Tag Archives: golang

The Nuances of Go: Go Program Structure

Talking About Types, Variables, Pointers, and More

In my endeavor to get more of the specifics of Go figured out, I’ve been diving a bit more in depth to each of the specific features, capabilities, and characteristics of the language. I’ll be doing the same for Cassandra over the coming months and producing a blog entry series about it. This new series however is about Go, and this first in the series is about types, variables, pointers, and naming of these things. Enjoy.

Reserved Words, Keywords & Related Systemic Parts of Go

First off let’s talk about the reserved words in Go. The list includes 25 keywords that can’t be used as variables or names of functions or anything like that. This list includes:

if import interface map
select return range package
struct switch type var
for func go goto
default defer else fallthrough
case const chan continue

Beyond these 25 keywords there are also some predeclared names that can be but usually shouldn’t be used for naming. These include:


true false iota nil


int int8 int16 int32
int64 uint uint8 uint16
uint32 uint64 uintptr float32
float64 complex128 complex64 bool
byte rune string error


make len cap new
append copy close delete
complex real imag panic

When declaring an entity within a function, it’s scope is limited to that function. When declaring it outside of the function it is available to the contents of the package it is declared inside of. The case of the first letter also has the effect of allowing access within or across package boundaries. If the name begins with an upper case character it is exported for other packages. Package names themselves are always lower case however.

Camel Casing

It’s also important to know about the emphasis and standard within Go to use camel casing. Except it appears that for acronyms and such like; HTML, XML, JSON, or such things, it is routine to use names like HTMLthingy, XMLjunkHere, or rockStarJSON. Go is somewhat particular about these types of things, so it is extremely important to use the Go format standards. To help with this, there’s also the gofmt function, but it’s always good to just use the proper formatting during writing of the code anyway.

The Four Declarations

The four declarations are kind of like the four horsement, except not really. Forget that analogy as it was already going nowhere. The four declarations include:

var const type func

Here are some code samples of various declarations. First use of the func. In any new Go program there’s always the main() function. Declared like this.

func main() {
    // Stuff goes here.

Another example of a function declaration with parameters passed and expected results to return. The signature works like func followed by the name of the function, then in parenthesis parameter name followed by its type, for as may parameters as is needed. Then after the parenthesis the type of the expected result of the function. Of course, if no result is expected to be returned, then there would be no tpe specified here. Just as if no parameters, the parenthesis would still be used but no parameters specified.

func doSomeComputation(someValue float64, anotherFloaty float64) float64 {
    return someValue * anotherFloat

Using the var for declaration of variables looks like this.

var f = 212.0
var result = 2 + 2
var celsius = (f - 32) * 5 / 9

Variable types can be defined in this way. Using var keyword, followed by the variable name, then followed by its type, and then if desired assigned via = and then the specific value or function with a result to assign to the variable.

var name type = expression

Without an assignment, the variable is simply created with the intent of assigning a value later. Such as these variable declarations.

var f float32
var result float64
var celsius float64
var someVariable int
var junk string

A shorter version of the creation and assignment of variables looks like this. It however can only be used within a function.

name := expression

Actual use of this shorter version would look like this.

f := 212.0
randomStuff := rand.Float64()
wordContent := "This is some character string nonsense."

One can also do some other tricks with this shorter method of assignment. Let’s say some variables are needed that will have integers assigned to them. You could set up the variables with values like this. I’ve noticed some get a bit confused about this and tuple assignments, this is not the same thing. This merely gives you three variables: k, l, and m and assigns the values 0, 1, and 2 to the respective variable.

k, l, m := 0, 1, 2

It’s also important to note, a short declaration doesn’t always declare all of the variables on the left-hand side. Some, if already declared in the same lexical block, it then acts as an assignment to the variables instead.

Declaring a constant value with const would look like this.

const fahrenheitBoiling = 212.0


A variable holds a particular value, where as a pointer holds the address in memory of a particular value. Sometimes, it gets a bit difficult to mentally keep track of pointers, so let’s look at a few examples. First I’ll start with a plain old variable.

someVariable := "The original value of this variable."

Then I’ll add another variable, which will point at the address and respective value of someVariable.

someVariable := "The original value of this variable."
anotherVariable := &someVariable

In this situation what does the fmt.Println(*anotherVariable) function print out? The result would be “The original value of this variable.” because anotherVariable is a variable that points to the value of someVariable. Which means anotherVariable doesn’t take the resources that someVariable does, but merely points to it.

The reasoning here is, if you have variable for example that stores a very large value in memory. One can merely point to that data with a pointer and the large value doesn’t have to change it’s memory space. Imagine if that variable were a gigabyte of data and it had to be moved every time something needed referenced or calculated with it, with a pointer we don’t have to move it. It can be used in various ways without it getting shifted around.

Now if I take the pointer value anotherVariable and assign it a value, like this.

*anotherVariable = "42"

Then what happens? The pointer now is re-allocated and assigned the new value of “42”. It no longer references the address space of the pointer and instead now has the value 42 assigned to the variable.

The Fancy new Function

There’s also another function, a built-in one, that creates a variable. Using the expression new(type) will create an unnamed variable of type, initializes it, and returns the address of the value of type. In pointer speak, it’d be *type. Here are some examples.

pinto := new(int)

This code will create a variable of type int, then initialize the value to zero since it is an int. Let’s say we want to actually give it a value after it’s created though. We could assign pinto like this.

*pinto = 42

This will then print out the value 42, of type integer. Note, this new is just sugar, a syntactical convenience feature really. They can be useful however, and there are a few caveats that need to be noted. For example, check out this gotcha.

If I declare two new values using new.

firstThing := new(int)
secondThing := new(int)
fmt.Println(firstThing == secondThing)

In this case, the firstThing and secondThing don’t actually match, because the comparison is on the address space, and they’re different address spaces!

Alright, that’s it for now, just a few important nuances around how variables, pointers, and Go features work.

Thrashing Code Twitch Schedule September 19th-October 2nd

I’ve got everything queued back up with some extra Thrashing Code Sessions and will have some on the rails travel streams. Here’s what the schedule looks like so far.

Today at 3pm PST (UPDATED: Sep 19th 2018)

thrashing-code-terraformUPDATED: Video available https://youtu.be/NmlzGKUnln4

I’m going to get back into the roll of things this session after the travels last week. In this session I’m aiming to do several things:

  1. Complete next steps toward getting a DataStax Enterprise Apache Cassandra cluster up and running via Terraform in Google Cloud Platform. My estimate is I’ll get to the point that I’ll have three instances that launch and will automate the installation of Cassandra on the three instances. Later I’ll aim to expand this, but for now I’m just going to deploy 3 nodes and then take it from there. Another future option is to bake the installation into a Packer deployed image and use it for the Terraform execution. Tune in to find out the steps and what I decide to go with.
  2. I’m going to pull up the InteroperabilityBlackBox and start to flesh out some objects for our model. The idea, is based around something I stumbled into last week during travels, the thread on that is here.

Friday (Today) @ 3pm PST

thrashing-code-gopherThis Friday I’m aiming to cover some Go basics before moving further into the Colligere CLI  app. Here are the highlights of the plan.

  1.  I’m going to cover some of the topics around program structure including: type declarations, tuple assignment, variable lifetime, pointers, and other variables.
  2.  I’m going to cover some basics on packages, initialization of packages, imports, and scope. This is an important aspect of ongoing development with Colligere since we’ll be pulling in a number of packages for generation of the data.
  3. Setting up configuration and schema for the Colligere application using Viper and related tooling.

Tuesday, October 2nd @ 3pm PST

thrashing-code-terraformThis session I’m aiming to get some more Terraform work done around the spin up and shutdown of the cluster. I’ll dig into some more specific points depending on where I progress to in sessions previous to this one. But it’s on the schedule, so I’ll update this one in the coming days.


Go Library Data Generation Timings

Recently I put together some quick code to give some timings on the various data generation libraries available for Go. For each library there were a few key pieces of data generation I wanted to time:

  • First Name – basically a first name of some sort, like Adam, Nancy, or Frank.
  • Full Name – something like Jason McCormick or Sally Smith.
  • Address – A basic street address, or whatever the generator might provide.
  • User Agent – Such as that which is sent along with the browser response.
  • Color – Something like red, blue, green, or other color beyond the basics.
  • Email – A fully formed, albeit faked email address.
  • Phone – A phone number, ideally with area code and prefix too.
  • Credit Card Number – Ideally a properly formed one, which many of the generators seem to provide based on VISA, Mastercard, or related company specifications.
  • Sentence – A stand multi-word lorem ipsum based sentence would be perfect.

I went through and searched for libraries that I wanted to try out. Of all the libraries I found I narrowed it down to three specific libraries. When I add the imports for these libraries, by way of how Go works, it gives you the repo locations:

  • “github.com/bxcodec/faker” – faker – Faker generates data based on a Struct, which is a pretty cool way to determine what type of data you want and to get it returned in a particularly useful format.
  • “github.com/icrowley/fake” – fake – Fake is a library inspired by the ffaker and forgery Ruby gems. Not that you’d be familiar with those, but if you are you have instant insight into how this library works.
  • “github.com/malisit/kolpa” – kolpa – This is another data generator that creates fake data for various types of data, structures, strings, sentences, and more.

Continue reading

Building a Data Thrashing CLI Tool in Go

I need a tool just to do some testing against an API end point. I figured I’d throw one together real quick in Go. With a few libraries it’s just a few steps to get the job done. The following is that project. Eventually I’ll create the services that will run in some containers I’ll throw into a Kubernetes cluster, but for now, it’s all CLI. Onward.The first thing I’ll need is Cobra. Continue reading

Kubernetes Networking Explained & The Other Projects

Still stumbling through determining what Kubernetes does for networking? Here’s a good piece written up by Mark Betz, titled “Understanding Kubernetes Networking: Pods”. Just reading Mark’s latest on Kubernetes is great, but definitely take a look at his other writing too, it’s a steady stream of really solid material that is insightful, helpful, and well thought out. Good job Mark.

I’ve got two more blog entries on getting Kubernetes deployed and what you get with default Terraform configuration setups in Azure and AWS (The Google Cloud Platform write up is posted here). Once complete that’s a wrap for that series. Then I’m going shift gears again and start working on a number of elements around application and services (ala microservices) development.

Always staying nimble means always jumping around to the specific details of the things that need done! This, among many efforts to jump around to the specific thing that needs done, actually feels more like a return to familiar territory. After all, the vast majority of my work in the last many years has been writing code implemented against various environments to ensure reliable data access and available services for customers; customers being web front end devs, nurses in a hospitals, GIS workers resolving mapping conflicts, veterinarians, video watching patrons on the internet, or any host of someone using the software I’ve built.

In light of that, here’s a few extra thoughts and tidbits about what’s in the works next.

  • Getting the Data Diluvium Project running, a core product implemented, and usable live out there on the wild web.
  • Getting blue-land-app (It’s a Go Service), blue-world-noding (It’s a Node.js Service), and blue-world-making (It’s the infrastructure the two run on) are all working and in usable states for prospective tutorials, sample usage, and for speaking from in presentations. They’re going to be, in the end, solid examples of how to get up and running with those particular stacks + Kubernetes. A kind of a from zero to launch examples.

Other Links of Note:

Golang Execution on OS-X vs. Linux

Recently I was dorking about with some Go code on OS-X. Just working with it via iTerm 2 and using some basic go run whateverthefile.go commands and displaying results out the the shell. All was well, and then I dived into some code that used so Go Routines. The code looked something like this.

package main

import (

func say(s string) {
    for i := 0; i<5; i++ {
        time.Sleep(2 * time.Second)

func main() {
    go say("1. First thread is running.")
    go say("  2. Second thread is running.")
    say("    3. Thread is running in main.")

That was fine. I ran the code and the results were as expected.

OSX$   2. Second thread is running.
    3. Thread is running in main.
1. First thread is running.
1. First thread is running.
  2. Second thread is running.
    3. Thread is running in main.
    3. Thread is running in main.
1. First thread is running.
  2. Second thread is running.
  2. Second thread is running.
    3. Thread is running in main.
1. First thread is running.
1. First thread is running.
  2. Second thread is running.
    3. Thread is running in main.

Then I ran it again. Also these results were expected.

OSX$     3. Thread is running in main.
  2. Second thread is running.
1. First thread is running.
    3. Thread is running in main.
1. First thread is running.
  2. Second thread is running.
  2. Second thread is running.
    3. Thread is running in main.
1. First thread is running.
1. First thread is running.
    3. Thread is running in main.
  2. Second thread is running.
    3. Thread is running in main.
1. First thread is running.

You’ll notice the slightly out of order response as each thread completes. With the first set of results the last response is “Ended.” and with the second set of results “Ended.” is second to last. This of course is expected as the threads are likely to be executing while the last line of code is executed. But, there’s a catch to this depending where you run this code.

On the MacOS/OS-X platforms, when you run the shell it runs certain things with an assumed “&” after the command. Now, I’m not sure the specifics of what is happening (I’m looking it up and will happily post a super detailed reference link if you’ve got one, lemme know @Adron.) The “&” is however used on Linux/Unix systems to designate to the shell, run this command on the background so that the user remains in control of the shell. Specifically, from the man pages.

If a command is terminated by the control operator &, the shell executes the command in the background in a subshell. The shell does not wait for the command to finish, and the return status is 0.

The reason I bring this up, is if I run the same thing and those same results come back on Linux or Unix, you would not see anything after the “Ended.” runs, because the application terminates at that point and none of the background threads are actively connected to the shell. In other words the result where “Ended.” occurs second to last would look like this.

LINUX-SHELL$     3. Thread is running in main.
  2. Second thread is running.
1. First thread is running.
    3. Thread is running in main.
1. First thread is running.
  2. Second thread is running.
  2. Second thread is running.
    3. Thread is running in main.
1. First thread is running.
1. First thread is running.
    3. Thread is running in main.
  2. Second thread is running.
    3. Thread is running in main.

At first glance, it might seem like the application has run successfully, but look closely and count the number of responses from each thread. In this example, the shell has lost priority when the “Ended.” message appears and there is only four messages that read “1. First thread is running.”. However, after the “Ended.” message there should have been another one, like the second example above that I ran on OS-X. On Linux, the solution to executing this example is actually to add the ampersand at the end of the command.

go run whateverthefile.go & and then you’ll see the execution of the program with the correct results.

Well that’s it for this often overlooked and confusing behavior on Linux versus OS-X. Happy hacking, cheers!

Addition/Correction April 3rd, 2017: It was brought to my attention that this is very specifically the shell, not the operating system. This is an important thing to note, and sometimes is easily confused or mistaken outright. The effect can even be different behavior between shell use on the same operating system, regardless of OS-X, Linux, UNIX, or whatever.

Back From Scandinavia, Back to Project Coding, Writing and Organizing

Scandinavia Viking.

Scandinavian Viking.

I just got back from Scandinavia (and Amsterdam). I went for a million reasons, mostly for the adventure of it. Visiting Stockholm, Copenhagen and Reykjavik I saw about a zillion bikes, great architecture, Tivoli, amazing and beautiful waterways, Viking boat building museums, design to die for and so much more. It’s truly one of the amazing areas of the world. But now I’m back in ‘Merica and ready to get back to working on projects, design efforts and all the things I love to do. This blog post is a summary of my immediate return to projects, here’s the list broken into coding, writing and organizing:


  • Deconstructed – [site] This is the startup I’ve cofounded with Aaron Gray @agray. Check out our main site at Deconstructed. Check out some of the open source projects we’ve started here and listed below.
  • Deconstructed Docs – [site] [JavaScript] [Node.js] I’m using Wintersmith to build docs with static site generation. The docs are located at docs.deconstructed.io. Previous blog entries I did on building a static site with Wintersmith are available at Wintersmith Creating Documentation and Working in -34c, Wintersmith Customization & Github Hosting.
  • Symphonize.js – [site] [JavaScript] [Node.js] [issues] This is a project I started to use configuration as a basis for creating data for any database, but specifically Orchestrate (see blog entries under the writing section I did for Orchestrate). The idea behind this started since I needed something to generate test data for Deconstructed. This one is incomplete, but I’ll be pushing it forward to a deployable NPM Module soon that will be easy to download and just use. There’s also a possibility that this becomes a service that I make available in the near future.
  • Orchestrate.NET – [site] [c#] [issues] I’ve been helping out Robert Smith and a crew to manage the effort around the .NET client driver for Orchestrate. This is currently functional and we’d love anybody and everybody using it to really test it out. Currently I’m using this for the OrchestrateExecute Project listed below too.
  • orchestrate-rapping – [repo] [go] [issues] [group] Yo yo yo, hit the beat. This is an effort that I and others have kicked off to put together a wrapper for Orchestrate’s API. The reason is simple, we want to be able to develop sitting far away from wifi and connectivity, in a park or a cabin in the woods, with a beer in hand and a fire crackling. All while knowing we’re building something that will work when we reconnect to the land of the internet!
  • OrchestrateExecutive – [repo] [c#] [issues] For a very serious enterprise application, I’ve started hacking together a C# Application using Xamarin that will provide a library tier (that could be used as a sample) to use in building to Android, iOS or Windows Phone and all of the native Windows, Linux or OS-X apps that might be needed. In the application I’ll be using Orchestrate and Deconstructed to build out the application. Stay tuned at blog.deconstructed.io for more on this.
  • …and also inspired by Rick Turoczy @turoczy eternally another fucking side project will be going live soon. 😮



  • Bike n’ Hack – Follow @bikenhack for information and more coming soon.
  • Node PDX – More to come on this soon.

…subscribe to the RSS link, hit the e-mail subscription or just ping me or follow me @adron on Twitter and I’ll keep you posted on the goings on of all my efforts and others. Cheers!