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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
History of Golang
3.
Features
4.
Installation and setup
5.
Programming in Go
6.
What makes Go different from other languages?
7.
Characteristics of Golang
8.
Advantages and Disadvantages
8.1.
Advantages:
8.2.
Disadvantages:
9.
Applications of Go
10.
Frequently Asked Questions
10.1.
What are packages in Go?
10.2.
What are goroutines and channels?
11.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Introduction to Go

Author Yashesvinee V
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Introduction

Go is one of the most popular procedural programming languages used today. It was developed in Google by Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson in 2007. So, it is a pretty new language that has gained much popularity over the past few years. This could be mainly because it is fast and can be used to build high-performance applications. It is also easy and fun to learn. Let us learn and explore more about this language.

History of Golang

In 2007 three google employees Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, Ken Thompson started sketching the goal to create a new programming language, easy to use but still cover the main challenges while working with the company’s intricate systems. The developers praised the simplicity of Go by keeping in mind the best features of C, Pascal and Oberon programming languages. It was designed to make the working environment more productive, high readability and useability, high networking and multiprocessing.

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Features

  • Language design:

    • It is one of the most eye-catching features of Golang. It has the simplicity of Python and the speed of C/C++. A combination of these two features is what attracts many programmers to use this language.
       
    • Go is statically typed, i.e. variable data types are declared before their use and do not compile until all errors in the program have been fixed. It is also compiled and not interpreted. 
       
    • Go is platform-independent. The code is compiled into binary form, which can be executed on any platform or server of your choice.
       
  • Standard Packages and Libraries:

    • Packages are an integral part of the Golang. Its purpose is to design and maintain a large number of programs grouped by related features into single units. This makes it easier to maintain, share and reuse.
       
  • Concurrency

    • Concurrency involves multiple sequences of operations that run in overlapping periods. Goroutines and channels deal with concurrency in Go. This helps in handling Multi-processor architecture efficiently and helps in better scaling. Hence, it finds a lot of applications in System programming and Cloud computing.
       
  • Testing support

    • Golang provides support for unit testing to test the package that we create. It provides a simple mechanism to write your unit test right alongside your code for better understanding.
       
  • Web programming and applications

    • Go is a web application building language with simple constructs and faster execution speed. It provides HTTP packages and other related frameworks for web development. 
       
  • Object-oriented programming

    • Officially, Go is considered an Object-oriented programing language but is quite different from Java or Python. Golang uses structs to create user-defined types that hold just the state and not the behaviour. Structs represent a complex object and hence, there is no concept of classes.

Installation and setup

Go is an easy language to get started with.  The two primary tools we need to run Go programs are a text editor such as VS Code, Windows notepad, or any other software and a Go compiler.  Go compilers are available for Windows, Linus and Mac OS. Visit the official Documentation Page and follow the steps to complete the installation.

After installing Go, we have the Go command-line tools at our disposal. You can test your installation by running the following commands on your command prompt.
 

Programming in Go

The extension of a Go source code file must be .go. Open up your text editor or IDE and let us get started on our first Go program.

package main

import "fmt"

func main() 
{
    // prints Hello,World!!!
    fmt.Println("Hello, World!!!")
}

 

  1. The ‘package main’ is a compulsory line written at the beginning of every Go program. It tells the go compiler that the package should compile as an executable program. It serves as an entry point for the executable program.
     
  2. The import statement is a preprocessor command that imports the mentioned package into our program. ‘fmt’ stands for format and is a primary package that contains functions for formatting and printing text.
     
  3. The main function marks the beginning of the execution of a program.
     
  4. Println is a standard library function of fmt that prints a line of text as output.
     

The above program can be executed from your IDE or in the command prompt if you are using a text editor such as notepad. 

Using command prompt:

  • Save the file under a name with extension .go.
     
  • Run the following command in the command prompt to see the output.
     
$ go run hello.go
Hello, World!!!

What makes Go different from other languages?

  • Go was developed to make the process of software development more productive and scalable. It aims to reduce code complexity and increase speed and performance when trying to build large software systems.
     
  • It supports various forms of initialising and declaring variables. The most notable one is the declare-initialise construct ‘:=’ that does both in the same statement.
     
  • Although it is object-oriented, it does not use the concept of classes and inheritance.
     
  • It does not support operator and method overloading.

Characteristics of Golang

  • The function can return one or multiple values.
  • The first function name is declared then the type of function.
  • In case there are multiple values to be returned, declare the variables and at the end of the code, we simply write ‘return’ or we can return values separated by ‘,’.
  • It is best practice to use named return parameters because they often cause more confusion than they save time or help clarify your code.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages:

  1. Flexible and simple syntax. It is concise, simple and easy to read.
     
  2. It efficiently handles concurrency allows multiple processes to run simultaneously.
     
  3. Its compilation and execution time is very fast.
     
  4. It provides a rich standard library and has a variety of packages for programmers.
     
  5. Garbage collection- It is a key feature of Go. It gives control over memory allocation and drastically reduces the burden of memory management.
     
  6. It is platform-independent and open source by nature.

Disadvantages:

  1. It is a young language and is still developing.
     
  2. Absence of manual memory management as it mainly implements the use of garbage collection. This may lead to overheads and reduced speed.
     
  3. Error handling: Go programs use functions to return an error if expected. This leads to missing useful error handling logic.
     
  4. Go has no generics support, which causes repetition of codes for similar operations with different data types.

Applications of Go

Over the past few years, Go has been used to build new tools, packages, frameworks, drivers, APIs and many more Applications. 

  • Microservices part of Cloud-native web-service development using Caddy, Kite, Go kit, etc.
     
  • GraphQL API and REST API using graphql-go, spiral, Gorilla, etc.
     
  • App development using gomobile and WebUI development using TinyGo, Hugo, etc.
     

Popular applications built using Go.

  • Monzo: An App-based online banking application.
     
  • Dropbox: It uses Go to scale its systems in a more efficient way.
     
  • Uber: A peer-to-peer ridesharing application.
     
  • DailyMotion: It used Go to improve the automation of APIs.
     
  • Twitch: It uses Go to maintain security, efficiency and readability.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are packages in Go?


Packages are directories in the Go workspace containing Go source files and libraries. All Go programs are made up of packages. A program starts by running in package main. Some examples of packages are math, strings etc.
 

What are goroutines and channels?

Goroutines are functions that run concurrently with other functions. They are lightweight threads. A channel is a medium through which one goroutine communicates with another and allows data transfer between the two.
 

Conclusion

This article gives an introduction to the Go programming language. We hope that this blog has helped you enhance your knowledge about getting started with Go. If you would like to learn more, check out our articles on the Coding Ninjas Library. Do upvote our blog to help other ninjas grow. Happy Coding!

Related Links:

What is Golang?

Dynamics of Golang

Difference Between Procedural and Object Oriented Programming

Why is Java Platform Independent 

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