A magical, high performance programming language for game development.


Kit code is structured into “.kit” module files. Kit has a simple module system that mirrors the directory structure of your project.

Source directories

By default, Kit will look for source files in the local “src” directory; you can customize this with one or more alternate source directories using the -s flag to kitc.


Importing a module is necessary to reference declarations in that module. Modules are referred to by their path, which begins from the source directory. For example, the file src/pkg/a.kit would be imported from other modules as:

import pkg.a;

If you have multiple source directories, they’ll be searched in priority order; the first “pkg/a.kit” found will be used.

Circular imports are allowed.

Prelude modules

To reduce duplicate import statements across your project, you can create any number of prelude.kit files in the project’s subdirectories. For every package (subdirectory) in your project, all files in that package or its children will automatically copy the contents of this package’s prelude module if it exists. Importantly, they do not import the prelude file; they copy the contents. This means the prelude should not contain declarations; instead, imports and using statements can be convenient in a prelude module when files in a package share common dependencies.

For example, a module “pkg1.pkg2.module” will look for preludes in the following locations:

Unless you know what you’re doing, don’t create a root-level prelude.kit file! The root-level prelude is how Kit imports its own standard library. You can, but probably shouldn’t, override it.

The main module

A single module will serve as the “main” module, which is the entry point for compilation; all modules imported from this module, and all modules imported from those modules recursively, will be compiled. If compiling an executable (the default), the main module should have a function called main, which can be typed as Int16 or Void.


Types in Kit can define static fields/methods as well as instance methods.

Basic Types

Numeric types

Numeric types include:

All numeric types implement the builtin trait Numeric. Integer types also implement Integral, while floating point types implement NumericMixed.


var a = true;
var b = false;


A value of type Ptr[T] is a pointer to a value of type T. They can be referenced and dereferenced using the & and * prefix operators.

var x: Int = 1;
var y: Ptr[Int] = &x;
var z: Int = *y;

You can usually let type inference handle pointer referencing/dereferencing for you automatically.

var x: Int = 1;
// these will work automatically
var y: Ptr[Int] = x;
var z: Int = y;


Kit supports native C null-terminated strings using the CString type.

var s: CString = "hello!";

TODO: Kit length-prefixed strings


Tuples are containers for heterogeneous types; they don’t have a name and don’t require a declaration.

var a: (Int, Float, CString) = (1, 2, "hello!");
// destructure tuples via assignment:
var b: Int;
(b, _, _) = a;
// ...or access fields directly using numeric constants:
printf("%.2f", a[1]);


C arrays can be either explicitly sized or unsized:

var x: CArray[Int, 3] = [1, 2, 3];
// the "unsized array struct hack"
struct IntValues {
    var length: Size;
    var values: CArray[Int];

The special value empty can be used to initialize an explicitly empty array.

Compound types

Compound types - structs, unions, enums and abstracts - are built from existing types and share a common set of features.

Structs and unions

struct MyStruct {
    public var publicField: Int;
    var privateField: Int = 1;

function main() {
    // pointer auto-dereferencing on field access
    var x: Ptr[MyStruct] = struct MyStruct {
        publicField: 1,

    printf("%i", x.publicField);
union MyUnion {
    var intField: Int;
    var floatField: Float;
    var stringField: CString;

The special value empty can initialize an empty struct or union.

Enums/algebraic data types

Enums are “algebraic data types” and can optionally contain internal data.

Enums that don’t have any values which contain internal data will be optimized to C enums.

Enums cannot contain themselves, since the size of the structure would be unknown; however, they can contain pointers to themselves.

 * Represents a nullable value.
enum Option[T] {
    Some(value: T);

    public function unwrap(): T {
        // enums can be destructured using match expressions
        match this {
            Some(value): value;
            default: throw "Attempt to unwrap an empty Option value";

An enum may have an underlying type; variants of the enum which don’t have internal data will be values of the specified type:

enum Status: CString {
    Success = "success";
    Error = "error";
    InProgress = "in progress";


Abstract types wrap an existing type with additional compile-time semantics: they allow separating different contexts in which the same type is used, and can have instance methods. Abstract types are zero-cost abstractions; at runtime, they’ll be indistinguishable from the underlying type.

 * Provides convenience methods for working with colors. Variables can be
 * typed as Colors, but at runtime they'll be `uint_32t` with zero overhead.
abstract Color: Uint32 {
    public function getRgb(): (Float, Float, Float) {
        return (this & 0xff0000 >> 16, this & 0xff00 >> 8, this & 0xff);

function printRgb(c: Color) {

function main() {

Abstracts inherit some semantics from their underlying type by default, including trait implementations and methods. The abstract can declare its own methods or trait implementations which will take precedence over that of the underlying type.

Abstracts unify with their underlying type in only one direction. Given abstract Color: Uint32:

var c: Color = 0xffffff_u32 as Color;
abstract RgbaColor: Uint32;

var c: Color = 0xffffff_u32 as Color;
var a: RgbaColor = c as RgbaColor;

The underlying type of an abstract can be another abstract, in which case the true runtime type is the parent’s runtime type; otherwise, the same abstract conversion rules apply.

Compound type features

Instance methods

Compound types can declare instance methods:

abstract MyType: Int {
    public function printMe() {
        printf("%i", this);

An instance method is a function which takes an instance of the type as an implicit first argument. There are two ways to call instance methods, which are equivalent:

var a = 1 as MyType;

// call on the instance

// pass the instance explicitly

The implicit first argument is passed in as a pointer. Within the method, this and &this can be used to refer to the value and the pointer respectively.

Static variables and methods

Compound types can declare static variables and static methods to group associated functions and variables that don’t take an initial instance value within the same namespace.

struct MyData {
    // this is a static variable; it exists in only one place
    public static var b: Int;

    // this static field can't be reassigned
    public static const MY_CONST: Int = 123;

    // this is a struct field; each MyData value will have one
    public var a: Int;

    public static function staticMethod() {
        // this function does *not* take an instance of MyData

Static variables and methods can be accessed using the name of the type:



Typedefs create aliases for existing types:

typedef StringList = List[String];

Typedefs are not unique types like abstracts; they’re simply a reference to the existing type.


Self is a special reference type:

Self can generally be used in the same places as this and will have the same type as the value of this; an exception is static methods, where Self is allowed and this is not. Outside of these contexts, Self may not be used.



var a: Int = 1;
// uninitialized; will rely on type inference to determine the type
var b;
// single-assignment; can't be reassigned or declared without initializing
const c: CString = "hello";


    printf(" world\n");

When used as an expression, the block’s final expression is used as the block’s value.


// int
var a = 1;
// float
var b = 1.0;
// bool
var c = true;
// C (null-terminated) string
var d = "hello";
// char
var alphabetSize = c'z' - c'a' + 1;

Generally type inference will type literals with the smallest type that would hold them and satisfy other program constraints. Literals can also be explicitly typed by using a type suffix:

// Uint64
var a = 1_u64;

// Char, Int, Size
var a = 1_c;
var b = 1_i;
var c = 1_s;


this can be used in instance methods to reference the value on which the method was called.

struct MyStruct {
    var field1: Int;
    var field2: Float;

    public function myMethod() {
        printf("%i", this.field1);


There are two types of for loops in Kit: numeric for loops, and iteration over collections.

n...m is a special intrinsic which, when used in a for loop, will compile to a simple C for loop:

for i in 1 ... 5 {
    printf("%i\n", i);

for loops can also be used to iterate over values which implement the Iterable trait

It’s also possible to use rewrite rules to optimize for loops over specific types into some other form.


Kit supports both while and do-while loops.

var n = 1;
while true {
    if ++n > 10 {

do {
} while n > 0;


if can be used as a statement, with optional else:

if false {
    printf("this can never happen!\n");
} else {
    printf("this will always happen!\n");

It can also be used as an expression; if expressions require an else clause, and the type of both must match:

var a = if true {
} else {

A shorter version of if expressions also exists when the branches don’t need to be blocks; this requires the then keyword:

var a = if true then "true" else "false";




Structs and unions have fields, which can be accessed by name:

var s = struct MyStruct {a: 1, b: 2};
var x = s.a;

Field access on pointers to structs will automatically dereference the pointer.

Struct literals

struct MyStruct {
    var a: Int;
    const b: Int = 2;
    var c: Int = 3;

var s: MyStruct = struct MyStruct {
    a: 1,
    // we can provide a different value for `const b` but we won't be able to
    // reassign it afterward
    b: 4,
    // since c has a default value, it is optional

Enum literals

enum Value {
    BoolValue(b: Bool);
    IntValue(i: Int);
    FloatValue(f: Float);

var a = BoolValue(true);
var b = NullValue;

Tuple literals

var a: (Int, Float) = (1, 2);
// tuple members can be accessed by number, but the index must be a constant
var f: Float = a[1];


match statements can be useful to avoid long if-else chains. They can include an optional default clause.

function f(i: Int) {
    match i {
        1 => printf("one\n");
        2 => printf("two\n");
        3 => printf("three\n");
        default => printf("???\n");

It can also be used to access the inner values of enums depending on the variant:

match Value {
    BoolValue(true) => 1;
    FloatValue(f) => 2;
    IntValue(i) => i;
    default => 5;






sizeof(Type) will return the size in bytes of the given type:

var a = sizeof(Int);
var b = sizeof(MyStruct[Int, Int]);


using can bring rewrite rules or implicit values into scope:

using rules RuleSet1, implicit MyValue {
    // ...

using can be used at the module level, or to open an expression block:

using rules RuleSet1;

function main() {
    using implicit MyValue {
        // ...


Traits, similar to typeclasses, are interfaces which can be implemented for a type. Once a trait is implemented for a given type, values of that type can be converted to “boxed” pointers (using the Box[T] type) which look the same regardless of the type’s identity; this enables open polymorphism in Kit:

trait Writer {
    function write(s: String): Void;

implement Writer for File {
    function write(s) {
        fwrite(s, 1, s.length, this);

Unlike traditional object-oriented interfaces,

Traits can be used for both compile-time and runtime polymorphism.

Static dispatch to trait implementation methods is possible using the name of the trait and method:

implement MyTrait for Int {
    public function exclaim() {
        printf("hello from %i\n", this);

function main() {
    var i = 1_i;


The Box[T] type is used to create boxed pointers, which can call any of a trait’s methods on a value implementing the trait.

function greet(w: Box[Writer]) {

function main() {
    var f = File.write("/tmp/greeting");

Since a box contains a pointer to the value used to create it, the box’s useful lifetime is the same as the underlying pointer. Care should be taken when retaining boxes of stack allocated values, or values in heap memory which may have been freed.

Trait constraints

Using traits as type annotations creates a trait constraint, meaning a value will be some specific type which implements the trait.

var a: Writer;

A generic can also be constrained to types implementing a trait:

function greet[W: Writer](w: W) {

This incurs no runtime cost as there is no boxing involved; at compile time, we will know the exact value of the type being used.

There’s an important distinction between trait constraints and boxes:

This means that a List[Trait] will contain members that are all the same type, but a List[Box[Trait]] can contain pointers to members of different types that all implement the same trait.


Sometimes a value is constrained to types implementing a certain trait, but the compiler doesn’t have enough information to determine which specific type should be used; the choice may be somewhat arbitrary. This happens frequently with numeric types.

// if we don't have any more information, what type should `a` be?
var a = 1;

In these cases, traits can be “specialized” to provide a default implementation when none is specified. Above, Numeric has been specialized as Int, so Int will be used by default. If we had encountered additional information about the value’s type, the specialization may have gone differently:

var a = 1;
// given the next line, we know `a` must hold mixed numbers, so it will
// specialize to Float instead of Int
a += 2.5;

Map is another example of trait specialization in action, allowing users to create a Map value with Map.new() and have its type filled in automatically based on the key:

trait Map[K, V] {
    function get(key: K): V;
    function set(key: K, value: V): V;
    function exists(key: K): Bool;

// when we know the key type, substitute a default implementation
specialize Map[Bool, V] as BoolMap[V];
specialize Map[Integral, V] as IntMap[V];
specialize Map[String, V] as StringMap[V];

function main() {
    var myMap: Map[Int, String] = Map.new();
    myMap[5] = "this just works!";

    var partialMap: Map[Int] = Map.new();
    partialMap[5] = "this works too thanks to parameter inference";

Associated types

Sometimes parameters of generic traits that vary by trait implementation can be determined by the trait implemention itself, and shouldn’t need to be specified whenever the trait is used. In these cases the trait can declare “associated types” - each implementation can specify a specific type for each associated type parameter, and these parameters will be implicit in the trait.

An example is Iterable:

// note parens instead of brackets
trait Iterable(IteratorT) {
    public function iterator(): Box[Iterator[IteratorT]];

Iterable allows a type to be iterated over using a for loop, by specifying how to get a boxed Iterator value for values of the given type. Because Iterable has no generic type parameters, only associated type parameters, each type may only implement Iterable once. The resulting iterator generates values of some type, which is a function of the collection type:

implement Iterable(Int) for MyList[Int] {
    public function iterator(): Box[Iterator[Int]] {
        // ...

MyList[Int] is iterable, and always generates an iterator over Int values.

Without associated types, we would have a generic trait Iterable[T]; in addition to the verbosity of the additional parameter, it would be possible to implement Iterable multiple times for the same type, resulting in ambiguity:

trait Iterable[T];

// which instance should we use in a for loop?
implement Iterable[Int] for MyList[Int];
implement Iterable[Float] for MyList[Int];

Traits can declare both parameters and associated types:

trait MyTrait[ExplicitT, ExplicitU](AssociatedT, AssociatedU);


Generics are parameterized functions, types or traits. In other words, they’re function, type or trait “templates”, which won’t be complete until they’re filled in with specific parameter types.

Generic type parameters are always invariant, meaning that types that can be implicitly converted between each other in some contexts cannot be used interchangeably as type parameters. For example, this means even though Int and Float can sometimes be used interchangeably (implicitly converted from one to the other), a List[Int] and a List[Float] are not the same type and will not unify in any context.

Generic functions

To make a function generic, declare it with one or more named type parameters in square braces:

function genericFunc[T](value: T) {
    // ...

The compiler will generate a new version of genericFunc every time it sees a new type used for T.

// these are calls to two different functions, since T is different

In this example, parameter T could be any type; a version will be generated with each specific type T observed during compilation. We know nothing about the capabilities of type T, since it could be anything; this means we can introduce compile-time errors by calling the function with an inappropriate type. For additional safety, type parameters can be constrained to specific trait members:

function add[T: Numeric](a: T, b: T): T {
    // this is safe; all T values will be Numeric, so they support addition
    return a + b;

Generic types

List is a parameterized type which can hold values of any other type:

enum List[T] {
    Cons(head: T, tail: Ptr[List[T]]);

and List[Int] is a specific type of List containing Int values.

var x: List[Int] = Cons(1, Empty);

If you don’t specify all of the type parameters, the compiler will try to infer the missing types:

// this works; it'll infer that this is a List[Int8]
var x: List = Cons(1, Empty);

To access a static field or method on a generic type, you can specify the type parameters, or leave them blank to allow type inference to try to fill them in.

var l: List[Int] = Empty;
printf("%zu", List[Int].length(l));

Generic traits

Generic traits are parameterized and can reference their type parameters in trait methods.

// allocates values of type T
trait Allocator[T] {
    // a unique version of alloc/free will be generated for every type that
    // matches constraint T
    function alloc[U: T](): Ptr[U];
    function free[U: T](ptr: Ptr[U]): Void;

C interoperability

Kit features seamless interoperability with existing C libraries. Kit compiles to C and its type system exposes C types directly. You can call C functions from Kit or Kit functions from C, by explicitly including header files, no additional bindings required.

Using C from Kit

include "stdio.h";

function main() {
    printf("%s\n", "Hello from Kit!");

Anything declared in the header will be type checked, and #define macros can also be used by providing type annotations at the usage site.

include "SDL2/SDL.h";

function helloSDL() {
    SDL_Init(${SDL_INIT_VIDEO: Uint});
    var window: Ptr[SDL_Window] = SDL_CreateWindow(
        "Hello from Kit!",
        640, 480,
        ${SDL_WINDOW_SHOWN: Uint}

Using Kit from C

You may also want to compile Kit into a library and use it from C code. Two things to keep in mind:

function myExternFunction() {
    // you can call this from C as `myExternFunction`
    printf("hello from Kit!\n");

Keep in mind that #[extern] creates a global name; care should be taken so that global names don’t clash with each other, or with existing names in your C code.

Term rewriting

Term rewriting rules allow compile-time syntax transformation, which lets you define optimizations:

import kit.math;

rules FastMath {
    (sin(pi/2)) => 1;
    (sin(pi)) => 0;
    (sin(1.5*pi)) => -1;
    (sin(2*pi)) => 0;

    (cos(pi/2)) => 0;
    (cos(pi)) => -1;
    (cos(1.5*pi)) => 0;
    (cos(2*pi)) => 1;

function main() {
    using rules FastMath {
        // this triggers a function call...
        var a = sin(pi * 0.75);
        // ...but this avoids one thanks to the rewrite rule
        var b = sin(pi / 2);

as well as custom semantics:

rules TupleMath {
    // add tuples componentwise
    (${a: (Int, Int)} + ${n: (Int, Int)}) => ($a[0] + $n[0], $a[1] + $n[1]);

function main() {
    using rules TupleMath {
        var a = (1_i, 2_i) + (3_i, 4_i);

Rules can match based on both the AST structure and value type information:

struct MyStruct {
    var myField: Int;

rules StructRules {
    (${s: MyStruct}.property) => $s.myField;

function main() {
    var s = struct MyStruct {myField: 5};
    using rules StructRules {
        printf("%li\n", s.property);

Types can define their own rules, which automatically enter scope for expressions containing the type:

enum List[T] {
    Cons(head: T, tail: List[T]);

    rules {
        // Replace iteration over lists with an optimized version to avoid
        // creating an unnecessary ListIterator struct.
        (for $x in $this {$e}) => {
            var __rest = this;
            while !__rest.empty {
                var $x = __rest.head;
                __rest = __rest.tail;

        (${head: T} :: ${tail: List[T]}) => Cons($head, $tail);

        // Define a custom `++` operator to combine lists
        ($this ++ ${other: Self}) => {
            var newList = Empty;
            for i in this {
                newList = i :: newList;
            for i in other {
                newList = i :: newList;
            return list.reverse();

Rules can also be brought into module scope:

using rules Reduce;

function main() {
    var a = 3;
    var b = 4;
    var c = pow(a + b, 2);

When relying on types to trigger rewrite rules, it’s a best practice to include explicit type annotations. In some cases, such as when types are found via trait specialization, it’s not guaranteed that any relevant rewrite rules will take effect.


When implicit values are in scope, they’ll be used as arguments in functions automatically. A function will look for matching implicit values for each of its arguments from left to right; it will stop looking as soon as it fails to find an implicit for an argument, so implicit arguments must be contiguous and must be the first arguments of the function.

function getConfigSection(config: Config, sectionName: CString) {
    return config.get(sectionName);

function main() {
    var cfg = defaultConfig();

    using implicit cfg {
        var settings = getConfigSection("settings");
        var controls = getConfigSection("controls");

Values can also be implicit at the module level; this can allow using global state as an overrideable default:

var x: Config = defaultConfig();
using implicit x;

function main() {
    var settings = getConfigSection("settings");
    // override the default temporarily
    var controls = using implicit otherConfig (getConfigSection("controls"));
using implicit malloc;

function main() {
    // allocate an object on the heap; MyObject's "constructor" takes an allocator as argument
    var myObject = MyObject.new();

You can also access the implicit in scope for a given type using an implicit expression:

var f: Float;
using implicit f {
    // since f is in scope as an implicit value, assigns g to f
    var g = implicit Float;

To reduce ambiguity, implicit values are invariant, i.e. their types must match exactly. This means that even though the following is valid in some contexts:

function f(value: Float) {
    // ...

var x: Int = 1;
// this is fine, since Int normally unifies with Float

it won’t work with implicits:

function f(value: Float) {
    // ...

var x: Int = 1;
using implicit x {
    // this won't work!
    // we have an implicit Int in scope, but not an implicit Float
using implicit x as Float {
    // this is fine

Standard library

Kit includes a compact standard library; some modules of the standard library are imported by default via the root-level prelude module






Various core types such as CArray are defined here.


The Either[A, B] enum represents values which can take one of two types. Among other use cases, it can be used to return error information from a function.




The two traits defined in kit.iterator, Iterable and Iterator, are used in for loops.

var list: List[Int];
for item in list {
    // ...

For loops are often used to iterate over arrays, lists, or other collection types; Kit makes this usage easy by adding syntactic sugar via the for loop.


A value that can be iterated over must implement Iterable:

implement Iterable(Int) for MyIntList {
    // ...

This trait has one associated type, which is the type of values produced by the iterator. Iterable has one method, iterator, which when called produces a value that implements the Iterator[T] trait. This trait is for iterator values, i.e. values which track the state of a single iteration pass.


Iterator[T] has a single method, next:

trait Iterator[T] {
    public function next(): (Box[Iterator[T]], Option[T]);

The next method returns a tuple containing a new iterator (or the same iterator for iterators containing mutable state) and an Option value, which could be Some(value) or None if the iterator is exhausted.

Given an implementor of Iterable, Kit will call iterator() once, then call next() repeatedly in a loop until a None value is returned.


The List[T] type is an enum representing a singly linked list. Each non-empty node contains a pointer to another List[T] node.






Contains helpers for memory allocation. Types that require heap allocation often provide a constructor that accepts an implicit Box[Allocator] as the first argument. This will use malloc by default, but allows easily swapping in a custom allocator in a given scope.

Basic LinearAllocator and StackAllocator implementations are also contained in this module.


This module contains numeric typeclasses such as Numeric, Integral and NumericMixed, which are used to describe the various builtin numeric types.


A single enum, Option[T], is used to express optional values. Variant Some(value) is used when a value is present, and None is used otherwise.









Used to read directory contents:

import kit.sys.dir;

var dir: DirectoryReader = readDir("/tmp");


The helper type File is used for file input/output.

if !File.exists("temp.txt") {
    // open a file for writing
    var f = File.write("temp.txt");
    f.writeBytes("hello", 5);

    // open for reading
    var f2 = File.read("temp.txt");
    var buf = malloc(5);
    f2.readBytes(buf, 5);



Abstraction over file paths. Path is an abstract over CString, but CStrings can be automatically promoted to Path without requiring a cast.