Intellij IDEA and Go plugin
Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 03:39 pm GMT +2

Ever wondered where to find IDE for programming Google Go language?
Well, there are not a lot of choices out there and some of them lack pretty significant functionality, especially if you’re a newbie in Go like me.

Some popular choices include:

1. LiteIDE the only IDE targeted specifically towards Go
2. GoSublime a Sublime Text plugin

I’ve tried both of them and found out that both of them lack Go to declaration feature, which is crucual in the process of digging around new code. On top of that LiteIDE requires installation of gocode daemon for autocompletion to work fine.

As you can see usage of these IDEs requires a lot of bells and whistles to get basic functioning.

However there’s a third option which I’m going to talk about in this post: Google Go language plugin for IntelliJ Idea

It covers two of my initial requirements for Go IDE:

  1. Go to declaration feature, i.e. you may click on any declaration and go check how it’s implemented under the hood
  2. Autocompletion, that’s a huge time saver and a great helper in exploring available options

If you’re familiar with any Intellij IDEs you’ll get additional time-saving benefits too. Let’s proceed!

As of time of this writing, there’s no up-to-date binary distribution of the plugin (hence, the post:),
so we’re going to build everything from the sources.

Install IDEA community edition

Go to Jetbrain download page and install latest free community edition.
As of time of this writing the latest IDEA version was 12.

Grab IDEA sources!

Get Intellij IDEA community sources

# repo is ~ 1gb, this may take a while
git clone git:// idea
cd idea

# figure out what IDEA build you've just installed
cat /Applications/IntelliJ\ IDEA\; echo -e "\r\n";

# checkout specified tag in the source repo
git checkout idea/129.713

# run ant to build everything

Depending on the machine this may take 10-20min to compile.

Grab Go plugin sources

git clone
cd google-go-land-idea-plugin/

# compile plugin
ANT_OPTS=-Xmx1g ant -f build-package.xml

Buildfile: /Users/bananos/Projects/google-go-lang-idea-plugin/build-package.xml


[mkdir] Created dir: /Users/bananos/Projects/google-go-lang-idea-plugin/build
[mkdir] Created dir: /Users/bananos/Projects/google-go-lang-idea-plugin/dist
[echo] Using IDEA build from: /Users/bananos/Projects/idea/

[javac2] Compiling 561 source files to /Users/bananos/Projects/google-go-lang-idea-plugin/build

[jar] Building jar: /Users/bananos/Projects/google-go-lang-idea-plugin/dist/

Total time: 23 seconds

Make sure you specify correct variable which should point to recently checked out IDEA community repo.

Unless you struggled with some critical errors, expect to find *.jar files:

ls -l dist/

total 1904
-rw-r--r--  1 bananos  staff  974789 Aug 21 15:55

This is a binary distribution we were looking for!

Install plugin

Run IDEA, and go to Preferences->Plugins and click Install plugin from disk button, then select file from the previous step.

Install Go SDK

Assuming that you’ve installed Go via brew, your Go SDK will be in /usr/local/Cellar/go/1.1.1/

Go to the File -> Project Structure and configure Go SDK by clicking + button and
selecting /usr/local/Cellar/go/1.1.1/ folder.

Make sure to add your project pkg folder under Classpath and your project sources under Sourcepath tabs.


For lazy ones, here is a link to compiled binary!

  • Eric Bolinger

    The example using the “1.1.1″ directory did not work for me. I had to create a Go SDK by selecting the “/usr/local/Cellar/go/1.3.3/libexec” path.

    • andrewbananos

      Well, the post is almost 1 year old and Go matured since then. Thanks for noticing!