A 7-point linguistic comparison between Ballerina and Golang
As organizations increase their efforts to deploy cloud-native applications and develop microservices, programmers need fast runtimes, external APIs, and efficient error handling. This includes an array of features such as static type systems, clean syntax, native versions, and application process concurrency. Designed to take advantage of claims that established languages such as C, C++, and Java fail to offer these features, Ballerina and Golang (also known as Go) offer innovative, language-specific features that are very appealing.
This article examines the notable differences and similarities between Ballerina and Golang. Specifically, we will focus on seven specific areas:
- concurrent and parallel processing;
- container and API support;
- support for network abstractions and data structure;
- observability and reliability;
- testing and error handling;
- integrations and configurations; and
- libraries and communities.
Concurrency and parallel processing
Concurrency and optimization are essential as distributed services gain more and more predominance in development workshops. The competition uses the manager/worker parallel programming model to increase the number of transactions per second and improve performance.
This is a feature common to both languages. Golang introduces competition in the form of goroutines to perform functions asynchronously and communicate values. Meanwhile, Ballerina uses lightweight communication mechanisms for inbound and outbound interactions, as well as the fork/join constructs that support multiple parallel executions and data processing tasks.
Container and API support
Ballerina offers built-in container support to facilitate the development of microservices and the creation of cloud-native applications. Programmers can use Ballerina to annotate code and automatically create Dockerfiles. These Dockerfiles can run as containers and help spawn new iterations quickly.
Ballerina also includes library extensions for Kubernetes orchestrations. When programmers want to take advantage of parallel processes and execute multiple actions simultaneously in Ballerina, they can use fork/join constructs to define workers, process the results differently, and then execute them asynchronously.
Both Ballerina and Golang try to simplify the process of working with APIs. Golang offers a wide range of API development frameworks, and Ballerina treats APIs as first-class entities.
Support for network abstractions and data structure
Both languages treat network abstractions (i.e. endpoints, services, and methods) as first-class language constructs. For example, developers using Golang can establish dedicated interfaces for specific application behaviors, resulting in cleaner syntax. Ballerina offers a similar advantage through native builds.
In Ballerina, developers can use the aforementioned constructs to manipulate data structures without needing to call external libraries, as the language’s value type system natively supports JSON and XML (as well as the tables, records, maps and primitives associated with each). Ballerina also offers built-in sequence diagrams that graphically represent language semantics.
Meanwhile, data structures in Golang are made possible with a collection of unordered pairs of key values called Golang Maps. It is a general-purpose data structure that provides fast lookups and values for retrievals, updates, or deletes using keys, as well as creating an index into an array at the same time. using a hash table implementation.
Observability and reliability
Ballerina integrates automatic observability features for anomaly detection and internal system health measurements using response time statistics, logs, traces and metrics, and eliminates the need for extensions external libraries. Programmers can also use the Ballerina Composer tool to create services based on sequence diagrams that illustrate workflows between terminals, including synchronous and asynchronous calls.
In Ballerina, network-bound payloads require consistent integrity checks when compiling. By incorporating type inference during assignment, Ballerina uses its structural type system to return messages with different payload types and errors. Golang uses a static type system that allows the compiler to catch bad code, while Ballerina offers a flexible type system that focuses on balancing code clarity with fast development and runtimes.
Golang also provides garbage collection features that optimize memory management by ensuring that all dynamically allocated objects are reclaimed. For example, once types are assigned, they are deleted along with the instances, which keeps memory available for future allocations.
Testing and error handling
Both of these languages provide their own dedicated resources for application testing and error addressing.
Ballerina provides its own integrated testing framework, Testerina, which focuses on creating simulations that teams can test in standalone environments. This supports testing of integrations, functions, services, and other application components, and provides summary information about the results when completed.
Similarly, Golang tests provide a configurable way to assess individual features or a set of features. Programmers can run these unit tests against codebases using Golang’s test module and test command features. They can also run unit tests in various combinations and in different ways to achieve greater test coverage.
Finally, Golang allows programmers to decouple code-based dependencies for reuse and testing using custom interface types. This allows them to write more modular code, as well as mock any dependencies in tests that limit those tests to a very small scope.
Integrations and configurations
Developers can use Ballerina code to integrate elements instead of employing complex configuration-based integration schemes. For example, the transformer syntax in Ballerina allows developers to trust type safety for custom transformations between different types such as structs and JSON.
Ballerina also allows programmers to add extensions and new functionality to an existing class, structure, enumeration, or protocol type. Programmers use Ballerina’s extension points to write their own connectors and then use them in any other Ballerina program.
Both Ballerina and Golang aim to ease the burden of writing application-specific drivers and plugins, with the goal of allowing developers to spend more time on application logic and troubleshooting. Development teams not only enjoy the benefits of working in parallel, but also reduced risk of failure and faster time to market.
Libraries and communities
The relative maturity of Ballerina vs Golang has a measurable effect on the size of their respective communities and library availability.
Golang, introduced in 2009, offers a comprehensive standard library that includes core packages for extending the language. That said, it has been criticized for having libraries that lack effective support options and a problematic community that is slow to respond to suggested changes and revisions.
Hailing from 2019, the relatively nascent Ballerina community will need more time to mature. Although not as comprehensive as Golang’s, its standard library offers a range of interesting features, as well as support for various network protocols and data formats. Additionally, its globally hosted package management system, central ballerinaworks as a public web service that allows developers to share and find unique modules.