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How to Learn Golang

Karen Schwarze - February 15, 2021

What do readability, concurrency, and gophers have to do with web development? They all are part of Google’s brainchild, a programming language called Golang, commonly referred to as Go.

Released in 2009 after being created for in-house purposes, Golang is a popular programming language that’s loved for its simplicity, scalability, and adorable mascot (a gopher).

If you’re interested in web development as a career or hobby, Golang is a great language to learn. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can learn this programming language.

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What Is Golang?

Golang, an open-source language based on the C programming language, focuses on efficiency, which leads to faster software and apps. Some of the companies where developers use Golang include Google, Apple, Facebook, Docker, The New York Times, and BBC.

There are several reasons why developers choose to use Golang. First, it is fast. It is a compiled language, which means that once a program has been compiled, it will run more quickly than a program written in an interpreted language.

Second, Golang is primed for scalability with something called Goroutines. Goroutines are functions that can run simultaneously and independently. You can run many, even millions, of Goroutines without crashing your program. Running these Goroutines simultaneously is called “concurrency” and is part of what makes Golang so powerful.

Third, Golang comes with comprehensive programming tools, like editors, IDEs, plugins, and a GitHub repository. It’s an open-source project that a lot of people are working on, with the backing of Google, so there are plenty of resources available to help you build projects.

What Is Golang Used For?

Golang is used in a variety of industries and use cases. Here are just a few:

  • Cloud services. Google uses Golang to build cloud infrastructure with its Google Cloud Platform. Other businesses are also using Golang for their cloud services, such as Dropbox, Terraform, Kubernetes, and Docker.
  • Media platforms. Because of its speed and scalability, Golang is used on platforms that have high load counts, such as YouTube, SoundCloud, and Netflix.
  • News outlets. The news outlet BBC uses Golang for their back end development and internal analytics services.
  • On-demand services. Again, because of its speed, Golang is ideal for services that need to respond quickly to user information. An example is Uber’s need to improve map processing speeds. Uber and other companies use “geofencing”, a process by which an app can identify a user’s location and thereby recommend nearby services. Golang provides the speed necessary to provide accurate recommendations based on a user’s location.

Learning Golang

Golang is easy to learn if you already have a background in C or Java. For many developers with development experience, transitioning to Golang has been a popular move. But even if you don’t know C or Java, Golang can be a good first language to learn, as it is in demand right now.

One thing to consider is that, even though it has fast execution, writing Golang can be time-consuming. You may need to write many lines of code to accomplish something that can be done with just a few lines in a language like Python. As with any decision about which technology to use for a given project, as a developer you’ll need to think about the pros and cons of using Golang over another language.

Before learning Go, you should be familiar with the concept of functions in programming. You will also need some kind of text editor or IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and some knowledge of how to use your command terminal.

According to Stack Overflow’s 2020 Developer Survey , globally, Golang is the third-highest paying programming language. People who have this skill earn on average $74,000 a year. In the United States, Golang comes in second, with average salaries at $140,000. As of this writing, there are over 6,000 jobs on LinkedIn that mention Golang , with job titles like Golang developer, software engineer, and technical lead.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Golang?

If you already know C or Java, Golang is easy to learn, and you can start writing programs in just a few days. If you do not know C or Java, it will take you two to three months to learn to use Golang professionally. You will want to continue practicing your skills for several more months if you want to become a Golang developer.

How to Learn Golang: Step-by-Step

Depending on your familiarity with programming and your learning preferences, there are several ways to get started with Golang. Some developers prefer to take courses or read books before jumping into a new technology. While these steps may differ for you, here are our big-picture tips for getting started with Go.

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  1. Learn some programming basics. It’s OK if Golang is the first programming language that you’re really going to dig in and learn. However, according to the Golang website, it helps if you at least know about functions before getting started.
  2. Decide why you want to learn Golang. Are you interested in using Golang to develop cloud services, or do you want to speed up load times on media platforms? Perhaps you want to work for Uber or another company that offers similar services where geofencing is needed. Deciding what initial direction you want to pursue can help you find the right resources.
  3. Try the Tour of Golang tutorial . This interactive tour is a great, free introduction to Golang. Once you have finished with this tutorial, you can decide whether you want to take further courses or read books to grow your skills.
  4. Install Go. You can download Golang for free for your operating system. Be sure to check out the Golang Getting Started Guide so you can start coding. If you need more help, there are many video tutorials that show you how to set up your Golang coding environment .
  5. Start with some basic projects. After you’ve installed Golang and worked through the Getting Started Guide, try other small projects, like creating a Golang module or testing your code. Take advantage of these Golang tutorials .
  6. Take courses and read books to grow your skills. Depending on your learning preferences, take courses or read books to develop more projects.

The Best Golang Courses and Trainings

Use courses to grow and expand your skills as you learn the ins-and-outs of Golang.

Coursera: Programming with Google Go Specialization

Cost: Coursera subscription (varies)

To succeed in this Golang course, you should have previous experience with another programming language such as C, Python, or Java. You’ll learn about data types, functions, methods, object orientation, and more. Topics also include concurrency, which is an important feature in Golang. When you finish, you’ll be able to implement simple Golang programs, and you will get a certificate.

LinkedIn: Learning Go

Cost: $34.99 or LinkedIn Premium ($29.99/month)

In this course, you’ll learn the core language elements and syntax of Golang. Topics covered include Go Playground (a tool for running Golang in your browser) and basic programming tasks like managing values and using math operators. Additionally, this course will teach you how to structure Golang code for maximum readability and how to make simple web requests. You’ll get a certificate of completion when you finish this course.

Codecademy: Learn Go

Cost: Codecademy Pro Membership ($19.99/month)

In this course for beginners, you’ll learn how to set up your Golang environment, how to use Golang’s data types and variables, and how to use conditional statements and functions. You’ll build four projects and take quizzes to practice your skills. This course takes nine hours to complete and has no prerequisites.

Golang Books

Books are a great way to learn Golang. Here are our top picks.

Head First Go: A Brain-Friendly Guide , Jay McGavern

Image credit: Amazon

Head First Go is a practical, hands-on guide to the Golang programming language. Repetition of concepts and step-by-step explanations are just part of the learning experience this book offers. Featuring visually rich instruction pages, exercises that make you think, and examples of how you’d use the language in real business situations, this should be your first book if you’re just starting out with Golang.

Go in 24 Hours , George Ornbo

Image credit: Amazon

In 24 sessions of one hour or less, this book will teach you how to build software with Golang. You’ll learn about setting up your coding environment, testing your code, and deploying it. Each lesson builds on the previous one, and examples help you visualize and absorb the information. With quizzes and exercises to help you apply what you learn, this is a great book to read if you’re just getting started with Golang.

Get Programming with Go , Nathan Youngman

Image credit: Amazon

Do you want to jump into working with Golang? With the 32 lessons in this book, you’ll quickly grasp how to use Golang. You will master Golang syntax, work with types and functions, and even learn about concepts such as concurrency. There are plenty of exercises and seven capstone projects. There’s no assumption of prior programming knowledge, so you can use this as your first Golang book.

Online Golang Resources

In addition to courses and books, there are online resources available to help you learn Golang.

Golang Website

Image credit: Golang Website

The Golang website has a lot of resources for helping you learn this programming language, whether you’re an experienced programmer or completely new. There’s a Go playground where you can experiment with Golang code in your browser, documentation and tutorials, a blog, and more. This is also a valuable resource for learning about the standard library and packages that Golang offers.

Go Forum

Image credit: Go Forum

Golang has a flourishing developer community, and the Go Forum is one place where you can interact with this community. There are categories such as Getting Help, technical discussions, information about meetups and conferences, and much more. As your Golang skills grow, you may even want to check out the jobs board available on the Go Forum.

GolangTime Podcast

Image credit: Go Time Podcast

Hear what others in the Golang community are saying with the Go Time podcast. Episodes include “What to expect when you’re NOT expecting”, which is about debugging when your code doesn’t do as you expect; “Play with Go”, where the creators of this set of interactive tutorials talk about the project; and “The secret life of gophers”, where panelists discuss top tips for developing with Golang.

Should You Study Golang?

If you are interested in web development and want to learn a popular, well-paid programming language, look no further than Golang. This programming language is used in exciting niches such as cloud services, media platforms, and on-demand services at companies like Apple, Facebook, Uber, YouTube, and more.

With many resources and a friendly, active developer community, you’ll be set up for success as you progress in your journey to learn Golang.

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Karen Schwarze

About the author: A former educator and edtech marketer, Karen is passionate about computer science education. She’s particularly fascinated by the connections between coding languages and English language/literature structures. This led her to build an edtech app where users create Python programs by manipulating literary devices like similes and metaphors. When she’s not writing, Karen enjoys watching comedy and reading books about history.

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