Everything You Should Know About Golang in Web Scraping

Golang in Web Scraping: Golang in Web ScrapingGolang or Go is a compiled programming language that is considered syntactically similar to the C language. It combines the static typing and run-time efficiency attribute of C and the usability of Python and JavaScript with its own attributes. As such, Go is known for its high usability and gentle learning curve, run-time efficiency, microprocessing/built-in concurrency, memory safety, garbage collection, and high-performance networking ability.

Attributes of Golang

As stated, Golang has various attributes, and in this section, we’ll detail what each of them means:

  • Static typing: Golang requires programmers to declare the variable types so that the compiler determines what these variables are during compilation
  • Run-time efficiency: the Golang algorithm takes the least execution time
  • Garbage collection: The Golang code automatically manages the memory by freeing up space that is no longer being used by the objects defined therein
  • Memory safety: Go prevents programmers from introducing bugs and software vulnerabilities that negatively impact memory access; this is achieved by using memory pointers that evermore point toward the correct allocated memory size and type
  • Multiprocessing/built-in concurrency: Programs developed using Golang can divide tasks into independent portions that they then execute at the same time

History of Golang

Go was originally developed by Google in 2007 to simplify its cloud platform’s codebase and improve productivity. At that time, the codebases were large and therefore slow and complicated, used multicore processing, and were required to work on networked machines. Golang or Go was eventually released to the public in 2014 as an open-source project.

Since then, Golang has grown both in terms of popularity and the number of applications. Currently, Go/Golang is used for the following use cases:

  • Web scraping: you can create a Golang web scraper using one of its many frameworks, as we’ll detail later
  • Creating terminals/command-line programs
  • Addressing hardware-bound software scalability issues
  • Writing application programming interfaces (APIs)
  • DevOps automation and site reliability
  • Cloud-native app development
  • Game development
  • Automation (robotics)
  • Microcontroller programming
  • Data science and artificial intelligence

Advantages and Disadvantages of Golang

Pros of Golang

Developers at Google created Go to address several challenges they faced at that time. For this reason, this programming language offers several advantages over what they used to use. Generally, therefore, the pros of Golang are:

  • It is fast
  • Golang in Web Scraping: Go is scalable
  • Golang has built-in memory management capabilities
  • The programming language supports microprocessing/concurrency
  • It has a wide array of frameworks and programming tools such as integrated development environments (IDEs), editors, and plugins
  • It has a gentle learning curve and is, therefore, easy to learn
  • Golang already has an extensive user base and was, in fact, voted the third most “wanted” and fifth most “loved” programming language in a 2020 survey
  • Go algorithm takes the least possible time to execute a task

Cons of Golang

While it offers numerous advantages, Golang still suffers from a few limitations. These include:

  • Programmers must write more lines to accomplish a task that would have taken fewer lines if they used other languages; this means that Go is verbose
  • It lacks comprehensive libraries due to its relative newness
  • Golang does not support conventional functions
  • The language has poor error handling

Still, these challenges do not take away the fact that Golang is an extremely useful language that can be used to create, among other things, web scrapers.

Golang Web Scraper

Developers who are looking to create web scraping tools using Golang benefit from the fact that the language already has several web data extraction frameworks. These include:

  • Ferret
  • Colly
  • Gocrawl
  • Hakrawler
  • Soup (not to be confused with the BeautifulSoup Python web scraping library)

Features of Colly Framework

Colly is the most popular of the five frameworks. Golang in Web Scraping: this is because it supports numerous functions that create a strong and reliable web scraping bot. For instance, it can read the robots.txt file, meaning it adheres to the robot’s exclusion protocol (REP). Furthermore, it supports request delays, implying that it has the built-in capability to mimic human browsing behavior and therefore prevent IP blocking.

Other features include parallel/sync/async scraping, distributed scraping, the ability to send over 1,000 requests per second on a single core, clean API, caching, automatic session and cookie handling, and automatic encoding of non-unicode responses.

The Colly framework, coupled with the beneficial attributes of Golang, makes Go a powerful programming language for those seeking to create a Golang web scraper. Nonetheless, you are likely to face one hurdle. When compared to Python, Go does not have extensive, comprehensive libraries. While you can combine two or more Python libraries when developing a Python web scraper, you cannot use the same approach when creating a Golang web scraper. Still, Colly offers all the functionality you need.

Conclusion

Golang in Web Scraping: Golang is a powerful and fast programming language. Though it was publicly released in 2014, it has garnered a large following thanks to its beneficial attributes. It is even used to create web scrapers.

Do you want to build your own web scraper using Golang? If so, read the full blog post here – you’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to do it successfully.