Getting started with govendor

Over the last couple of months I’ve been slightly moving away from Glide and over to govendor, mostly to give it a try and later I simply kept using it. Compared to Glide govendor feels a bit more minimal to me but I also really like that it can import dependencies from the global GOPATH and provides a nice status overview for all your dependencies. I still forget the basics on how to use it properly all the time, though, so I thought a quick getting-started guide might be in order, discussing the most common steps 😊

Initialising a new project

Right after creating your project’s root folder, run govendor init. This will create a vendor folder and a basic (and mostly empty) vendor.json in it.

$ govendor init
$ cat vendor/vendor.json
	"comment": "",
	"ignore": "test",
	"package": [],
	"rootPath": ""

Adding a dependency

The whole point of govendor is managing your dependencies. It allows you to do so from two sources:

  1. A remote repository (same as go get)
  2. Your global GOPATH

I use (1) most often as it simply replaced go get <dependency> for me while inside a project. Let’s say, you want to use Dave Cheney’s awesome errors package. Simply run govendor fetch inside your project directory and it will download that and all its dependencies into the vendor folder and update the vendor.json file accordingly.

$ cat vendor/vendor.json
	"comment": "",
	"ignore": "test",
	"package": [
			"checksumSHA1": "ynJSWoF6v+3zMnh9R0QmmG6iGV8=",
			"path": "",
			"revision": "ff09b135c25aae272398c51a07235b90a75aa4f0",
			"revisionTime": "2017-03-16T20:15:38Z"
	"rootPath": ""

(2) is useful if you’re offline and want to get started with a project and use your global GOPATH as something like a cache for often used dependencies. Let’s stick with the errors package for now. Imagine you know that you will be on a plane or train in a couple of hours where you will be offline. Then run go get -u before going offline, which will add the errors package to your GOPATH. Now you start your new project (see above) while you’re offline and therefore cannot use govendor fetch anymore. Now you can use govendor add instead which will do pretty much the same as the fetch-command but takes the GOPATH as a source!

Updating a dependency

So, upstream has fixed a bug or you want a feature that has been added after you vendored your dependency. As with adding a new dependency, updating an existing one can be done either online or offline. If you want to update a dependency from a remote location, use the same fetch command you executed in the previous step.

For offline-updating the steps are also quite similar. While you’re still online, update your dependency in the GOPATH using go get -u <dependency>. Then you can use govendor update <dependency> to update your vendored version based on the code inside the GOPATH.

Removing unused dependencies

Before looking into removing dependencies, let’s first take a look at one of the great little gems hidden inside the govendor command: govendor list. This will provide you with an overview of all the vendored dependencies and their status inside your project. In the empty dummy-project where I’ve added the pkg/errors package as dependency, the list would look like this:


“v” means “vendored” while “u” indicates that the dependency is actually “unused inside the project”. The --help output describes a couple other status indicators:

Status Types

	+local    (l) packages in your project
	+external (e) referenced packages in GOPATH but not in current project
	+vendor   (v) packages in the vendor folder
	+std      (s) packages in the standard library

	+excluded (x) external packages explicitely excluded from vendoring
	+unused   (u) packages in the vendor folder, but unused
	+missing  (m) referenced packages but not found

	+program  (p) package is a main package

	+outside  +external +missing
	+all      +all packages

	Status can be referenced by their initial letters.

Let’s say now, that we want to remove the pkg/errors package again. This can be done using govendor remove

But if you actually just want to remove all the unused dependencies inside your project, you can use the status types as a shortcut!

$ govendor add

$ govendor list

$ govendor remove +unused

$ govendor list

That’s it! This is everything I’m using govendor for right now and it’s working really well so far 😊 I hope this little guide will also help you!

But what about dep? Sadly, I haven’t had time to look into it yet. Hopefully this will change in the coming months and I will finally be able to step writing a blog post about yet another vendor-management tool every couple of months 😉

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