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What is Go? An intro to Google’s Go programming language (aka Golang)

William Boyd
William Boyd

You can use almost any programming language in the cloud, but there are a few languages that stand out from the rest. Let’s talk about one of those languages, Go.

Go is an open-source programming language focused on simplicity, reliability, and efficiency.

Go was originally designed at Google in 2007. At the time, Google was growing quickly, and code being used to manage their infrastructure was also growing quickly in both size and complexity. Some Google cloud engineers began to feel that this large and complex codebase was slowing them down. So they decided that they needed a new programming language focused on simplicity and quick performance. Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson designed Go.

Go became an open-source project and was released publicly in 2012. It quickly gained a surprising level of popularity and has become one of the leading modern programming languages.



Is it called Go or Golang?

Is the language called Go or Golang? Take it straight from the horse’s Google’s mouth here: the language is called “Go.”

Google says the “Golang” moniker came about due to the website, golang.org, which was selected because “go.org was not available to us.” As a result, some people use the “Golang” interchangeably with “Go” when referring to the programming language. (Not us, but you know . . . )

In fairness though, Golang is much more Google-able than Go, which could refer to the strategy game or the cult-classic Doug Liman movie. Golang is also used as the Twitter tag for Go, #golang.

What is the Go language used for?

Go was originally built for programs related to networking and infrastructure. It was intended to replace popular high-performance server-side languages like Java and C++. Today, Go is used for a variety of applications:

  • Go is popular for cloud-based or server-side applications. 
  • DevOps and site reliability automation are also popular ways to use Go. 
  • Many command-line tools are written in Go.
  • Go is used in the world of artificial intelligence and data science.
  • Some use Go from micro-controller programming, robotics, and games.

However, Go really shines the most when it comes to infrastructure. Some of the most popular infrastructure tools today are written in Go — such as Kubernetes, Docker, and Prometheus.

Why is Go so popular? There may be as many opinions on this as there are Go programmers, but two reasons really stand out:

Programming language simplicity

First, Go is simple to learn and understand. A popular saying about Go is that you can read and digest the entire Go spec in an afternoon. Many developers who have dived into Go agree it’s easy to pick up compared to other languages. 

High-performing applications

Second, Go is great when it comes to performance. It was designed for automation at a large scale so Go makes it relatively easy to write high-performing applications. 


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Go vs Other Programming Languages

According to the 2020 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, Go is one of the most loved languages by developers who use it. Go’s own 2020 developer survey seems to agree, with a 92% satisfaction rating by Go users.

Go vs Python

Python is more than 30 years old, but it continues to grow in popularity. The design of the language has stood the test of time (despite some rough spots along the way). Today, Python and Go are two of the most popular and convenient-to-use programming languages out there.

Python is a great object-oriented language, but you can also write programs in a functional programming style too. Of all the programming languages, you probably won’t find one used by more non-programmers than Python. Its flexibility is one of the reasons Python is so popular. It can be used for everything from cleaning up files on your computers to web applications, serverless projects, teaching programming to kids, working on animation, and more.

But how does Go compare to Python?

  • Python and Go both have a simple syntax and first-party support from all major cloud providers.
  • Both Go and Python are easy to get started with for beginners and are relatively easy to learn. There’s debate over which is easier. Go is a simpler language and may be mastered more quickly, but some find getting started more difficult than Python, which takes longer to master as there’s more to learn.
  • Go is a new kid on the block compared to Python, and it was designed to be fast. Go is faster than Python. Much faster.
  • Python tends to dominate in data science; Go is perfect for system programming.
  • As the senior language, Python has a more extensive library and community built up around it.
  • Python’s dynamic typing can make it better than Go for quick prototyping.
  • It can be easier to run applications at scale with Go. Go was built by Google to solve problems at a Google-sized scale making it ideal for working on large concurrent applications. Go supports concurrency, or the ability to run more than one program/task simultaneously. Python doesn’t.

Python and Go each offer their unique benefits, but there’s no reason you can’t and shouldn’t learn to use both!

Should I learn Go?

So why should you learn Go? Go is easy. Many developers agree that Go is easy to get into. And its code is relatively easy to understand. Learning Go comes with a big payoff in terms of power and versatility. 

  • Go is a language that can do a lot, from infrastructure to the web to data processing.
  • Go also has a vibrant and active open-source community that develops modules and libraries, helps newcomers, and contributes to the Go project itself. 
  • According to the 2020 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, Go developers have the second-highest median salary in the U.S. at $140,000 per year. 

So if you’re interested in a programming language that can do a lot, has a great community, and is easy to learn, check out Go.

Check out ACG’s System Tooling with Go course. It will teach you enough Go to be able to write your own tools. You’ll learn how to leverage Go’s robust standard library, third-party packages, and how to handle some of the most common tasks when writing tools/scripts.


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What is Go Programming Language?

Go is an open-source programming language focused on simplicity, reliability, and efficiency. Go became an open-source project and was released publicly in 2012. It quickly gained a surprising level of popularity and has become one of the leading modern programming languages.

What is Go Language used for?

Go was originally built for programs related to networking and infrastructure. It was intended to replace popular high-performance server-side languages like Java and C++. Today, Go is used for a variety of applications like cloud and server side applications, DevOps, command line tools and much more.

Go Programming vs Python?

Python and Go both have a simple syntax and first-party support from all major cloud providers. Both Go and Python are easy to get started with for beginners and are relatively easy to learn. There’s debate over which is easier. Go is a simpler language and may be mastered more quickly, but some find getting started more difficult than Python, which takes longer to master as there’s more to learn. Read more!

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