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Developers’ Weblog

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A few days ago, somebody sent me an e-mail with a few questions about the Go programming language, of which I am a coauthor and contributor. The questions concerned my general impression, the experience I had in it, the future and some good areas of application. Here is my reply.

In my experience, when people try Go, there are two phases: On a first glance, it does not seem very special. However, many that do try it quickly become hooked.

I myself was primarily programming in C when I started using Go. I had written some code in Limbo, which an be seen as the predecessor of Go, so trying it seemed natural. I quickly discovered that it is a very well-designed language, whose constructs make perfect sense and are easy to grasp. The standard library is also very well done and makes many common programming jobs easy.

I decided to write a project I did for work in Go. However, the target was a Windows system, so I became involved in the Windows port. My first contributions were to the path package. It is a nice experience working with such bright and professional people as the Go developers. While they can be sometimes a bit terse in code reviews, they are very talented people. I found myself thinking a long time about a single sentence in a review before finally “getting it”.

Speaking of which, the code review process is very efficient for the development of the language.

In the future, I think Go will get a much wider adoption, and be usable also for writing “native” graphical user interface programs. There is a WinAPI port for creating Windows GUIs, and there is a very good Gtk+ adapter for Unix-like systems. I can also see it being used a lot for network servers, such as HTTP application servers and so on.

In these two areas, parallelism is a key point. In a GUI application, you want the interface to remain reactive during calculations and I/O, which is very easy to do with multiple goroutines. In a network application, you also have to process many requests in parallel. Go has the potential to scale significantly better than other languages. Maybe will even be one of the answers to the problem of programming for ever more parallel machines, as almost all new computers have multiple CPU cores.

I also think that there will be more optimization so the language will get much faster in the future. It is already faster than Python in most cases (easy, since it is a compiled language) but just as easy for many.

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