What is Golang programming language and why it should have your attention in 2023
One day, Google decided to create a convenient and powerful alternative to C ++. That is when Golang programming language appeared. Since then, it has risen in the rankings of programming languages and has attracted new developers.
Rob Pike and Ken Thompson created the language. Both are cult personalities in computer science and former employees of the legendary Bell Labs. Thompson is also one of the creators of the UNIX operating system and the B language (the predecessor of C).
What is Golang?
Golang, or Go is an open-source compiled multi-threaded language. The technology is used primarily in web services and client-server applications development. In 2021, Golang ranked among the top 5 in-demand languages and outstripped such mammoths as PHP, C#, and TypeScript.
The language’s creators wanted to combine the ease of developing in Python and the speed of executing programs in C and C ++, so they made Go compilable. Although the Go ecosystem has its own interpreter, it is rarely needed. The code compiles just fine.
There is no limit to what you can do with Go: from console applications to complex multi-threaded programs. However, it is particularly suitable for server-side applications. At the same time, it has libraries for creating graphical interfaces – although writing them is very cumbersome.
Features of the Golang language
The design of the language allows developers to work with the application architecture and avoid tedious tasks like creating documentation or keeping track of obsolete syntax constructs. Go uses built-in tools to perform routine operations instead of the programmer, which makes it easy to learn and use.
The main features of Go are:
Automatic memory management and garbage collector.
Programming in Go is easier than in C/C++ but it is also fast. For instance, in C/C++, memory management is manual. Golang handles this automatically.
These are syntactic relaxations that allow you to write code faster. For example, technically some operations in Go (it, for) must end with a semicolon, but in reality, the compiler itself can place semicolons in the right places.
Automatic formatting of programs.
Golang itself indents and aligns elements into columns using the gofmt command. However, make sure you only use tabs to break lines as gofmt will not understand spaces at the beginning of a line.
Automatic generation of documentation.
The godoc command will find all the comments and turn them into a manual for the program.
Tracking obsolete designs.
The gofix tool scans code and flags syntactic constructs considered deprecated by today’s standards.
Go includes many testing tools. For example, typecheck checks the conformity of types in the code, golint gives recommendations based on official documentation – Effective Go and CodeReviewComments, gosimple simplifies complex syntactic constructions, and gas finds vulnerabilities in the code.
Race condition tracking.
Multithreaded systems require sequential execution of functions to avoid mixing up the data because the race condition is a very insidious error. It can occur randomly, and because of this, it is almost impossible to localize it. Golang is designed from the ground up to keep such errors to a minimum. And if something slips, there are additional tools for checking the code for race conditions. To enable the race detector, you must add the --race flag when compiling, building, testing, or installing a package.
The Golang programming language has the pprof package and the go tool pprof console utility. The pprof profiler examines which code fragments are taking too long, where the program is consuming a lot of memory, or overloading the processor. The result of his work is a text report, a profile. To visualize a profile and build a schema from it, you need to install the graphviz utility.
Of course, the Go language could not claim the laurels of C and C ++ if it did not know how to work directly with memory. To do this, it has an unsafe package.
Technical capabilities of Go
One of the most useful features of Go is multi-threading. Here you will learn a bit about the history of computer technology.
In 1965, Gordon Moore, the founder of Intel, formulated the law that every two years the number of transistors on an integrated circuit would double. There are no scientific data or formulas behind it – just an observation.
And until the 21st century, Moore’s law worked correctly. However, after the introduction of the Pentium 4, it became clear: a little more, and the processors will heat up like a supernova. Thus, manufacturers began to make multi-core processors. With them, the clock frequency and the number of transistors remained almost unchanged, and the total performance grew.
For such processors to be fully utilized, programs should be written immediately with the expectation of multi-core. Go has specific entities for this: goroutines and channels.
These are the functions that execute several lines almost simultaneously. To make a goroutine out of a function, you just need to write go in front of it.
Here’s what it looks like:
The result is an almost simultaneous call, despite the time.Sleep(10) delay, of both goroutines. Of course, in a small program, it might seem pointless to do this. But when calling many functions, it is very justified. This saves time and distributes processor resources evenly.
A special runtime library monitors the execution of goroutines in Go: it distributes processor cores between them and can limit the number of available cores. This library facilitates running many more goroutines than the operating system and eliminates the need for parallelizing by hand.
It’s kind of like a shared data store. Channels are passed as arguments to goroutines and help them communicate with each other and exchange data. Data can’t be uploaded simultaneously by different goroutines due to a queue and blocking. Channels feature: they allow you to write and read only one type of data. For example, int is an integer.
It is a bit similar to working with variables – we use the assignment operator and immediately set the data type. But interestingly, the value of the channel will be its address in memory (output of the second Printf statement).
Now let’s combine the goroutines and the channel:
And now watch your hands – we will disassemble the code:
- We declare the gorutine_test function with the channel argument. It produces a greeting string and data from the channel, which we read using the <- operator.
- The main function first prints a message to the screen that it has started.
- After that, we create a channel and give it a string data type.
- Now we run the gorutine_test function as a goroutine and put the channel into it.
- Now both main and gorutine_test are active.
- We now put the name of the creator of the Go programming language, Rob, into the channel. The main function is immidiately blocked until gorutine_test reads data from the channel. Notice that the Go scheduler calls gorutine_test before sending the value to the pipe, but we call it before.
- The main function then unblocks and prints out a message that it has finished.
The functional programming paradigm fits well into multithreading, and the Go language supports it in many ways. It, of course, contains imperative constructions, elements of OOP, and all that. This functional approach, however, is exactly what makes Golang a powerful tool for high-load server-side solutions, services, and complex calculations.
Data types in Go
In Go, all variables have their type and cannot be changed. Compare with PHP:
In the example, we changed the data type on the fly and even performed mathematical operations on a string and an integer. In the Go language, this is impossible – if a variable is declared as an integer, it will remain so throughout the execution of the entire program, only its value can be changed. And if we try to put data of a different type into it, the Go checker module will tell us that we have an error.
There are 11 types of integer in the programming language. They differ in the number of bits, specifics (for example, there is a separate byte type for binary numbers), and context (for example, uintptr for working with external code). In addition, there are floating point numbers, complex numbers, booleans, strings, and three types of unlimited precision numbers that can take on any value and are limited only by the amount of computer memory.
Variables in Go are declared in the Pascal style – through the var operator, and the declaration itself can be combined with an assignment:
- In the first line, we declare the variable v1 and give it the type “integer”;
- in the second line – we declare the variable v2, set its type to “string” and assign the value to learn Go, friend;
- in the third line – we do the same as v1 = v2, we declare a variable and set its value.
The assignment operator in Go is the = sign:
Here, in the first line, we assigned the value of b to the variable a, but in the second line, we swapped the values of i and j.
How to install and start using the Go programming language
You can download Go for different platforms on the official website: there are ready-made builds for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Also, the source code can be compiled on a bunch of operating systems – FreeBSD, OpenBSD, DragonFly BSD, Solaris, Android, AIX, Plan 9 (by the way, also the brainchild of Thompson and Pike with the name – a reference to the film by Ed Wood, the most famous dream factory loser).
To check if Go was successfully installed on Windows, type go at the command prompt.
You can write code in Go in three types of programs – which one is more suitable for whom:
- Text editor with Go syntax highlighting, auto-completion, compilation, and debugging. Usually implemented by plugins – for example, in Notepad++, Vim, and Emacs.
- Universal Development Environment (IDE): Eclipse, NetBeans, IntelliJ IDEA, Komodo, Codebox, Visual Studio, Zeus IDE, and more.
- A specialized development environment for Golang. The most famous are the commercial GoLand from JetBrains and the open-source LiteIDE.
First Go program
By tradition, this is, of course, Hello, World!. Below is a syntax breakdown:
Package main – give a name to the package, so it is necessary for the files that will be executed;
import 'fmt' – we call the package that is responsible for formatting and displaying information (such packages are also called libraries);
func main() – each executable file must include the main function – main;
fmt.Println ("Hello, World!") – it displays information from the parentheses when we call the Println function in the fmt package;
"Hello World!" – quotes show that everything inside should be output as a string;
// – and this is how single-line comments are designated. Everything that comes after this character and up to the end of the line, the Go compiler skips.
Now let’s do something more difficult. Let’s write a function that will return Fibonacci numbers:
The first two lines are the same as in the previous example.
func fib() func() int – declare a function that will return the next Fibonacci number. It’s called fib and returns another function, func() int. This is necessary so that with each new call we receive the next Fibonacci number.
a, b: = 0, 1 – create two variables and assign them the values 0 and 1, respectively. This is needed to calculate the next Fibonacci number.
return func() int – return the function.
a, b = b, a + b – we consider the next Fibonacci number.
return a – return the next Fibonacci number.
func main – call the main function main.
f: = fib() – create a variable f and put in it a function that will return the next Fibonacci number on each call.
fmt.Println(f(), f(), f(), f(), f()) — print the first five Fibonacci numbers.
Go is a powerful, elegant, and modern programming language that is as fast as C and C++ and as easy to code as Python. Golang has simple, concise documentation and a friendly community where you can always ask a question. An experienced programmer can relatively quickly master it as a second language.
The prospects of Golang programming language are quite bright in a long run: the language is maintained by Google, but exists as an independent free open-source project. Successful global companies like Google, Dropbox, SoundCloud, and Twilio have already been using it for a while in their development.
If you have an idea that can benefit from this awesome technology, or don’t sure yet, which technology to choose, write to us. We will gladly give you an idea of what is best for specific goals and how to organize the development process.
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