Microservice-based software architecture is becoming increasingly popular with developers worldwide. Besides being cost-effective, microservices are the best at offering the agility and scalability that cloud-based applications need. Big tech corporations like Amazon and Netflix have been using them for years because of the benefits they offer over big, monolithic architecture designs.
- Microservices can be developed and tested simultaneously.
- They allow for easier deployment and troubleshooting, making them easier to maintain.
- Microservices allow small development teams to work almost independently and so they are the perfect choice for scale-up projects.
However, using the right tech stack is important to make the most of your microservice-based architecture design. For example, the programming language you use should be versatile and highly readable to allow development teams to work on several different components simultaneously and allow for a quicker, more effective development approach. While both Java and Python were once extensively used for developing microservice applications, most developers prefer using Google’s Golang now. But what exactly is Golang?
Golang - the perfect fit for your microservice application
Golang (short for Go Language) or Go is arguably the perfect language for microservice-based development. One of the key characteristics of a microservice application is that it should be written in a language that is both efficient and agile. Go was created at Google for the very purpose of boosting productivity by switching to a faster, more scalable alternative to C++. The advent of multi-core processors made it necessary for Google to switch to a language with better runtime performance, which none of the languages at the time offered.
Enter, Go. Go was custom-made for high-paced distributed processing and storage environments. Its small and simple syntax further makes it easy to understand, manage and compile. It does not, however, restrict the language’s functionality. Additional development toolkits like the Go Kit (a programming toolkit made especially for building microservices in Go) allow users to build complex custom applications using Go. Further, Go is capable of processing asynchronous I/O requests. This allows applications to access more than one service at a time without blocking any web requests.
To understand why Go is the perfect development language for your next microservice project, it is important to understand the features of a microservice-based architecture and how Go perfectly complements them.
Important features of a microservice-based architecture
Some defining features of microservice-based application designs are:
Microservice applications are structured as a suite of small services, all of which run independently and communicate with each other using lightweight mechanisms. Each of these programs or services is coded as an independent module (which can be written in a different language than the other modules) that interacts with other modules with the help of application programming interfaces (APIs). This allows for more efficient, distributed storage and processing mechanisms that only make use of the services that are essential to the task at hand.
Efficient processing in turn helps tasks get executed much faster. Microservices’ distributed approach can be better visualized using suite-based services like Google’s Workspace. Workspace uses different services like Docs, Slides, and Sheets to help users accomplish business tasks like creating office reports, presentations, and charts.
Why Go works
As mentioned, Go is a syntactically light and efficient programming language. It compiles much faster than most other languages (especially C-based), which helps it build on the efficient distributed processing structure present in microservice applications. Go makes use of acyclic graphical models of computation, which allows code packages to be compiled separately and in parallel. The elimination of cyclical computational methods allows code packages in Go to be compiled in a distributed, parallel manner which is perfect for microservice applications.
Modularity is based on business capabilities
While traditional, monolith architecture can be used to create modular programs, the modularity of these programs is often restricted to the features of the programming language they are built in. For example, both C++ and Java allow users to declare and use object classes and functions (methods in Java) to simplify the application structure. However, this also compels users to create application modules solely based on these methods. Microservice-based applications, on the other hand, can be compartmentalized using any custom method. The modularity of these applications depends solely on the end result they’re expected to generate and the business logic they are required to abide by.
Why Go Works
Go code is classified as packages and modules (one or more packages together make a module), each of which is compiled independently of the other. Each Go package comes with an object file that contains information about the package itself and its dependencies. This object file ensures that each package is compiled independently without the need for accessing any other package even if it belongs to the same module. This distributed, package-based structure helps Go developers implement a highly granular level of modularity in their applications.
Microservice-based applications can be changed/updated without the need for rewriting the entire application. Since these applications are independent services, any changes made to one or more of these services do not affect the others. This makes it much easier for software development teams to routinely test and update each service module without disrupting the development workflow. The most agile microservice applications are often the most granular in terms of their modularity. A highly distributed application structure allows teams to change and update minute aspects of the application with minimal to no effect on the rest of the program.
Why Go Works
Go’s strict separation of modules allows users to develop extremely agile and scalable applications. One of the most important aspects of Go’s user-friendliness is how easy it is to modify, test, and update packages on Go. Since all of a package’s dependencies are already mentioned in its object file, it can be compiled independently and parallelly with other packages from the same or different modules. This allows developers to make changes to the code and test them at a very granular level without having to scale the entire application horizontally. It also lays the foundation for a quick and efficient update cadence where software development teams can test out new features and make them available to users without making them wait for months.
Monolithic applications are usually coded using a large, singular codebase. These large codebases often end up becoming too complex and confusing for new developers that might be hired to maintain and update them. Consequently, onboarding these developers and making them more familiar with the existing application becomes time-consuming. Microservice applications, on the other hand, have highly distributed codebases. Each service is written in the language that best fits the task at hand, making the source code highly varied and easier to document and maintain. Microservice-based applications are also easier to fix and update, which allows software development teams to develop a good release cadence.
Why Go Works
Go’s simple syntax ensures that application codebases are easily readable irrespective of their size. It is also easy to grasp and learn, which helps cut down on the time needed to onboard new developers onto a project. Further, Go ranked #11 (above popular languages like Ruby and Objective-C) in the most recent TIOBE index used to measure the popularity of programming languages. Go is backed by a strong global community of developers who can help development teams troubleshoot problems and find the right reference material (including video tutorials) much quicker. Microservice/containerized application systems like Docker and Kubernetes are written in Go too.
Choosing the right development language for your microservice-based application
Using a less agile language would take away from the high modularity of your microservice-based application and make it much more restrictive, significantly reducing its functional capabilities. This is why choosing the right technology stack is so essential for maximizing the revolutionary features of microservice development architectures. Here are some key features that make Go the perfect language for developing microservice-based applications.
High readability and maintainability
A codebase that is easy to understand and maintain makes it easier for developers to collaborate and create services simultaneously. Go’s basic syntax is identical to that of standard C-based languages. It allows all the basic functionalities of C-based languages like struct and func declarations. This makes it highly readable and ensures that new developers don’t have to spend too much time trying to understand the existing code before they can finally audit and update it. A complicated codebase written in a lengthy syntax would defeat the entire purpose of having a large, distributed codebase, which is to make the program more readable and easy to maintain. Highly readable and agile languages like Go ensure that teams can onboard new members and transfer responsibilities easily.
One of the key benefits of microservice-based architecture is that it helps make applications quicker and much more storage and processing efficient. The processing of each task is divided among smaller microservices, all of which are capable of independently processing data and communicating with each other through (ideally) lightweight APIs. A programming language that takes longer to compile would hinder the application’s ability to execute tasks quickly. Runtime performance is an extremely important criterion when it comes to choosing the development language for any software project. Go’s excellent runtime performance makes it a great fit for microservice application development. It outperforms leading programming languages like Java and Python in terms of compilation time, CPU load, and processing overhead.
Apart from being easy to grasp and manage, the programming language you use for a microservice project should also be highly scalable. Go comes with a wide variety of toolkits and development frameworks that allow developers to include fully custom functionality in their applications. When coupled with a highly granular service structure, Go can help make your microservice applications incredibly malleable to your business needs. Each service in Go can be scaled up as needed without having to scale the entire application horizontally. Go’s ample resources and toolkits complement microservice architecture very well because of its inherent scalability and agility.
Go’s microservice development frameworks
Go’s growing community and high utility in modern cloud native applications have given rise to several useful add-ons, libraries, frameworks, and toolkits (published on open-source sites like GitHub) that can be used to create cutting-edge microservice-based applications using Go. Here are some important microservice development frameworks (for both front-end and backend modules) that all Go developers should be aware of.
Gin-gonic is an HTTP-based microservice framework written in Golang. Its features, like a Martini-like API (but up to 40 times faster), go-gorilla/context, and the ability to build robust and scalable REST APIs using minimal configuration make it one of the most widely used Go development frameworks.
go-micro is one of the most popular remote procedure call (RPC) frameworks in place today. It comes with several important features including message encoding, service discovery, synchronous and asynchronous communication, load balancing, and GRPC (Google RPC) client/server packages. It also comes with a feature named Sidecar, which allows easy integration with services written in other languages - one of the key features of any microservice-based application.
Go kit is Go’s most widely used resource library which is curated especially for microservice application development. It has packages for service discovery, authentication, tracing, transport, and metrics, among others. The Go kit essentially acts as a one-stop shop for all your operational and infrastructure concerns.
The digital development team at New York Times routinely uses Go for various tasks such as building JSON APIs. This focus on creating API-based Go services led to the creation of the Gizmo. Gizmo is a Go-based microservice development toolkit that provides users with several features like metric endpoints with configurable strategies, basic interfaces to define service expectations and vocabulary, and standardized configuration and logging.
Echo is a minimalist, high-performance Go framework for web applications with a rich feature list and excellent page load times. The framework offers both in-built and custom middleware options, TLS certificates from Let’s Encrypt, template rendering, data rendering, and HTTP/2 support. Echo is also scalable and allows users to build robust RESTful APIs that can be easily organized into groups. Echo’s detailed feature list includes:
- Optimized Router: Echo’s HTTP router completely eliminates the process of dynamic memory allocation. This allows it to smartly allocate and prioritize service routes.
- Scalable: Echo allows users to build highly scalable RESTful APIs.
- Automatic TLS: TLS certificates from Let's Encrypt are automatically installed on all user devices upon installing Echo.
- HTTP/2: Echo provides extensive HTTP/2 support, which helps improve page load times and processing efficiency.
- Middleware: Echo offers several built-in middlewares that can be set at the root, group, or route level. Users are also free to define their own.
- Data Binding: Echo also offers JSON, XML, or form data binding features for all HTTP request payloads.
- Templates: Echo allows users to render templates using any template engine of their choice.
- Extensible: Echo comes with completely customizable HTTP error handling solutions and easily extendable APIs.
Gorilla is an open-source web toolkit in Go developed especially for building light and dynamic user interfaces. Used by major conglomerate projects like Gmail, Gorilla is a leading web-development toolkit in Go with the following community-based goals:
- To provide a large-scale open-source network for sharing Go code.
- To build an open-source network for hosting Go projects.
- To develop an ecosystem of Go developers.
Choosing the right development framework
The final step before you start developing your Go-based microservice application is narrowing down on the frameworks and libraries you’re supposed to use. When you’re working with most other languages, there’s usually a go-to framework that provides all the relevant functionality and has come to become an industry standard over the years. Java developers usually go for Spring Boot, Python developers opt for Django, NodeJS developers prefer Express, and so on. However, Golang offers a variety of production-ready options that can be chosen as the base of your application.
Choosing the right framework for any Go-based application depends on several factors such as user flows, database design, use cases, and API specifications. The framework you use should allow you to use scalable services that enable you to implement all the business capabilities that you envision for your application. While there is a wide variety of options to choose from, some frameworks have been gaining popularity for their proficiency with certain kinds of development. Go Echo (mentioned above), for example, is a trusted web development framework in Go.
At Cortex, we understand what it takes to build a production-ready Go-based microservice application that fulfills all your business expectations. Our efficiency-enhancing tools and services allow engineers to rapidly innovate and deliver value to clients. Our solutions allow teams to enhance engineering efficiency, automate production readiness, drive service ownership and accountability across products and enable secure product migrations.