Hello, world!

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Anatomy
  3. Compiling vs Running


Let's start with the most basic Inko program one can write: "hello world". This is a program that does one simple thing: print the text "Hello, world!" to the command line (STDOUT to be exact), then exit.

Let's start by setting up the source file for our program. Create a file called hello.inko and place it anywhere you like. We'll simply refer to this file as hello.inko from now on.

With the file in place, add the following to it, then save it:

import std::stdio::stdout

stdout.print('Hello, world!')

Next, open your command line program of choice, such as Gnome Terminal or iTerm. Navigate to the directory containing hello.inko, then run the following:

inko hello.inko

If all went well, this will print "Hello, world!" to STDOUT. Congratulations, you just wrote your first Inko program!


Let's dive into our program and explain how it actually works. After all, there's no point in writing a program if you don't understand what it does.

We begin the program with the following line:

import std::stdio::stdout

This is known as an "import". Imports are used to load external modules, allowing you to use them in your own module. In Inko, every file is a module.

Coming from other programming languages, it may be a bit odd that you have to import a module just to write data to STDOUT. This is necessary because we do not want to clutter modules with imports that are not used. Since not every program needs to write to STDOUT, we don't import this module by default.

In this particular case, the module we are importing is std::stdio::stdout. The module is made available using the symbol stdout. You can import multiple symbols, and even rename them, but this will be discussed separately.

Once we have imported our module, we reach the following line:

stdout.print('Hello, world!')

Here stdout refers to the module we imported earlier on. print is a message we send to the module, and it takes a String as an argument.

Compiling vs Running

Inko is an interpreted programming language, with a bytecode compiler. What this means is that source code is first compiled to a set of bytecode files, which are then executed using a separate program. The inko executable takes care of doing this for us. If we wanted to compile our code manually, we'd have to use the inkoc executable like so:

inkoc --release hello.inko

This will compile the program, then write the file path to STDOUT. For example, the output might be the following:


We can then run the program as follows:

ivm -I ~/.cache/inko/0.1.0/bytecode/release/ \

ivm is the executable of the virtual machine. The -I argument tells the VM what directory contains our compiled bytecode files. The first positional argument (the path after the -I option and its value) is the bytecode file to execute. Keep in mind that the exact paths may differ on your own computer.

Since this approach of running a program is a bit cumbersome, we using the inko executable instead.