Playing Around with Go

June 01, 2014

I’ve been interested recently with using Golang thanks to a few friends of mine who have been raving about how good it is. I’ve tried it before through their interactive console, Golang tour. After that, I’ve proceeded reading around the documentation. And I find the documentation quite comprehensive.

Last week, I was discussing a possible project I wanted to start with my friend. I thought it would be interesting to use Go to create the API for this. Prior to starting this project, we’ve decided to play around with the languages we plan to use. I was assigned the backend component and decided to use Golang for it. I wanted to create a simple API so that I will be able to explore the following areas:

  1. Create an HTTP endpoint
  2. Create DB migrations
  3. Map the db to structs
  4. Handle dependency management
  5. Testing (which I am still figuring out as of writing)

It proved out to be quite simpler than I imagined.

Create an HTTP endpoint

The first thing I did was to figure out a way to make it run, and see something printed out on my browser which is the first goal.

To create the HTTP endpoint, I’ve decided to use gorilla-mux. You need to go to $GOPATH/src/github.com/user/simple-api-go. Create a file named simple_api.go. Make sure to install gorilla-mux first before you run this.

import (

func main() {
  r := mux.NewRouter()
  r.HandleFunc("/", PostsHandler).Methods("GET")

  http.Handle("/", r)

  log.Println("Server started. Listening...")
  http.ListenAndServe(":3000", nil)

func PostsHandler(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
  w.Write([]byte("hello world"))

Once you save this, run go build. This will generate an executable file simple_api_go in the main folder. Simply run this, and go to localhost:3000. You should be able to see ‘hello world’.

Create DB migrations

The next step is to see how I’ll be able to manage DB migrations in this project. I was googling around a possible library to use. I ended up using Goose. Once you have this installed, create a database for simple-api-go. Create db/dbconf.yml in your simple-api-go and fill it in with the necessary information. I am currently using MySQL. Myd dbconf.yml looks something like this:

  driver: mymysql
    open: tcp:localhost:3306*simple-api-go-development/user/password

To create a simple migration, you need to run this

goose create CreatePosts

This will generate a migration file inside db/migrations/. Edit the generated migration, and add this simple script.

-- +goose Up
    id int NOT NULL,
    title text,
    body text,

-- +goose Down

After that, run goose up. This will run the script above. The database you have created should now have the the posts table. Read more about goose here.

Map the db to structs

Now, I needed to find out a way to easily access the info from the database. To do this, I’ve decided to use gorp. First thing you need to do is update simple_api.go and create a struct Post with the gorp annotations.

type Post struct {
  Id    int    `db:"id"`
  Title string `db:"title"`
  Body  string `db:"body"`

Once you have the struct setup, you need to create a new function which will connect to the database to retrieve the information:

// global options. available to any subcommands. This was taken from goose library
var flagPath = flag.String("path", "db", "folder containing db info")
var flagEnv = flag.String("env", "development", "which DB environment to use")

func GetPosts() []Post {

  // I've decided to use the goose config file so that I won't have multiple db configs
  conf, err := goose.NewDBConf(*flagPath, *flagEnv)

  if err != nil {
    return nil

  log.Printf("Connecting to %v, %v", conf.Driver.Name, conf.Driver.OpenStr)

  db, err := sql.Open(conf.Driver.Name, conf.Driver.OpenStr)

  dbmap := &gorp.DbMap{Db: db, Dialect: gorp.MySQLDialect{"InnoDB", "UTF8"}}
  defer dbmap.Db.Close()

  var posts []Post
  _, err = dbmap.Select(&posts, "select id, title, body from posts order by id")

  if err != nil {
    log.Printf("Error: ", err)
    return nil

  return posts

You can read more about the gorp related functionalities here. Once you have this up and running, you just need to update your PostsHandler to incorporate the function we just created.

func PostsHandler(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
  out, err := json.Marshal(GetPosts())

  if err != nil {
    w.Write([]byte("Something bad has happened."))

  log.Printf("Post: %v", string(out))


Now, do a go build and run the generated file. If you go to localhost:3000 you should be able to see the json posts from your db. Please make sure to run all the necessary imports to avoid errors.

Handle dependency management

For the dependency management, I used godep. You just need to install godep and run godep save to generate all the existing dependencies.


I will update this post once I actually explored enough of testing Go.

If you want to see the final simple-api-go for your reference, you can clone or fork simple-api-go.

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