Mastering Go Project Structure: Best Practices for Optimal Organization

Brandon Wofford
16 min readJun 14, 2023
Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Embarking on a software development journey often starts with a blank canvas. This is the moment when the canvas can morph into a masterpiece of clean, maintainable code, or descend into a chaotic sprawl of haphazard files and functions. The structure you choose to frame your project fundamentally impacts its evolvability, readability, and, ultimately, its success. When it comes to the Go language, this choice carries substantial weight. This is because, unlike languages like Java or C# that impose strict project structure rules, Go offers a more relaxed, flexible ethos, which can be both liberating and daunting.

At its core, Go espouses simplicity. Its syntax is pared-down, with a small, orthogonal language specification free of complex abstractions. The simplicity ethos extends to the approach for organizing code as well. The Go tooling doesn’t mandate a specific project layout or structure. However, that doesn’t mean anything goes. Instead, it’s a nod to Go’s emphasis on flexibility and pragmatism, with the aim to encourage clear, idiomatic, and maintainable code.

Effective project structure in Go is like architecture in the physical world. Just as architects carefully design buildings to accommodate specific uses, maintain structural integrity, and allow for future growth or changes, Go developers must craft their project layout to achieve similar aims. They need to consider how to separate concerns, where to place interfaces, how to manage dependencies, and how to structure their code so it scales as the project grows.

Various strategies and conventions have emerged in the Go community that provide guidance on these issues. Some developers prefer a flat structure, with a handful of packages at the root level of the project. Others advocate for a model-view-controller (MVC) style layout or a domain-driven design, which encapsulates business logic in specific packages. There’s also the standard or idiomatic Go project layout, which has been widely adopted in open source Go projects. And then there’s the package-oriented design proposed by Ben Johnson that encourages designing software based on the package’s purpose, rather than its functional role.