Three new books, Go Optimizations 101, Go Details & Tips 101 and Go Generics 101 are published now. It is most cost-effective to buy all of them through this book bundle in the Leanpub book store.

An Introduction of Go

Go is a compiled and static typed programming language born from Google. Many of the core Go design and tool development team members have many years of experience in the field of programming language research.

Go has many features. Some are unique, some are borrowed from other programming languages: Besides the above features, further highlights are:

Go programmers are often called gophers.

In fact, although Go is a compiled and static typed programming language, Go also has many features which are usually only available in dynamic script languages. It is hard to combine these two kinds into one language, but Go did it. In other words, Go owns both the strictness of static languages and the flexibility of dynamic languages. I can't say there are not any compromises between the two, but the effect of the compromises is much weaker than the benefits of the combination in Go.

Readability is an important factor which affects the design of Go heavily. It is not hard for a gopher to understand the Go code written by other gophers.

Currently, the most popular Go compiler is written in Go and maintained by the Go design team. Later we shall call it the standard Go compiler, or gc (an abbreviation for Go compiler, not for garbage collection GC). The Go design team also maintains a second Go compiler, gccgo. Nowadays it's use is less popular than gc, but it always serves as a reference, and both compilers are in active development. As of now the Go team focuses on the improvement of gc.

gc is provided in Go Toolchain (a set of tools for Go development maintained by Go team). Go Toolchain 1.0 was released in March, 2012. The version of Go is consistent with the version of Go Toolchain. There were/are two major versions released each year.

Since the release of Go 1.0, the syntax of Go has changed a little, but there were/are many improvements for the tools in Go Toolchain, from version to version, especially for gc. For example, noticeable lags caused by garbage collecting is a common criticism for languages with automatic memory management. But since Go 1.8, improvements made for the concurrent garbage collection implementation in gc basically eliminated the lag problem.

gc supports cross-platform compilation. For example, we can build a Windows executable on a Linux OS, and vice versa.

Programs written in go language mostly compile very fast. Compilation time is an important factor for the happiness in development. Short build time is one reason why many programmers like programming with Go.

Advantages of Go executables are: Some other compiled languages, such as C/C++/Rust may also have these three advantages (and they may have their respective advantages compared to Go), but they lack three important characteristics of Go:

All the above advantages combined make Go an outstanding language and a good choice for many kinds of projects. Currently, Go is popularly used in network, system tools, database development and block chain development areas. With the introduction of custom generics in Go 1.18, it is expected that Go will be used more and more in some other areas, such as gui/game, big data and AI.

Finally, Go is not perfect in all aspects. There are certain trade-offs in Go design. And Go really has some shortcomings. For example, Go doesn't support arbitrary immutable values now, which leads to that many values which are not intended to be modified in standard packages are declared as variables. This is a potential security weak point for some Go programs.


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