Leon Mika

Leon Mika

Offical support for file embedding coming to Go

I’m excited to see, via Golang Weekly, that the official support for embedding static files in Go is being realised, with the final commit merged to the core a couple of days ago. This, along with the new file-system abstraction, will mean that it will be much easier to embed files in Go applications, and make use of them within the application itself.

One of the features I like about coding is Go is that the build artefacts are statically linked executables that can be distributed without any additional dependencies. This means that if I wanted to share something, all I need to do is to give them a single file that they can just run, without needing to worry about whether particular dependencies or runtimes are installed prior to doing so.

However there are times when the application requires static files, and to maintain this simple form of distribution, I generally want to embed these files within the application itself. This comes up surprisingly often and is not something that was officially supported within the core language tools, meaning that this gap had to be filled by 3rd parties. Given the number of tools available to do this, I can see that I’m not alone in needing this. And as great as it is to see the community step in to fill this gap, relying on an external tool complicates the build process a bit1: making sure the tool is installed, making sure that it is executed when the build run, making sure that the tool is actively being maintained so that changes to the language will be supported going forward, etc.

One other thing about these tools is that the API used to access the file is always slightly different as well, meaning that if there’s a need to change tools, you end up needing to change your code to actually access the statically embedded file.

Now that embedding files is officially coming to the language itself, there is less need to rely on all of this. There’s no need to worry about various tools being installed on the machines that are building the application. And the fact that this feature will work hand in hand with the new file system abstraction means that embedded files would be easier to work with within the code base itself.

So kudos to the core Go development team. I’m really looking forward to using this.

  1. Although not as much as many other languages. [return]