The open-source Go programming language, also known as Golang, has worked to simplify developer lives since it first appeared in 2009. While it may have been Google’s backing that gained developers’ attention, its efficiency, simplicity, and tooling are the reason developers keep coming back, according to Nathan Youngman, author of getting Programming with Go. He explained that efficiency equates to fewer servers, which is good for business. Simplicity and familiarity mean it’s easy to learn. And the tooling means more uniform code, making it easier to understand.
Last year, the Stack Overflow developer survey reported that Go was the fifth most loved programming language, moving up from the 10th spot the previous year. It is also the third most wanted language among developers who aren’t using it but are interested in it.
According to the language’s 2019 annual developer survey, more developers don’t use it because they are working on a project in another language, their team prefers another language, and the lack of critical features doesn’t make it suitable for their needs—however, the number of developers that like a different language is decreasing every year. Eighty-nine percent of respondents indicated they want to use Go for their next project, and 86% who are using it reported it is working well for their teams.
What makes Go special?
According to Jonathan Bodner, the distinguished engineer at Capital One, the beauty of Go has more to do with its lack of features than its essential features. He explained it’s intentionally tiny and tries to be boring. “It’s not the prettiest language or the one with the most features, but its focus on maintainability, testability, repeatable builds, and developer productivity gives it the right priorities for modern cloud development,” Bodner said.
According to Steve Francia, product and strategic lead for Go at Google, Go grew out of the need for simplicity. Programming languages were starting to get more and more complex, and the readability was becoming untenable. When you have hundreds of teams working on the same codebase, much like Google does, readability is crucial. “One of the big catalysts for Go was to create a language that was simple, easy to read, easy to scale up on a human basis,” said Francia.