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In Kotlin, how does GSON.fromJson(…) manage to mutate a read-only field of an existing object?

In Kotlin, how can an instance’s read-only val field be mutated?

In the following Kotlin code, gson.fromJson(...) gets a Thing(0) from the InstanceCreator and somehow manages to mutate value from 0 to 1, then return that object. How?


class Thing(val value: Int)

fun main() {
    val creator = InstanceCreator { Thing(0) }
    val gson = GsonBuilder().registerTypeAdapter(, creator).create()
    val thing = gson.fromJson("""{"value":1}""",
    println(thing.value) // 1

I verified that the object returned by gson.fromJson(...) is the same object provided by the InstanceCreator, so it’s not creating a new instance based on the one provided by the InstanceCreator.

I also tried setting value using reflection, but didn’t find a way. There was no setter available on the val field.



I also tried setting value using reflection

Well, you can do it if you use Java’s reflection API, rather than Kotlin’s.

Kotlin val properties translates to a private Java field with only a public getter. You can set the private field using reflection. For example:

val x = Thing(10)
val valueField = x.javaClass.getDeclaredField("value")
valueField.setInt(x, 20)

This is probably also what Gson does under the hood.

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