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Basic Package File Structure and go.mod File Explained in Go (Golang)

By Zoran Stankovic
Published in Programming
September 04, 2022
3 min read
Basic Package File Structure and go.mod File Explained in Go (Golang)

In this blog post we will talk about basic package file structure and a bit of modules.

In my previous blog post, I explained how the Go program works. Now we will focus on how Go files are grouped together. As we know, Go programs are organized into packages. All source files in the same directory belong to the same package.

Let’s open our Hello World example from the last post. We created a file named hello.go.

package main

import "fmt"

func main() {
    fmt.Println("Hello World!")

Small exercise for you. You can try to do it on your own. It’s very similar to the Hello World example.

  1. Inside of your directory create new Go file and name it greetings
  2. This file should belong to a main package
  3. Create a function named greet. It doesn’t accept any parameters. It’s just printing “Greetings to You!”
  4. Hint to print a message to a console. Use Println function from fmt package.

Let’s open our editor and create a new file greetings.go. As we know, all Go source files start with a package keyword. In our case, this file belongs to the main package. Now let’s create a new function. To create a function, we need to use a func keyword followed by function name in our case it’s greet and empty parenthesis (), because our function doesn’t accept any parameters. In the function body, we will use fmt package and Println function to print “Greetings to You!”. We can notice here that using VS code, fmt package was imported for us automatically. If this is not the case for you, then you should type import “fmt”. Your new greetings.go file should look like this:

package main

import "fmt"

func greet() {
    fmt.Println("Greetings to You!")

Now that we added our greet function to our main package, we can use it inside of hello.go file. Let’s call our greet function from hello.go.

package main

import "fmt"

func main() {
    fmt.Println("Hello World!")
    // call greet function

To build and run this program. We would need to create a go.mod file. Before we create the file, let’s explain what are modules. We use modules in Go to manage dependencies. A module is a collection of packages that are released, versioned, and distributed together. go.mod file is like package.json file in NPM, if you are a JavaScript developer, or composer.json file if you are a PHP developer. If you are a beginner and you don’t understand this. It’s okay I will try to explain modules in my future posts. I think it’s a little advanced topic. For now, what is import for you to know is following command go mod init [module path] and what it does. Let see it in action. Here we have go mod init command and we need to give it a module path. In our example module path will be example.com/structure. If we want to publish this module, this path must be a path to our code’s repository where this module can be downloaded by Go tools. Open your terminal navigate to you project directory and execute this command:

go mod init example.com/structure

The go mod init command created a go.mod file to track our code’s dependencies. Let’s open the file.

module example.com/structure

go 1.19

Our go.mod file will include only the name of our module, in our case it’s example.com/structure and the Go version our code supports, for me it’s version 1.19. This version is one that I am currently using, for you maybe some other version depending on which one you have installed. This is an example of go.mod file from golang/tools repository.

module golang.org/x/tools

go 1.18

require (
    github.com/yuin/goldmark v1.4.13
    golang.org/x/mod v0.6.0-dev.0.20220419223038-86c51ed26bb4
    golang.org/x/net v0.0.0-20220722155237-a158d28d115b
    golang.org/x/sync v0.0.0-20220722155255-886fb9371eb4
    golang.org/x/sys v0.0.0-20220722155257-8c9f86f7a55f
    golang.org/x/text v0.3.7

On the first line, we can see module path to a code repository golang.org/x/tools . Then Go version the code supports which is 1.18. Then require block where they specified minimum required versions of module dependencies. Finally, we can run or build our program. Now that we have go.mod file we can omit name when we run or build our program. For the name Go will use the last part of our module path specified in go.mod file. In our case, it’s structure. To run a program, we can type go run .. This will compile and run files in the current directory. In terminal we can see “Hello World!” and “Greetings to You!” printed. Same should be if we want to build our program. We can type go build. This will build an executable file inside of our directory named structure. Now, let’s run it. Open terminal and type .\structure.exe if you are on Windows and for Linux and MacOS type just name of the file ./structure. We should see the same results as before. In summary we learned that if you define functions in the same package but in other source file. This function can be called in any other source file, within the same package, without being imported. Also, we learned a bit about modules and how Go used them to track dependencies. How go mod init command is used to create go.mod file. Also, saw one go.mod real world example. When we run go build command, the name of the executable file will be the same as one specified at the end of the module path (e.g. example.com/structure). File will be named structure.


Previous Article
Basic Structure of Go Program Explained (Golang)
Zoran Stankovic

Zoran Stankovic

Software Developer



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