What is Golang: Everything you need to know

10 min read
September 28, 2023

Go, also known as Golang, is an innovative programming language developed by Google that’s gaining momentum in the tech world. 

It’s quickly becoming the go-to choice for developers due to its efficiency and simplicity.  

Here, we’ll explore Golang’s origins, characteristics, applications, and why it stands out among other languages.

Let’s get into it!

What is Golang

Go or Golang is a procedural programming language created in 2007 by Rob Pike, Ken Thompson, and Robert Griesemer at Google.

It was later released in 2009 as an open-source language. 

Golang  is a multi-paradigm language that is compiled, statically typed, and suitable for general-purpose programming.

Its syntax is similar to ‘C’ since the initial compiler for Go was developed in C. However, Go is now self-hosted, with the language itself being used to write its compiler. 

Go is highly concurrent, and allows for the simultaneous execution of multiple tasks.

It was designed to leverage the capabilities of modern multicore processors. 

Additionally, Go incorporates deferred garbage collection, which efficiently manages memory allocation to facilitate program execution.

When to use Golang

Golang is a versatile language praised  for unique features and performance benefits. Its use-cases span various domains, making it adaptable to diverse applications.

Where Golang shines the most is web development. That’s due to its simplicity, efficiency and built-in support for concurrency.

Its standard library enriches its networking and HTTP capabilities, boosting its effectiveness in this arena. 

Go also excels in microservices and distributed systems creation, owing to its efficient concurrency model, low memory footprint, and robust support for communication protocols like gRPC.


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Go’s fast compilation and cross-platform support make it a go-to for developing command-line tools and system utilities. 

Also, its performance equips it to handle high-throughput applications. That includes data pipelines and real-time analytics systems. 

Go’s compatibility with code written in other languages also favors its use in system-level software development.

Overall, Go’s versatility and performance make it a robust solution for numerous apps. This makes it a preferred choice for many developers and organizations.

Key elements of Golang

Goroutines and channels

Goroutines and channels are the bread and butter of Go. They allow developers to efficiently run services using all CPU cores. 

This is where Go truly excels. 

Goroutines and channels make Go accessible to developers, offering an excellent developer experience (DEX) as concurrency is never an easy task to manage.

Instead of relying on complex mechanisms like locks, Goroutines communicate using channels, simplifying the process significantly. Additionally, Go provides concurrency primitives such as locks and atomic operations for more advanced use cases.

// here is an example of goroutines usage
func sender(c chan string) {
for i := 0; ; i++ {
c <- fmt.Sprintf("message %d", i) // sending message to the channel
time.Sleep(time.Second * 1)

func receiver(c chan string) {
for {
msg := <-c // receiving message from the channel

func main() {
messages := make(chan string)

go sender(messages)   // start sender goroutine
go receiver(messages) // start receiver goroutine

// Let them communicate for 5 seconds
time.Sleep(time.Second * 5)

Go errors, most controversial

Go’s error handling approach is one of its most controversial aspects.

In Go, errors aren’t treated as exceptions; instead, they are simply values. Developers often encounter the following pattern:

// here is an example of common error check
if err != nil

And it needs to be written frequently.

This approach focuses on explicitly handling errors and can initially be frustrating due to its verbosity. 

However, it promotes a greater awareness of potential issues and encourages developers to think carefully about error handling in their code.

Handling resources

Handling resources in Go is made easier by using the `defer` keyword. 

This is particularly useful for managing resources such as opening and closing files. 

When you acquire a resource, you can immediately use `defer` to ensure it’s released. This will help prevent resource leaks. 

By automatically releasing resources when the surrounding function returns, `defer` simplifies resource management and reduces the likelihood of forgetting to close or release resources manually.

Static type system, Interfaces, and generics

Go features a static type system, which includes interfaces and, more recently, generics. 

The `io.Copy` function is a great example of how you can use interfaces effectively. 

A common best practice in Go is to write concrete types and only create an interface when needed during the development process. 

Starting with concrete types makes sure you’ll focus on the implementation first. 

By introducing interfaces only when necessary, you can create cleaner and more maintainable code.

// here is an example of interface usageimport (

// Define an interface
type Printable[T any] interface {
Print() T

// Define a struct
type MyString string

// Implement the Printable interface for MyString
func (m MyString) Print() string {
return string(m)

type MyInteger int

// Implement the Printable interface for MyInteger
func (m MyInteger) Print() int {
return int(m)

// Generic function to print details
func PrintDetails[T any](p Printable[T]) {

func main() {
// Create a MyString instance
s := MyString("Hello, Go!")

// Create a MyInteger instance
i := MyInteger(42)

// Use the generic function

Garbage collection 

Garbage collection in Go simplifies memory management by automatically reclaiming unused memory. 

This helps prevent memory leaks and increases the overall efficiency of your program. 

One of the strengths of Go’s garbage collector is that it has very few knobs to tweak.  This makes it easier to use and reduces the need for developers to manually adjust the garbage collection process.

Golang is safe

Go is designed to be a safe programming language.

It features array bounds checking to prevent out-of-bounds access. That helps with avoiding common security vulnerabilities. 

In cases where you might be doing something wrong, Go will panic, signaling a runtime error that you need to address.

// here is an example of array bounds checkingimport "fmt"

func main() {
    arr := [3]int{1, 2, 3}

    // This will work fine
    fmt.Println(arr[1]) // Output: 2

    // This will panic because of array bounds checking
    fmt.Println(arr[5]) // panic: runtime error: index out of range [5] with length 3

Go enforces good practices by defining unused imports as compilation errors. 

While pointers are used in Go to pass things by reference, the language does not support pointer arithmetic. This can often lead to unsafe code.

// here is an example of pointers usageimport "fmt"

func main() {
    var x int = 2
    var p *int = &x

    fmt.Println(*p) // Output: 2

    // This is not possible, Go does not support pointer arithmetic
    // p++

If you need to perform pointer arithmetic, there is a package called `unsafe`. 

However, its name serves as a reminder that using it might lead to unsafe code, indicating that you may be doing something wrong.

Great standard library:

Go has a great standard library with essential packages for various functionalities. This makes it easier for developers to build robust apps without having to rely on numerous third-party libraries. Some notable packages in the standard library include:

1. `net/http`: This package offers both a HTTP client and a server. This allows developers to easily create web apps and interact with other web services.

2. `encoding/json`: This package provides functions for working with JSON data, enabling the encoding and decoding of JSON objects.

3. `database/sql`: This package supports interaction with SQL databases. It allows developers to perform queries and manage data.

4. `io`: The `io` package provides fundamental interfaces for working with I/O operations. That includes reading, writing, and copying data.

5. `crypto`: This package contains many cryptographic utilities. It includes hash functions, encryption algorithms, and digital signature schemes.

6. `os`: The `os` package offers operating system-related functionalities. The list includes file system operations, environment variables, and process management.

7. `unicode`: This package provides functions for working with Unicode characters. This helps developers to handle internationalization and localization in their apps.

The Go standard library is both comprehensive and well-documented. 

That makes it a valuable resource for devs building a wide range of applications.

The go-tool:

The Go toolchain offers many useful tools that simplify the development process and improve code quality:

1. `build` and `run`:
The `build` command compiles your code into an executable.

`Run` first calls `build` and then executes the compiled binary.

2. `test`: 
This command lets you run tests for your code and ensures that your functions behave as expected.

3. Data race detector:
Go includes a built-in data race detector that helps identify potential race conditions in concurrent code.

4. Benchmark and profiler:
Go has built-in support for benchmarking and profiling your code. This enables you to analyze performance and optimize your app.

5. Fuzzing:
Fuzz testing has become dominant in the security field, and Go supports fuzzing out-of-the-box. 

Fuzz tests generate random input values and feed them into your functions. This helps you uncover bugs that weren’t caught by regular testing.

6. `install`:
This command compiles and installs your Go packages or commands.

7. `fmt`:
This command formats your code, ensuring consistent indentation and styling across your project. 

While some developers may dislike the enforced formatting, it has its benefits. It eliminates code style discussions and ensures that pull requests focus on actual changes rather than individual preferences.

Overall, the Go toolchain provides a comprehensive set of tools.

They streamline your development process, improve code quality, and promote a consistent coding style across projects.

Dependency management

Dependency management in Go is decentralized, unlike package managers such as npm for Node.js or pip for Python, which rely on central repositories. 

Go uses `pkg.go.dev` as a way to browse and discover Go packages hosted across various repositories.

A `go.mod` file is used to define a Go module or project. That includes dependencies, cryptographic signatures, and other metadata.

The Go module system lets you manage your project’s dependencies in a more controlled and secure manner.

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Security is a key part of Go’s dependency management. 

Features like the checksum database (sumdb) and the Go module proxy help protect against supply chain attacks. This makes it harder for bad actors to compromise the Go ecosystem. 

These features also ensure that dependencies are verified and haven’t been tampered with. 

Go’s dependency management system also integrates well with third-party tools like Artifactory. It is a universal binary repository manager. 

This integration helps organizations host and manage their own Go module repositories. 

// here is an example of go.mod filemodule github.com/yourname/yourproject

go 1.20

require github.com/some/third-party-lib v1.8.0 // indirect


In conclusion, Go offers you a robust and efficient ecosystem for developing software.

Its static type system, interfaces, and generics provide flexibility and type safety. 

Its unique approach to concurrency through goroutines and channels simplifies the complexities of multi-threaded programming. 

Its automatic garbage collector ensures efficient memory management. 

Go’s decentralized nature of its module-based dependency management system provides both convenience and security. 

It’s also designed with safety in mind, discouraging potential misuse of certain features. 

Last but not least, Go’s tooling  integrates with third-party solutions like Artifactory. That enhances its usability in enterprise settings.

For more in-depth info about Go, visit the official Go documentation

If you’re interested in the inner workings of Go’s garbage collector, check out Go GC: Prioritizing low latency and simplicity on the Go Blog.
If you’d like to read more about tech topics like this one, check out our blog!

Written by

Toni Vujevic

React Native Team Lead

Skilled in React Native, iOS and backend, Toni has a demonstrated knowledge of the information technology and services industry, with plenty of hands-on experience to back it up. He’s also an experienced Cloud engineer in Amazon Web Services (AWS), passionate about leveraging cloud technologies to improve the agility and efficiency of businesses. One of Toni’s most special traits is his talent for online shopping. In fact, our delivery guy is convinced that ‘Toni Vujević’ is a pseudonym for all DECODErs.

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