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Go vs Python - How To Choose the Right Technology For Your Product?

Mar 15, 20215 min read

Dawid Karczewski

Senior full stack developer and CTO at Ideamotive.

Picking the right programming language for your project is a tough choice. It is important to know the language functionality and its features in order to align them best with your priorities, be it speed, security or cost-efficiency. As a logical continuation of the articles comparing the characteristics of programming languages (see: Python vs JavaScript, Ruby on Rails vs Django, and Python vs PHP), in this article we have decided to compare the characteristics of two of the most popular programming languages in the world — Python and Go. 

 

Python has perhaps a slightly longer history being released almost twenty years before Go, however, they both have their own dedicated communities, merits and shortcomings depending on the product you are working on and its specific needs.

 

Python_ The Definitive Business Guide

What is Python?

Python is a general-purpose object-oriented programming language designed by a Dutch developer Guido van Rossum and released in 1991. It is an interpreted language with dynamic semantics. Due to its popularity, this language has numerous modules and packages, which encourage reusing pieces of effective code. Python is also known for its syntax that emphasizes eloquence and readability.

python applications

What is Go?

Go is a procedural programming language that relies on concurrent programming and highlights productivity as its core philosophy. It was developed in 2009 at Google and still maintained by the company. Go is a statically typed and compiled language, loved by developers for its speed and powerful functions that are often compared to the C family. 

go applications

Python vs Go: Comparison

The logical comparison between Go and Python arises when we think about their general characteristics. Both are open-source, well-designed, powerful, general-purpose languages. Though, despite their similarities, these languages are optimized for different tasks. In order to approach a comprehensive comparison, we have created nine distinct categories: performance, scalability, features, security, popularity, community, learning curve, speed of development and cost of development. 

Python vs Go: Performance

The contrast in these technologies’ performance is in their execution design. Python programs are deployed in a form of a source code, which is then read through an interpreter. In comparison, Go programs are compiled into a machine language, allowing for very small binary files, which also execute extremely fast. Go is a procedural programming language, which is known for its speed and fast performance. 

 

Verdict: Go

Python vs Go: Scalability

Go compilation feature does not only help the code run faster but also increases its ability to execute a number of separate flows. This language has a built-in concurrency feature. Python, on the other hand, needs a separate package to be installed in order to support concurrency. Additionally, it is also significantly slower in the execution of multiple tasks at once. 

 

Verdict: Go

Python vs Go: Features

Go is known for its simplicity and consistency. Concurrency is one of the strongest points of this language, enabling efficient use of multi-processor architecture. Like the C, Go also supports pointers, which allow passing references to values and records, therefore simplifying data tracking. A garbage collector feature handles memory leaks in Go.

 

Python has aces up its sleeve when it comes to features and functionality. When mentioning Python, developers refer to its high readability and expressiveness. It is one of the languages that support the graphical user interface, which is usually a big plus for programmers. Another significant feature worth mentioning is that a code written in Python does not need a full compilation, therefore simplifying the debugging process and error handling. Moreover, Python is a portable cross-platform or cross-OS, which means that switching to coding from Mac to Linux to Windows would not be an issue. Finally, this language also has a large standard library and numerous ready solutions for common problems. 

 

Verdict: Python

Python vs Go: Security

Neither Python nor Go are inherently more secure. Security in programming languages comes with their correct use when writing the code. As a rule of thumb, having the latest version of a technology, checking code for errors or malicious material and keeping the servers updated are a must. Protecting one’s code from SQL injections and encryption of sensitive information are the other two practices commonly used to ensure the security of the code and environments. Hiring professional developers is important to ensure security. 

 

Verdict: Both languages are secure when used properly. 

Python vs Go: Popularity and talent pool

According to Stack Overflow 2020 Developer Survey, Python is quite high among the most in-demand programming languages, occupying the fourth position (44.1%) just below JavaScript, HTML/CSS, and SQL. Go, on the other hand, is significantly behind in its use by companies and developers with its twelfth position (8.8%). Other research seem to confirm a similar dynamic. TIOBE Index for 2020 has put Python in third place among the most utilized and Go on the fourteenth. Northeastern University has analyzed the number of available jobs and an average salary in the US to get an index of the most popular programming languages. In it, Python is occupying the first position, while Go stands seventh.

 

Despite the difference in popularity, both Python and Go are very loved by developers, third and fifth opposition in the same Stack Overflow survey respectively. 66.7% of surveyed developers answered that they are developing or would love to develop with Python, while a slightly smaller percentage — 62.3% said the same about Go. 

 

Verdict: Python

Python vs Go: Community

Both languages have their dedicated following, programmers who have a strict preference for one over another or adore both. However, simply due to its global popularity, Python has a larger community of developers who create content, submit bugs, discuss features or correct each others’ code. 

 

Verdict: Python

Python vs Go: Learning curve

Go is a deliberately small language that doesn’t have a vast syntax. Therefore, learners will become familiar with most of its units and functions quite fast. Still, Go is a procedural language which can be a bit more rigid and hard for a first-time learner, while more experienced programmers take it up as compliment language to the ones they already know. In comparison, Python has many features and ways to express the same things through different paths, so it is more complex and may take longer to get very familiar with. For first-time learners, Python is often recommended mostly due to its popularity, intuitive GUIs, and higher readability.

 

Verdict: Depends on the familiarity with programming languages in general. 

Python vs Go: Speed of development

Perhaps not the top criteria for developers but certainly one of the more important ones for the project managers. Judging from how fast a code can be written, managers or even devs themselves can set realistic deadlines and approximate the time necessary for each separate stage of development. Python here is certainly in a leading position here. Closely tied to previous arguments of popularity and large community, solving complicated problems using Python is simpler thanks to its large variety of pre-written solutions, packages and open-source code. Additionally, the reuse feature of Python makes large repeatable chunks of code easily avoidable. 

 

Verdict: Depends on familiarity with the language and programming in general 

Python vs Go: Cost of development

The cost of development may vary vastly on whether you decide to build your own team or outsource, personal hourly rate, task complexity, management, drawbacks, and many other criteria. Judging the overall cost based on just one of them would be an oversimplification. Often the best solution is to consult a professional or get a quote from a company (or a few) you are interested in ordering the services from. 

Verdict: Varies based on the project complexity and specifications

Python vs Go: A Cheat Sheet

python vs go

Python vs Go: Areas of Use

Based on the comparisons above, it must be a bit easier to compare the characteristics you prioritize and a respective language that corresponds to it. Despite their multi-functionality and ability to provide code for virtually any purpose, Python and Go have their own more established fields of use. If you are working with data science, Python is usually your best choice, while Go (due to its speed and consistency) is the language of server commands and running software.

In conclusion

Both Python and Go are powerful languages that deserve your serious consideration. If you are still not sure about what technology to choose for your idea, project, or product, feel free to contact us. We can provide you with technical consultancy and match you with experts skilled in Python and with professional Go developers, who are also familiar with your type of product or industry.

Dawid Karczewski

Dawid is a full stack developer experienced in creating Ruby on Rails and React Native apps from naught to implementation. Technological superhero, delivering amazing solutions for our clients and helping them grow.

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