Should you use Golang? Advantages, Disadvantages & Examples
Designed by Google, Golang (officially "Go") is an open-source, compiled, and statically typed programming language built to be simple, high-performing, readable, and efficient. While it was announced to the public in 2009, its first open-source versión was released in 2012.
Go quickly became popular with many developers due to its simplicity, efficiency, readability, and concurrent nature.
As of June 2022, it ranks in 12th place in the TIOBE index, with more and more people switching from other languages such as PHP or Node.js.
On the promise of code efficiency, companies that recognize the need for lean and efficient code have adopted Golang as their primary programming language.
Why you should use Golang
Making the transition to Golang might be counterintuitive initially, as your code gets longer, but soon it becomes more readable, simple, and stable.
Here are some of the top reasons to start using Golang:
Golang = performance
Golang is a compiled language, meaning code compiles into a format the processor understands.
Other languages, such as Java, require the code to be compiled into bytecode to be executed by the virtual machine.
Not only has Go proven to be faster than Java or Python, for example, but it also enhances the availability and reliability of services.
Easy Learning Curve
Software developers with a solid foundation in Java or C should consider learning Golang; while the keywords and syntax may differ slightly due to its same procedural approach, it is easy to familiarize themselves with Go.
Getting an absolute beginner to build an app with Golang in as little as a few hours is an aspect often praised by developers who find themselves teaching.
Well documented with an Active Community
Golang's official website is an excellent resource for solid and friendly documentation.
In addition, there's also a supportive community behind Goland, which is quite active, so you can count on getting support if you get stuck.
Golang is ideal for many diverse scenarios
Being a multipurpose programming language, Golang is ideal for projects involving data science, web development, cloud computing, media platforms, streaming, and more.
Golang Is Well-Scaled
One of Golang's many strengths, Goroutines, are functions that can run independently and simultaneously, giving Go its ability to support concurrency efficiently.
Lean software is always a good idea and puts your business one step ahead of its competitors.
Taking up no more than 2kB of memory, Goroutines make applications built with Golang scalable when it's time to run multiple concurrent processes.
While Java's thread, blocking by design, is a memory-hungry heavyweight, Golang's Goroutines are non-blocking, making it technically possible to run millions of them without risking crashing the system.
Also, less demanding system requirements translate into better support for older devices to enjoy Go-based apps.
Comprehensive Programming Tools
GitHub repository for Go is filled with various editors, IDEs, and plugins that you can download, while for those who prefer working on the go, a handful of cloud-based IDEs are also available.
Being an open-source initiative, getting the proper development tools for your team will not be a concern.
On top of an easy learning curve and friendlier code that's easier to learn, developers who chose Golang have several valuable tools to work with:
- GoDoc generating cross-referenced documentation automatically from code is made possible with GoDoc.
- GoMetaLinter brings developers the tools to analyze their code efficiently and in detail with the ability to create LR parsers for a more in-depth breakdown.
- Golang's simple API lets developers manage the environments necessary for easy testing and profiling.
- Race conditions associated with creating multi-threaded applications are easily identified using Golangs built-in Race detector.
So, why shouldn't you use Go?
Despite its advantages mentioned above, growing adoption, and popularity, Golang is not a perfect programming language.
Developers should consider some disadvantages before using or migrating to Go.
Golang is not as descriptive as Python or other strictly compiled languages.
While a similar function might be invoked with only a couple of lines in Python, a developer may need to code dozens of lines to accomplish the same task in Go.
When rushing against a deadline, this extra coding time might prove to be an obstacle for teams.
Relatively young language
Despite reaching its tenth anniversary, Golang is relatively young in terms of programming language life-span; this translates to fewer existing libraries, especially when interfacing with other platforms.
No software development kit for third-party interfaces means extra code will have to be written by the team to connect multiple pieces of software.
While Golang is easy to learn in and of itself, because of the lack of its own GUI library, developers may require extra knowledge and struggle to interface with other platforms.
Lack of Support for Generic Functions
A section of code that takes an input and, after processing it, returns an output is called a Function, while a collection of these with the same name with undefined types of inputs is what defines a Generic Function.
Golang´s lack of support for generic functions means that developers will have to create multiple blocks of code for the same function to use it with different types of inputs or parameters; this can severely impact code reusability and decrease efficiency during development.
Smaller (but growing) Community Compared To Other Languages
Because of the age of this language, the community of this language may not be as large as in other languages out there, which means there could be less development and fewer packages/projects for this specific language.
Fewer Tutorials Than Other Languages
Finally, because of the smaller community, there are substantially fewer tutorials and documentation than in other programming languages.
What type of projects is Golang recommended for?
Coding in Golang takes more time than doing so in other languages, so if you're running a small startup, it may be wiser to spend this time on other areas of your business.
Nevertheless, as soon as user experience appears affected by the performance of your current code, making the transition to Go would be the right course of action.
Coping with the volume of transactions, requests, and general activity that comes with a growing number of users is standard for more developed startups.
For production servers under an intense workload and heavy demands, Golang might be the perfect fit.
Some specific examples of Golang´s successful adoption include:
Cloud services providers: Popular cloud storage provider with over 500 million users, Dropbox uses it to manage its network, while Golang's creator itself, Google, relies on Go for its cloud infrastructure.
Media platforms: Two of the media heavyweights of the industry, YouTube and Netflix, use Go to manage the intense load on their services.
Online on-demand services: Reducing the time it took to provide its users with service was vital for Uber, which relied on Go to improve map processing speeds when users loaded geofence lookups.
Distributed Network Services: APIs, web servers, and frameworks for web applications need to handle concurrency efficiently. Golang's goroutines and channels are an ideal solution for developing network services.
Cloud-Native Development: High portability across various platforms, concurrency, and networking features position Go as an ideal language for cloud computing. Kubernetes, like many popular cloud platforms, was built with Go.
Replacements for Existing Infrastructure: In an attempt to modernize protocols and interfaces that had become obsolete over time, many old infrastructures were rewritten using Go. A new version of an internet protocol for clock synchronization among networks (NTP - the Network Time Protocol) was built on Go.
News Outlets: In use on the BBC site's backend, it was likely Go's capacity to optimize CPU usage that defined its adoption when managing a massive multimedia website.
Utilities and Stand-Alone Tools: When building small tools, Golang's full functionality with almost no dependencies makes it ideal for efficient building, packaging, and redistribution.
Google created Golang as an answer to software issues of scalability, where hardware resources quickly become a limitation.
While Go is a promising programming language, it is also a relatively young one and has yet to prove itself in building every type of application.
Go's main strength is its effectiveness in dealing with bottleneck issues in processing time.
Migrating to Golang is a wise option if you're planning on expanding e-commerce functionalities on your existing business or offering on-demand services.
Adopting Go means avoiding the performance constraints often faced by thread-based programming languages.
By allowing you to carry out all functions that other languages do separately, Golang establishes itself as the future of web programming.
Reading code previously written by its creators is one of the daily struggles developers encounter when dealing with new features and software growth.
Golang´s easy-to-read code and beginner-friendly learning curve minimize time spent understanding previous code.
If you're anticipating a surge in service demands that will crash the existing infrastructure capacity of your business, migrating to Golang is probably the best course of action, as Golang is ideal for companies with predictable growth who rely on quick server responses.
With Golang being one of the most in-demand programming languages on the market, the question should not be, why should you use Golang, but rather when to start using it.
Is your development team looking to adopt or migrate your software solution to Golang?
We at Devlane are Golang experts; drop us a line here.