Having been developed in 2007 and launched to the audience in 2009, Golang became one of top 10 programming languages for today. Programmers from the USA, Europe, Asia, and Africa use Go for web development, and don’t want to change it for anything else.
Kubernetes and Docker were created with this language—now they are the most convenient tools among container management systems. Large companies such as Cloudflare, Netflix, and Dropbox choose Go for extremely different purposes and trust responsible tasks to it. Besides, it is one of the most frequently studied languages today—experienced Python and PHP developers master it and regularly use while working on their projects.
We all are well-aware that any language can be great for one task as well as useless to solve another task. For 12 years, the Surf team has been developing various projects covering design, mobile apps, backend development, testing, and numerous industry-specific solutions. We exactly know when it’s optimal to apply each language to have results exceeding users’ expectations and save resources on development.
In the article you’ll learn what Golang is, what purposes it is suitable for, and why so many famous IT-products were created with it. We’ll show possibilities of this language, compare it to others, and share our relevant expertise.
Why use Go for web development?
Go is an open-source, compiled, and statically typed programming language designed for Google by Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson. The last two of them had taken a part in creating OS Plan 9 with Unix-philosophy which is reflected in Go. It’s about easy, clear, and quickly maintainable code.
But why did Google need Go for web development? The idea to design Golang started with the C language which actually has disadvantages for modern development. For example, it’s harder to ship stable releases fast, and besides, there is a lack of skilled C developers. So Google was looking for an alternative which would be easier to study and use.
Creators of Go were inspired by Oberon-2, a programming language designed in the 1987th. The combination of simplicity, rigor, and non-redundancy provided a programmer with a great opportunity to develop a good style, having mastered at the same time both structural and object-oriented and modular-component programming. Most of these features became the basis of the idea of the new language.
When Go is the best match: learning from top companies’ experience
deployed Go to modernize and boost developers’ productivity
The company was growing larger, so their platform became too complicated. As the company’s goal was to make transactions between billions of people around the world quick and easy, C++, which they used before Go, couldn’t be a suitable solution to continue. They needed something less complicated. Golang became a good support for PayPal as it offers simplicity and allows programmes to write clear and easy-to-scale code. Besides, running Go code resulted in CPU reduction of 10%.
For 6 months, the developers had been working with Go, and as a result presented its benefits for the company. They preferred the language for:
- its fast tools,
- rich libraries list,
- type safety,
- an ability to compile to machine code quickly,
- a convenient garbage collection,
and that’s not all. With the language, developers have had more time to think strategically instead of endlessly correcting code itself as compared to C++ or Java. It allowed the company to optimize time for development without any harm to results. Now PayPal builds, tests, and releases pipelines with Go.
switched from Python to Go
The company used Python for the majority of back-end services, and when they needed better performance, they turned to C. It seemed to be an appropriate solution, but with C the code maintainability had something to be desired. There are not many C developers, and if something goes wrong, companies have no guarantee that they would quickly find a programmer to help.
Bitly was searching for a simple language which can deliver a high performance. They wanted to find a language which would combine the advantages of Python and C. And Golang became this language. Since Bitly started to use it in their own project (NSQ), the team has noticed that:
- the same workload can be runned in fewer servers,
- response time became nearly two times faster, as compared to Python,
- it took far less time to copy files to Google storage,
- CPU load reduced.
What the Bitly team liked most, was that programmers can be onboarded in Go web development for a few weeks and start working on real tasks. No less important is that the Go community is welcoming and always ready to support, and the Bitly team appreciates it. Every year they participate in Gophercon, a conference for developers.
made payments and rewards faster
The company used at least three tools: С++, Java, Node.js. They decided to try a new one because they needed to make payment processing faster taking into account high transaction volumes. Besides, they had two more goals: to modernize the architecture and build efficient apps for payment processing.
American Express chose Golang for:
- code simplicity,
- easily running code writing process,
- contemporary tools and features,
and had great results in payments as well as rewards networks.
How did it happen that American Express chose this language? Developers of the company knew about its benefits, and it was their idea to pilot the language. But before the company began applying it, the developers had organized a programming languages showdown to find out which one was the best for their needs in performance and design. They compared Go to С++, Java, and Node.js. It had a second result in performance (140,000 requests per second), but its tools, profiling and benchmarking features appeared to be really impressive for the team.
After the showdown, American Express chose Golang also for high-performance microservices development. They didn’t originally plan to choose it for this purpose, but all the possibilities of the language, which the team noticed in practice, had an influence on their choice.
We see that thanks to Go, development companies can write clear well-optimized code to solve various business tasks. If you want to learn more about how famous financial technology companies use it, read our article.
We see that large companies with difficult proceedings tend to deploy Go. About the benefits of this language that make it so popular, read further.
The main benefits of Go
Now let’s summarize the advantages of Go, which make it so good for various business purposes.
Low entry threshold. It means that any programmer can quickly be involved in working on a Go-powered project, and processes don’t stop. For an experienced programmer a few weeks are enough to study. With more difficult languages it’s not always possible, and it is a significant advantage.
Freedom in choosing tools. When you work in Go, you can choose among hundreds of libraries, databases, frameworks, and different other tools to build your project. It makes the development process really fast.
Easy, clear, and efficient code. Thanks to Go tools, it’s quite easy to write efficient code and do it quickly enough. Code will be two times shorter than with other languages, but the same as functional. In addition, Golang uses 5 times less memory than Java, for example, and has a good garbage collector. It makes working processes faster and performance higher.
Multithreading. It provides “goroutines” also known as “green threads”. The language has its own task scheduler which greatly improves resource usage and reduces multithreading app cost.
High speed of execution. It is a compiled language. It means that the compiler translates the program from a high-level language into a low-level language that the processor understands immediately and entirely while creating a separate program. The compiled programs run faster and do not require additional programs to execute.
Early bug detection. The language is statically typed, and any variable is known at compile time. The compiler does all kinds of checking, so bugs can be detected at the very early stage.
Ability of cross-platform development. A programmer can build executables for all platforms supporting Go, for example, UNIX, Linux, Windows. So, testing and package distribution become quite easy: it’s not necessary to have access to every platform to distribute the package for it.
Cool developers community. Golang has a welcoming community and it makes working with the language easier.
Go vs other web development tools
But is Golang better for web development than programming languages which existed and were successfully used before it? Let’s find out.
Go vs Java
Java is a very good solution for large web apps and high loads, but Golang is becoming more and more convenient for programmers due to its simplicity.
Go’s main advantages over Java are:
- higher performance out of the box,
- memory saving,
- goroutines which are cheaper than threads,
- CSP model,
- better dependency management which is useful when you have a set of projects that inherits a common parent,
- easy code that allows to speed up the development.
Java’s advantages are:
- rich language facilities that make it easier to write large monolithic projects,,
- more garbage collectors for various situations,
- lower cost of development.
Wrapping it up, we can say that both the languages offer many tools and features. Which of them to choose, depends on a specific task. In any case, Java developers can quickly study Go due to its simplicity—and start writing efficient code if necessary.
Go vs Python
Python and Go have many benefits. Both are used for back-end, web and API development. But since Golang appeared, Python developers have mastered it and rarely use their previous programming language.
Go’s main advantages over Python are:
- faster execution,
- better bugs detection,
- a big choice of libraries and plugins,
- many special libraries for AI-powered apps,
- error handling makes code more clear and stable,
- code is easy to read,
- easier syntax,
- better concurrency,
- saves CPU and memory resources more efficiently.
Python’s advantages are:
- faster API development,
- lower cost of development.
Sometimes Python can be used together with Go in web development to achieve better results. It’s important to choose an experienced developer who knows in which cases to use one of these languages or both of them. If you are looking for such a specialist and want to learn how to do it, read more about Golang outsourcing.
Go vs Rust
Rust and Golang have many benefits and similar features: they are often chosen for their performance, scalability, a great range of tools, concurrence, and really high speed. But they have some differences as well.
Go’s main advantages over Rust are:
- easy to master and apply,
- many libraries and frameworks,
- simple syntax,
- goroutines which are cheaper than threads,
- it suits to handle large amounts of independent requests, and is a perfect solution for server-side applications,
- fast iteration and flexibility, so apps are easy to adopt and change for users’ needs,
- a few days are enough to onboard a programmer in a project,
- lower cost of development.
Rust’s advantages are:
- suits not only for web, but for frontend and game development,
- amount of control you have over memory management,
- higher memory safety in complex systems,
- the best choice for low-level operations due to its finer control,
- great managing machine resources.
To sum things up, we see that Rust and Golang can be used even in the most difficult and large-scale projects. They are worthy competitors, which can give impressive results while used separately or together.
Go vs. Node.js
Many developers call Golang a “killer” of Node.js. Let’s see whether it is really true. Go suits for web development (especially large-scale back end), intensive data processing, real-time projects, and a long list of other things. It’s a full-fledged language, while Node.js is a back-end JS runtime environment good for video games, messengers, and real-time apps.
Go’s main advantages over Node.js are:
- stronger concurrency,
- being faster,
- takes less time, memory, and CPU load to perform operations,
- good memory management capabilities,
- lower benchmark time which helps to find out how to improve performance in a program or set of programs,
- more quality tools, especially for the back end.
Node.js’ advantages are:
- error handling more convenient for most of programmers,
- easier to learn, especially for JS developers,
- more various tools including front-end,
- lower cost of development.
As we see, due to Golang multiple benefits for large projects, it is a better choice than Node.js. But if you need something not that complicated—for example, a project you aren’t planning for long-term future growth—there is no point in a more expensive tool.
To sum things up
- Go can be used for web development, API, charts, real time communications, server apps, cloud-based services, cloud computing etc., but you’d better look for other alternatives for mobile apps, graphics and frontend-development.
- The programming language is often chosen for its simplicity, the ability to save development resources, and to deliver great results.
- When compared to other languages and tools, this one in many ways surpasses Java, Python, Rust, and Node.js when you need to develop high load or distributed systems.
- The language is successfully used by major market players: for example, PayPal, Bitly, Dropbox, Netflix, American Express.
At Surf, we have been developing back-end and high load services for over12 years. Companies choose us for a client-oriented approach and our unique cross-industrial experience at what we do. Based on the strong engineering culture, our in-house team has created many projects we’re really proud of.