Go is a superhero among programming languages. If you switch a built-in app for chat and feeds from Python to Go, the app can start to work 40x times faster. With other types of digital products, you can expect the performance to grow x5 to x10 — only thanks to Go, no special fine-tuning is needed.
Today, Go is the 10th most popular programming language in the world. A team of Google employers purposefully invented it for engineers who want to get down to work quickly.
Read this article to find out why you might want to learn Go and which career opportunities it can open for you!
What is Go?
Let’s imagine that you’re tired after an intense day at work. You open the Uber app and and select a ride. Guess what would happen if the app showed you the location of the available rides with a one-minute latency? That is, you see a car not where it is right now but where it was one minute ago. Such a system would become a nightmare for both drivers and passengers.
To be efficient, Uber needs to detect the geographical location with great precision. Plus, it needs to process a huge number of requests per second. Go enables the system to match drivers with clients and calculate the price of the ride flawlessly. This programming language is renowned for concurrency or, the capability to execute multiple processes simultaneously without compromising performance. Such functions are called “goroutines”.
“Go” is short for “Golang”. These are two different names for the same programming language. Its inventors originally worked with C++ but faced a problem. As digital systems developed, they required large amounts of code to manage their infrastructure. Over time, the complexity of C++ made it difficult to maintain the system. To fix this issue, the developers came up with Go.
Go is a minimalistic language. It has fewer ways to do things than C++ — and that’s good! It means that the code is more maintainable, and developers have to do less to keep the system working over time.
Go is also a more modern language and comes with built-in libraries, so you’re less likely to rely on a framework. A framework is a set of ready-to-use components that developers might need to accelerate the process of writing code. Go already contains solutions that can substitute these components: it’s like buying an apartment with a white box finish versus one without.
After Go became publicly available, it received a highly-positive response from the development community:
- “After Go, programming in anything else seems as difficult as balancing the State of California’s budget.” – Charles Thompson
- “Most of the appeal for me is not the features that Go has, but rather the features that have been intentionally left out.” – txxxxd in Hacker News
- “Go is not meant to innovate programming theory. It’s meant to innovate programming practice.” – Samuel Tesla
- “If I had to describe Go with one word it’d be ‘sensible’.” – Christoffer Hallas
What’s so special about Go
Go is one of the few popular languages that’s procedural. Most others within the top 10 are object-oriented. Let’s use an example to explain the difference between these two types of languages and accentuate the advantage of Go.
Imagine that we’re in the kitchen and we have three vegetables in front of us: a carrot, a clove of garlic, and an onion. We need to perform three actions with each of them: peel, slice, and put in the frying pan.
Object-oriented languages, such as Java or C, are focused on objects. Following their logic, we should write such an instruction:
- Peel the carrot, slice it, and put it in the frying pan.
- Peel the garlic, slice it, and put it in the frying pan.
- Peel the onion, slice it, and put it in the frying pan.
In total, this instruction features 36 words or 131 characters without spaces.
A procedural language, such as Go, is focused on actions. According to its logic, the same instruction would look different:
- Peel the carrot, garlic, and onion.
- Slice the carrot, garlic, and onion.
- Put the carrot, garlic, and onion in the frying pan.
The second instruction is more concise: it consists of 22 words or 101 characters without spaces. If we compare the code written in Go vs an object-oriented language, the difference in the volume can be even more drastic.
However, object-oriented languages tend to provide more control over all the “under-the-hood” aspects of a complex digital product. That’s why bulky C++ remains a more obvious choice for building photo and movie editing apps.
What are the most typical use cases of Go then?
How do developers use Go?
This programming language is used for:
- Cloud-based and network programming. Zoom, Facebook, and Gmail have huge user bases that keep expanding. Go allows these services to scale seamlessly — that is, operate without bugs even if many more users connect to them.
- Back-end programming for web services and applications. It’s an ideal language for apps that have to deal with a large number of requests. Go allows them to work fast and drives down the risk of bugs. This language was used to build the Soundcloud app and to ensure the highest quality of video streams on Twitch.
- Game development. Go comes in handy for building a very wide range of desktop and mobile games: from 2D to 3D ones, from card games to MMORPGs. Thanks to this language, the game consumes less memory and you don’t need to buy a powerful device to run it. Valorant by Riot Games and the Jeremy the Clam puzzle use Go.
- Data science. It’s great for processing and analyzing large data sets. Go is used to develop predictive models that can forecast nearly anything. On GitHub, you can find many instructions for using this language to forecast currency exchange rates or weather.
When creating the interface of a website or mobile app, you’d better opt for an object-oriented language and not Go. The procedural nature of the latter makes it unsuitable for design.
Reasons to learn Go
From a student’s position, Go is one of the best languages to learn for the following reasons:
Wide range of employment opportunities. There are around 33,000 job vacancies on LinkedIn for professionals who know Go in the U.S.A.
Decent salary. In the U.S., a Golang software engineer makes $169,985 per year, on average.
Active and helpful community. It consists of approximately 2 million developers, which accounts for around 10% of all professional developers in the world. When you need advice, colleagues from all around the globe will be glad to help you and share their experiences.
Shallow learning curve even for people with no previous experience in IT. The specification of Go is concise and occupies only around 50 pages. A specification of a programming language is the official instructions on using it. Here is an example of how it looks:
Opportunity to get started with fewer tools. The toolchain that you need for Go is lightweight and easy to install. A simple text editor like Notepad++ is pretty much enough to make your first steps.
Pre-built testing tool. You’ll be able to conveniently test the code that you wrote before it goes live. It’s a great way of preventing bugs.
Go: an excellent entry point into programming
If you start learning Go, you’ll appreciate how easy and concise it is. It’s a versatile programming language that ensures the fast and smooth operation of complex digital products.
It shouldn’t be a problem to find a job if you know Go — thousands of brands rely on it, including Uber, Riot Games, Zoom, and many others. Go comes in handy for building games and web apps, analyzing data, and ensuring the scaling of cloud-based solutions. This language will open excellent career perspectives to you.
Hopefully, this article inspired you to learn Go! However, it can also happen that after reading this text, you realized that you don’t just want to learn a programming language ― you want to start a new career working with databases and web architecture.
Then, consider the TripleTen online bootcamps. They offer 100% remote learning which you can conveniently combine with your current work. There, you can study software engineering, data science, data analysis, quality assurance, or business intelligence. You’ll master not one programming language but a whole set of skills that are crucial for your selected occupation.
87% of TripleTen graduates land a tech job within six months. So good luck on your career journey!