golang goals

When discussing the Go programming language, I find it useful to always reference the goals of the language. Discussion tends to devolve into a comparison of features of other programming languages which Go lacks. Without the context of these goals, the discussion ceases being useful.

Stolen from a Google tech talk that Rob Pike did back in 2009:


  • The efficiency of a statically-typed compiled language with the ease of programming of a dynamic language.
  • Safety: type-safe and memory-safe.
  • Good support for concurrency and communication.
  • Efficient, latency-free garbage collection.
  • High-speed compilation.

Watch the Go at Google video or read the article and you will get the impression that these goals are NOT in their order of importance. I suggest that the last item, High-speed compilation, trumps all the others.

Here is a short, 1:15 video demonstrating the speed of the go compiler: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwoWei-GAPo

The first comment, over 2 years ago, at Lambda the Ultimate, about that Go at Google video, sums it up even better. It is a snapshot of another slide. This time instead of Go goals, the slide is “What makes large-scale development hard with C++ or Java (at least):”

  • slow builds
  • uncontrolled dependencies
  • each programmer using a different subset of the language
  • poor program understanding (documentation, etc.)
  • duplication of effort
  • cost of updates
  • version skew
  • difficulty of automation (auto rewriters etc.): tooling
  • cross-language builds

* Language features don’t usually address these.


It took me quite a while to keep these above things in mind when thinking about Go. In fact, I still tend to compare Go to my favorite programming languages, probably because I often forget some of those above drawbacks to C++/Java (read C# for me).

I’ll try to remember. I beg others to try to remember too.

ctags for golang and vim; just the right things with godeps

I use vim.

I like to press ctrl-] to go to a tag and ctrl-t to pop up that tag stack.

I use ctags from homebrew to generate my tags file which vim reads. The OSX version of ctags is inadequate.

I often invoke ctags with -R . and a list of directory names to the libraries which I am using. When using ctags with python or C this works reasonably well, but I have to maintain the list of directories somewhere.

Go lets me handle this case slightly better.

godeps is a tool which does two things, in this case I only care about the first. godeps prints the source dependencies of named packages.

Combining godeps output and sending it to ctags means my tags file automatically has tokens from all of my dependent packages. I name this shell function goctags.

goctags () { godeps ./… | awk -v GOPATH=$GOPATH ‘{print GOPATH”/src/”$1}’ | xargs ctags -R .; }

I added it to my .bashrc.