Software Engineering

Merging multiple files into one with Kotlin

Kotlin lets us write top level functions, this enables us to write code that isn’t necessarily constrained to the concept of classes. It frees us from “util” classes of static methods (but it doesn’t free us from dumping methods or functions in one place).

Under the hood, Kotlin is constrained to classes, the compiler must generate bytecode that will run in the JVM (multiplatform is another story). To do this, it must put your functions into a class. It will take your file name and create a class from it. Functions in StringExtensions.kt will be placed in a class named StringExtensionsKt.

You may write a set of extensions on the Fragment type that are responsible aiding the retrieval of arguments:

// FragmentArgumentExtensions.kt
fun Fragment.requireStringArgument(name: String): String {
    return arguments?.getString(name, null) ?: // throw

The Kotlin compiler translates it into some bytecode that roughly looks like this: 

public final class FragmentArgumentExtensionsKt {
    public static String requireStringArgument(@NonNull Fragment fragment, String name) {
        // Implementation

You may also have another file containing extensions to help you create a ViewBinding for this Fragment:

// FragmentViewBindingExtensions.kt
fun <T : ViewBinding> Fragment.viewBinding(factory: (View) -> T): T {
    // Implementation

This Kotlin would then be compiled into a class named FragmentViewBindingExtensionsKt.

This all makes sense, we’ve kept our logically different extension functions in separate files. Sometimes we might want to combine our extensions into a single file:

  • If we had Java consumers of our extensions we might want to present the extensions in a single class named FragmentExtensionsKt.
  • Splitting our functions apart internally may not always be the best for a public API.
  • We could be working in an environment that requires we keep our class or method count as low as possibl e.g. two classes create two constructor methods, one class creates one constructor method

Kotlin provides a couple of handy annotations to support this functionality, @JvmMultifileClass and @JvmName.


This annotation tells the compiler what to call the class your file will be mapped into. This is useful if you want your api to look nice for Java users or you want to provide some API compatibility across a Java to Kotlin conversion.


This annotation tells the compiler that this file will be contribuing to a class that other files may also bee contributing to.

When used, they should have the file qualifier and be the first two lines of code in your file.


When added to our two files above, the Kotlin compiler will produce a single class under the hood.