One of Google's hottest technologies takes a big step forward by ditching the past

Since 2009, Google has been overseeing the community-led development of Go — a programming language aimed at helping web developers build apps at Google’s scale and Google’s speed.

Go has won its fair share of fans in programmer-land, not least because it provides a viable alternative to Oracle’s Java, which has ruled the world of computer programming for the last two decades. Google’s been using Go internally to power things like its download servers, where you grab stuff like the Chrome install files.

Today, Go hits version 1.5, marking a huge milestone for the project as it ditches the last vestiges of the C programming language, according to the project’s blog.

The C programming language, first invented in 1972, is still one of the world’s most popular. It forms the basis of a lot of modern computer programming languages, and lies at the core of plenty of technology still in use today, including the Unix operating system

Go and Java were both inspired by C. So when the Go project started, it made sense to use C to build the tools that developers would need to build, manage, and debug their Go projects.

It’s not uncommon to lean on C: Out of the box, popular programming languages like Python, Perl, and PHP are all actually reinterpreted by software into C before they run. C is popular, C is well-understood, and C runs on basically any kind of computing device yet made, so why reinvent the wheel?

Jason buberel googleLinkedInGoogle Go Product Manager Jason Buberel

The issue for Go, says Google Product Manager Jason Buberel, was that this reliance on C made it a lot harder for the community to contribute to the language.

Buberel explains:

Prior to the GO 1.5 release, in order for an engineer to contribute to the core Go open source project, they needed to be experts in both C and Go. Now that the Go compiler and runtime are written entirely in Go, there is no longer a requirement for those contributors to have expertise in C programming. This will expand the number of programmers who can contribute to the Go open source project.

In other words, by ditching the reliance on C, the project can move a lot faster, with a lot more potential talent on deck to help accelerate the language’s development.

Last time Business Insider spoke to Buberel, he said that he thinks Go has the potential to become one of the most popular programming languages in the world. This is an important step towards that end.

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