Why there are tags in Go?

A small tutorial with code examples about tags in Golang programming language
10 August 2017   664

Hype.Codes team continues to answer popular technical questions about programming languages. We made a research and found out what tags "do" in Go.

A tag for a field allows you to attach meta-information to the field which can be acquired using reflection. Usually it is used to provide transformation info on how a struct field is encoded to or decoded from another format (or stored/retrieved from a database), but you can use it to store whatever meta-info you want to, either intended for another package or for your own use.

As mentioned in the documentation of reflect.StructTag, by convention the value of a tag string is a space-separated key:"value" pairs, for example:

type User struct {
    Name string `json:"name" xml:"name"`
}

The key usually denotes the package that the subsequent "value" is for, for example jsonkeys are processed/used by the encoding/json package.

If multiple information is to be passed in the "value", usually it is specified by separating it with a comma (','), e.g.

Name string `json:"name,omitempty" xml:"name"`

Usually a dash value ('-') for the "value" means to exclude the field from the process (e.g. in case of json it means not to marshal or unmarshal that field).

Example of accessing your custom tags using reflection

We can use reflection (reflect package) to access the tag values of struct fields. Basically we need to acquire the Type of our struct, and then we can query fields e.g. with Type.Field(i int) or Type.FieldByName(name string). These methods return a value of StructFieldwhich describe / represent a struct field; and StructField.Tag is a value of type StructTagwhich describes / represents a tag value.

Previously we talked about "convention". This convention means that if you follow it, you may use the StructTag.Get(key string) method which parses the value of a tag and returns you the "value" of the key you specify. The convention is implemented / built into this Get() method. If you don't follow the convention, Get() will not be able to parse key:"value" pairs and find what you're looking for. That's also not a problem, but then you need to implement your own parsing logic.

Also there is StructTag.Lookup() (was added in Go 1.7) which is "like Get() but distinguishes the tag not containing the given key from the tag associating an empty string with the given key".

So let's see a simple example:

type User struct {
    Name  string `mytag:"MyName"`
    Email string `mytag:"MyEmail"`
}

u := User{"Bob", "bob@mycompany.com"}
t := reflect.TypeOf(u)

for _, fieldName := range []string{"Name", "Email"} {
    field, found := t.FieldByName(fieldName)
    if !found {
        continue
    }
    fmt.Printf("\nField: User.%s\n", fieldName)
    fmt.Printf("\tWhole tag value : %q\n", field.Tag)
    fmt.Printf("\tValue of 'mytag': %q\n", field.Tag.Get("mytag"))
}

Output :

Field: User.Name
    Whole tag value : "mytag:\"MyName\""
    Value of 'mytag': "MyName"

Field: User.Email
    Whole tag value : "mytag:\"MyEmail\""
    Value of 'mytag': "MyEmail"

What is Faktory?

Basic review of Go background job server, developed by Contributed Systems
26 October 2017   809

What is Faktory?

At a high level, Faktory is a work server. It is the repository for background jobs within your application. Jobs have a type and a set of arguments and are placed into queues for workers to fetch and execute.

You can use this server to distribute jobs to one or hundreds of machines. Jobs can be executed with any language by clients using the Faktory API to fetch a job from a queue.

Faktory web UI
Faktory web UI

Features

According to the developers, basic features of Faktory are:

  • Jobs are represented as JSON hashes.
  • Jobs are pushed to and fetched from queues.
  • Jobs are reserved with a timeout, 30 min by default.
  • Jobs FAIL'd or not ACK'd within the reservation timeout are requeued.
  • FAIL'd jobs trigger a retry workflow with exponential backoff.
  • Contains a comprehensive Web UI for management and monitoring.

Links

If you are interested, these links will be useful:

  • Wiki
  • GitHub
  • Support
  • Developers' website