Go (Golang) is a programming language used for a variety of purposes, including servers, web development, cloud infrastructure, and command-line interfaces. It’s also beginner-friendly and easy to remember.
Ahead, we’ll explore Go’s uses in different industries, and the pros and cons of using it compared to other languages. Then, we’ll show you how to get started learning and using it.
What is Go?
Go was designed by Google in 2007. Google was rapidly growing then, and the code its engineers were using, C++, was difficult to manage and overly complex. This slowed down the development process.
So Google engineers Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson, developed something easier to manage and learn. This new language was Go.
Go became open source in 2009 and was released publicly in 2012. It quickly gained popularity among developers and engineers for its ease of use.
What is Go used for?
If you’re looking for a new language to add to your tech stack, Go is a great choice. There are plenty of reasons to learn Go. For example, it’s versatile and can be used in a variety of settings, including:
Many organizations have migrated to the cloud from traditional IT environments. This means there’s less to keep up on-premises, which lowers costs. One popular cloud service is Google Cloud, which is built on Go and offers scalability and high performance. Other cloud services use Go as well, including Dropbox and SendGrid.
SendGrid is a cloud-based email service that delivers high-volume emails for companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Spotify. SendGrid’s APIs (application programming interfaces) were developed using Go.
Uber used Go to build many of its services. For example, Go is used to help Uber load maps more quickly and match riders to drivers. Trivago and Delivery Hero also use Go.
Several finance companies have put Go to work. Capital One used Go to develop their Credit Offers API. American Express used it to modernize its payment and rewards networks. And PayPal uses Go to simplify coding and improve the performance of its payments platform.
Go’s usefulness in server and cloud environments makes it a perfect fit for cybersecurity. 1Password, a popular application for saving passwords and other sensitive information, uses Go for its Administrator Tools back-end server. This allows administrators who use 1Password for business to easily manage 1Password and recover accounts.
Keybase, an open-source key directory that lets users verify identities and encrypt messages, uses Go because its libraries work together well.
Music and video
Go is efficient and supports the most frequently used file and encoding formats, which makes it a good choice for streaming music and video. SoundCloud, for example, maintains about six services and over a dozen repositories written in Go.
According to Peter Bourgon, one of SoundCloud’s engineers, “We were one of the early adopters [of Go]. We were using the pre-1.0, actually, and every test we’ve put it up to it passed with flying colors.”
Chatting and messaging
Twitch uses Go for its chat, which delivers hundreds of billions of messages daily. Its Web APIs, Search and Discover services, revenue systems, and administrative tools are also written, at least in part, in Go.
Slack has become a critical part of many of our work lives. Go is used by Slack’s engineers for a variety of projects, including scaling its job queue system. The system is used for every message post, push notification, calendar reminder, and more, processing over 1.4 billion jobs at a rate of 33,000 per second. Incorporating Kafkagate, a stateless service written in Go, was key to ensuring Slack could continue at this pace and beyond.
Libraries are tools that simplify writing code. Some of Go’s existing libraries were developed for gaming, including Nano, which is a game server library. This makes Go a popular choice for gaming companies like Riot Games, the makers of League of Legends.
Aaron Torres, an Engineering Manager with Riot Games, says that they chose Go as one of their programming languages because Go code builds fast, has a large and powerful standard library, and has excellent third-party support.
Advantages and disadvantages of using Go
Go is clearly a good fit for many organizations. Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of writing code with Go.
- It’s relatively simple to learn.
- You can easily create high-performance applications.
- Go uses a relatively small amount of memory compared to other languages.
- It’s supported by an enthusiastic community.
- Systems that use Go have a 99.99% uptime.
- It’s not as streamlined as other languages. You may need to write more lines of code to accomplish the same task that would take a couple of lines in another language.
- It’s relatively new, so developers may need to write their own patches on occasion.
Getting started with Go
Go is a beginner-friendly language, but it’s also well-suited for more experienced developers. Regardless of your coding background, we can get you up to speed with our Learn Go course.
This course covers:
- How to set up a Go environment
- How to create a Go file
- Go’s data types and variables
- Go’s unconditional statements
- Using functions in Go
In the course, you’ll build several projects, including printing out ASCII art, simulating a bank heist, and calling the functions of a space-traveling agency.