin entirely in kotlin: maven-plugin-plugin by default retrieves descriptions from JavaDocs. Kotlin doesn’t have JavaDocs, it has KDocs which are handled differently with special dokka tool.

Luckily, maven-plugin-plugin uses a set of extractors to retrieve descriptions, and extractors can be overridden. Luckily x2, there already exists an open-source maven plugin called kotlin-maven-plugin-tools, which has embedded dokka and provides kotlin extractor. After adding this plugin to our build and adding to maven-plugin-plugin configuration

    <!-- Extractor from kotlin-maven-plugin-tools -->

we get a nice plugin.xml with goals and properties descriptions.

Last steps

Now you can install a plugin to a local or remote maven repository and use it in your build!