My first foray into Google Go, and a URL shortener

I’ve been interested in Google’s Go for a while now. It feels like one of those new languages that are very promising and are here to stay. Certain developers I look up to in the community have also been talking about how Go is great for concurrency and a great language to work with in general.

So far I’m only done with An Introduction to Programming in Go (a short, free, online book), and halfway through Go by Example, but it was enough for me to start creating toy programs of my own. There’s a lot more to read and learn in Go – but I recommend both of the above resources as quick getting started guides for intermediate programmers.

I’ve also been interested in expanding my horizons a bit more than the day to day of my day job, so I was wanting to explore a new algorithm, say, e.g. a URL shortening algorithm. I found a good explanation on StackOverflow, so I decided to give it a go.

Here is the result. It’s a very primitive piece, to be sure, and it can be improved in a gazillion ways. I’ll be sure to check back as I learn more Go and more effective Go, and will be adding to both the functionality and cleanliness of the code. For now, I’ve crafted some functions at best, that try to create maps between digits and letters, and do some division and string concatenation, and that’s pretty much it for now. Maybe there’s a lot better way of creating the alphabet map than the way I’m doing it. But it does seem to get the job done for a given alphabet.

Finally, I’d like to say that I’ve really been liking Go so far. It feels like a cleaner C. It has some aspects of more modern programming languages too, e.g. interfaces. But it has no classes, only structs. It also seems to be a simpler language, e.g. it doesn’t confuse you with three to four different ways of constructing loops – there’s only for, nothing else. I like the panic and defer mechanisms, and I also like goroutines and channels. I’m not the most experienced person when it comes to concurrency, but so far it has been a pretty smooth ride for me, with no surprises (well, only pleasant ones). Go is also more powerful than a lot of other languages out there in terms of memory management – it combines the best of two worlds – it has garbage collection, but it also provides you pointers. A great language overall, I must say.

I’d just use Vim for everything whenever possible. Most of my Go adventures have also been in Vim – there are some plugins out there that make it easier for you to import stuff, but I haven’t tried any plugins so far apart from color coding. I’ve had a brief stint with the LiteIDE – it’s not bad – it does a fantastic job of performing Intellisense of sorts, but the visuals are not the greatest (I believe it’s Qt-based), nor the shortcuts or text-editing shortcuts impressive. I’d use it if I must, but I can stick with Vim otherwise.

I have a feeling that there’s going to be more to come from me in GoLang. Here’s something funny to keep the spirit up 🙂

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