Kotlin Visibility Modifiers – public, protected, internal, private

Filed Under: Kotlin

In this tutorial, we’ll be discussing the various Visibility Modifiers available in Kotlin programming.

Kotlin Visibility Modifiers

Visibility Modifiers are modifiers that when appended to a class/interface/property/function in Kotlin, would define where all it is visible and from where all it can be accessed.
The setters of properties in Kotlin can have a separate modifier from the property. The getters can’t have a visibility modifier defined. They use the same modifier as that of the property.

Following are the visibility modifiers:

  • public
  • protected
  • internal
  • private

Public Modifier

A Public Modifier is the default modifier in Kotlin. Just like the Java public modifier, it means that the declaration is visible everywhere.

class Hello{

public class H{

fun hi()
public fun hello()

val i = 0
public val j = 5

All the above declarations are the in the top level of the file. ALL are public.
If we don’t mention the declaration of the members of the class, they are public(unless they are overridden).

Protected Modifier

A Protected Modifier in Kotlin:
CANNOT be set on top-level declarations.
Declarations that are protected in a class, can be accessed only in their subclasses.

kotlin visibility modifiers, kotlin protected modifier

open class Pr{
    protected val i = 0

class Another : Pr{

    fun iValue() : Int
        return i

Classes which are not a subclass of Pr cannot access i

Declarations that are protected, when overridden would have the same protected modifier in the subclass unless you explicitly change them.

open class Pr{
    open protected val i = 0

class Another : Pr(){

    fun iValue() : Int
        return i
    override val i = 5 //protected visibility

The concept of Protected Modifiers in Kotlin that’s defined above differs from that in Java.

Internal Modifier

Internal is a new modifier available in Kotlin that’s not there in Java.
Setting a declaration as internal means that it’ll be available in the same module only.
By module in Kotlin, we mean a group of files that are compiled together.

internal class A {

internal val x = 0

These won’t be visible outside the current module.
Internal Modifiers is useful when you need to hide specific library implementations from the users.
This wasn’t possible using the package-private visibility in Java.

Private Modifiers

Private Modifiers do not allow the declarations to be visible outside the current scope.

var setterVisibility: String = "abc"
private set

open class Pr{
    open protected val i = 0

    fun iValue() : Int
        setterVisibility = 10
        return setterVisibility

Since kotlin allows multiple top level definitions the above code works.

The below doesn’t

private open class ABC{
    private val x = 6

private class BDE : ABC()
    fun getX()
        return x //x cannot be accessed here.

x is visibile only from inside its class.

We can set private constructors in the following way:

class PRIV private constructor(a: String) {

By default classes have public constructors. Wherever the class goes the constructor follows.
We need to set the visibility modifier on the constructor in the definition itself.

Thus Kotlin uses the protected and internal modifiers differently from Java. Also Java’s default modifier is package-private which doesn’t exist in Kotlin, yet.

This brings an end to this quick tutorial on Visibility Modifiers in Kotlin.


  1. nagaraj says:

    am not clear about internal modifier can you please explain?

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