Looking at Go

In the latest stage of my exploration/deepening of programming knowledge, I’ve been looking at Go.

There’s got to be something that piques my intellectual curiosity or solves a specific problem for me to want to learn a new language. Not much about the latest “hot” languages like Ruby, Scala, and Erlang appeals to me, so I haven’t bothered with them. In real world work, I like Python as a general purpose language, and I like Java (seriously!) for large projects that need the strong tooling and frameworks available for it. Lisp and Clojure have provided useful perspective and food for thought, but in practice, they haven’t found a place in the real world software I write. Everything else I tolerate only because I have to (I’m looking at you, Javascript).

Go is extremely intriguing. It strikes me as combining some of the best things about Python and Java. It would be great not to have to choose! I like the simple syntax (not as simple as Python, alas!), the static typing, the fact that it’s compiled, and the general philosophy of favoring composition over inheritance, an idea I’ve come to support more and more. In a world currently dominated by highly dynamic, interpreted languages with very loose typing systems and a hierarchical object oriented paradigm, Go is incredibly unique! Follow the trend of languages like Clojure, Go has concurrency features that take strong advantage of multicore computing, except that its concurrency mechanisms seem much simpler. I’ve started to look at code samples and play with it a bit, and I really like what I see so far.

There’s actually a lot of negative discussions of Go on the web, but most of them are about the language in its messy pre-1.0 state. The March 1.0 release has supposedly tightened up a lot of things, and of course, performance will only get better, now that the fundamental semantics and features are solidly in place. This is an exciting time for what feels like the next evolutionary step in programming languages.