Golang has skyrocketed in popularity year over year, making it one of the best choices for career-conscious developers to learn. As an example, StackOverflow’s Developer survey saw it climb in popularity among developers from 10th in 2019 all the way to 5th in 2020. Additionally, a full 32% of developers surveyed in Insights Dice want to learn it. Go developers are paid well - globally, the StackOverflow 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 general-purpose language that you can use to learn more fundamental CS concepts.
Besides all the benefits of Golang as a programming language, let’s talk about the reasons I think Go is one of the best programming languages to learn this year.
🔗 Go is a simple language to learn, especially for beginners
Go is a great language for beginners, and just in general, 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 of 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 careers. While they may have some coding knowledge, Google developed Go to be easy for them to pick up, and wouldn’t inhibit any future language learning - perfect for beginners. The question “Why learn Golang?” is answered first and best by saying simply it’s easy to.
It’s worth emphasizing the point that Go isn’t easy in the same way that training wheels are easy. That is, Go isn’t a language you’ll need to “graduate” from in the future. On the contrary, developers from more complex languages like Java and PHP are moving to Go all the time because Go’s simplicity encourages better engineering work.
🔗 Go is the language of the cloud
Go makes it very easy to scale as a company. This is very important because, as our engineering team grows, each service can be managed by a different unit.
Due to being fast, statically compiled, light on memory, and simple to understand, Go is a perfect candidate for cloud services. Even Kubernetes, the famous cloud orchestration tool is written in Go. Go has a very strong ecosystem for web services. The standard library has out-of-the-box support packages for common needs like HTTP servers and clients, JSON/XML parsing, SQL databases, and a range of security. Docker, K8s, and Go are a match made in heaven when it comes to cloud microservices.
🔗 Go is a newer, more modern language
Why learn Golang if it’s so new? Well, mostly for two reasons. First, there are lots of legacy code artifacts 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 the legacy baggage that so many other language tutorials have. It’s simple to learn Go.
Secondly, because it’s a newer language built for a specific 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 3rd party library less often because Go is a self-containing language. Furthermore, it’s easily documentable using docstrings - 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 lastly, 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, no matter what they may be.
🔗 Go is designed to be concurrent
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.
🔗 Go can help you land a job at Google (or other large companies)
The most practical answer to “Why learn Golang?” is that it can help you get a job faster. Go was developed by Google and was designed to be powerful, yet simple to use and learn. Learning the language that one of the largest tech companies developed and built specifically to help with the problem of complexity will give you a leg up.
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… The 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.
🔗 Go developers earn more than most other developers
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, and even pays more on a salaried basis than most other programming languages.
Upwork lists the average hourly rate as $64/hour, which is only topped by Objective-C. (Objective-C is Apple’s older language, currently being 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 it before necessarily taking the plunge and quitting your job.
🔗 Go is built for software engineers, not academics
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 where weird quirks are legacy artifacts form when the language was designed to do something else, the authors of the Go language try their best to only include necessary features. That’s why Go only very recently added support for generics, for example. 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 lays 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,
gofix, are 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.
🔗 There are lots of benefits to learning Go, even if you already feel like you know too many coding languages
Once you’ve learned Go 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 writeup 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.
🔗 Final thoughts on why you should be learning Go
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.
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 as more and more languages crop up every day. 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 as a freelance gig, project, or full-time job.