Golang development tool that supports project bootstrap, live-reload (tests + application), and auto dependency retrieval based on Go Modules

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DEPRECATED: As there’s now a binary version, godev, I have stopped support/maintenance for this section of code. Feel free to dissect it for your own needs. The instructions for the binary version can be found here

Go Develop 🤓

A set of scripts/tools packaged in a Docker image to quickly get up-and-writing with Golang.

If you’re looking for a binary, check out that version at this directory.

Scope of Work

System Requirements

For Windows auto-update does not work out of the box (because of #56). Use docker-windows-volume-watcher to activate it.

You don’t need Go installed or a GOPATH for this 🥂



The quickest way to try this out is to copy the following into a Makefile in your target directory and run make init:


# initialises this directory - use once only
	@$(MAKE) _dev ARG="init"
# builds the application - outputs an `app` binary
	@$(MAKE) _dev ARG="build"
# runs tests in watch-mode
test: build
	@$(MAKE) _dev ARG="test"
# runs tests once
test.once: build
	@$(MAKE) _dev ARG="test -coverprofile c.out"
# runs the application on the host network
start: build
	@$(MAKE) _dev ARG="start" ARGS="${ARGS}"
# creates a shell in a fresh container generated from the image, usable for development on non-linux machines
	$(MAKE) _dev ARG="shell"
# retrieves the latest version we are at
	@docker run -v "$(CURDIR):/app" zephinzer/vtscripts:latest get-latest -q
# bumps the version by 1: specify VERSION as "patch", "minor", or "major", to be specific about things
	@docker run -v "$(CURDIR):/app" zephinzer/vtscripts:latest iterate ${VERSION} -i
# base command to run other scripts (do not use alone)
	@docker run \
    -it \
    --network host \
    -u $$(id -u) \
    -v "$(CURDIR)/.cache/pkg:/go/pkg" \
    -v "$(CURDIR):/go/src/app" \
    zephinzer/golang-dev:$(GOLANG_DEV_VERSION) ${ARG} ${ARGS}

Check out the documentation below on how to bundle your application into a scratch Docker image.

Getting Started With Just The golang-dev Image

If you already have a Makefile/don’t want a Makefile (but why?), running the following in any directory should get you up and running:

docker run -it \
  -u ${UID} \
  -v "$(pwd)/.cache/pkg:/go/pkg" \
  -v "$(pwd):/go/src/app" \
  zephinzer/golang-dev:latest init;

The script should ask a series of questions which if you agree to all, will create a Git repository, add an appropriate .gitignore file, initialise go mod, and provision a Dockerfile you can use to build your own image.


Live-Reload, Live-Dependency-Update, Live-Testing Development

Assuming you’ve completed the above step, create a main.go if there isn’t already one, and run the following to start development:

docker run -it \
  -u ${UID} \
  --network host \
  -v "$(pwd)/.cache/pkg:/go/pkg" \
  -v "$(pwd):/go/src/app" \
  zephinzer/golang-dev:latest start;

To start the tests, create a new terminal in the same directory and run:

docker run -it \
  -u ${UID} \
  --network host \
  -v "$(pwd)/.cache/pkg:/go/pkg" \
  -v "$(pwd):/go/src/app" \
  zephinzer/golang-dev:latest test;


Building a Binary

Assuming you have a main.go, building a binary is as simple as running:

docker run -it \
  -u ${UID} \
  -v "$(pwd)/.cache/pkg:/go/pkg" \
  -v "$(pwd):/go/src/app" \
  zephinzer/golang-dev:latest build;

The binary will appear in your current directory and be named app.$GOOS.$GOARCH. It will be postfixd with a .exe if $GOOS specifies a Windows build.


Building Into a Docker Image

If you denied the init script from creating a Dockerfile, you can run it again to get it. Otherwise, the Dockerfile script should be:

FROM zephinzer/golang-dev:latest as development
COPY . /go/src/app
ENTRYPOINT [ "start" ]
FROM development as build
RUN build
ENTRYPOINT [ "/go/src/app/app" ]
FROM scratch as production
COPY --from=build /go/src/app/app /
ENTRYPOINT [ "/app" ]

Copy the above and paste it in a file named Dockerfile in your root directory. After that, you can build your image by running:

docker build -t yourname/yourimage:yourtag .;

Advanced Usage

Usage in a docker-compose.yml

Add the following in your Docker Compose to use this as part of a Docker provisioned environment:

version: "3.5" # or anything you're using
  # ...
    image: zephinzer/golang-dev:latest
    environment: # if needed
      PORT: "3000"
    ports: # if needed
      - "3000:3000"
    user: "${USER_ID}"
    entrypoint: ["start"]
      - "./:/go/src/app" # for mapping source files
      - "./.cache/pkg:/go/pkg" # for mapping go cache
    # ...
  # ...

Technical Footnotes

Why golang-dev Came About

Where golang-dev Fits In

I use this for development of information-systems type of software - basically, CRUD services. It might work for your own development, it might not. Drop me a pull request if there’s something you can and are willing to fix/add, drop me an issue otherwise and I’ll see if I can get it done!


If you’re interested in working on this, read on!

The contribution mechanism is roughly the same as other open-source projects:

  1. Fork this repository
  2. Make your changes on master
  3. Make a pull request


The main logic of how this works is written as shell scripts in the /scripts directory.

The Dockerfile simply copies the /scripts in and adds it to the $PATH.


Tests are contained in the ./test directory but you can run it from the root using make test.


To build the Docker image, run make build.


To bump a patch version, run make version.bump.

To bump a minor versoin, run make version.bump VERSION=minor.

To bump a major versoin, run make version.bump VERSION=major.


To publish the Docker image, run make publish.

This publishes two images - one with the version as recorded by the Git tags, another with the version of Golang, and a last one with the latest tag.

Other Things


This project is licensed under the MIT license. See the LICENSE file for the full text.

Support/Work Hours

This is a side-project of mine meant to support my own development needs. I have a day job, so unless I have an urgent need while using this in my professional work, most of my code-level work on this repository will be done during weekends. Pull requests are supported throughout the week!(:

Thanks for understanding!

Projects Using This

Cheers 😎

Leave me a 🌟 or watch this repository to indicate your interest in my sustained development on this. It’ll help me decide whether or not I should deprecate this once my own use case for this is over.