Enums in Go: Understanding Golang Enums with Examples

An Introduction to Enums in Go

Golang, also known as Go, is a powerful programming language designed for concurrency and ease of use. While Go provides various features and data structures, it does not have a built-in enum type. In this article, we'll explore how to implement enums in Go with examples.

Understanding Golang Enums

In many programming languages, an enumeration (or enum) is a unique data type consisting of a set of named constants. Enums provide a way to define a collection of related values as constants, making the code more readable and maintainable. Although Go does not have a native enum type, we can achieve similar functionality using constant and iota.

Constants and Iota in Go

In Go, we can use the const keyword to declare a constant value that cannot be changed after initialization. The iota keyword, on the other hand, is a built-in integer constant representing the index of the current constant within its const block. When using iota in a const block, the value of iota starts at zero and increments by one with each subsequent constant declaration.

Creating a Golang Enum

To create a Golang enum, we can leverage the power of constant and iota to define a set of named integer constants. Let's go through a simple example of creating an enum for days of the week:

package main

import "fmt"

// Weekday represents a day of the week as an integer constant.
type Weekday int

// Declare a Golang enum for days of the week.
const (
	Monday Weekday = iota + 1

func main() {
	fmt.Println(Monday)    // Output: 1
	fmt.Println(Tuesday)   // Output: 2
	fmt.Println(Wednesday) // Output: 3
	fmt.Println(Thursday)  // Output: 4
	fmt.Println(Friday)    // Output: 5
	fmt.Println(Saturday)  // Output: 6
	fmt.Println(Sunday)    // Output: 7

In this example, we've created a new type Weekday as an integer. Then, we've defined a constant block with the days of the week as enum-like values, using iota to increment their integer values automatically.

Working with Golang Enums

Now that we've defined our Golang enum, let's discuss how to work with it effectively. When dealing with enums, it's helpful to have a way to convert between integer values and their corresponding string representation, as well as using switch statements for efficient comparisons.

Implementing String Method for Weekday Enum

By implementing the Stringer interface for our Weekday type, we can create an easy way to convert integer Weekday values into human-readable strings. Here's an example implementation:

package main

import "fmt"

func (w Weekday) String() string {
	return [...]string{"Monday", "Tuesday", "Wednesday", "Thursday", "Friday", "Saturday", "Sunday"}[w-1]

func main() {
	fmt.Println(Monday)    // Output: Monday
	fmt.Println(Tuesday)   // Output: Tuesday
	fmt.Println(Wednesday) // Output: Wednesday
	fmt.Println(Thursday)  // Output: Thursday
	fmt.Println(Friday)    // Output: Friday
	fmt.Println(Saturday)  // Output: Saturday
	fmt.Println(Sunday)    // Output: Sunday

This String() method allows us to easily convert our Golang enum Weekday values into string representations, improving code readability and usability.


Although Go does not have a built-in enum type, we can easily create and work with Golang enums using constants, iota, and custom types. By leveraging these powerful features, we can define and manipulate enums in our Go programs to improve code readability, maintainability, and functionality.

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