5 minutes read
What Is Go, And How Is It Used?

What Is Go, And How Is It Used?

One of the relatively “younger” programming languages in circulation, Go (short for Golang) was introduced to the programming community in 2009. Originally created by Google’s Rob Pike, Robert Griesemer, and Ken Thompson, the idea behind Go was to take some of the best features of existing successful programming languages, and package them together to create a functional, efficient language to power the new generation of apps needed to power rapidly advancing laptop, tablet, and smartphone technology.

Like all newer languages, Go still competes with bigger names like Python or Java that have legions of loyal followers, but developers proficient in Go are consistently in demand from some of the biggest names in tech. Likewise, because of the versatility of Go and the variety of potential use cases, the language looks likely to continue growing among users and use cases as tech continues to evolve over the coming years.

So why should newer programmers consider taking Go coding classes, and opt to add this powerful language to their repertoire? What kinds of software and apps can you program with Go, and what potential job opportunities does learning to code with Go offer newer developers? Let’s take a deeper dive into what Go is, and how it is used.

What are Go’s most useful features? 

Ask experienced developers and you might hear a number of reasons why they love Go -- it has the same performance as C and is much easier to maintain than Java (since you need no virtual machine), no warming up period, no JAR hell, and so on. But for newer programmers figuring out if they should take a Go coding class, here are the most essential benefits of learning and using Go:

Reason #1: It’s Cheap And Easy, Making It Great For Startups 

Quite simply, Go allows you to avoid needing a huge tech stack (and thus, a number of expensive or experienced developers) for your project. Apps created in Go actually compile to native machine code, which means they don’t need any interpreter or virtual machine. Additionally, this means that Go apps function faster and won’t require the warming up that can negatively impact user experience and app functionality. The combination of effectiveness and affordability is exactly the kind of thing a bootstrapping startup needs to get their big idea off the ground without running out of limited resources.

Reason #2: Go Can Be Used To Create A Wide Array Of Apps And Software 

Remember, Go was originally created with the philosophy of taking the best elements of existing successful programming languages and packaging them together. Experienced programmers will tell you that flexibility, ease-of-use, capabilities to create complex functionality, and the ability to meet the demands of clients who need robust software are those foundational elements. 

Fortunately, Go is a really flexible language, with functionality more than capable of solving a lot of problems. Programmers can utilize it for system and network programming, data science and visualization, machine learning, audio and video editing, and more. Since modern tech in these fields only continues to demand more processing power and software capabilities, a functional and robust language like Go is exactly the type of solution - especially as some older languages continue to buckle under the needs of modern programming.

Reason #3: Enterprise-Level Performance And Broader Audience 

Similar to C or C++, Go is a compiled language which doesn’t require any interpretation and thus can seamlessly function with older devices and operating systems, allowing programmers to avoid excess coding to allow apps to scale to different user devices. Likewise, the absence of an interpreter frees up valuable power and offers a Go-built app significantly better performance, which only enhances user experience and makes your app or software more appealing (i.e. helps you stand out from competitors). Equally as important, Go is designed to properly manage allocated memory, which even further enhances app performance.

Because of these intuitive structural features, any Go-based app is less demanding in terms of system requirements. This is another benefit for users with older devices, as they are able to use and enjoy your app just as much as users with the newest devices. This is a basic tenet of successful software or startup business operations -- the more people that can easily and successfully use your app, the more money you can make and the bigger user base you can build.

Reason #4: Go Apps Crash Less Often 

Go was created to take advantage of the full potential of multiple cores. Additionally, the language can properly employ all available processor resources, which makes it perfect for running an app in the background as a single process. This is a result of goroutines, which are used in lieu of threads, and require significantly less RAM due to their non-system thread nature. All of this drastically reduces the risk of a Go app crashing due to a lack of available memory resources.

Reason #5: Rapidly Growing Go Community Means More Tools And Resources 

If you look at any recent developer preference survey from major programming hubs like Stack Overflow or GitHub, you’ll see that Go is one of the top five most loved and most wanted languages in most sentiment polls. More and more professionals are diving into the world of Go. 

According to the Go blog, more and more contributors to Go are coming from the Go community, which also means that there are more and more people becoming Go professionals. Experienced developers will tell you that a thriving developer community is an invaluable resource for newer programmers -- discussion boards offer Q&A opportunities, answers to programming challenges and common problems, and user-created solutions that can help you shortcut your own coding process and build your app more quickly. As more and more people turn to Go for their programming needs, these user community benefits will increase in kind.

What Projects Should You Use Go For? 

Here are some of the industries that are most frequently turning to Go for their unique needs.

Cloud Services

Since Google is responsible for creating Go in the first place, it’s no surprise that the company deploys this language to provide cloud infrastructure. Go offers top performance and scalability that helps power the ever-growing Google Cloud Platform. But Go has grown beyond its creator, and is now used by many of the biggest names in cloud services, such as Dropbox, Terraform, Kubernetes, and Docker.  

Media Platforms 

Media platforms that offer streaming video or music always struggle with the massive user data loads that their sites handle on a daily basis (and even more so during the past year of at-home work and entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic). YouTube, SoundCloud, and Netflix chose Go to better manage the high loads of traffic and user data needs on their respective sites and applications. SoundCloud also employs Go to handle some internal services within their complex projects.

On-Demand Services 

Uber sought to improve map processing speeds as people loaded geofence lookups, which involved the application processing tens of thousands of queries globally every second. Go helped Uber significantly reduce the timing of providing services to users, which increased user experience and thus made the app even more popular (and helped fight off competitors such as Lyft).