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Go vs Python: The Differences in 2022

Danielius Radavicius

2022-09-02
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Python is undoubtedly king when it comes to programming language popularity. After all, currently, the difference between the first and second most used languages is staggering; Python encompasses ~28% while Java accounts for only 17% of all shares according to the PYPL (Popularity of Programming Language Index). Golang (Go) is even less common but there are reasons why it's rapidly increasing in usage. 

To say that the difference between Go and Python is significant would be somewhat of an understatement. Both are easy to use, beginner friendly, but when it comes to their purposes, they couldn’t be more distinct. Thus the primary purpose of this article is to examine these differences and provide the strengths and weaknesses of both languages.

Features of both programming languages

When comparing Python to Go, the question of “will Go eventually replace Python” is often mentioned. Fundamentally, while there are some similarities between both languages, as a whole, each serves a drastically different purpose. For example, Go is commonly applied to microservice architecture and APIs, while Python is considered when development speed and readability are the top priority. Therefore, you could claim that the key difference between Go and Python is varying usage.

Python, what is it?

An older language, created in 1991, Python hadn’t immediately jumped to the soaring popularity it enjoys now. Interestingly even as recently as 2017, it was still the 4th most used language, though already then, its numerous libraries and unparalleled assistance with data analysis and scientific computing made it a competitive choice. So, what exactly does it offer?

The creators of Python themselves state that the language is high-level, interpreted and object-oriented. Furthermore, Python is often outlined as a prime choice in many areas, like big data processing. As a whole, Python is described as being:

  • A beginner-friendly language whose simplicity doesn’t take away from its usefulness.

  • Easily readable. Being void of any semicolons and brackets allows even inexperienced programmers to not get lost upon looking at it.

  • Extensible as it allows some Python code to be written in other languages.

  • Able to run on multiple hardware platforms while using the same interface.

  • A high-level language. When creating programs in Python, there's no need to remember architecture.

  • One of the primary choices for AI and machine learning.

  • Useful for GUI. Python offers plenty of support for Graphical User Interface in the form of libraries, such as Tkinter and PyQt5.

  •  A language full of helpful libraries. This can translate to a significant amount of time saved as you can avoid writing every single line of code yourself.

  • Code from different languages can be used with Python’s source code and vice versa.

  • Open source and free. Such a feature is immediately attractive to anyone interested as there are no monetary barriers to prevent you from trying it out.

What is Golang?

The younger language of the two, created in 2009, Go seemingly has a lot of catching up to do. Interestingly, developed by Google, it was built with a very specific goal in mind, “to facilitate the construction of its backend services”. However, for anyone who’s encountered Go before, you’ll be aware that Go’s usage has moved far beyond its initial purpose.

When deciding if Go’s the appropriate language for your projects, consider these vital features:

  • It’s a new language built by Google in an age of cloud computing. Created with specific, modern, and technological goals in mind.

  • Optimized for portability and microservice architecture.

  • It can compile to a single binary, ensuring the need for virtual machines and dependencies is non-existent.

  • Completely open-source.

  • Clear and easy readability.

  • Has the ability to be drastically quicker than Python. In some cases, Go is nearly 40 times faster.

  • Efficient and commonly used in container technologies. Docker was written in Go and is considered among the top software containers.

  • High-level concurrency support is done through goroutines.

  • Contains and supports powerful libraries, though the standard library is much smaller than Python’s.

Advantages of Python and Go

In order to analyze how each language can benefit you the most, a table for Python or Golang has been made below:

Python

  • Beginner friendly.

  • Incredibly versatile when compared to Go. Offers a large variety of libraries and frameworks.

  • Old language, which allowed for the establishment of in-depth communities and high-degree of error-solving knowledge.

  • Compared to other popular languages, it is rather easy to learn.

  • Dynamically typed

  • Object-oriented, has support for functional concepts.

  • Requires less code than Go.

  • Contains automated garbage collection and typing.

  • Open source.

Go

  • It is significantly faster than Python; performance is comparable to C++ and Java.

  • Some coding skills are transferable if you’ve used C# or C++.

  • Contains automated garbage collection and typing as well.

  • Well-scaled and highly supportive of concurrency (goroutines only take up 2kb memory).

  • Currently, it is the most in-demand language for employers.

  • Open-source.

  • Has excellent concurrency patterns.

  • Able to easily tune CPU and memory utilization with powerful profiling tools.

Disadvantages of Go vs Python

While the advantages of both languages strongly outnumber the weaknesses, it is still essential to discuss the limitations of Python vs Golang:

Python

  • Slower than C# and C++.

  • Lacks memory management.

  • More difficult to scale than Go.

  • Overall weak development support for mobile applications.

Go

  • More time-consuming than Python, especially when boilerplate code is concerned.

  • Being a young language means less experience, i.e. less support when solving errors.

Python vs Go Performance/Speed

We’ve mentioned that Go is faster than Python, but why is that the case? Once again, let’s re-iterate the point of both languages having varied purposes. Go, unlike Python, was explicitly designed with speed in mind. Thus, in most benchmarks, Go is seriously outperforming it. Interestingly, Go is so much quicker that it even reached faster results when compared to Java, a language that is widely considered to already be more rapid than Python.

To further analyze the differing performances of Go vs Python, you needn’t look further than this stack overflow example. In it, a program counts to 1 billion; Go’s script finishes it in less than a second, while Python takes entire minutes because it lacks the concept of natively typed variables. Python has to recognize the type of variables each time, meaning no static typing. Be advised, though, that this is true for the reference implementation of Python, which is CPython. The other implementations might not have this problem at all (pypy, jython, nuitka).

Therefore, if a developer’s requirements are performance-conscious, then Golang might be the more attractive language.

Python vs Go for Scraping

A simple test in 2021 was conducted to experiment and see what Go vs Python performance was within public web data scraping. The test scraped stock ticket prices from Yahoo. When Python was considered, the BeautifulSoup library was chosen as it allowed for parsed, structured data scraping.

With Go, Goquery with goroutines for multithreading was the pick as the optimal approach to scraping. As the name suggests, Goquery is a library that is very similar to Jquery.

Two sets were done for the public web data scrapers, one being 2000 URLs on seven threads and the other 500 URLs on five threads. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the results were staggeringly unequal. On average, Golang’s performance was more than twice as fast when compared to Python.

It truly is rather clear that Go is significantly more suited for most public web data scraping needs if your needs are performance-based. Furthermore, such a conclusion comes as no surprise, as within the performance/speed section, it was already clear that Go is made with fast performance in mind, unlike Python. If you wish to analyze further how scraping interacts with Golang, check out this article.

Python vs Go for Scalability

When considering Python or Golang, scalability can be easily among the top concerns. However, similarly to speed, there is a clear victor between the two languages. Once again, like with performance, Go was built with scalability in mind. 

By default, the lightness of its goroutines ensures that going from small to large scale will still prevent your memory from being overburdened.

Python vs Go for Machine Learning

Python is considered to be the top machine learning language. Machine learning (ML) requires easy, simple, but effective solutions as huge data sets are the primary use case for applying ML. Python's easy structure, simple syntax and high efficiency work wonders in such a case. Thus the question may arise, why should you consider Golang for ML when an already existing, popular, and effective language exists?

The answer lies in the primary advantages of Go. Like Python, it is easy to learn and simple to use. Still, unlike Python, its performance is better, handles concurrency well and compiles down to a single binary, meaning, when deploying, dependency management is unnecessary. Of course, it also has limitations, yet most of them are less applicable to ML; therefore, with its numerous benefits being tailored to some ML applications, Go can be a serious consideration for being the language of choice.

Conclusion

It has probably become apparent that choosing between Go and Python isn’t as simple as it could initially appear. Both languages were built with different strengths in mind, which becomes abundantly clear when we look at the above-discussed use cases. Therefore, the critical conclusion is that while Go is unlikely to replace Python completely, it has become a serious consideration when speed, scalability, scraping, and ML is concerned.

People also ask

What is Golang best for?

The language is optimized for microservice architecture. Its high scalability allows for carrying out programming projects with large software systems. Initially created by Google to fill the gaps that Java and C++ couldn’t effectively deal with.

What is Python best for?

Projects related to data analysis and scientific computing are at the core of Python’s usage. Everyday use cases for Python would be software and website development or task automation. Because of its simplicity, it’s often used by non-programmers in areas of accounting as well.

Is Golang better than Python for web scraping?

There isn't an objectively correct answer when it comes to public web data scraping. However, when performance is concerned, Go is undoubtedly the more optimal choice.

Is it “Go” or “Golang”?

The real name of the language is Go. It’s often referred to as Golang because that’s what the title of the old domain, “golang.org”, was. Furthermore, simply using Go can create confusion as many other things, even a board game, uses the same name.

About the author

Danielius Radavicius

Junior Copywriter

Danielius Radavicius is a Junior Copywriter at Oxylabs. Having grown up in films, music, books, and a keen interest in the defense industry, he decided to move his career towards tech-related subjects and quickly became interested in all things technology. In his free time, you'll probably find Danielius watching films, listening to music, and planning world domination.

All information on Oxylabs Blog is provided on an "as is" basis and for informational purposes only. We make no representation and disclaim all liability with respect to your use of any information contained on Oxylabs Blog or any third-party websites that may be linked therein. Before engaging in scraping activities of any kind you should consult your legal advisors and carefully read the particular website's terms of service or receive a scraping license.

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IN THIS ARTICLE


  • Features of both programming languages

  • Advantages of Python and Go

  • Disadvantages of Go vs Python

  • Python vs Go Performance/Speed

  • Python vs Go for Scraping

  • Python vs Go for Scalability

  • Python vs Go for Machine Learning

  • Conclusion

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