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Abhinav Pandey
Abhinav Pandey

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Getting started with Go

Golang is a programming language that popularly used to build web applications. In this article, I'm going to give a brief introduction to Golang (aka "Go")


To install Golang, please follow the instructions below.
Download the latest version of Golang from Golang website.

Follow the installation instructions as per your OS.
Set environment variables- For e.g. on Mac, I would run the following commands:

  • export GOPATH=$HOME/go - This is the path where I will store my Golang projects. This is used as default by the Go compiler to find the packages you create.
  • export GOROOT=$HOME/go - This is the directory where you will find the go binary.
  • export PATH=$PATH:$GOROOT/bin - This adds the 'go' executable to the PATH variable so that you can run it from anywhere.

Let's say Hello to the world

Let's look at a simple traditional Hello world program.

Create a new directory in your home directory and name it hello.
Create a new file in the hello directory and name it main.go.

In the main.go file, write the following code:

package main // Package declaration

import "fmt" // Import statement

func main() { // Main function
    fmt.Println("Hello, world!") 
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Let's run this file in a terminal.
Run the following command:

go run main.go
Hello, world!
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Now, let's look at the code in a more detailed way.

  1. The first line of the file is the package declaration. If you are familiar with Java, this is the same as the package declaration in Java. This will be helpful when you want to import this file into another Go file.
  2. Next we have the import statement. It includes the standard package fmt(Format). This package is used here to print the output. It can also be used to read input from the user. There can be many use cases for fmt but let's not dig deep right now.
  3. The main() function is the entry point of the program. This is where the program execution begins (again, this is the same as the main method in Java but more concise).

Note: Go provides a simpler print/println function too. However, it is not recommended to use this function. fmt is the preferred way because it is more flexible and can be used for many use cases.

Let's try a function call

Let's change the output of the program to print the name of the user.
For this, we will use the fmt package.
Let's add the following code to the main.go file:

package main 

import "fmt"  

// function that reads name from console and returns it
func getName() string { 
    var name string 
    fmt.Println("Enter your name: ") 
    return name 

// a main function which calls the getName() method and prints Hello with the name
func main() { 
    name := getName() 
    fmt.Println("Hello, %s!", name) 
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Let's run this file in a terminal.
Run the following command:

go run main.go
Enter your name: 
Hello, John!
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Let's look at the getName() function.

  1. The first line of the function is the function declaration. It has two parts: the return type string and the function name getName.
  2. Next we have the variable declaration. This is where we declare the variable name of type string. We will cover more on variables in the next article.
  3. Notice the return statement. This is where the value of the variable name is returned to the main function.

Another point to notice is the := operator used in the main function. This is a shorthand for declaring and initializing a variable. Here, we are declaring the variable name and initializing it with the value returned by the getName() function. We do not need to write the var keyword or the type of the variable.

This should give you a tiny idea of how Go works. In the next article, I will cover the basics of using variables and functions in Go. Stay tuned.
Thanks for reading. If you want to connect with me, you can find me on Twitter @abh1navv.

Top comments (2)

lexiebkm profile image
Alexander B.K.

I just got started on Go a few days ago.
For those who have known C, Go is like a modern C, with the addition of such things as implicit Interface which can be confusing for those who have known C++, Java, PHP or other OOP languages. Unfortunately, it doesn't provide pointer arithmetic available in C/C++.

nasoma profile image

Go (aka "Golang") not (Golang aka "Go").