There are many good reasons why learning Golang is a popular idea altogether — Stack Overflow’s 2020 developer survey saw it climb in popularity among developers from tenth in 2019 all the way to fifth in 2020. According to Insights Dice, a full 32% of developers want to learn it. It pays well, too: Globally, the Stack Overflow survey found that Perl, Scala, and Go programmers have the highest salaries.
It’s practical, too, as it was developed specifically by Google to “eliminate the slowness and clumsiness of software development at Google, and thereby to make the process more productive and scalable. The language was designed by and for people who write— and read and debug and maintain — large software systems.”
For those who want to learn computer science online, it’s also worth mentioning that Go is a good basic language that can help build foundational blocks that will be suitable for other languages you may go on to learn.
Beyond all the reasons that make Go a great language to learn, there are seven factors that make it a perfect language specifically for beginner coders. Let’s jump into the reasons.
Every beginner coder needs to start with a language. The second language is always easier to learn, so you want to start with something that’s easy to pick up.
Go is a great language for beginners because the syntax is small — you won’t have to spend ages paging through reference documentation. It’s clean and easy to read, meaning you’ll be able to understand what you and others are writing. It’s parsable without any type information or a symbol table as there is no type-specific context.
The reason it’s so easy is that Google as a company has been great about hiring many new programmers that are at the start of their coding career. Google developed Go to be easy for them to pick up and to not inhibit any future language learnings — perfect for beginners. The question “why learn Golang?” is answered first and best by saying simply “it’s easy to.”
Why learn Golang if it’s so new? For two reasons. First, there are lots of legacy coding ideals out there for older languages. Because Go is relatively new (2009) the examples, tutorials, libraries, and frameworks will be mostly developed by experienced coders. While there may not be as many how-tos as for PERL, these tutorials and examples won’t contain legacy baggage that so many other language tutorials have. Basically, it’s simple for beginners to learn Go.
Second, because it’s a newer language built for purpose and not as an artifact or accident, it will teach you good habits if you go on to learn new languages.
One Reddit thread detailing why you should learn Golang explains that you’ll have to use a third-party library less often because Go is a self-containing language. Furthermore, it’s easily documentable using docstrings, and learning these code-documenting habits will give you immediate tangible benefits. Unlike languages like PHP, there’s often just one way to accomplish a task, a black-and-white mentality perfect for beginners learning their first coding language. And last, it’s built to be future-proof — no matter what comes down the coding line, Go was created to still be relevant to any future apps or frameworks.
The benefits of this may be harder for beginner programmers to understand because it’s so intuitive, but many other programming languages don’t have this.
Essentially, Go is great for beginners because you can do multiple things at once easily. Most production software systems need to be able to do lots of things all at the same time. While other languages often have mechanisms to accomplish this, they can be overly complex, slow, or result in buggy code. Go is frequently recognized by the developer community as a leader in simplifying concurrent applications.
The most practical answer to “why learn Golang?” is that it can help you get a job faster. As stated further up in this article, Go was developed by Google. Getting a job at Google is desirable for just about any programmer, regardless of expertise level. Learning the language they developed and built specifically to help with the complex problems Google faces every day will give you a leg up.
Rob Pike, a creator of Go, explained in his 2012 keynote, “The Go programming language was conceived in late 2007 as an answer to some of the problems we were seeing developing software infrastructure at Google…[t]he problems introduced by multicore processors, networked systems, massive computation clusters, and the web programming model were being worked around rather than addressed head-on.”
Several big user-facing Google services use it, including YouTube and dl.google.com (the download server that delivers Chrome, Android, and other downloads). Google’s enormous influence means that other large companies have also seen the value Go provides and have adopted it themselves, including BBC Worldwide, Canonical, Heroku, Nokia, and Soundcloud.
This is another reason Go is great for beginners to learn. Not all coding beginners are ready for a total career change and might prefer testing out their chops on a freelance basis before jumping into a complete career pivot. Go gives you excellent freelance rates as a beginner developer.
Upwork lists the average hourly rate as $64/hour, which is only topped by Objective-C. (Objective-C is Apple’s older language, soon to be replaced by their newer language, Swift. ) If you’re wondering why you should learn Golang, it makes sense to consider that even if you’re not ready for a job switch, you can still use the knowledge to earn money.
Unlike many of the other programming languages recommended for beginners like Python, Go is a specialty language and hence is in much greater demand. Learning Go in 2021 will give you the chance to test your coding skills and get paid well for them before necessarily taking the plunge and quitting your job.
Most of us intuitively understand that it’s easier to learn something if you immediately grasp the value. Because Go is built to be a practical, problem-solving language, most of its features are intentional, and each decision in its creation is supported and outlined in the documentation. Unlike other languages, that have weird quirks that are legacy artifacts from when the language was designed to do something else, Go is intentional. This makes it ideal for beginners who want to understand the why and how behind rules.
For a start, you can look at Go’s naming conventions, which detail and lay out the case for each and every one of the naming convention decisions. The dependencies, semantics, and syntax are clear. The tooling that supports the language, including the go tool, gofmt, godoc, and gofix, is easy to use. In the words of the creator of Go, “Go is more about software engineering than programming language research. Or to rephrase, it is about language design in the service of software engineering.”
Why learn Golang? Because Go is a language where everything is done for a practical reason. This is what makes it so great for beginners to learn — there are few edge case exceptions, no historical quirks, and no unexplained legacy artifacts.
The final answer to the question of “why learn Golang?” in 2021 I’ll mention in this article is that once you’ve learned it as your first language, there is a whole heap of advantages you may not notice until you learn your second language or until you’re further on in learning Go. They may not be useful or noticeable now as a beginner, but as you go (pun intended) forward in your coding career, these will make coding in Go — and other languages — more enjoyable and rewarding.
For a start, it’s a fast language. As a beginner, you may not have a reference for comparison, but due to its compilation, static types, and efficient garbage collection, it’s one of the fastest high-level programming languages.
Secondly, it encourages good documentation habits. Google takes its responsibilities to document Go very seriously, of course, but it also helps and encourages coders to self-document. “GoDoc is a static code analyzing tool that creates beautiful documentation pages straight out of your code without the use of any extra languages, like JavaDoc, PHPDoc, or JSDoc to annotate constructions. Just English. It uses as much information as it can get from your code to outline, structure, and format the documentation,” writes KoFi Group in their write-up of Go.
Beyond speed and good coding habit-building, Go has a steady learning curve. While it’s possible to learn the basics in just a couple of hours, you get more out of it the more you put in.
For every beginner programmer wondering where to start with learning a programming language, a case could be made for several different languages. However, for the practical, efficient beginner coder who wants to spend their time wisely, there are fewer better languages than Go.
Go is easy to pick up, designed to be simple, built to purpose, and intuitive to run. Furthermore, it suits the vast majority of beginner coders who want to learn a language for practical reasons rather than academic ones.
In his keynote, Rob Pike says, “The computing landscape today is almost unrelated to the environment in which the languages being used, mostly C++, Java, and Python, had been created.”
“Why learn Golang?” is a great question to ask in 2021, as more and more languages crop up. It makes sense, particularly for novice coders, to pick a language that’s good for beginners and that will serve them in their career as programmers, whether it’s in a freelance gig, a project, or a full-time job. These benefits should make it clear to anyone that Go is an ideal language for beginners to learn in 2021.