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The Workspace proposal aims to improve the workflow of developers who often make changes in multiple modules. If the proposal is accepted, developers no longer need to modify the go.mod file with replace directives that ultimately shouldn't be checked in, and to manage sets of replaces for each "root" module of their build. Further, provides configuration for tools that intend to operate on multiple modules at the same time, for example gopls.

Please read the Workflows section of the Workspace proposal design document for more information about the workflows the proposal aims to address and how it addresses them. If you have a multi-module workflow that you'd like improved, please give feedback on the proposal issue on how the prototype does or does not help.

For those of you who are more visually oriented, here's a video:

Go Workspaces Proposal Demo Video

Setting up the Go command

To try the prototype, download the gotip command, which allows you to use alternate versions of the go command, including this prototype. Do so by running

go install

if you're on Go 1.16 or later. For older versions of Go, install the tool using the old go get way: go get

gotip needs to be initialized with a version of go to run for you. That's done by running gotip download. In our case, we'll download the dev.cmdgo branch of the Go repository, which holds the source for the workspace prototype:

gotip download dev.cmdgo

This will download and compile the code for the prototype and make it available from the gotip command.

gotip can then be used exactly like the go command. For example you can run gotip build ... or gotip run ....

The workspace file format

Workspaces are defined using files. If your current directory contains a file (or it's under a directory that does) the Go command will be put into workspace mode when doing a build (this is similar to how a go.mod file defines the scope of a module). When in a workspace, instead of using the closest containing go.mod to figure out what module you're in, the go command uses the closest containing to figure out what workspace you're in. All the modules specified in that workspace become your main modules! You can build all of that code from any directory in the workspace.

Let's look at a file:

go 1.17

directory (
    ./baz //
    ./tools //

replace => v1.4.5

The syntax is intentionally similar to go.mod's syntax. We have three directives: the go directive, the directory directive, and the replace directive. The go and replace directives are there for backwards compatibility reasons (see the proposal doc for more details), behave similarly to their counterparts in go.mod, and have the same syntax. The directory directive allows you to specify which modules you're working in (by the directory containing the go.mod file. These are the modules that become the main modules in the workspace.

Setting up gopls

You'll need to add a bit of configuration to test out gopls with the workspace proposal prototype. You'll need to tell your editor to use an alternate version of Go.

If you've already got VS Code set up with Gopls, You'll need to add the following entry to your settings.json: { ... "go.alternateTools": { "go": "gotip" } ... } so that it knows to use gotip as the go tool.

For other editors see the configuration section of the gopls docs for information for how to set an alternate go tool.

Known issues with the prototype

  • Replace directives are not yet supported in the file.

Giving Feedback

Feel free to post all feedback on the issue #45713. Alternatively, you can send Michael Matloob a slack message, an email at their last name at golang dot org, or send a message at their last name on twitter.

Last update: March 1, 2022