In this article, we are going to explore how to work with maps in the Go programming language.

Maps

Maps in go are key value data types.

package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

func main() {
	ages := map[string]int{
		"John":  22,
		"Mary":  45,
		"Joe":   33,
		"Bob":   76,
		"Emily": 21,
	}

	fmt.Println(ages)
}

/*
  The result of the code above is:
  map[Bob:76 Emily:21 Joe:33 John:22 Mary:45]
*/

When declaring a map, the key and value data types must be consistent. So in the above example, all of the keys must be of type string, and all of the values must be of type int.


You can create maps with the make() function as well.

package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

func main() {
	ages := make(map[string]int)

	ages = map[string]int{
		"John":  22,
		"Mary":  45,
		"Joe":   33,
		"Bob":   76,
		"Emily": 21,
	}

	fmt.Println(ages)
}

/*
  The result of the code above is:
  map[Bob:76 Emily:21 Joe:33 John:22 Mary:45]
*/

This syntax is helpful if you want to create a map but populate the data for it at a later time and not immediately upon creation like we did in the previous example.


We can get data out of a map, using the [] syntax, like so:

package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

func main() {
	ages := map[string]int{
		"John":  22,
		"Mary":  45,
		"Joe":   33,
		"Bob":   76,
		"Emily": 21,
	}

	fmt.Println(ages["Joe"])
}

/*
  The result of the code above is:
  33
*/

We can also add data to our maps like so:

package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

func main() {
	ages := map[string]int{
		"John":  22,
		"Mary":  45,
		"Joe":   33,
		"Bob":   76,
		"Emily": 21,
	}

	ages["Elliot"] = 55

	fmt.Println(ages["Elliot"])
}

/*
  The result of the code above is:
  55
*/

Something important to keep in mind is that when printing out a map, the order of the elements inside of the map is not guaranteed to be the same way in which they were added or declared, unlike slices or arrays.

package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

func main() {
	ages := map[string]int{
		"John":  22,
		"Mary":  45,
		"Joe":   33,
		"Bob":   76,
		"Emily": 21,
	}

	fmt.Println(ages)

	ages["Elliot"] = 55

	fmt.Println(ages)
}

/*
  The result of the code above is:
  map[Bob:76 Emily:21 Joe:33 John:22 Mary:45]
  map[Bob:76 Elliot:55 Emily:21 Joe:33 John:22 Mary:45]
*/

We can remove items from a map using the delete() function.

package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

func main() {
	ages := map[string]int{
		"John":  22,
		"Mary":  45,
		"Joe":   33,
		"Bob":   76,
		"Emily": 21,
	}

	delete(ages, "Mary")

	fmt.Println(ages)
}

/*
  The result of the code above is:
  map[Bob:76 Emily:21 Joe:33 John:22]
*/

Something to keep in mind when deleting items from a map is if you
try to access a deleted item again; the compiler gives you a value of 0.

package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

func main() {
	ages := map[string]int{
		"John":  22,
		"Mary":  45,
		"Joe":   33,
		"Bob":   76,
		"Emily": 21,
	}

	delete(ages, "Mary")

	fmt.Println(ages["Mary"])
}

/*
  The result of the code above is:
  0
*/

Or let's say you make a typo when trying to access a key.

package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

func main() {
	ages := map[string]int{
		"John":  22,
		"Mary":  45,
		"Joe":   33,
		"Bob":   76,
		"Emily": 21,
	}

	delete(ages, "Mary")

	fmt.Println(ages["May"])
}

/*
  The result of the code above is:
  0
*/

This can potentially be very problematic and confusing, so we can also use the ok variable to make sure the item is not in the map.

package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

func main() {
	ages := map[string]int{
		"John":  22,
		"Mary":  45,
		"Joe":   33,
		"Bob":   76,
		"Emily": 21,
	}

	delete(ages, "Mary")

	mary, ok := ages["Mary"]

	fmt.Println(mary, ok)
}

/*
  The result of the code above is:
  0 false
*/

The ok variable is false if the item does not exist in the map. True, if found.

package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

func main() {
	ages := map[string]int{
		"John":  22,
		"Mary":  45,
		"Joe":   33,
		"Bob":   76,
		"Emily": 21,
	}

	john, ok := ages["John"]

	fmt.Println(john, ok)
}

/*
  The result of the code above is:
  22 true
*/

ok is not a special keyword or variable in Go, it is simply a convention that Go programmers follow.


If we need to get the length of our map we can use the len() function just like we do for arrays & slices.

package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

func main() {
	ages := map[string]int{
		"John":  22,
		"Mary":  45,
		"Joe":   33,
		"Bob":   76,
		"Emily": 21,
	}

	fmt.Println(len(ages))
}

/*
  The result of the code above is:
  5
*/

Maps are passed by reference, so if you make a copy of a map and change that copies data, you modify the original map.

package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

func main() {
	ages := map[string]int{
		"John":  22,
		"Mary":  45,
		"Joe":   33,
		"Bob":   76,
		"Emily": 21,
	}

	ages2 := ages

	delete(ages2, "Bob")

	fmt.Println(ages2)
	fmt.Println(ages)
}

/*
  The result of the code above is:
  map[Emily:21 Joe:33 John:22 Mary:45]
  map[Emily:21 Joe:33 John:22 Mary:45]
*/

Wrap Up

In this article, we learned about how to create and work with maps in go.

Additional Resources