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An extension of the Scheme programming language, itself an implementation of Lisp, Kawa is a general-purpose programming language that runs on the Java platform.

Kawa is part of the GNU Project and is written in Java. Kawa distributions include other programming languages besides Scheme, including XQuery (Qexo) and Emacs Lisp (JEmacs). Kawa can be used to implement other languages to run on the Java virtual machine.

Its name, Kawa, is a play on words since kawa is Polish for "coffee," and java is another name for coffee.

Kawa first appeared in June of 1996, and its key developer was Per Bothner. The Kawa Community maintains it, and various people and organizations have contributed to the language over the years. It is available through an MIT license, and is freely redistributable.

Among the goals of the Kawa programming language was to combine the best of both worlds: the simplicity and ease of use of dynamic scripting languages, such as non-verbose code, fast and easy startup, a REPL, and no required compilation step, with the performance and reliability of traditional compiled languages, such as fast execution, static error detection, and zero-overhead Java platform integration.

This portion of our web guide covers the Kawa programming language, including tutorials, guides, documentation, community or user groups, and other topics specific to Kawa.



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