20 Nov '14 My Two Cents on Go

I have recently been studying and trying Go (Golang), a statically typed language developed by Google, which promises really fast execution times and a pleasant development experience.

I must say, it is pleasant to use indeed. And quite simple to learn. But it does also demolish some of the things that, coming from other languages, you might be giving for granted. While trying to get my head around it, it felt a lot like when I was trying to learn proper Javascript (i.e. beyond jQuery), that is, it can sometimes take a while to understand, but then at one point something ‘clicks’, and immediately everything becomes so clear and easy. You do not end up necessarily thinking that it is the best language ever, but you do come to appreciate its design choices.

And it is easy to use, no doubt about that.

Just for the sake of fun, I was inspired by this article by Thiago Avelino to try doing the same benchmark comparison between PHP and Go.

Not only does it feel so easy and natural to ‘port‘ code from PHP to Go, but the difference in terms of execution times is quite remarkable (granted, this is a very simple test, and I do not need to tell you that you should not base your choice of a programming language on it).

So, the following is the script in PHP:

function fact($n){
    if($n===0)return 1;
    return $n*fact($n-1);

function calc(){
    $t = 0;
    for($i=0; $i<100000; $i++){
        for($j=0; $j<8; $j++){
            $t += fact($j);
    return $t;

$result = calc();
echo $result."\n";

and this is the result of the benchmark:

time php factorial.php

real    0m0.658s
user    0m0.488s
sys 0m0.004s

The following, instead, is the Go code:

package main

import "fmt"

func main() {

    result := calc()

func fact(n int) int {
    if n == 0 {
        return 1

    return n * fact(n-1)

func calc() int {
    t := 0
    for i := 0; i < 100000; i++ {
        for j := 0; j < 8; j++ {
            t += fact(j)

    return t

and here is the benchmark result:

time go run factorial.go

real    0m0.156s
user    0m0.138s
sys 0m0.021s

Go is remarkably faster, while being frankly pretty easy to write. I have come to appreciate this language more and more, and I would wholeheartedly suggest to any PHP/Ruby/Python developer to add this nice, simple and fast language to his own skills. Learning more programming languages always ultimately make you a better developer.