The Golang vs Python Debate: Which One Can You Rely On?
There are numerous good programming languages available that help build all kinds of infrastructure, including the platform where you're reading this blog post. Normally, users don't see any difference between the programming languages, as long as everything works fine for them.
However, developers constantly look for new languages to get better final results. As each developer has their preferred language of choice, discussions on the internet abound. One of the latest big discussions is the comparison of Golang (Go) to Python.
In this article, the MadAppGang team evaluates the merits and functionalities of both languages. While we certainly have our own preferences, we’ve set these aside for the sake of a fair comparison. Our goal is to help you decide which language should win the battle for your project: Go or Python?
Go and Python: At a glance
As a successor to ABC programming, Python entered the coding world in 1991, written by Guido van Rossum. A few of its hallmarks are readability, versatility, and scalability. Python boasts advanced libraries, a large community of ‘pythonistas’, and three compatible versions.
Golang first appeared in 2007 to address Google's needs. Go is a general purpose programming language, so you can use it for whatever task you need. MadAppGang's experience with Go on various projects tells us that this language shines when used in backend, network-centric applications and system tools.
Python is an object-oriented, imperative, functional, and procedural language. Go is a procedural, functional language that’s optimised for speed. These two languages differ greatly and normally serve different purposes. Python is the choice of data scientists, while Go is used for server-side commands.
Python is considered ideal for writing readable, shareable code, which is why there is a large and active Python community. But Go supports concurrency, whereas Python doesn’t. That's not the only difference between the two, though. Let's look at some other aspects.
Go vs. Python: Speed and performance
Let's start by comparing the performance of Golang and Python. This comparison shows the difference in memory use efficiency and time spent solving problems in each language.
As MadAppGang works with both languages, we have some practical data on this matter. As an example let's take two complex problems — the N body problem and Fasta — and see the performance results for both languages:
The results clearly show that Golang outperforms Python.
Golang vs. Python: Scalability
In today's world, building a truly scalable application is very important. A business cannot reach its full potential if it doesn't scale. When comparing Golang and Python’s scalability, we’re looking at whether they can multitask by dividing each task into multiple separate flows.
Golang was designed to scale well. It has an inbuilt concurrency feature that allows the handling of numerous requests at the same time. Python, even if it can implement parallelism through threads, has poor concurrency. This means that when using Python, you'll need far more time and resources to scale your project.
Golang vs. Python: Libraries and frameworks
Python’s wide range of libraries is one of its biggest advantages. The Python web frameworks Django and Flask allow you to build a web application or Application Programming Interface (API) in the shortest amount of time. The Numpy library helps with array handling and complex matrix functions. The OpenCV library is a great fit for image processing, while Pandas is a powerful software library for Data Analysis. And the list goes on and on.
Today, Golang has fewer libraries than Python. However, it doesn't mean that Go falls short. There is almost no difference between the usage fields covered. There are also excellent web frameworks (Gin, Echo), a toolkit for building microservices (Go kit), and libraries (Cli, Authboss) for concurrent programming, encryption, and more.
Difference between Golang and Python in readability
Development and software support usually requires an entire team, so there’s a high probability of staff turnover and/or additions to the team. As such, code readability becomes an important factor to consider.
At a glance, Python has better code readability. However, Python uses words where other languages use symbols. Frequently, this leads to confusion if the code is large or there are a lot of people working on the code.
In Golang, due to its stricter rules, importing unnecessary libraries or creating unnecessary variables is not permitted. Consequently, there is one only way to accomplish a given task. Therefore, it can be easily read by an entire team.
Python and Golang communities comparison
A few years ago, the Python community was one of the largest and most active in the world. Not only did this mean easier problem solving for programmers, but it also made it easier for businesses to find and hire developers. The job market for Python developers was not in deficit, so it was possible to find a team of specialists pretty fast. In 2021, the situation remains the same.
The Golang community was quite small just a few years ago, but things have changed since then. Nowadays, Golang is popular and there is no shortage of Golang jobs and candidates. If we compare the number of offers on StackOverflow for Golang (447) and Python (527) at the time of writing, it's clear that the difference in demand is almost insignificant.
For inspiration and a better understanding of which language suits your project more, let’s take a look at five startups. Two use Python while the other three use Golang.
Startups using Python
Python is one of the most popular programming languages among startups and big companies like Spotify, Pinterest, and Instagram alike. Here are a couple of examples of promising startups using Python:
Robocorp helps businesses and departments automate various human resources, infrastructure, and customer service tasks among others. The company uses Python to enable automation within existing tech environments and platforms.
Robocorp’s control room overview. Source: Robocorp
Robocorp's solution is built on Robocloud, a hyper-scalable cloud orchestration platform for robotic process automation, and a set of open-source tools built around the Robot Framework and Python ecosystem.
Stylight is an inspiration platform and online search engine for fashion, beauty, and design shoppers worldwide. It allows users to compare the prices of nearly 65,000 brands across more than 1,000 online stores at once.
Startups using Golang
Golang is the first choice for Google, Dropbox, Dailymotion, Netflix, and Uber, mostly because of its scalability. Although this is a popular language in big companies, it’s also suitable for small enterprises. Here are a few examples:
Okteto is a startup that offers local development improvements for Kubernetes (an open-source platform for managing workloads and services) apps. It allows for quick application updates without having to create Docker images or apply Kubernetes manifests, processes that can take some time.
Okteto website. Source: Okteto
The service is built on Golang. Ramiro Berrelleza, Okteto’s co-founder and CEO, provides two reasons for choosing Golang. First, the founders had experience with Go at previous companies and saw how well it performed. So it was easy to focus on a minimum viable product (MVP) without worrying about performance or asking questions like "will it run smoothly on every device?" or “will it scale?”.
Second, Okteto relies heavily on Kubernetes, which is entirely written in Golang. So the community itself and Okteto customers are very Go-driven.
Segmed is a cloud-based platform that provides medical AI companies with standardised datasets. Segmed enables AI teams to work with anonymised medical data to source medical image labels and accelerate the development of medical AI algorithms.
Segmed website. Source: Segmed
This startup chose the Go language for two reasons: faster development than any other technology, and excellent performance. As Wojciech Adaam Koszek, CTO and co-founder at Segmed said:
"The binary coming out of Golang - I can run it now and I will probably be able to run it with no modification five years from now... And you know, building technology for a startup knowing that performance issues won’t exist for a very long time… and the scalability of the technology made Go a natural choice."
A startup company, Evergen, aims to help shift humanity toward a more decentralised and renewable energy future. The company reached out to MadAppGang to create an app that would optimise and control both solar and battery energy resources and costs.
MadAppGang used Go as a primary language to build the Evergen app for two main reasons. Firstly, as Evergen wanted to release the app as soon as possible, Go was an excellent choice. It allowed us to build an MVP within a few short months. Secondly, Evergen wanted the service to work fast. Go handled this better than any other language. Additionally, Evergen was planning to scale in the near future, and by building with Go, we knew we could scale later without difficulties or a large amount of resources.
Go language vs. Python: What should you choose?
Python is still growing rapidly. Since 2003, it's been among the top ten most popular languages, and has lasted through three crunchy and non-compatible versions. It consistently gains new users and doesn't show any signs of slowing down. Plus, it remains the number-one choice for complicated projects that involve machine learning (ML).
However, the future of programming appears to lie with Go. Unlike Python, which is conglomerative with lots of sprawling libraries, syntaxes, and frameworks muddled together, Go is structured and easier to work with. In addition, Golang has an advantage over most of its competitors due to its general-purpose nature.
The question is what to choose for your project. What is better, Python or Go? It ultimately depends on what you’re building. Python is the language of choice for data scientists, and it will likely remain so for a long time. Developers of ML libraries are focusing all their efforts on extending the number of Python libraries. Go may get there, too, but it will require some more years.
For all the rest — microservices, backend development, server-side applications — Golang is an excellent choice. It’s great if you're planning to grow your business rapidly as it was designed with Google-sized scalability in mind. Go is also for you if you need your end-product as soon as possible. Go’s parallelism and other peculiarities make it possible to reduce MVP development time significantly.
When choosing the main programming language for your product, consider the nature of your project. It’s a pretty challenging task, especially if you’re new to the industry, but MadAppGang is here to help. Our team can help you brainstorm and find the best solution for your idea, be it Python or Go.
MadAppGang has extensive experience with both Go and Python, and complete teams for both languages. You get the best development solution and a cleverly designed end product without having to hire developers, build in-house teams, or purchase hardware and software.
Drop us a line and let’s start working on your project together.