Luca's meaningless thoughts  

Go nuts

by Leandro Lucarella on 2009- 11- 11 12:14 (updated on 2009- 11- 11 18:48)
tagged compiler, d, en, go, google, language, software - with 11 comment(s)

I guess everybody (at least everybody with some interest in system programming languages) should know by now about the existence of Go, the new system programming language released yesterday by Google.

I think this has a huge impact in D, because it's trying to fill the same hole: a modern high-performance language that doesn't suck (hello C++!). They have a common goal too: be practical for business (they are designed to get things done and easy of implementation). But there are still very big differences about both languages. Here is a small summary (from my subjective point of view after reading some of the Go documentation):

Go D
Feels more like a high-level high- performance programming language than a real system programming language (no asm, no pointer arithmetics). Feels more like a real close to the metal system programming language.
Extremely simple, with just a very small set of core features. Much more complex, but very powerful and featureful.
Can call C code but can't be called from C code. Interacts very well with C in both directions (version 2 can partially interact with C++ too).
Feels like a very well thought, cohesive programming language. Feels as a bag of features that grew in the wild.
FLOSS reference implementation. Looks very FLOSS friendly, with proper code review, VCS, mailing lists, etc. Reference implementation is not FLOSS. Not very FLOSS friendly (it's just starting to open up a little but it's a slow and hard process).
Supported by a huge corporation, I expect a very large community in very short time. Supported by a very small group of volunteers, small community.

I really like the simplicity of Go, but I have my doubts about how limiting it could be in practice (it doesn't even have exceptions!). I have to try it to see if I will really miss the features of more complex programming languages (like templates / generics, exceptions, inheritance, etc.), or if it will just work.

I have the feeling that things will just work, and things missing in Go will not be a problem when doing actual work. Maybe it's because I had a very similar feeling about Python (indentation matters? Having to pass self explicitly to methods? No ++? No assignment in if, while, etc.? I hated all this things at first, but after understanding the rationale and using then in real work, it works great!). Or maybe is because there are is extremely capable people behind it, like Ken Thomson and Rob Pike (that's why you can see all sort of references to Plan 9 in Go :), people that knows about designing operating systems and languages, a good combination for designing a system programming language ;)

You never know with this things, Go could die in the dark or become a very popular programming language, only time will tell (but since Google is behind it, I guess the later is more likely).