Go four

Go grows up with with 1.2 release

Lucy Carey

Latest update shows that Google’s programming language is burrowing towards maturity.

It’s been party central at Go HQ recently, with a fourth anniversary milestone last month being topped with the launch of Go 1.2 today.

Google’s statically-typed  programming language has enjoyed a steady ride up its in-house search engine rankings since it was first launched, as the chart below shows, with a rapid spike up the charts beginning with Go’s official debut.

Google is aiming to pitch Go as a low-level language which combines the simplicity of an interpreted high-level language with the efficiency and safety of a compiled language. It features a similar garbage collector to Java, as well as type safety, Closures, reflection and classless object orientation, however, the curly brackets embedded within it are more reminiscent of C.

With a couple of  IDEs and plugins for well-known IDEs such as Eclipse and Netbeans, the general consensus seems to be that Google’s little upstart is now all ready to graduate from development-kindergarten to real world use.

Coming seven months on from the release of Go 1.1, Go 1.2 is the first of what Google hope will be a regular series of updates to the language at comparable intervals going forward.

So what new tricks has the little Gopher picked up since 1.1? Well, along with a bit of rejigging on language implementation and tools, there have been some ‘minor’ language tweaks and more than a couple of additions and backward-compatible changes to the standard library.

According to the official blog, other highlights of the release include a shiny new three-index slice syntax, as well as the ability to specify capacity as well as length. With this development, programmers can pass a slice value that can only access a limited portion of the underlying array – a practice that previously required the use of the unsafe package.

As well as some changes to the standard library, there are now  indexed arguments in Printf format strings, some handy new updates to template packages, and a spanking new encoding package.

The tool chain now comes with the ability to compute and show test coverage results. For the full nitty gritty, you can find the full release notes here.

Although it’s been touted as *sigh* yet another Java killer, it’s got a long way to go before Oracle begins to break a sweat. Nevertheless, with a large and growing open source community around it, Go is gaining traction, and, with new releases set to pop up with the frequency of critters in game of Whack a Mole, we’re going to be reading a lot more about it in months to come. 

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