From Rails to Go

A recent project at work required a high performance API and a light-weight front end. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to explore other languages and frameworks and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. We already have a few services written in Go, so I decided to start there.

The Go Programming Language is a “fast, statically typed, compiled language.” In other words, very different from Ruby (which is dynamically typed and interpreted). In Ruby, everything is an object; Go doesn’t have classes. Yes, very different.


With my choice of programming language set, it was time to find a web framework. After a bit of Googling, I came upon Gin. It promises “performance and productivity” which is exactly what I needed.

Gin features a very fast router for processing requests as well as easy rendering of responses in JSON or HTML. Gin uses the html/template package for rendering dynamic HTML pages (also see text/template for complete documentation).


The next step was database access. I typically work with Active Record, so I started searching for something similar. GORM is an ORM Library in Go. It is full-featured (almost) and developer friendly. Its API is similar to Active Record and it supports all of the features I need including a PostgreSQL driver.

Creating models is easy using GORM. Define the model as a Go struct and include gorm.Model to add ID and timestamp columns. Then pass the model to db.AutoMigrate and GORM will create a table with the required columns automagically. The migration doc has examples of automatic and manual migrations.


Since I plan on eventually deploying this application to Heroku, and Heroku uses an environment variable for the DATABASE_URL, I’m also using the Go port of Ruby’s dotenv project named godotenv to load environment variables in development.

Sample App

I posted a complete sample application named goweb on GitHub. Feel free to clone that repo as a starting point for your own creations. The README file includes instructions for setting everything up on a Mac with Homebrew.

If you aren’t on a Mac, you should be able to follow the Go installation instructions and then download PostgreSQL to get the sample app running. Hopefully this will help others looking to explore web development with Go.