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Sam Zhang
Sam Zhang

Posted on • Originally published at samzhangjy.hashnode.dev

Learning Go Web Development From Zero

Hey guys, I'm Sam Zhang.

Today I wanted to explore the field of backend development - so I chose Go. The main reason I chose Go instead of other languages (such as Java), is because Go is kinda a new language (at least in my opinion) .

And sadly, I have absolutely no experience in Go development before. So I started this series of blog in order to keep track on myself. I will try to "record" what I've done and write some main concepts in my posts.

Of course, because I'm still a beginner (or newbie?) in Go, so there might be some incorrect stuff here. If so, please leave me a comment to help me improve!

Then let's get started!

Installing Go

Unlike many other languages, installing Go is quite simple, at least for me.

Go ahead and download the official installer at the Go download page. Run it, then you're all set!

Go comes with its command line tool go by default. It includes a set of commands such as run, get, mod, etc. For sure, I'm going to use those command a lot in this series. Check out the full list of commands here.

Installing Gin

I Googled about which Go web framework is the best for beginners, but turned out to be not that helpful. However, a lot of them mentioned Gin and has almost 60k stars on GitHub. So I chose Gin as my framework to get started.

Create a new folder to contain your project and follow the instructions of installation.

Troubleshooting

If you're a total beginner like me, you might be facing the following problem when running go get:

$ go get -u github.com/gin-gonic/gin
go: go.mod file not found in current directory or any parent directory.
        'go get' is no longer supported outside a module.
        To build and install a command, use 'go install' with a version,
        like 'go install example.com/cmd@latest'
        For more information, see https://golang.org/doc/go-get-install-deprecation
        or run 'go help get' or 'go help install'.
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This means that you don't have a module created in the current folder. go mod is a command for managing Go modules. We'll use go mod init command to generate a new module.

The go mod init command accepts one argument, module-path . I'm not so sure about this argument right now and I understand it like the name of the module. The format of module-path should be as follows:

lorem/ipsum/dor
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Then run go mod init <module-path> , replacing <module-path> with your own module path. After that, you should be able to install gin-gonic correctly.

Writing the first Gin request

So now we're all set with environments. Let's write a simple "Hello World" request in Go.

Create a new file named main.go in the root folder and fill in the following code:

package main

import (
    "net/http"

    "github.com/gin-gonic/gin"
)

func main() {
    router := gin.Default()  // router with default middleware installed
    // index route
    router.GET("/", func(c *gin.Context) {
        c.JSON(http.StatusOK, gin.H{
            "message": "Hello World",
        })
    })
    // run the server
    router.Run()
}
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Then run go run main.go and open up http://localhost:8080 . Hopefully a Hello World will come up all right:

{
    "message": "Hello World"
}
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Understanding the Hello World code

So... what the hell is going on here? Let's take a look at our code.

We've declared package main and imported some useful packages to our code. I'll try my best to explain code in main() function line by line.

So on line 10 we've declared a variable called router. gin.Default returns a router with default middleware (stuff like Logger and Recovery middleware) attached. You might be wondering, what in the world is := ? Well, it's similar to = in other programming languages. In Golang, a single = means assignment and := means declare and assignment. E.g:

var router = gin.Default()
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Is equivalent to:

router := gin.Default()
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The := operator is called Short variable declarations. More information see this StackOverflow question.

On line 12 ~ 16, we defined a GET request mapping to / and returns a JSON response. router.GET(), of course, defines a GET request. Its second argument accepts a callable function whereas that function will receive an argument with type gin.Context.

The context variable is named c in this case. *gin.Context is a pointer to the gin.Context value. The contexts in Gin provides a lot of features such as middleware and responses. For Chinese readers, you can take a look at this article for a more in-depth view of gin.Context.

On line 13 we called c.JSON() to response this request with content whose MIME type is application/json. http.StatusOK is a constant variable for the HTTP status code 200 success, which is from the builtin package net/http.

gin.H is a short-handed version of defining type for JSON data. If you'd like to nest JSON objects inside JSON objects, you can write something like:

gin.H{
    "some-data": gin.H{
        "message": "success"
    }
}
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And finally on line 18, we run the server on the default port 8080.

Live reloading

Now if you wanted to change the content of your Go application, you need to restart the development server every time you change something in order to test the newly added code.

So some web frameworks (such as Python Flask) has a builtin hot reloader for the development server. Unfortunately, Gin doesn't come with that. I chose to use air as my auto reloader and of course you can use others.

Setting up Air is quite simple. Run the following command to install it:

curl -sSfL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/cosmtrek/air/master/install.sh | sh -s -- -b $(go env GOPATH)/bin
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This will install Air to your $GOPATH, which is default to ~/go . Then append it to your $PATH by adding the following line to your .bashrc (or .zshrc):

export PATH=$PATH:$(go env GOPATH)/bin
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...and you're all set! Run air init to generate a default Air configuration.

Using Air is even simpler. Just run air in your command line and Air run main.go in the current folder and will automatically watch for changes in your source code.

Tip for macOS users: if you don't want to see the annoying popup every time Air reloads your code, simply replace

router.Run()
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with

router.Run("localhost:8080")
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Conclusion

So... I finally finished the Gin hello world! I put all my source code to GitHub and hopefully I will be updating it. Clone it if you found something useful or just to play around!

I'm Sam Zhang and I'll see ya next time!

Discussion (10)

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citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl

Nice post!

But IMO if you want to learn Go web development from zero, you should start with the standard library: http.Server, http.ServeMux. http.HandlerFunc.

gobyexample.com/http-servers
alexedwards.net/blog/an-introducti...

Once you understand those (and their limitations) the various choices and tradeoffs made by third party packages will make more sense.

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samzhangjy profile image
Sam Zhang Author

Thanks for recommending! I'll check it out!

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tony199555 profile image
Tony Yu

A fellow Chinese, who is a middle schooler. After a little digging I found out you also have a 500 star github repo. NICE.

You are doing better than I do. Keep it going!

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samzhangjy profile image
Sam Zhang Author

Hey! It's nice to see someone who is the my age here on DEV.

Well actually the 500-star project is now kinda abandoned for a while now... Don't have that much time to maintain :-(

I'm actually more like a beginner in the field of programming... And I hope I will keep improving!

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Great introduction Go is a language that I would be interested in learning one day but first I need to get better with Python.

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yongchanghe profile image
Yongchang He

Nice tutorial and thank you for sharing this!

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vietmle_ profile image
Viet Le

Nice intro post!

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snelson1 profile image
Sophia Nelson

Nice post

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aaravrrrrrr profile image
Aarav Reddy

Awesome article.

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connor_cc profile image
Connor

Thanks, great read.