Why Go for Backend Development with Go
The Go language (Golang) is an open-source programming language created by Google for corporate needs. It's a compiled, statically typed, simple language that has gained much popularity since its release in the late 2000s. The TIOBE index (a ranking of programming languages) places Golang among the world's most popular.
Go combines the best features of several other programming languages. For instance, it's high performing like C/C++ and Java, and suitable for various purposes like Python. It offers concurrency, dynamically formatted interfaces, advanced memory safety, and excellent scalability. These features make this language a perfect fit for cloud interfaces, network apps, and microservices.
In this article, we’ll discuss why you should consider Go for backend development (spoiler: it’s one of the best languages for building backends). At MadAppGang, we use it for many projects, such as Evergen, a platform that optimises the use of solar generation systems and batteries, and Identifo, a cloud-native user authentication system. Read on to find out why we think backend development with Go is a top choice.
What features do you want for your backend?
A backend is the part of a website or software that is invisible to users. Nonetheless, it is the brains as it processes user input, accesses data from a database, encrypts and decrypts data, and more. Hence, the backend of software is where the most action happens. Accordingly, a programming language must meet a range of requirements when it comes to backend development. Let’s take a closer look at these requirements and whether Golang meets them all:
Clear documentation and easy maintenance
Go is simple to learn and offers clear documentation. Its syntax is also comparatively simple, and it hasn’t undergone any major changes for a long time. Since Go doesn't require developers to learn new paradigms or syntax, the code written with this language is transparent and easy to understand. It’s a great choice for any project as it prevents developers from wasting time trying to decode existing code.
Backend development with Go is an excellent choice, especially when it comes to large projects. When using Go for your backend, you can scale your project without worrying about how to on-board new developers, it also simplifies the process of changing development teams if necessary. Clear documentation and neat code guarantee that you can maintain and update your software hassle-free.
Support for concurrency
Concurrency means that multiple computations can happen at the same time. Processor clock speeds don't increase, instead, each new generation of chips has more cores. It’s therefore necessary to separate a computation into concurrent pieces to make it run faster. That's when Golang shines.
Unlike Java and Python, languages that implement concurrency via threads, Go has built-in concurrency that’s enabled by two constructs: goroutines and channels. Goroutines are lightweight threads that communicate using channels. Since goroutines are lightweight, they don't take up much memory. This makes software work faster while also lowering the costs for businesses.
Performance is all about load and response time. So, it's crucial to use a fast and top performing language for your web or mobile app's backend. In most cases, Go is an excellent choice. Golang doesn't have a virtual machine, it compiles to machine code so programs are executed with no warm-up time. Golang also comes with an in-built garbage collector that helps manage memory and, consequently, reduces the risk of security issues that could be caused by code encapsulation.
Here are some benchmarks to show how faster Go can be than its counterparts:
Source: Benchmarks Game
Google designed Golang to improve and expand their programs; from the very beginning, this language was created with high scalability in mind. Its simplicity, support for concurrency, and small memory footprint combine to make scaling easy. The same features make Go an excellent choice for microservices, the architecture of choice for big corporations that constantly scale their projects.
As we’ve already mentioned, Golang offers excellent team flexibility, and is suitable for both small teams of developers and large enterprises. This is a huge pro for businesses, as you can never be sure how your development team will change over time. For instance, it's not easy to manage code in dynamically typed languages when you go from a bigger to a smaller team — a problem that Golang can solve.
Golang offers a superb standard library with a set of core packages that enhance and extend the language. It's very helpful to build pretty much everything. However, there are a lot of other tools to help build Go backends, microservices, low-code platforms, and more. Here are a few examples:
Gin – The Gin micro-framework is a powerful tool for building web applications and microservices. Gin was designed to reduce the boilerplate code involved in building these types of applications. It's also useful for creating reusable and extensible code.
Web.go – Because of its tree routing system, it's considered the lightest and simplest Go framework available. Web.go is the best fit for projects that require routing.
Gocraft – Programmers love this Go web framework because it helps them develop additional web application features. Excellent for developing highly scalable applications.
Gorilla – A set of reusable components that come with a web/HTTP library. Gorilla is one of the biggest and most efficient frameworks around as it provides new extensions, modules, and drop packages.
Revel – One of the largest and most popular Golang frameworks. Self-sufficient and unbound to middleware or third-party plugins, you don't have to set it up or configure Revel. This framework is all you need to develop application programming interfaces (APIs).
GORM – A Golang library for converting data between incompatible systems and minimising the need for rewritten code. This library offers auto migration tools, SQL builders, RAW SQL, and extendable plugins for customisation.
Go Kit – This library for building microservices offers specialised support for microservices in addition to improved remote procedure call (RPC) safety, infrastructure integration, program design, guidance for building distributed systems, and more.
Authboss – A Golang library and a modular web authentication system, Authboss provides several easy-to-integrate authentication and authorisation modules.
Golang startup kit – An open-source set of boilerplate code and libraries for building SaaS applications.
Golang comes with tools for creating and performing tests, including the go test command to run test suites, and the standard library's testing package. As Golang takes a minimalistic approach to everything, testing is minimalistic as well: it includes the lightweight testing package plus helper functions written in Go. Hence, tests are code-only, so no dependency is required.
Go's in-built testing package offers good functionality: logging information and reporting errors, skipping tests at runtime, running tests in a "short" mode, and more. By default, the test runner executes tests sequentially. However, with the Parallel() function, it is possible to run explicitly-marked tests over multiple cores simultaneously.
Go was developed in the age of cloud computing and with the newest technologies in mind. Thus, Golang is well suited to developing cloud-native apps. We refer to cloud-native as microservices architecture, when a single application is composed of a number of loosely coupled and independently deployable parts.
Go-based programs compile to a single binary, which eliminates the need for dependencies and virtual machines in production environments. If we add Golang's high performance, maintainability, and efficient memory management here, we'll get an excellent combo for building cloud-native projects.
Plus, let's not forget that Go is also a pioneer in container technologies. The leading name in software containers, Docker, is written in Go. Kubernetes, a container orchestrator for container platforms like Docker, is Go-based, too. Other Go cloud-native tools include, but are not limited to, CockroachDB, Fleet, Prometheus, Terraform, and Vitess.
Furthermore, major cloud providers, as well as third-party contributors, are working to make sure that Go receives the API support it needs for different cloud platforms. For instance, Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing service, optimised its ecosystem for Golang. Thus, Go-based programs fit well virtually anywhere.
Why do developers prefer Golang to Node.JS for backend development?
Node.js and Golang are two different technologies, however, both are used for building backends. Debates among developers about which one is better are ongoing. MadAppGang compiled a detailed comparison of these technologies based on our experience and found thatGolang and Node.js are equally effective, but context is important; the choice is determined by the nature of the project.
Source: Benchmark Games
Golang is more suitable for most complex and large applications because it's suitable for data-intensive apps, shows high performance, and supports concurrency. Besides, Go's clear and neat syntax makes the code easy to read and maintain even for new members on the development team. In any case, to choose the right technology stack for your backend, you need advice from specialists.
What are the limitations of Go?
As with any technology, backend development with Go has its drawbacks and limitations. There are not many, but it's better to know about these beforehand, and whether they are crucial for your project or not:
- Sometimes Go is too simplistic, so certain tasks require more code and effort.
- Go offers explicit error-handling, an approach that requires more code, hence more time.
- There is no manual memory management, which can result in an overloaded garbage collection.
- Working with concurrency requires specialists with a high level of expertise.
What mobile apps use Go on the backend?
At MadAppGang, we use Golang for many projects, such as Evergen, an app that helps optimize solar and battery energy resources and energy costs. Golang was chosen for its high performance and scalability. Golang also made it possible for Evergen and MadAppGang to build a minimal viable product (MVP) within just a few months.
Apart from Evergen, there are thousands of established companies and startups using Golang. Below, we've gathered a few examples of Go-based apps:
SoundCloud – This music sharing app was one of the first non-Google projects to adopt Go. The company chose Go because it’s an easy-to-maintain WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) language with static typing and fast compilation.
Monzo – A mobile banking app that’s built from the ground up with Go. The app features a single responsibility microservices architecture, meaning each module has a single functionality. With this approach, Golang was the right choice and it helped the company scale easily and better manage the product over time.
DropBox – The popular cloud storage platform switched from Python to Go to improve performance, execution speed, and stability and to gain concurrency support. By utilising open-source Go libraries, DropBox improved its caching, the standard error interface, and connection management.
Badoo – A dating app with 400 million users worldwide, Badoo used Go to implement bitmap indexes that perform specific searches and aid profile matches.
Netflix – This media streaming service used Go to build Rend Proxy, a high-performance server that handles tens of thousands of concurrent connections.
How to hire a Go developer for your project
To build a robust and reliable application, you need a team of app developers. You could opt for the traditional method and build a team within your company, but hiring developers is an expensive and time-consuming journey. The software development job market is not saturated, so startups and established companies alike can struggle to find, onboard and retain specialists. That's not to mention the expenses involved in hiring staff, office rent, providing the necessary software and hardware, and so on.
Another option is to look for freelancers. Although this is a cheaper option, it’s still time-consuming. Searching and interviewing Go developers may take weeks if not months, not to mention that working with a team of specialists who have never worked together before can quickly turn into a nightmare. Plus, to make your project a reality, you'll also need a project manager, designers, and quality assurance engineers. All the time and effort you put into sourcing and creating a full team could be put to better use designing and marketing your app instead.
It may be best to hire an experienced development company, such as MadAppGang. When you choose a professional development team, you don’t need to do much more than share your ideas. We handle all the tech stuff for you, and you can rely on us to help you plan, calculate costs, and then design, develop, and thoroughly test the end product.
No matter the technology stack you choose (Golang, Node.js or other), you'll get a highly skilled team delivering advanced, secure, and user-friendly software that benefits your users and your business. Take a look at our past projects and get in touch — as we have for many other businesses, we can turn your idea into advanced software with minimal delays.