Is go-ternary a Hero or Villain in Golang's Story?

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Introduction to the Ternary Concept

The ternary operator, often denoted by ? :, stands as one of the iconic staples in many programming languages. Serving as a concise way to perform conditional (if-else-like) operations, its inception dates back to early programming paradigms, where brevity and elegance in code were prized. Programmers could swiftly make decisions within a single line, enhancing readability and, in some cases, optimization.

However, when we pivot to the world of Go, an intriguing omission emerges: the lack of a native ternary operator. Go's philosophy, rooted deeply in clarity and simplicity, often prioritizes explicitness over concise syntactical sugar. The absence of a native go-ternary operation underscores this ethos, driving developers to embrace Go's clear-cut if-else structures. Yet, the intrigue surrounding ternary in Go doesn't end here, and various endeavors arise aiming to encapsulate its essence, albeit through indirect means.


Initialize your Project

First, navigate to your project's root directory. I will use ~/projects/ternary directory:

mkdir ~/projects/ternary; cd ~/projects/ternary

Initialize your directory

go mod init ternary

Once initialized, you can add go-ternary as a dependency by importing it in your Go code. When you build or run your code, Go will automatically fetch the necessary dependencies.

go get

Once installed, integrate the go-ternary functionality into your project by adding the import statement at the top of your Go file:

import ""


Core Features of go-ternary

The go-ternary package introduces a fresh take on the classic ternary operation, aligning with Go's principles while offering concise conditional expressions. Let's dive deep into its core features:


1. Using Trernary If function

The primary feature of the go-ternary package is the If() function, which is a direct representation of ternary operations in other languages.

The signature of ternary.If() is quite simple:

func If(condition bool, trueVal, falseVal string) string
  • Function Name:
    • The function's name is If, which is consistent with its usage in the package go-ternary.
  • Parameters:
    • condition bool: This expects a Boolean value (true or false). The function will check this condition to decide which of the next two parameters (values) to return.
    • trueVal string: This is the value that the function will return if the condition is true.
    • falseVal string: Conversely, this is the value the function will return if the condition is false.
  • Return Type:
    • The string after the parameter list indicates that this function will return a string value. This is consistent with the usage in your code, where the result of the ternary.If function is assigned to a string variable (description).

Here is a simple example:

package main

import (

func main() {
	result := ternary.If(true, "True Value", "False Value")

Let's check some more possible usage:

Basic String Evaluation

result := ternary.If(true, "foo", "bar")
// result holds "foo"

Dynamic Data Type Handling

The function can handle multiple data types due to its utilization of empty interfaces (interface{}), allowing for diverse application:

With integers:

value := ternary.If(5 > 3, 10, 20)
// value holds 10

With floating points:

value := ternary.If(5.2 > 3.1, 5.4, 3.2)
// value holds 5.4

Use Case for Pluralization

slice := []int{10, 20, 30}
output := ternary.If(len(slice) > 2, "objects", "object")
// output holds "objects"

Evaluation with Complex Data Types

It can also handle complex types, such as slices or maps, making it versatile:

value := ternary.If(true, []int{1, 2, 3}, []int{4, 5})
// value holds the slice [1, 2, 3]


2. Nested Ternary Operations

One of the powerful features of ternary operations in many languages is the ability to nest them. With go-ternary, you can achieve nested conditions in Go too.

age := 25
category := ternary.If(age < 13, "child", ternary.If(age < 19, "teenager", "adult"))
// category holds "adult"

In the above example, the outer ternary checks if the age is less than 13. If it's not, the inner ternary checks if the age is less than 19.

Combining with Logical Operations

isWeekend := true
hasHoliday := false
activity := ternary.If(isWeekend, "relax", ternary.If(hasHoliday, "travel", "work"))
// activity holds "relax"


3. Integration with Go’s if Statement

The go-ternary package provides a more concise way to represent conditional logic that would traditionally require an if statement.

Suppose you're building a weather application, and you want to display a message based on two factors: whether it's raining and the temperature.

You can use the go-ternary package combined with an if statement to achieve this:

package main

import (

func main() {
	isRaining := true
	temperature := 18  // Celsius

	rainDescription := ternary.If(isRaining, "It's raining.", "It's not raining.")
	if temperature > 25 {
		fmt.Println("It's a hot day!")
	} else {
		temperatureDescription := ternary.If(temperature < 20, "It's a cool day.", "It's a mild day.")


4. Utilizing in Loops

You can use ternary.If() within loops, providing a concise way to assign values based on conditions:

package main

import (

func main() {
	numbers := []int{1, 2, 3, 4, 5}
	for _, num := range numbers {
	    parity := ternary.If(num%2 == 0, "even", "odd")
	    fmt.Printf("%d is %s\n", num, parity) 


5. With Structs and Methods

Go's structs and methods can easily incorporate ternary operations for compact conditional logic:

package main

import (

type Person struct {
    Name string
    Age  int

func (p Person) Status() string {
    return ternary.If(p.Age >= 18, "adult", "minor")

func main() {
    p := Person{Name: "John", Age: 20}
    fmt.Println(p.Name, "is an", p.Status())  // Outputs: John is an adult


Potential Pitfalls and Limitations

The go-ternary package offers a way to use ternary-like operations in Go, a feature that's absent in the language's core. However, like any utility, it comes with its own set of potential pitfalls and limitations. Here are some to consider:

1. Readability Issues

One of Go's core tenets is readability. The language prefers clear and explicit code over concise yet potentially confusing constructs. Using go-ternary excessively can lead to decreased readability.

status := ternary.If(age >= 18, ternary.If(gender == "male", "adult male", "adult female"), ternary.If(gender == "male", "minor male", "minor female"))

This nested go-ternary operation checks both age and gender, but it's less readable than a series of simple if-else statements. For clarity, traditional control structures would be preferable.

2. Type Limitations

If the go-ternary package we've discussed returns a fixed type like string, it might not be versatile for all use cases. Some scenarios might require ternary operations on other data types, which the package might not support.

result := ternary.If(condition, 1, 0) // This might not work if the library only supports strings.



In the journey of understanding the go-ternary package, we've delved deep into its capabilities, pitfalls, and the myriad of applications it offers. While the Go language does not natively support the ternary operation, which is found in many other programming languages, the go-ternary package provides an elegant solution for those who miss this concise conditional operation.

The go-ternary package offers a compact and readable way to handle simple conditional checks. For developers transitioning from languages like JavaScript, C++, or Java, this package can provide a sense of familiarity. However, it's essential to remember Go's philosophy: clarity is favored over brevity. While go-ternary can make your code more concise in some instances, there are times when traditional Go idioms, such as the if-else construct, provide clearer intent.


Further Resources


Categories GO

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