Having a Go at Go[lang]

Having a Go at Go[lang]

- 2 mins

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

This is an old post that I had knocking around from an older version of this site. For the sake of history here it is! Content likely to be innacurate and dated.

I’ve been intrigued by Golang for a little while now. I used to enjoy concurrency and parallelism in Java many moons ago during my student days. I’ve never had enough motivation to pick up C++ or brush up on Java again, so those skills are something that had, until recently, fallen by the wayside.

Seeing that Go has a simple language specification and a powerful standard library made it a prime candidate for some ‘C-like’ programming.

Web development focuses on single-threaded request-response type interactions and all the languages I’ve used in the past few years have been dynamically typed. With this in mind, Go provides two things of interest:

I like static typing, a lot. Type safety allows me to concentrate on the functional code I wish to write instead of the defensive programming and duck typing tactics that I don’t. Even though contrary to that statement, duck typing is a very flexible and valid form of writing Go using interfaces to great effect. That aforementioned safety doesn’t stop me from littering my code with log.Println calls though - I like verbose console output.

I also like that concurrency is baked in to the language. When I was writing Java a lot during University, multi-threaded code was my favourite to work with, it felt the most like ‘proper programming’* in a way. Goroutines make for a very convenient and easy concurrency API, with channels providing safe communication between them. Channels are a first-class type in Go, which allows for even very simple programs to make full use of the powerful features on offer without resorting to standard or third-party libraries.

I’ve been somewhat hoovering up Go talks and resources, mostly introductory material and documentation, although I enjoyed Rob Pike’s talk asserting that Concurrency is not Parallelism which has been a refresher for some of the terminology and approaches of concurrent programming. There’s also an excellent episode of The Changelog with Rob and Andrew Gerran talking about a lot of the design choices and origins of the Go language.

I like to try out new languages and aspire to be a polyglot where I can. It’s fun to have certain accepted standards challenged plus lessons learned from one language can strengthen the design decisions made during application development in any other.

So speaking of which, I wrote a little status monitor application in Go. It uses a dynamically-configured number of concurrent workers to test and update sets of services read from a JSON config file. The application serves a (totally unstyled) status page or a JSON response if the correct headers are sent. It features mostly the log.Println statements I alluded to earlier, but it was fun to write and taught me a lot about the language idioms along the way.

* Whatever that means.

Peter Mellett

Peter Mellett

I put the punctuation in the computer

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