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Go Tip: Embedding
Feb 16, 2018

One of the cool features in Go is embedding; which we can compare it to class inheritance (if you want to compare it to something and you’re coming from a class-based programming language) but it is not the same.

Effective Go includes a nice brief introduction to this feature, I’m expanding that a bit.

Let’s say we have a hypothetical startup “Greetings Y’all” which is planning to disrupt the Greetings world! Their MVP includes a GreetingsService which includes two greetings: “Hello” and “Good Morning”:

type GreetingsService interface {
	SayHello() string
	SayGoodMorning() string

And because all the seed money is almost gone, Greetings Y’all is implementing the first version in English only:

type EnglishService struct {
	Country string

func (EnglishService) SayHello() string {
	return "hello!"

func (EnglishService) SayGoodMorning() string {
	return "good morning!"

Days pass and the GreetingsService becomes a huge success! So Greetings Y’all implements different versions in other languages like: Spanish and Mandarin.

Over time Greetings Y’all decides as a next step in their world domination to introduce (for whatever reason) another unrelated service that happens to greet their users, called GiveMeYourMoneyService:

type GiveMeYourMoneyService struct {
	Country string

func (GiveMeYourMoneyService) SayGoodMorning() string {
	return "$$$"

(Yes, they decided to always say $$$ instead of Good Morning, startup life I suppose)

The interesting part about this new struct is how it is embedding an interface, this way you can assign any concrete GreetingsService implementation you want, this is important because:

  1. You don’t have to know which one in advance.
  2. You can easily mock this dependency for testing purposes.
  3. You can select which one to use depending on your different needs

However there’s a case to mention when GiveMeYourMoneyService decides to embed EnglishService, by embedding this particular concrete implementation it will hide (or shadow) the field called Country, because both types use the same field.

So how can we access that specific field then? You would have to convert the type to the concrete implementation:

o := GiveMeYourMoneyService{GreetingsService: &EnglishService{Country: "Neverland"}, Country: "Sokovia"}
fmt.Printf("FancierService: %+v\n", o)
fmt.Printf("FancierService.SayHello: %s\n", o.SayHello())
fmt.Printf("FancierService.GoodMorning: %s\n", o.SayGoodMorning())

var e1 *EnglishService = o.GreetingsService.(*EnglishService)
fmt.Printf("original.Country: %s\n", e1.Country)

See this gist for the full working example:

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