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nit: the opinionated Go linter
Dec 27, 2018

I’ve blogged in the past about the importance of having concrete rules and conventions when developing software, specially when a team is in charge of writing that said software. It becomes more problematic the larger the team is, it is not a big deal with smaller projects (which correlate to not having a lot of team members), but the bigger the team the more difficult it is to make sure everybody follows the same rules.

But, why bother in the first place?

Standardization would be the keyword, having a consensus where the team agrees to do “the same” things makes following and understanding old and new code easier. This process is hard to enforce without having Continuous Integration in the first place, Code Reviews are also a vital part of this process and adding the linters that enforce those rules and conventions allows the engineers reviewing the code to focus on the actual changes in the code, what is really important to review.

When running those linters automatically the benefits are clear:

  • All the code (new and old) follows the same rules all the time, and
  • More importantly, the machine is already indicating what is not following the conventions or rules, there’s no “human” saying something is incorrect.

This human friction that could happen during code reviews is avoided, avoids the nitpicking, which in the end keep all the discussions as technical as possible.

The most clear example in Go is gofmt, you may (or not) like the final format, but at least you know everybody else’s code will look the same, less friction.

I’m aware the Go community already implement some of the great linters out there, that cover most of everybody’s needs, see for example either gometalinter or golangci-lint, however I wasn’t able to find one that actually covers the code organization in each file, basically where to put what and why.

Let me introduce to you: nit our opinionated linter.

What is nit?

nit is linter (still in its early phases) that nitpicks the code organization in the file. It follows a really opinionated structure our team at Meredith agreed to follow, this may or not may work for you, but at least I believe it’s important to share it with the world.

Version v0.1.0 has been released, it includes support for the code structure in the imports section. Notice this is a personal project, so it may take a while to have it feature complete.

Installing and Using

You can download the released binary, however the usual Go-way should work as well:

go install

Then you can use it like so:

nit -pkg

Where -pkg indicates the local base package, and the next values indicate the packages to nitpick. The files, with their errors, will be printed out if they are not following the opinionated structure.

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