The languages that influenced Go
Go is a member of the C family of languages, along with C++, Java, and C#. It draws inspiration from various programming languages utilized by its creators. By retaining a syntax similar to C, Go aims to provide developers with familiarity. However, it enhances the syntax to be more concise and straightforward than C/C++.
One notable aspect of Go is its inclusion of dynamic language features, making it accessible and comfortable for programmers accustomed to languages like Python and Ruby. This versatility allows developers from diverse backgrounds to easily adapt to Go's coding style.
The need for a new language
The following are the reasons that led to the development of Go:
1. Evolving with the computing landscape
2. Need for faster software development
3. Need for efficiency and ease of programming
Let's discuss each need one by one.
1. Evolving with the computing landscape:
Traditional programming languages like C/C++ are needed to keep up with the evolving computing landscape, necessitating the development of a new systems language that aligns with the needs of the modern era. Go was created to address this gap and provide a language suitable for contemporary computing requirements.
2. Need for faster software development:
Despite advancements in computing power, software development has not significantly accelerated or achieved higher success rates, especially considering the number of failed projects. As applications continue to grow in complexity, there is a demand for a new low-level language that incorporates higher-level concepts to facilitate faster and more efficient software development.
3. Need for efficiency and ease of programming:
By combining these three needs, Go aims to provide a programming language that offers efficient development, high-performance execution, and a user-friendly experience for developers.
Targets for Go
The primary target of the design of Go was to combine the efficiency, performance, and safety of statically typed and compiled languages with the ease of use typically associated with dynamic languages. This aim was to make programming enjoyable once again.
In addition to that, Go was intended to meet the following targets:
Parallelization, concurrency, and network communication support
Excellent building speed support
Management of memory
1. Parallelization, concurrency, and network communication support:
Go aims to provide excellent network communication, concurrency, and parallelization support, especially on distributed and multi-core machines. This target was crucial for Google's internal use. It was achieved through goroutines, which enable lightweight concurrent programming. Goroutines simplify the handling of concurrent tasks and take advantage of the capabilities of modern hardware.
2. Excellent building speed support:
One of the motivations behind Go's development was the need to improve the building speed of large-scale projects, particularly in Google's infrastructure, where C++ was heavily used. Go addressed this concern by providing fast compilation and linking to produce machine code. The Go package model and clean dependency analysis significantly reduced build times, a major issue in languages with header files. The Go standard library compiles in less than 20 seconds and typical projects compile in mere fractions of a second.
3. Management of memory:
Go aimed to address the long-standing problem of memory management in languages like C++. Go's designers decided that memory management should not burden the developer. While executing native code, Go runs in a small runtime environment incorporating efficient and fast garbage collection. This relieves developers from manual memory management and helps prevent memory leaks. Go also includes a built-in runtime reflection capability, allowing programs to inspect and manipulate their structure at runtime.
In summary, Go targeted efficient network communication, concurrency, parallelization, excellent building speed, and simplified memory management. These goals aimed to make Go a productive and enjoyable language for developing modern, scalable, and efficient software systems.